Firstly, it is my hope that all of you and your people are safe and healthy.
As our businesses rely on online presence now more than ever before, I hope this article is useful to help you understand and make strategic improvements to the most immediately actionable factors you have in your control to increase your rank so more of your best prospects easily find you.
You have likely heard the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization) this could best be understood as creating your site, individual pages and posts so they will be deemed the optimal one to be presented in SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for a given term or phrase. There are many factors that affect your site's ranking on these pages and they all add up to inform Google of the overall quality of your site as the most appropriate listing for that term.
There are so many actionable opportunities that most small business owners leave on the table. Acting on even a handful of these can give you an edge, helping your website reach its full potential, particularly if your competitors are not attending to them. A site audit is one way to detect and specifically identify all of them, this article just skims the surface with things most site owners could act on today. The image attached is a very typical audit result. So many opportunities to improve the average site - so much low hanging fruit the site left unharvested.
The primary factors to your best possible rank are technical site security, performance and speed (time on page, bounce rates, and more), mobile friendliness, content quality, amount, focus and authenticity, social signals or 'proof', crawlability issues, user experience (UX), links coming in and out of your site, even your domain URL and age and your site's overall E_A_T Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. All of these factors affect your site being indexed accurately or, in some cases, at all.
Here are just a few of the most common and most easily and immediately actionable opportunities:
Security: If you have been to a CAWEE meeting you have heard me speak about SSL (Secure Socket Layer). This is purchased and implemented through your host and it is very important. The seemingly insignificant difference between a URL beginning with https:// instead of http:// makes all the difference to your rank and user experience. All implementations are not equal and most hosts take your money and flip the switch to https:// not completing critical practices like scanning the site for any remaining references to http:// or creating a redirect so Google knows all past references to your site that began with http://... now go to https://.... Without this your site can be penalized and/or it can appear duplicate content with half of that content deemed as insecure. Another opportunity to rise above your competitors if you do SSL and do it right. There are other security concerns but this one is one of the most important.
Link health: You've probably heard about inbound links (maybe from me) which are commonly referred to as "backlinks." Get as many of these from authoritative sites linking back to your site as you can over time. You should also be sure you don't have any coming in from low authority sites (sites with a high spam score). Outbound links are also important as they enhance the quality and value of content you are creating for your visitors. Link out to reliable, relevant, sites with high domain authority in your business niche.
With each new piece of informative, relevant content you create, building a web of inter connected internal links helps users find what they need and stay on the site longer (good for SEO) it also helps your site to be crawled by search engines more effectively - supporting better ranking. When you create links to, from, or within your site, that text should be descriptive of where the link is going - this is called anchor text!
Titles, Meta Tags and Alt Tags
Probably the easiest thing to add and the most neglected which means another easy leg up on your competition. It is a less important factor than social proof (another article entirely) or mobile friendliness but it is a factor and it adds easy positive, rank-raising value. If you have a WordPress site and are running Yoast this is the easiest way to get in and add or edit these as well as to expertly tweak your on page SEO (another article to come). You can see from the attached example of a typical Site Audit first page, how many references there are missing, too long or duplicate titles, alt or meta tags. These vary in impact from errors that penalize the site to simply missed opportunities to help the site rank better. The Title tag is one of the first things a search engine looks for on a page to simply initially verify what the page is about and where the business is - it is also what controls the actual title that appears on a search result page you have 50-60 characters to control. Many sites have the same title tag for every page. So easy to remedy and so much value added for usability and rank. Alt tags are an opportunity to name images with relevant text that is also factored in. Then, writing your own 156 character Meta description for each page lets you directly control that little paragraph that shows up under the title of your page in an SERP listing.
For a complete itemized report on your site, please contact me to inquire about a lite site audit. Already my loss-leader, foot-in-the-door service, I am offering it to CAWEE members at less than half of my normal price during this unusual time to help you get a leg up online. I welcome the opportunity to complete a site audit with you to inform actions you may take to improve your ranking today.
Boost Principal, Susan Ward empowers clients by demystifying and simplifying the process, leaving them with a full understanding and in complete control of their investment in an online presence. Contact Susan through firstname.lastname@example.org