Small businesses often rely on their websites for their success in a world where everything can be found online. Yet how can you make your site stand out in a crowd? Okay, not a crowd, more like everyone. For many people, it can seem like a daunting task to make your website the most search engine-compatible that it can be. Here at Marshall Communications, we’ve got some good news.

While there are certain things regarding your site’s structure that you may need a professional’s help with, many things you can do all on your own (for free!). Search engine optimization is largely about the content on your site. Having good content with the right keywords will help you attract targeted customers, which makes you and the search engines happy. Search engines are pretty smart these days. They are looking for what your clients or potential customers are looking for online. They are learning what constitutes a “good website.” Creating content to attract new visitors to your website, if done well, achieves both goals: good SEO and happy website visitors. In order to make sure your content is what search engines are looking for, here are some tips for SEO in today’s world.

On-page SEO Infographic

Good, Relevant Content

You are the expert. You know better than anyone what people want to know about your business. What questions do you or your employees get asked frequently? Maybe it’s why you are better than your competitor or why they should pay for something they can do (theoretically) themselves. Ask your staff for suggestions on what questions your website should answer.

If people then Google these very questions, and the answers they need are on your website, the site will rank higher in the results. If your content provides a good answer, with good, relevant content full of great SEO keywords that you’ve used organically, and don’t sound like the dreaded keyword jumble: “This page is all about great bagels! Do you like great fresh bagels? Get our great fresh bagels at our great fresh bagel sale tomorrow!” You want to write for the reader, not the search bots. When writing new content for a blog post or page update, you want it to be easy to read and keep the reader’s focus.

Content Length

According to many experts, your page’s content should be at least 2,000 words long. If this is hard to achieve, consider adding videos, as well. A short video demonstrating your products, or an interview with your clients can bring many visitors to your site who then spend some quality time on it, all of which is great for SEO.

Time Spent on Your Site Matters

Good content also keeps people on your site and time matters. Search engines know if people visit your site and then quickly leave, after not finding what they’re looking for — your job is to make them stay and read your content or watch your videos. Write what you would want to read. I always think it’s as important to enjoy writing your content as it is to read it.

Update Content

Don’t let your web pages get stale. Schedule regular updates to your pages — change the links you’ve posted, add a “New for 2017” section, change a few keywords.

Header Tags

Search engines rate keywords in header tags more heavily than elsewhere on your webpage. For example, on the Marshall Communications blog in May, Liz LeClair wrote a post called Social Responsibility is Everyone’s Responsibility. When you see the page, the header is the title. By including relevant terms in your header tags, the search engines can better rank it. If Liz had titled her header “May Blog Post” it gives no information to the reader or the search bots.

Use Good Links

It’s always a good SEO tip to have links to other sites or pages on your own site included in your content. For your customer, you are providing extra info they may value and for the search engines, you are reaffirming your content is of quality. Interconnectivity is important on the internet. But don’t just write “For more info about this, click here!” Use the hyperlink text as keyword text. Example: “Want to know more about what our clients think of us? Read our testimonials!” Hah, I just tricked you into reading glorious praise about Marshall Communications.

Keywords in the Metadata

If you designed your website using companies like WordPress or GoDaddy, when creating pages you should make sure your meta tags also have keywords. When under the hood, so to speak, of your website, it would look something like this: Don’t go crazy and jam a bunch of keywords, a handful is enough. Think of them as useful tweets to search engines. The most important meta tags are the title and description and these appear in search results.

Earn Repeat Traffic

Search engines love repeat traffic. If your customers have a reason to return to your site, this is great for search ranking. You can do this several ways, like offering new content from weekly or monthly blog posts, updating your calendar or events regularly, or offering a weekly tip.

UX – User Experience

UX is what us cool kids call user experience. Is your site easy and enjoyable to use? You want your site to be nice to look at — not too cramped or overwhelming — while still providing a visitor with the info they searched for. Navigation should be easy and no page should be buried beneath layers of other pages. The general rule of thumb is no more than three clicks to get to a page. If you look at your site map (which you should have for SEO, as well) you can see how many clicks it would take for a visitor to get to all of your pages. A search function is great, too — that way they can search for what they are looking to find on your site and immediately see all the pages where that content (or keywords) is mentioned.