When it comes to small business websites, one of the most confusing topics to understand is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the art and science behind making sure that your website is recognized by search engines. It plays an important role in how high your site will rank in search engine results pages (SERPs). Below are some of the most common questions we hear from clients as we help them navigate SEO for their new or updated websites.
Q: How does SEO work?
A: Search engines, like Google, use crawlers (sometimes called spiders or bots) that scour the web by following links to collect information about websites. Once a site is crawled, search engines create indexes of each site. An algorithm is then used to decide how various sites/indexes should rank in search engine results pages. When people talk about SEO, they are referring to optimizing their site so that it ranks higher in search results. While nobody knows specifically how the algorithm works, we know that things like site traffic, site speed, quality of website copy, and links all play an important role.
Q: Should I optimize for all search engines?
A: While there are a handful of search engines that exist, Google holds roughly 92% of the market share. To get the most out of your SEO, it’s probably a safe bet to optimize for Google’s search engine.
Q: What can I do to my website to make sure my site is indexed?
A: First, make sure that your site has links. Links to/from your site are important as they help the crawlers find your site among a vast array of sites across the web. You want to start with at least one external site that links to your site, and then your site should include several links to both internal and external pages. Gradually you should increase the number of sites that link to your site (referral links known as backlinks) to increase your rank on SERPs.
Next, optimize your content to ensure that you have a well-organized site with good material so that it is easy for crawlers to understand (and therefore index) your site. It will also make your site more appealing to readers, which will lead to more traffic, higher engagement, and lower bounce rates – all good metrics for search engines.
Lastly, make sure that your content contains keywords that your target customer is likely to use when searching on the web. Keep in mind that your competitor’s might be using the same keywords, so focus on what makes your business unique.
Q: How long will it take for my site to show up on SERPs?
A: It can take anywhere from four days to six months for your site to show up on search results pages. The most common answer you will hear is “be patient” while you wait for Google to index your site. However, there are some things you can do to speed up the process; submit a sitemap to Google, ensure you have at least one external site that links to your site (more popular websites will be more impactful), and use social media to drive more traffic to your site.
Q: What else can I do to help with my SEO?
A: Here are a few more tips we recommend:
· Be sure your site has a valid SSL/HTTPS setup.
· Check your page titles, meta descriptions, and snippets so that customers are more attracted to clicking through to your site.
· Continue to create high quality content and update your website regularly. Search engines like fresh and recent content so don’t let your site go stale!
Hopefully these tips help you with navigating SEO for your small business website. While it can be challenging to get it just right, remember you don’t have to do it all on your own - we are here to help!