How to Improve Your SEO Rankings: The Basics
Search Engine Optimization is a common concern among promo distributors, for good reason. Google search has become a major part of the buying process. Being found when potential clients are searching online is critical to sustained business growth.
But SEO remains somewhat of a mystery for most business owners. Some are trying to figure it out on their own using the trial and error method, which tends to produce inconsistent results. Others have hired someone to “do SEO” without getting results that justify their expenditure. That said, there are a few distributors who are getting it right. They seem to be everywhere because they dominate search results, and most importantly, get new leads and sales on a regular basis.
The best approach, if you can afford it, is to hire an expert because of the time and the skills required for the highest ROI. The investment will more than pay for itself. But if you’re on a tight budget and have the time and inclination, these tips will get you going in the right direction.
Either way, as a business owner, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the basics of how it works. If you plan to roll up your sleeves and tackle it yourself, print out these tips to use as your checklist. If you’re planning to hire staff or outsource to a marketing firm, having a basic knowledge and understanding of how SEO works will help you determine if a program that’s presented for your consideration makes sense.
Main SEO Factors: On-Site and Off-Site
A solid SEO program starts with knowing your best keywords. Much of the optimization process is based on utilizing those keywords in your content and other parts of your website. The goal is that your site shows up at the top of the results when people search for those keywords.
There are two distinct SEO factors that affect your online presence: on-site factors, occurring within your website, and off-site, occurring on the internet at large, outside your website. An effective SEO work plan must address both. Before getting started, it is necessary to run an Online Presence Audit to identify issues that you might not see but affect site performance.
Below I’m listing the essentials to make your website easier to index by the search engines, thus helping you achieve higher ranking and improving your overall online presence. These are very basic and, despite the numerous and frequent changes in Google’s algorithms, they continue to hold true. Use them as a checklist both if you want to do the work yourself, or for reference if you’re hiring someone to do it for you.
On-Site Optimization Action Steps
- Make a list of the top keywords you want to rank for, targeting one per page
- Include a targeted keyword in the page URL
- Make your URL’s pages short
- Include the keywords you want to rank for at the beginning of the title tags
- Include keywords and keyword phrases in images and video
- Use internal and external links to related website pages
- Integrate social sharing buttons on your web pages
- Publish helpful content that includes keywords, regularly
- Run a check on your website loading time and make necessary improvements
- Add pages with relevant information about your products and services (the more the better)
Off-Site Optimization Action Steps
- Very important: Make sure your business name and address are written in the exact same way in all directories and platforms you register your site
- Register your site in Google My Business and Google Maps
- Register your site to review directories
- Create—and maintain—social media profiles
- Ask your clients to post reviews on any of your social profile pages or review sites
- Submit your site to local business directories
SEO is a critical aspect of expanding your reach to new potential clients. Everyone turns to Google, Yahoo or Bing when they need information on anything, any time of the day or night. If nobody finds you, you don’t exist.
The right SEO efforts will have a compounding effect on your online presence, that will expand continuously over time. What you do today, if done correctly, will continue to work for you for a long time.
Additionally, many of the most important ranking factors are also best business practices you should be doing for your business anyway. Social media, blogging and online reviews are all elements of SEO that also carry an important marketing value in this digital age.
For more marketing articles, free webinars and guides specific to the promo business, visit the Resources section of ActionMarketingCo.com.
This article was first published in The Action Marketing Blog.
Gloria Lafont is a mother, grandmother and business owner. Throughout her business career she has started, bought and sold a dozen businesses in the branding and marketing field, including a distributor company. She’s currently president of Action Marketing Co., founded in 2007. Her company focuses on helping distributors increase visibility, generate awareness and drive traffic so they can connect with more of their ideal clients and generate more leads and sales.
Gloria is a big fan and supporter of education and the cultural arts, volunteering her time and donating marketing support over the years to help various organizations grow in membership and revenue. She also enjoys the South Florida lifestyle mix of business, beaches and arts.