By Jim Christian
Like a prehistoric masterpiece scratched into the far recesses of an undiscovered cave, it doesn’t matter how awe-inspiring your website is if nobody can find it. Search engines are the archeologists of the digital landscape. An estimated 90 percent of consumers searching for local businesses online use search engines like Google® Bing® and Yahoo® to find them. If you want your business website to get discovered, you need to tap into the power of search.
Just about every website owner today understands the basic concept of search engine optimization (SEO): taking steps to attract the attention of search engines in order to drive traffic to your site. Search Engine Land defines SEO as “the process of getting traffic from the ‘free,’ ‘organic,’ ‘editorial,’ or ‘natural’ search results on search engines.” The paid ads you often see at the top of search results don’t figure in.
You’ve likely already taken the fundamental steps to improve your SEO. Your website brims with unique and compelling content. You use relevant keywords all over the place. You optimize title tags and other metadata. You covet backlinks.
But there’s always more SEO-related work you can do to draw visitors to your website. Here are two big SEO tips:
Be social for business
I probably wouldn’t believe you if you told me you spent less than 30 minutes a day (most of it on your phone) tweeting, posting, liking, sharing or pinning. That’s because studies show that adults in the U.S. spend an average of between two and four hours a day on social media sites. As New York Times writer Nick Bilton eloquently put it in “Reclaiming Our (Real) Lives from Social Media”:
“If Hemingway were alive in 2014, he might not have finished what he started writing that day. Realistically, he probably wouldn’t have even put a pen to paper. Instead, he might have ducked into the cafe, pulled out his smartphone and proceeded to waste an entire afternoon on social media. Perhaps he would update his Facebook to discuss the rogue weather, snap a picture of his café au lait to post on Instagram and then lose the rest of the afternoon to Twitter.”
What does all that time on social media mean to SEO? Gold. Seven of the top 10 search ranking factors now involve social media, according to recent stats from SearchMetrics, which annually develops a list of search engine ranking factors that shows correlation to rank improvements.
You can drive virtual busloads of traffic to your website by dedicating some of your social networking time to your business.
Figure out where the people you want to do business with are doing their social networking, and get active on those sites. Use your Facebook business page and Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to engage with customers, establish your expertise, and promote your products and services. Give your business a visual presence on Pinterest and Instagram. Seed your social interactions with links to specific (amazing) content on your website, and make getting to your social platforms from your website easy by putting social widgets on your home page.
If you’re consistent and creative with your social marketing strategy, you’re bound to see an increase in traffic to your website.
Research the competition
You can also refine your SEO strategy by analyzing the keywords your competitors use to drive traffic to their websites. You can identify your competitor’s keywords in a few different places on their website:
Keywords in the code: Start by checking out their meta tags, such as the title tag or the keywords tag. Typically, the first keyword in a title tag is usually the most important. To view the code:
1. Go to the website, and then right-click the page.
2. Click View Source. A new window opens with the website’s code.
The <title> tag is near the top of the page. If the site includes it, the meta name=”keywords” tag should be a few lines below. Both of these contain your competitor’s keywords.
Keywords in the text: A keyword density checker (search “keyword density checker” in any search engine) can quickly determine which keywords are prominent in your competitors’ website copy. Or, you can simply use “find” (press CTRL-F on your keyboard) to search for specific keywords.
Assuming your competitors follow SEO best practices, you can gain insight into some of the ways they handle SEO for their site in as little as 10 to 15 minutes.
Want to learn more? Here are a few great places to continue your SEO education:
Director of Global SEO at GoDaddy, Jim Christian believes in making things better. He accomplishes this through tireless hours of research, perfecting his gift for search engine marketing. Jim is grateful for the opportunity to pursue his passion while helping people and businesses succeed online. Connect with Jim on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out this resource.