You spent a lot of time creating your business’s website.
It’s beautiful, it’s functional, and it’s got all the right calls-to-action.
It’s even getting you a few sales here and there.
But what if it could do more? What if you ranked higher in internet searches?
If you want your website to make you money, it needs to be seen.
There’s where optimizing your website for search engines comes into play, more commonly known as SEO.
Every time you search for something on the internet, whether it’s Google, Bing, etc., an amazing thing happens.
In a split second, billions of web pages are weeded out, and the most relevant, useful pages appear. Well, at least usually.
It’s not a perfect system, but all things considered, search engines are incredibly good at what they do.
And, they directly affect how much traffic your website receives.
Why Optimizing Your Website for Search Engines Matters
The more traffic you receive, the more opportunities you have to create leads and sales.
As such, the importance of ranking higher in search results is undeniable.
On Google, for instance, around two-thirds of all organic clicks go to the top five positions.
Not top five pages mind you, the top five positions.
Drop to the second page of Google, and the clickthrough rate is only around 1% per result.
That’s a huge difference in traffic.
Optimizing your website for search engines helps you rank higher, and be seen more often.
So, how exactly, can you improve your ranking?
Understanding SEO for Digital Marketing
Improving SEO starts by understanding how search engines work.
Think of the internet as a giant spider web – after all, the world-wide-web didn’t get that nickname for nothing.
Search engines use computer software programs, known as web crawlers, to scour the internet – like spiders crawling through a web.
When web crawlers come across your page, they do their best to get a sense of what it’s about.
They track keywords, picture and video descriptions, title tags – also known as page titles – and more.
To rank higher, use all of the opportunities possible when optimizing your website for search engines.
Start with keywords or keyphrases, which are a series of terms within sentences.
These keywords and phrases define your content and your page.
When someone looks for a term, search engines match keywords from the search to the most relevant results.
In order to optimize your pages, you’ll need to know what people are actually searching for.
You’ll need to do some research.
While you might want to assume you know exactly what people are searching for, it’s better to look at the data.
For this, there are a few tools you can use.
AHrefs, SEMRush, and Ubersuggest are fantastic for researching popular keywords – if you’re willing to pay for their programs.
Alternatively, you can use Google Trends for free. While it doesn’t give you quite as much information, it’s still a valuable marketing resource.
Once you have an idea of the keywords you want to use, you’ll need to get specific.
You see, larger companies with big budgets spend lots of money on tons of content and ads.
This makes it hard to compete head-to-head, especially in popular, competitive industries.
Most of the time, you’ll want to focus on longer keyphrases.
For example, if you’re a photographer in Cleveland, Ohio, you’ll have lots of competition.
Instead of using “photographer” or “photographer in Cleveland”, try using “photographer in Avon Lake.”
You’ll stand a much better chance of ranking for the same general area, without competing against every photographer in Cleveland.
Also, you don’t want to use the same keywords or phrases on every single page. Make sure you diversify, to give yourself a chance to be found through a variety of searches.
If your home page focuses on “photographer in Avon Lake”, your events page might focus on “wedding photographer in Avon Lake”, and your services might focus on “event photographer in Avon Lake”.
When combined with the right landing pages, it’s a powerful way to maximize your results.
Just a word of caution, however: in the early days of the internet, website creators used a practice known as “keyword stuffing.”
Basically, this meant they’d plaster their keywords anywhere and everywhere they could. The thought was that the more they used the keyword, the higher web crawlers would rank them, even if it didn’t make sense to a human user.
While the practice might have worked 25 years ago to some degree, today’s search engines are far more complex.
Putting the word “photographer” 45 times on one page isn’t going to help you climb the ranks of Google.
Yes, when optimizing your website for search engines you need to focus on keywords.
But, don’t get carried away.
Always think about it from your visitor’s point of view first. If it looks spammy or doesn’t make sense, then don’t do it.
The Importance of Title Tags
If title tags aren’t the most important part of SEO, then they’re close to it.
These are the big, bold, clickable titles that show up in search results.
Your title tag needs to be clear enough for search engines to know what the page is about, short enough to display the whole title, and compelling enough to click.
If your title tag is too long, it won’t display properly in the results.
Not only does it look sloppy, but people won’t get a full sense of what you’re trying to say.
Keep it around 55 characters or less, and focus on the keywords you want to touch on.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. If you were searching for a term, would your title be the one you’d feel compelled to click on?
If you did click on it, would you feel like you were on the right page, or would you feel like you were misled?
Make sure it’s direct, to the point, and clear.
Finally, let’s talk about meta-descriptions.
These show up right under your title tags, and offer a slightly more in-depth description about your page – an overview of what your audience should expect when they click.
Like the title tag, you’ll want to focus on your keywords and phrases. However, you get a little more room to explain your page – around 160 characters.
Going back to the photographer example, a meta description might be something like “Before you choose a wedding photographer, you’ll want to ask yourself five important questions. Here, we break down what they are and why they are essential.” (157 characters)
Not only does it touch on the keywords “wedding photographer,” it also tells people exactly what to expect – five questions to ask before choosing one for their wedding.
If your title tags and meta descriptions are misleading in any way and don’t deliver what viewers expect, they’re going to leave immediately. Not only does it frustrate users, but it hurts your SEO as well.
Search engines eventually discover how much time people spend on your site.
Viewers spend lots of time on quality websites, but quickly leave, or ‘bounce’ from poor or misleading sites.
Since search engines want to provide the best results, they penalize pages with high bounce rates.
They don’t want to recommend a bad website any more than you’d recommend a bad restaurant to a friend.
Optimizing your website for search engines is undeniably important, but no matter how hard you try, it’s not an overnight success.
If anyone has ever told you they can rank you #1 on Google in a matter of days, don’t believe them – that’s not how it works.
Even if you didn’t have any competitors, it can still take weeks for web crawlers to discover and rank your page.
Start by focusing on your keywords and phrases. Make sure your title tags are clear, compelling, and not misleading in any way.
And, be sure to create appropriate meta-descriptions that offer clarity while getting to the point.
To be seen by the most potential customers as possible, optimizing your website for search engines is one of the most important steps you can take.
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