If you owned a gelato stand, you’d want to make sure that you did everything you could to get people in, right? Anyone who invests in a website for their business should care about how people will find them. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is where you start on your website investment. You may have heard it being called organic or natural search but don’t worry, it’s all the same thing. SEO isn’t tough or complicated, it’s just a time consuming series of small moves that will eventually (you hope) have an aggregate effect getting found.
Consider this your front door. It tells you who is coming to look for gelato, what flavors people search for most often, where they come from, and who walked away. Install Google analytics on your site. It’s free and has a series of online tutorials if you really want to take the time to get to know it. But since you are reading an article on “SEO tips” we assume you don’t have the time to become an expert so install it, make sure it’s pulling data, and let it be for month or so. GA is not perfect by any means but it costs nothing so who are you to complain?
This is your general manager. It tells you if there are problems with the gelato cooler, if a server is slow, or if people can’t find the spoons and napkins. Webmaster tools has become more robust in the last few years and should become your dashboard of website health. From pages not found, to speed issues, to recommendations – Webmaster tools will help diagnose issues you would not have found without it.
This is your marketing plan. Do you want people to find you in the yellow pages? Do you put a sandwich board out on the sidewalk? Do you tweet daily flavors (our favorite places do!) or are you on Yelp? Try to update your site by adding meaningful content on a regular basis – weekly is a good start. This will show search engines that not only are you engaged in your site, but that you also are providing helpful information to other users. A more complex content strategy is used for sites that blog, are active on social media sites, etc. but if that sounds overwhelming, start out small.
This is your menu – can people read it? Despite the gelato analogy, it’s nearly the same thing for your site. Font technology has come a long way in the last three years. Making sure that you’re minimally using system fonts, if not web fonts. This goes for not only paragraphs and body copy but also headers and is key to letting search engines crawl your site.
If gelato entrepreneurs had the perfect plan every time they opened a business with the perfect location, menu, and recipes … we’d have one on every corner and they’d never go out of business. However, unlike gelato flavors, there is no magic recipe for SEO. No search engine will tell you all of the things you need to do to get ahead but people (like us) who do this a lot have some ideas of things that will help you. If you hire someone to help with your site, make sure they are reputable. Like any sales and marketing field, we have more than our share of hucksters and snake oil salesman who can actually do more damage than good.
Those small tips are a good start. We’ll follow up with what to do with those Webmaster tools and Google analytics accounts in the next post of this series.