Search engine optimization (or “SEO” for short) is an important aspect of marketing in the digital age. It’s no secret that customers and would-be customers all over the country access the internet by typing queries into search engines – particularly into Google, which holds the lion’s share of the search engine market.
It’s also no secret that customers decide where to take their hard-earned money by performing these searches – not just in traditional search engines, but in maps apps and review apps like Yelp as well.
Gone are the days when a great location and a big ad in the Yellow Pages were enough. Today, a business’ ideal location is at the top of the search engine results page.
But while SEO’s purpose is pretty straightforward, executing a successful SEO plan can be tricky. Thanks to the top-secret nature of Google’s algorithm and ever-changing best practices, SEO is a very complicated thing. How can your business achieve its SEO goals?
1] Set clear and achievable goals
SEO is about making your business online presence as appealing as possible to Google and the other search engines. You want to be as high up on the results pages for as many relevant queries as possible.
But what’s a good goal to shoot for? Which competitors do you need to edge out? Which keyword phrases are attainable, and which might be out of reach? Setting concrete goals will help you organize your SEO strategy.
2] Optimize your site for local searches
When search engines were new, they tended to give similar results to searchers all over. That meant that local businesses didn’t have to worry too much about SEO, a person searching for “auto repair” would probably get an online encyclopedia or how-to site, not a competitor’s website.
That’s not the case anymore. Google pioneered and then nearly perfected the world of local search, and modern searchers frequently perform their searches from mobile devices with the express goal of finding local businesses. You need to succeed in local searches, and that means focusing on local SEO.
That, in turn, means that you need to make sure that your business puts its location information online, uses relevant local search terms as keywords, and appears correctly on maps apps like Google Maps.
3] Measure, test, and record
There are a lot of variables at play in SEO, and that can make it hard to determine what’s working and what isn’t. How fast are you progressing? Which techniques are working, and which aren’t?
Good SEO strategies include lots of A/B testing, lots of recording of stats and rankings, and more than a little patience on the parts of SEO pros and business leaders. Some “long tail” SEO strategies take quite a long time to bear fruit, and even the fastest SEO changes can take weeks or months to manifest in your website’s rankings.
As for the financial bottom line of SEO, that will take even longer to materialize. But, if your SEO is done right, the financial rewards absolutely will come eventually. SEO is a long process, but careful calculations and a steady hand will be rewarded.
Keeping a record of the results will help you and your SEO team make sure that you’re doing the right things, moving in the right direction, and getting the results you expect.
4] Work with the right professionals
If you want great SEO for your business, there’s one thing that you should choose not to do: work on SEO all by yourself.
Sure, there’s some basic stuff that any business owner can do, but make no mistake: SEO is an exceedingly complex art, and only professionals who focus on it full-time can give you the results you need.