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  • Annand Sharma

Tech Recipe: 🔟 Steps for Optimizing Your Search Engine Ranking

Background:

In an age where almost every business has an online presence, getting your website to rank highly on search engine results, especially Google, is crucial. This process, known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), helps enhance your site's visibility to potential customers. Think of it as setting up a neon sign in a busy digital marketplace, urging visitors to step in.


Shopping List:

Base Layer:

  • Your web host Content Management System (CMS)

    • You’re probably using WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, or a similar tool. These website design and hosting tools have some SEO features built in as well as additional plugins available. It’s important to be familiar with the ins and outs of your CMS.

Add-ons:

This set of free tools are provided by Google and Microsoft. They are designed to allow you to share more information with the search engine, understand your performance and ranking, and give you real tips and insight for how to improve.

  • Google My Business

    • Provides insights into how Google and other Google services view your website. Essential for local businesses as you can customize the photos, hours, locations, and other business details.

  • Bing Webmaster Tools

    • Provides insights into how Bing (and Yahoo!) views your website.

  • Google Search Console

    • Offers insights on how Google perceives your website, and provides alerts for any issues that may affect your ranking.

  • Google PageSpeed Insights

    • Assesses how fast your webpage loads under various configurations and offers recommendations on how to improve those.

  • Semrush

    • A comprehensive tool for keyword research, tracking keyword ranking, and scrutinizing competitors.

  • Ahrefs

    • This tool has some overlap with Semrush, but it’s well known for its backlink analysis feature.


Cooking Instructions:

  • Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing:

    • If you have a local business, this step is crucial. Fill out every section of your GMB profile, add photos, be sure to use the same name, address, and phone number across this and all other presences.

    • Once you set it up, Google gives you access to rich information about your profile performance as seen in this screenshot:

A screenshot of Google Business Profile performance results

  • Register With Bing Webmaster Tools:

    • While Google dominates search, millions of people use Bing or other search engines powered by Bing. Set and manage this up in tandem with Google My Business.

  • Use Google PageSpeed Insights to find ways to make your site load faster and be more mobile friendly:

A screenshot of Google PageSpeed Insights Results
  • Enhance Mobile Friendliness:

    • With more users accessing websites via mobile devices, all search engines will prioritize mobile-friendly sites. Make use of Google PageSpeed Insights to understand what you need to optimize.

    • You may need a web developer, but most tweaks should be possible through your CMS.

  • Improve Page Load Speed:

    • Slow loading pages hurt your search engine ranking and may also cause users to “bounce” meaning they leave before the page even loads.

    • In this case implementing the recommended changes are likely to require some web development resources.

  • Security:

    • Ensure your site uses HTTPS, a secure version of HTTP. Google gives preference to secure websites.

    • Your Web Hosting CMS should provide options for SSL certificates. SSL certificates can be purchased from your domain registrar (which is a company like GoDaddy) or you can create and install one for free from Let’s Encrypt. This step may seem technical, but if you have access to your CMS and domain registration vendor you can do this.

  • Rectify Broken Links:

    • Any time a page links is either misleading or a dead end, it’s a poor user experience. Broken links also negatively impact SEO.

    • Most CMS platforms, like WordPress, have plugins to detect broken links. If yours doesn’t, Ahrefs can be used for this as well.

  • Optimize Content Tags:

    • All webpages are HTML underneath. Search engines “read” that HTML which means it’s crucial that all relevant meta tags, header tags, and alt tags are properly filled out. This helps search engines understand the content of your pages. Search engines are looking to see that the content the user sees matches the content in the HTML.

A screenshot of the SEO optimization tools in Wix
  • Most built in CMS SEO optimizations will offer a feature that focuses on the tags. For a deeper dive, Semrush and Ahrefs can help identify places on your site where there are issues. You will have to address this in your CMS. This may take some web development resources to fix.

  • Ensure There Are No Orphan Pages:

    • Orphan pages are those that aren't linked to by any other page on your site. They can be almost impossible for search engines to discover. This may be OK for email marketing landing pages or other temporary content, however, if it’s something you want people to see you have to link to it in other ways.

    • You can use Semrush or Ahrefs to detect orphan pages.

  • Perform Keyword Research:

    • Identify terms relevant to your business that potential customers might search for. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your content.

    • Semrush and Ahrefs are excellent for this type of keyword research.

  • Regularly Update Content:

    • Search engines strongly favor sites that are frequently updated. Consider starting a blog or news section related to your business or industry.

    • Your CMS will be vital here as that is your content hub. Leverage the insights from the keyword research before to help identify content that your customers are looking for.

  • Backlinks:

    • These are links from other websites to yours. They act as votes of confidence in your content. Aim for high-quality backlinks from reputable sources.

    • Having customers, suppliers, or other business partners create links to your content is incredibly valuable to all search engines. Backlinks can happen organically but you may want to put in some strategy around creating a few more.

    • Ahrefs is known for its backlink analysis capability. This can give you a signal on how you’re performing.

Conclusion

Search Engine Optimization is not one and done. Once you have implemented these best practices it must be part of your routine to check performance and stay on top of changes and new features. The good news is that with the right combination of tools and processes in place, you’ll know when changes need to get made. Most of these improvements are about “hygiene” and can be done with free software or software you already bought. Well done SEO creates a lasting advantage. Get started today!


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