Anyone who works in the promotional or marketing industries has probably heard the term SEO at least once. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has become such a key facet of modern business and competitive marketing strategies that entire books have been written on the subject. And rightfully so. Maintaining an elevated SEO ranking is a continuous and complicated process; user search patterns are constantly changing, and new and old web sites are always vying for the same top slots on page one of the search results. It’s not uncommon for big businesses to invest hefty sums in SEO strategies to help keep them at the top of the heap. But even if your business doesn’t necessarily have an SEO budget, there are still some relatively easy things you can do to bump up your search rankings.
IMPROVE PAGE LOAD SPEED
Having a fast loading web site not only makes for a better visitor experience; it also improves your search rankings. Search engines like Google will favor well-designed, efficient web pages that load quickly over pages that are bogged down by large files or images, or that include lots of third-party scripts. In fact, Google wants your pages to load faster, which is why they have a handy free tool that you can use to analyze your web site’s speed and diagnose any potential pitfalls. It’s aimed more towards advanced users, but anyone can check it out here.
Here’s a quick checklist of recommendations to help improve your page load speed:
Compress large images to help them load faster.
Use caching to prevent reloading the same resources over and over.
Avoid using custom fonts if possible.
Limit use of 3rd party scripts, and delete any that aren’t being used.
Consider switching web hosts to one that offers CDN services.
KEEP TRACK OF SEARCH TRENDS
This one is more involved and requires a more active approach, but it can prove very beneficial. Using a tool like Google Analytics to keep track of what visitors are searching for when they reach your site can help you stay on top of search trends as they change. For instance, if one week you find that more visitors were drawn to your site by searching for a specific product, you might consider tailoring your next ad campaign towards that product in order to capitalize on the increased interest. Or, if you notice lots of search traffic landing on a specific article or resource on your site, you might consider adding more links to that page to other areas on your site to keep visitors sticking around longer. Which brings us to our next item.
GIVE VISITORS WHAT THEY WANT
Maintaining fast load times and keeping up-to-date with search trends is vital if you want to make it to the top of the search results. But even once you’re there, your job isn’t over.
Search engines track how much time visitors spend on your pages (referred to as dwell time) when they link from search results. The average dwell time for a page should be between 2-4 minutes; that should give a visitor enough time to get a feel for your site and find what they need. A page on your site may make it to the top of Google search results for a certain word or phrase, but if visitors aren’t tending to dwell on your site for very long, Google will perceive that as a sign that your visitors aren’t finding what they want, and thus your page’s search ranking declines.
As such, it’s important to understand and capitalize on visitor intent. If the title of your page doesn’t accurately describe the page content, or if the crux of what visitors are searching for is difficult to find, they’ll just click away from your page and look somewhere else. Similarly, if your page is poorly organized or hard to navigate, visitors likely won’t stay very long. Higher dwell time means your visitors are engaging with the content of your site more, and that will lead to higher search rankings.
Here’s a list of tips to help increase your visitors’ dwell time:
Make sure your page layout is clean and organized.
Make sure any text content is well-written and understandable, and all images are crisp and visually appealing (not to mention functional).
Include links to other helpful or relevant resources that may entice visitors to click further instead of returning to the search results.
Embed helpful or relevant videos in your page for visitors to watch – as long as the video synergizes with the rest of your content, this is often the easiest way to increase your dwell time.