By Kamea Zelisko

(This is part 2 of a 2 part series on importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Read Part 1 here.)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)Would you go through all the effort of opening up a new business and then forget to tell anyone you’re there? Let’s say you decide to open a storefront in downtown Calgary or Edmonton, and put all your blood, sweat and tears into making it a reality. You find a location, check out your competitors, source out equipment, hire the best staff and stock your new location with your amazing product.

Now, imagine how you would feel if the big day arrived and nobody walked in the door? SEO is a lot like that. You can use your website to sell the best-quality widget at the best price around, but you’re not going to gain any customers if nobody can find you or your widgets online.

Here are some of the very tangible things you can do to take SEO from a pie-in-the-sky concept to a revenue-generating and practical necessity for your business.

Keyword Research

Keywords are the nuts and bolts of Search Engine Optimization. These words are what are used by your target market to search your product, so it’s integral to do some research to ensure you include the terms people are searching for are on your website.

To do some basic keyword research, use the following tools which will give you a good idea of what keywords and phrases to use across your website.

Note: While the better-known Google has the majority of search users, don’t skip Bing – 16% of all people on the Internet use Bing, 85% of users are American, and users are mostly aged 35+ (so they are more likely to be established with disposable income).

Many people find it difficult to determine which keywords they should use where. Check out the research tools and always be sure to choose the keywords that best apply to your business.

NOTE: The most popular or searched for terms are not always the ones you want, as competition for them is also higher. We recommend using a mix of high and low search volume, just always make sure they are relevant to your site content.

User Experience

Ever been to a website and couldn’t find what you were looking for? Or the page took too long to load, so you decided to leave it and find something else? How your site is laid out, how quickly it loads and its calls to action are incredibly important. In fact, did you know a website that can’t keep visitors negatively effects your site’s ranking?

Be sure to ask your SEO professional how they plan to use the following items to improve your website SEO:

  • Site Navigation: This is how your website pages are actually organized.
  • Page Titles: This is what your pages are called. They should be named in a keyword-optimized manner.
  • Are your images optimized for web? How is your page load time? (Take this Page Speed Tool Test to see how your website is performing)
  • Are the calls to action clear on each page? What action do you want the visitor to take, and how are you going to lead them there? Contact Us? Order now?

Website Content:

There is little doubt about the importance of content on your website. High-quality content that informs visitors, rather than sells to them, is much more effective. Here are some tips to help you have optimized web content:

  • SEO experts recommend web pages have a minimum of 300 words per page.
  • Be sure to use your target keywords on each page.
  • If you’re using WordPress, there’s a handy tool called Yoast that will help walk you through the basics of optimizing your content per page, it’s sort of like onsite SEO for Dummies.
  • Don’t stop at static web pages. Always include a blog or other areas of your site that can be updated regularly. Search engines also rank based on how recently a site has been updated, so be sure to add new content regularly.
  • Include calls to action: Clearly provide next steps for your website visitors on each page. For example, if you want them to contact you add a link, or even a Contact Us button where it makes the most sense.

Link Building:

Link building is a crucial element of SEO. Link building is pretty much just what it sounds like – it’s getting other sites to link to yours. Think of it as Google building trust with you. Since there are so many websites out there, websites that have been around the longest, and have in the process been linked to by other websites, tend to have more domain authority. Because of this they will get higher rankings. Here are some tactics to help you build the links to your site:

• Set up your Google My Business Account

• View competitors’ Inbound Links

• Reach out to authoritative citations (these are websites with high domain authority)

• Find industry “influencers” with large existing followings, like popular bloggers or companies such as BBB

• Use press releases and media coverage to drive traffic to your website by including links

• Get Links from Affiliations, community boards and industry associations

It’s optimal to implement your SEO at the same time your website is being built. Many people think they will save money by getting their site in place first, but that’s a dangerous assumption. Incorporating SEO from the start instead of trying to add it in later will literally save you thousands of dollars.

NOTE: This article does not cover every single aspect of SEO, only some of the most important elements. It may seem like a lot of information to digest, but by learning the essentials at the start, you can play a critical role in making sure your message gets out – and knowing why and what to do if it does not.

If you have any questions about SEO or website building, please Contact Us.

How to make SEO work for your business