That’s the million dollar question, right? Everyone wants their website to be the top of the search results for the keywords and questions that their customers are searching for. And there’s plenty of agencies and individuals selling SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services and claiming that they can ensure your website is #1.
But no one can guarantee any particular ranking, unless they are in charge at Google! But there’s still lots you (and your web developer– if that’s me, great!) can do to ensure your website will be a strong competitor.
Here’s some Real Facts in a nutshell on how to successfully improve your website’s SEO.
1. Follow best practices.
Google wants the best, most relevant results for every query that gets searched. So work with them to make that your website. Google provides a good deal of info on how to make sure that your website complies with these best practices. A site built accordingly will be easy to understand for Google’s army of bots which search the internet for relevant results.
To find out how your website compares to best practices, I use a variety of tools like Lighthouse, which analyzes your overall page quality and returns score on things like performance, technical SEO, best practices, and accessibility. I relentlessly prioritize these factors in your website, so you can be assured that when Google measures your site, it will be in excellent shape in all these areas.
2. Imitate the competition
Please note, this doesn’t mean copying their content, design, or their exact marketing strategy! 😱
With that caveat– the easiest way to outrank a competitor is to see what they’re doing right and do it better. So who are your main competitors? What kinds of content do they post on their website? What social media are they on, and how often do they post? How many reviews do they have, and how highly do customers rank them on average?
When you find answers for these questions, you might find that you need to add more content, get (and respond to!) more customer reviews, improve your photo content, or better learn where your customers are searching for your services online.
4. Optimize for the user
Your content shouldn’t sound as if it’s optimized for robots! Don’t be tempted to stuff your keywords into every sentence or paragraph. Yes, you need to use important keywords in your content, but your content should be primarily be aimed at benefiting the real human beings who read it.
One way you can do this is by thinking about the commonly asked questions that people have about your services or products. What is the problem that they are typically having when they begin to search for your services or products? Your website should describe that situation and reassure them that you understand it, and have a solution!
Another way to cater to your potential customers is to answer their objections. What is the number one competitor to your product or service? By competitor, I don’t necessarily mean another business– it could be something else, like DIY. For example, the number one competitor to a pool service business might not be the other pool service guy who does it cheaper– it might be homeowners cleaning their own pools!
Writing your website’s copy with the customer in mind can be much, much more persuasive than simply regurgitating keywords.
Imagine two pool service companies– one has a one-page website with a simple list of their services and contact information, and one has that PLUS a blog where they regularly answer common questions like “Is it worth it to pay for pool service?”
Now imagine a potential customer searches for “is pool service worth it?”– which website do you think Google will rank higher?
Not only will that customer probably click on the website that answers their question vs. the one that only lists their services, they will probably stay longer and visit other pages on your website. Google will evaluate this behavior and may decide that your website should show up for MORE related queries based on that successful response.
5. Optimize for the search engine.
Google’s algorithm is good and gets better all the time. But it’s not perfect. So you need to make sure that what’s obvious to you is obvious to a robot, too. Mostly, this happens behind the scenes in your website’s code, which I take great care to ensure is completely optimized.
But there’s things you can do, too. One is making sure that your content reflects the language that people are actually searching for.
Industry jargon can be very common, but if your business caters to customers rather than business-to-business (b2b), you may need to research how customers are actually talking about your products or services.
You can do this by reading reviews of the competition, doing keyword research with tools like AnswerThePublic, and listening carefully (and making notes!) when you speak to customers in person, email, or on the phone.
6. Measure health and performance.
Your website needs to be in great shape to serve your business well. That means that it should be free of any technical errors, like broken links, missing images, or pages that are hard to use on mobile devices.
It should also load quickly for everyone, including those on mobile networks and on devices like tablets, phones, or even smart watches.
I am obsessed with improving performance and making sure every website I build uses best practices to be accessible to all– so your website will be shipshape when Google comes a-callin’.
7. Rinse and repeat
Lastly, it’s important to realize that SEO is not a one-and-done service. It’s a process that needs to be continued throughout the life of your website. So if you subscribe to a website care plan, know that I will be there to help you improve your website by adding content, helping you strategize your content, and making sure your website is up-to-date and working well for your business.
Follow all these steps and don’t give up– your website can be climbing up the search engine results ranking sooner than you might think!