By Sean Harper, CEO and co-founder at Kin Insurance.
Every business needs a website, and search engine optimization (SEO) is an essential part of helping people find it online. Not only is SEO a low-cost and evergreen way to attract new customers and build brand awareness, but implementing a few basic strategies at the outset can have a major impact on your bottom line.
Here are some easy SEO practices that can help take your business’s site up a notch.
Build technical SEO strategies.
Technical SEO helps search engines read your website. If you improve the technical aspects of your site, you can usually improve both your rankings and your user experience. These basic technical SEO strategies are a great place to start:
• Boost your site speed: Think about your own browsing habits — when something takes forever to load, you aren’t as likely to stick around. Search engines see this as an indication that your site isn’t answering users’ questions and move you down in the rankings.
• Use internal links: By using internal links, you help search engines understand what content on your site is important and how it all relates to other pages. For example, a dog groomer’s website might link a blog post about trimming nails to a page listing its services.
• Avoid confusion: Search engines don’t like duplicate content or 404 errors popping up throughout a site. For that matter, neither do people. So if you move content, be sure to use a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new one to let search engines know where it went.
• Secure your site: Getting an SSL certificate is easy to do and gives your domain the higher priority “https” prefix rather than just “http.” Websites with an SSL certificate almost always rank higher than those without one.
The takeaway: Take the time to build a website that is easily navigable, loads quickly and doesn’t have broken links or pages. When everything works, you’ll make most search engines happier.
Write content with SEO in mind.
Whatever type of content you create — blog posts, videos or something else entirely — you need it to fulfill two fundamental requirements:
• Provide information that is important to your target audience.
• Show up in search engines so your target audience can find it.
A good way to start is to develop content that answers the questions your customers most frequently ask about your industry. By answering common questions, you ensure that your content is relevant.
But users can’t appreciate good content without finding it first, so the next part of the equation is keyword research. Keyword tools like SEMRush, Wordstream or Wordtracker let you find keywords that have good search volume, are easy to rank for and relevant to your business.
The reality is that you may have to get pretty granular to capture the audience share you want. Let’s look at Kin as an example. “Insurance” is an incredibly broad and competitive keyword that doesn’t tell us much about what the user is looking for. Do they want business insurance? Life insurance? Are they ready to buy or just doing research? It’s hard to say, so we aim for keywords that are relevant to what we do: homeowners insurance. This, and related keywords, may have less search volume but they’re more targeted.
Once you know your keywords, get them in your content. Every page of content should be optimized for a primary and secondary keyword. Experts recommend using your primary keyword once or twice for every 100 words of content. Secondary keywords don’t get used as much but should be peppered throughout the content.
The takeaway: Keeping SEO in mind ensures that you write content that your target audience is looking for. The more you deliver on what readers want, the more likely you are to rank higher in search results.
Build backlinks from trusted sources.
Earning links to your site from other websites shows your content is relevant and trustworthy. In fact, someone found your information so useful that they wanted to link back to your page as the source. Search engines read backlinks as a strong indication that your content is valuable.
In recent years, search engines have prioritized websites in search results that have a degree of credibility for the topic. That’s why you often hear SEO experts now talk about a website’s E-A-T, or its Expertise, Authority and Trust. Search engines like Google reward quality backlinks that come from well-known and authoritative websites.
Some backlinks may show up on your site without you doing anything, but the majority of businesses that take SEO seriously work to get other quality sites to link to them. This usually involves reaching out to webmasters and content developers of websites that you want a link from. Yes, you are asking for a link, but doing so in a way that provides the business case that explains why your content is relevant to their audience.
The takeaway: The better your content is, the more likely you are to get organic backlinks. You may also want to employ a link-building strategy that helps you get the sites that you really want to link to your site.
Learn how to interpret analytics.
The best websites do a good job of turning web traffic into customers. Do the people who come to your site take action? Are they signing up for your newsletter or buying from your store? Is there a page that’s getting a lot of views that could end up improving sales?
Any entrepreneur can use data to answer these questions. Free tools like Google Search Console and Google Analytics show you how much traffic you’re getting and where that traffic is going. Once you have baseline data, you can set realistic goals, whether that’s increasing traffic or keeping people on your site longer.
The takeaway: Data drives SEO campaigns. For entrepreneurs who are just getting started, there are plenty of free tools that can help you learn more about how users are engaging with your site.