In the words of Google’s Matt Cutts,
“We want to return really good search results to users so that they keep coming back. A happy user is a loyal user.”
I decided to update this post because I had a huge interest from local businesses and as this crazy technical word evolves, I like to share with you!
I have come across so much information regarding SEO and branding, it’s enough to go crazy. Follow these easy tips and anyone can achieve organic search rankings without investing any money.
Search Engines are favoring the user experience. Think of SEO as a way for search engines to help you be found by a user. Don’t think of it as a way for Google to find your website. Recent reports say that Google tries to define and refine search results based on USER behavior. With that said, brand your SEO towards your potential customer, NOT Google.
First and foremost, sign up your business with Google My Business. If you do anything, do this. Having a Google My Business account is a gateway for any of your SEO efforts. It’s priority number one.
1. Domain name
If you don’t already have a domain name, try to pick a name that has a keyword in it, but don’t make it obvious. Do: www.pamsdogsitting.com Don’t: www.dogwalkerindenverandlakewood.com. it’s been noted recently that google thinks the latter domain name is spammy.
2. Build a clear concise, well organized, website that is crawl-able
Most importantly, display simple well written content with solid links.
Make it easy for your client/user to find and ENGAGE in the information their looking for, so they stay on your site. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Think about your target to QUALIFY your customer not just quantify. Google knows if your user clicks that back button from your search result site. Short retention times on websites tells Google the search was unsuccessful and ultimately your ranking will go down.
3. Find 10 keywords/phrases that might be used by someone seeking your brand
Example: dog walking, pet sitting…etc. Google has a helpful tool HERE. Use those keywords throughout your content in a sensible way, but don’t overdo it. Use other less important tag words sprinkled around your site to give it variation. Don’t stuff keywords. Google seems to frown on that and so do users.
4. Find 10 topics
Example: What time of the day should I walk my dog? Users are now searching by topic as well as key phrases. Focus on branding keywords in topics. Add some interesting information in your website within that keyword range to broaden the amount of topics surrounding your brand. It makes Google happy that your offering useful information to engage users, and that get’s results.
5. Utilize listings especially for local businesses
Specifically list on Google my business, Yelp, CitySearch (InfoUSA) and the like. If you’re listed, search engines can confirm that you’re legit. Local search results are “where it’s at.” Think about it. I look up an entity via location or product. Example: Petsitting in Denver. Again, that qualifies your customer and of course, you guessed it: Google likes that because it gives it’s user better local search results.
Use your keywords and phrases wisely and keep it (mostly*) consistent across all mediums. Don’t offer dog walking services on your website, but then only offer cat sitting on your Facebook page. Make sure to encompass your products or services and utilize a general statement for each including some keywords in each. Make introductions and summarizations consistent, *but vary the verbiage just a bit.
7. Local social sharing and linking for SEO
There are so many, it just doesn’t stop. Pick wisely. I find concentrating my efforts on the big four (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn) is enough for my business, but you have to tailor social integration to your intended result. Find your niche. Get in front of local businesses and their social integration – Chamber of commerce is a great place to begin. Start linking/liking/following local businesses to get noticed.
Note: Google doesn’t put much stock in “likes” and “follows.” It’s too many variables and constantly changing. Search Engines do advise utilizing social media to drive traffic to your site or as a way to involve your customers. Content and profile is also a factor that may have a big impact on search results.
8. Links and alt tags
Google suggests links that are solid, and content driven. URLs must contain keywords: https://www.lesliewolfecreative.com/article5 (bad) vs. https://www.lesliewolfecreative.com/how-seo-can-help-build-your-brand-and-drive-website-traffic/ (good). Do you see the difference? So does Google. Utilize links with compelling content.
Make sure Search Engines can crawl and read plain text. Images and different media should contain alt tags and titles efficiently.
Write an effective, to the point title tag for your home page. Do the same for every page on your site. Make sure titles and descriptions match content and do not over use key phrases to the point they don’t make sense. Google has gotten pretty good at figuring out targeted content.
10. Other SEO tips and tricks
- Name images wisely. “SEO-tips-and-tricks.jpg” ranks higher than, “image01.”
- Make your website is responsive so that it can be viewed on various devices.
- Put your business hours on your website.
- Respond quickly to changing media, inquiries, blogs and reviews.
- Paid ads on Google DO NOT increase or decrease your rankings.
- Consider purchasing an SSL certificate for your site, even if you don’t have ecommerce.
- Use these tools: Google Webmaster, Bing Webmaster.
- If you don’t want to go through keeping up with this dynamic information, Drop me a line. Leslie Wolfe Creative designs websites with basic SEO in mind.
Finally, remember what the purpose of search engines are: to return relevant results to the user. Finding your own solutions and strategies on building your brand through SEO is always a good way to go too. Align yourself with this goal and your website should fall into place…literally.