If you have a business with a website and want to be found when people look for you, your product/service, or your industry on the internet you need to know something about SEO. Whether you do the SEO yourself or pay someone to do it for you, it’s important to know how it works because if it’s done wrong you could be penalized by the search engine. For the purposes of this article, the search engine we will refer to is Google because that’s where the majority of web traffic is.
What Is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the method for getting more and better traffic to your website by increasing its visibility to users of the search engine. This improvement refers to natural/organic (unpaid) results, excluding direct traffic and paid placement.
Why Does SEO Matter?
One of the main ways that consumers engage with businesses now is through the internet. As a business, when people go out looking for something you have to offer, you want them to see you. That’s why SEO matters. It increases the chance of a potential customer finding you when they are ready to engage. This, in turn, can lead to increased sales for your business.
How Does SEO Work?
When users type searches into Google it’s the search engine’s job to show the most relevant results to the user. This accomplishes two things, it satisfies the user and it builds trust in Google. Google achieves this by endlessly crawling the web and ranking websites based on its proprietary algorithm. What SEO does for you is to tell Google that if somebody is searching for X, X is here, send them to me. Even though Google does not share the nuts and bolts of the algorithm they do provide guidelines for SEO that, if followed, should increase your visibility.
SEO For Small Business
Google doesn’t care if you’re a Fortune 500 company with unlimited financial resources, a small storefront with more limited means, or a home-based business, it wants to deliver the best results to its users. As a small business owner, you can’t compete with the big guys in terms of the amounts of money they throw at SEO but that doesn’t mean you can’t compete at all. If you are smart about your SEO, getting a place in the top ten search results is not out of the question. While not an exhaustive list, here are three things you can do that will help Google’s algorithm to see that you belong closer to the top of its search results.
- Keep your citations complete and up to date: Citations are online references to your business which feature your name, address, and phone number, and they are considered a ranking factor for SEO. Being listed in trusted online directories sends a signal to Google which increases its degree of certainty that your business exists. The number of listings, their accuracy, and the quality of the online directories can affect how Google perceives your online presence. This is why it’s important to pick your citations wisely. By keeping these consistent and up to date everywhere they appear you build trust and higher ranking in search results.
- Make sure your website loads fast and doesn’t have any broken links: When it comes to loading time, speed matters and faster is better, for a couple of reasons. Load time matters for the ranking of your website. A slow page speed means the search engine can crawl fewer pages in its allocated crawl budget, which could negatively affect your ranking. Also, if your site takes too long to load people will not wait for it to open and whatever is there won’t matter. Broken links are bad for user experience and therefore bad for SEO and your ranking. If Google finds broken links on your site it will negatively affect your ranking because it doesn’t want to send its user to a bad experience.
- Get reviews: Reviews matter! Online reviews are estimated to make up 10% of the criteria for how Google displays search results (moz). Online customer reviews can be strong signals to a search engine about the trustworthiness and authority of your business and website.
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