Updated: Apr 19, 2020
One of the organic growth strategies in digital marketing is search engine optimization (SEO). SEO controls who gets to appear first when users search for specific keywords on Google or any other search engine. SEO is time-consuming and even if you do all the necessary steps and the hard work, it is challenging to become ranked higher in search results. Basically, you need to work on two main components: on-site optimization and off-site optimization.
On-site optimizations are things that you should do to your own website to help it become ranked high. Off-site optimization is about having your website popular on other websites (i.e. links to your website).
The first and most important part in search engine optimization is keywords research. The output of you keywords research is a list of keywords (i.e. phrases) that are related to what your selling and users already use to look for stuff on search engine. Besides brainstorming, there are tools that can help you see what users already search for and trends in a specific location. Also, these can give you like ideas or variations for the relevant keywords. These tools include Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends. For example, if you were selling flowers in Manhattan, how do you know if people are actually typing on Google "flowers in Manhattan" or "lilies in New York city". So, there are variations of each keyword that are related to what you sell and you need to content that have those popular variations.
After conducting your keywords research, you should have a list that contains at least 50 different keywords that are very specific to what you're selling. It is important in keywords research not to have broader or shorter keywords for example if you have an Italian restaurant in Boston. Do not just try to optimize for "Italian restaurant in Boston" because there are tons of them and it will be very difficult to rank high for that keyboard. Instead, look at what really makes you different or special. For example, if you offer good seafood, optimize for "Italian seafood restaurant in Boston".
Your website should load fast. It should be well-designed visually and should not have any broken internal links or broken links to it. Also, it should be mobile-friendly. This is a very important criterion that Google considers for ranking. Most website building tools now can do responsive design (e.g., Wix, WordPress). Responsive design means that your website is going to look good and organized on a desktop, a tablet or a mobile device of any OS. Your website should be user-friendly. Your layout should be simple and easy to use. Do not crowd your pages with many images, fonts and colors. Google looks at those user experience (UX) aspects and ranks your website accordingly.
Your website content must include the exact keywords. It is going to be challenging to do that and still keep a readable appealing content. Your copywriter would not be happy about it but such exercise should be done in collaboration so you have balanced content.
Integrate those keywords and repeat then in your pages text. You also need to optimize (use the keywords) in your pages' titles (the title that appears on web browser window). Next, you need to optimize your images. This includes optimizing the images file names and alt-tags (the text that appears when you hover an image). In addition, optimize your hyperlinks. These include page names and alt-text. Pages description is also an important factor. Users do not actually see pages description on your pages but they see it when they search for keywords on a search engine and your page comes as one of the results. Also, you can optimize video scripts, titles, tags and descriptions. Videos are becoming very important for Google recently.
Updating your website content frequently is also important for ranking. One way to keep fresh content is have a blog. Include videos in those blogs and maximize the use of your content.
Choosing the website building platform is important to help you do all of those on-site optimization easily. There are plenty of tools that you can use (e.g. Wix, Drupal and WordPress). Thoe offer a user-friendly way to build websites and have options to include all those search engine optimization techniques. Choose a tool that a non-technical person feels comfortable using.
Google also ranks your page based on how popular they are on other websites. This simply means having links on other websites to your pages. The more likes you have to your webpage, the higher the rank. However, links count is not the only criterion. Links quality is also important. So, if you have a link from a high-ranked website or a very credible or popular website, you will get ranked much higher than if you get links from a regular average website.
One way to have links to your website is listing your business in every relevant directory. Think about Google business places, Google Maps, Bing business places, relevant industry directories, chambers of commerce, Yellow Pages anywhere you can have a listing with a link to your website is going to be useful for your ranking.
Another way is link exchanges. Simply put, have links for your partners on your website and ask them to return the favor. Think about inviting influencers or popular bloggers to be guest bloggers in one of your blogs. Also, make sure your business location is accurate and it is listed in the proper category in local searches. Include videos, photos, tags, description, and any relevant content . This will help you to get higher in local search (i.e., when people search for services that is near to their location). Also, think about your customers. If your customers are happy with your service, ask them to have links to your website on their websites.