Getting your business found online should be on everyone’s list of top marketing goals. Organically landing on Google’s elusive first page isn’t easy, but it’s certainly not impossible. In this post we’ll take a look at a few things your website absolutely must have when it comes to competing for Google’s organic search results, as opposed to their paid search results.
SEO vs. SEM Differences for Google Search Results
In this post we are talking specifically about SEO (search engine optimization) and not about SEM (search engine marketing) which includes paid advertising on Google. SEO is something you cannot buy, but is a result of how well your site is optimized and designed for the given search terms you are hoping to rank for.
The ads are clearly marked in Google and typically appear at the top and on the right side of a Google search results page. Organic search results are everything else that appears in the middle of the page.
Keyword Definitions & Examples
Keywords are the words and phrases that you type into a search box on Google (or other search engines). When developing a keyword strategy for your website, ask yourself, “What are people searching for to find my products and services?” and “What problem (or question) does my product or service solve for them?”
There are several kinds of keywords.
- Branded keywords: Include the specific name of your company (ex. Levis)
- Non-branded keywords: Include generic search terms that can include products or services (ex. blue jeans)
- Long-tail keywords: Are more specific and longer search terms (ex. slim fit Levi blue jeans in Chicago?)
Each of these types of keywords can be applied to the different stages of the sales cycle (early research, decision making, and so on) which is why it’s important to show up for the many different kinds of keywords that your prospects might be searching for.
On-Page SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Factors
There are a number of in-depth things you can do as part of your SEO strategy. To get started though, you don’t have to be an SEO expert. Be sure that the following areas on each page of your website incorporate keywords whenever possible:
- Page Title: This is the most important factor for SEO and should include the keywords you want to be found for
- Custom URL: Keep it short and include keywords that relate to the content on the page
- Meta Descriptions: This is an HTML tag that is not a ranking factor, but is used to increase your CTR (click-through rate) and drive conversions. (This is what you see showing up below the link in a search engine result)
- Alt Text for Images: Use keywords when possible that help to describe images on your website
- Header Tags: Header tags are headings that describe the content of your page. Search engines use these to determine what the page is about. The H1 header tag is the most important, H2 is the second most important, H3 is third, etc.
Inbound & External Links
Links to and from your site can help you rank higher in Google searches because search engines place high value in links as a ranking factor. An inbound link is a quality link from another site (preferably an authoritative site) to relevant content on your site. Inbound links make it easier to get more information on a topic and also allow the user to visit other pages on your site. External links (also known as outbound links) point from your website to other relevant sites.
Mobile Optimized Site
Google is now penalizing websites that are not optimized for mobile viewing, so be sure that your website is mobile-friendly for all devices including smart phones and tablets. But fear not, Google offers tools to find out if you are mobile friendly.
Get Started Today
Don’t be overwhelmed if you’re not a SEO expert. There are lots of resources online, but the most important tip is start today to boost your Google ranking. You can always start small and follow the most basic best practices. You can also think about hiring an expert to help you achieve your search engine goals when you are ready to take things to the next level.