Let me start by asking for a little favour. Take a moment and think how you end up on most websites that you visit. Do you type the address? Do you go through a saved bookmark on your device? Do you use Google or a similar search engine?
The probable answer is you - like most people - get to most websites through a search engine like Google. It starts with a phrase relevant to a question you have and soon, you choose the link to click from the results that come up. If you are like me, you rarely visit the second page (unless I am really desperate)
Usually, you will probably click one or several of the first five websites. Sometimes you scroll lower if you can't find something interesting.
Now let's get back to your website.
From the above information, it thus means that for your website to stand a chance to be clicked, you have to be on the first page under a certain keyword - and for a truly good chance - you have to be within the first five results.
Thus comes the million dollar question. How do you achieve this?
Well, you can achieve this by assisting search engines find, index and categorize your website properly - as well as rate the quality of your content highly - through Search Engine Optimization. And below, I will share my check list of five most important items to ensure your website ranks highly in search engines.
1) Quality Content
Search engines use robots to visit web pages and scour it for content. Once they find the content, they try and guess what kind of content it has (using keywords on your website helps this process). However, the kind of content it finds will be ranked against countless other such content. For this reason, high quality content is key in getting a good ranking for your website.
Usually, quality of content is measured by search engines how many other pages on other websites the search engines find that are linking to your content (and yes, even social media shares count). The rationale is that the more links that exist linking to a piece of content, the more popular (and valuable) it is. Thus, this is a good indicator of how many people found your content valuable.
It is therefore paramount to invest in good quality content on your web pages and your blog if you have one (you truly should have one)
2) Keyword Research
Keywords are the words and phrases people type of Google that end up guiding them to your website (or those of your competition). Knowing what these words are is key in your SEO strategy. Tools like the Google Search Console and Google Analytics help you know what words people are typing to get to your website.
A simple hack to find the keywords and phrases people are using around a given topic is this. Type it on Google (without hitting enter) and wait to see the suggestions that come up. These suggestions are a guide for you when both creating content and optimizing it for search engines.
3) On-site SEO
Once you have the content and the keywords, it is time to do the work on your website. First, ensure the website is mobile friendly and that it loads fast enough. Google punishes websites that are not mobile friendly by lowering their page rank in favour of those with mobile friendly designs. They also punish slower website in favour of faster ones.
Second, get the keywords onto your website if you know how or ask your web developer for assistance. If you are using WordPress, install Yoast Plugin to assist with this. Lastly, ensure your website URLs are friendly. To make it clear, www.example.com/products.php?id=55 is bad. www.example.com/products/baby_monitor_with_cute_sounds is awesome!
4) Tracking Tools
Tracking tools - like the two mentioned in the second point - are great at tracking the performance of your website. For starters, use Google Webmaster Tools to test and track various things on your website e.g Mobile friendliness, Search Keywords etc. You can also test your website speed using Google's Speed Test Tool. Also, ensure you have Google Analytics installed. There are numerous other tools you can use especially to see what kind of keywords your competition is using but that is a post for another day.
5) Content Marketing
Finally, now that you have done most of the work, it is time to market your content. It would not make a lot of sense to spend time creating awesome content that no one looks at. For starters, share it on you social media pages. Also, ensure you have share buttons for those who read and like to have tools to help them also share.
More importantly, invest a little budget as well whenever possible to get more people to read your content using Facebook's promoted posts, ads and Google ads. The more people encounter quality content, the more the number of links from various platform leading to your website will be.
And that's that! My five items for you to be effective at your SEO. Once you do these things, I am sure you will be on your way to better performance on search engines.
Of course there are many others ways to boost your search engine score which cannot all be shared within one post but with these five items, you are more than likely to start reaping the benefits of more traffic on your website.
And with that, go ahead and prosper!