Most savvy businesses know the internet can drive leads and customers to their website. The days of billboards and mail are gone, and Google has proven to be an extremely important tool in facilitating business growth. In fact, Search Engine Watch estimates that over 91 million searches are performed daily on Google. With this in mind, how can your business stand out and make it to the top?
Having a solid SEO plan can increase your online presence and improve your visibility on the internet’s biggest playing field. Combined with paid online streams, businesses can often see higher conversion rates. Let’s learn the basics.
How Does Google Rank Websites?
While the exact formula that Google uses to rank websites is unknown, viable sources have pieced together some of the main factors.
- Domain age: Google verified that older domains will rank better than new sites on the market.
- On-Page SEO: Your site should have keyword-focused meta tags, descriptions and content. However, keyword stuffing the content on your site is a method of the past and will hurt more rather than help.
- Local signals: NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency across listings and websites is important for local businesses. If you have multiple phone numbers or addresses associated with the history of your business, it may be time for a clean up.
- Links, links, links: Whether outbound or inbound, Google is paying attention to links associated with your website. Internal linking is important, but making sure that sites linking back to your domain are authoritative and industry-based can go a long way to improving your rankings.
It’s important to also know that Google is constantly reworking their algorithms to refine search results, so their ranking factors do change. This was proven when they released their Panda and Penguin updates throughout 2011 and 2012. Websites ranking in the top spots for keywords were suddenly wiped from the web due to bad SEO processes.
Keeping up to date with what Google is planning next can keep you ahead of competitors and allow you time to refine your strategy.
First Steps to Improving Search Results
If you are looking to improve your website’s rankings, start with a plan. SEO doesn’t happen overnight. Most sources will tell you that results from SEO efforts can take four to six months. While there are grey and even black hat methods that will get you to the top, if the search engines catch wind, you could be penalized heavily.
To create a plan of action, consider the following:
- Review title tags on the pages of your website.
- Review all meta tags and meta descriptions.
- Consider starting a blog and create content around important keywords.
- Run a backlink check to see where you are being linked to.
- Don’t have any links? Start finding authoritative sites in your industry’s space that would potentially link to your business.
These five steps will give you a head start over competitors who are doing nothing.
Combining Paid Streams to Go the Distance
Organic results are important, but paid online streams shouldn’t be discounted. Both Google and Bing have set up their pages to feature paid links prominently at the top, bottom and side. Inbound content can be combined with paid streams to boost results. If you have a compelling piece of content that is consistently discovered naturally, it could be a good candidate for a small Adwords or Facebook advertising campaign to drive your conversion rate further.
SEO is a constant process that requires dedication and monitoring. However, having a good plan and timely execution can influence your online rankings and maximize your conversion rates.