4 Steps Your Business Must Take to Stay Search Optimized for the Long Haul
As a start-up business, entrepreneurs may look at SEO as a task that they should be doing, but they never actually get around to it due to all the disorder that is involved with launching a brand new company. Recent studies show that only about 17 percent of small business owners actually have taken the time to outline an SEO strategy, and just under 40 percent of small business aren’t investing in any type of marketing strategies period.
While things may be chaotic for an entrepreneur, it is very important that SEO be invested in during the early stages. This is because it is SEO that is going to bring customers to your business in the first place. You see, a solid SEO strategy helps to boost organic traffic from the search engines by over 1000 percent, which can give you a huge leg up on your competition and help drive sales.
There are many tactics for fast success with SEO, but it is just as important, if not more so, that you stay focused on long-term success. So, here are four tips that will help your business remain search optimized for the long haul:
1. Avoid Falling Prey for “Flavor of the Month”.
There are special criteria that is utilized by Google to rank sites, even if that formula is changed frequently to ensure that the best search results are provided to users. A very popular approach to SEO is to reverse engineer and determine the criteria – ultimately, trying to crack the secret code. This could work for a little while, but you will eventually go back to beginning when the algorithms are changed by Google.
So, the best way to survive Google’s constant algorithm changes, you need to make it a priority to be the best. Rather than beginning with keywords, you simply should start with quality, useful content that surpasses everyone else’s. You want to make sure that it’s so great that Google has to rank you or be embarrassed for not doing so. To do this, though, it means performing studies, promoting videos, sharing insights, and a lot of inbound marketing.
Next, you will want to begin a distribution strategy. To help expose your brand, you will need to start participating in some industry-related online communities and go to some popular forums to share your website with them. You may also want to get up in front of some journalists and/or influencers who may be interested and share your company/website with them. Once there are some positive vibes being shared about your brand on reputable publications, there is a much higher chance of customers being able to find you when they search, and there’ll consider you as a reliable expert within the industry when they do come across your business.
Back to Google’s ranking formulas, they may be secret, but the search engine giant isn’t completely cold-hearted. They do share rules as to how you can get your pages found and indexed (click here for more information) all for free. The key takeaway here is not to fall for all those “flavor of the month” SEO ranking tactics that are out there and to focus on traditional SEO ranking opportunities that will get you somewhere. This way, search engines will actually be able to locate your pages and index them quickly and easily.
2. Use Customized Messaging in Search Snippets.
Search engine results are much more than a page of URLs. To ensure that users don’t just click on a large lot of links and waste time trying to find pages that are relevant to them, Google provides what are known as organic search snippets. These are samples of content that provide information about the page – it is generated by Google automatically and comes from the page’s meta description.
If a business owner fails to update the information for the snippet, Google will get to choose the information that is shown to the web user, and this is the first interaction that potential customers often have with a business. And, Google may not necessarily play nice. There is a chance that Google could pull legal information, a disclaimer or even a bad review from your site.
This is why it is critical that you take the time to customize the search snippet information and pay attention-to-detail as you are doing it. You want to put as much information as you can that will attract users to your company. You can use ratings, reviews, breadcrumbs, multimedia content, etc. You can find more information from Google on customization options and more here.
3. Consolidate Any Duplicate Content.
Duplicate content is a big no-no in Google’s eyes and it can truly set you back 100 steps when trying to boost organic search traffic. The primary issue with duplicate content is that website pages are ranked individually and will compete against one another for the same exact keywords. This means that they go head-to-head for the exact same rankings. However, you need the content on your website to work together for the best ratings possible, which is why consolidation is imperative. Once this move has been made, you will likely see a boost in your rankings within weeks and Google will pick up changes much faster since it won’t have to index as many pages.
Now, the question is: how do you consolidate duplicate content? Here are a couple of ways in which you can do it:
- Define a Canonical URL – This is having the same exact content that is accessed through different URLs. For example, let’s say that you have a pair of jeans sold on an e-commerce site that is shown under two separate categories – jeans and new collection – and thereby have two separate URLs. By defining a canonical URL, you are designating a preferred URL to Google.
- Utilize 301 Redirects – This will essentially change the page’s URL within the search results and make certain that users are being directed to the correct place. So, if the jeans can be accessed from two different URLs, you need to choose the preferred URL utilizing the aforementioned canonical method and then redirect traffic to that URL using 301 redirects.
However, it is important to keep in mind that consolidating duplicate content does not need to be only about rankings in Google. It needs to be able building up quality links that will be significantly valuable to SEO performance because duplicate content will only cause your SEO efforts to go down the drain.
4. Correct Your Stale Content.
Let’s take a moment and image that your blog has been quoted in The New York Times for the first time ever. It was a huge mention, especially since it came after a very successful PR campaign. Since the citation, you have seen an increase in traffic by nearly 50 percent!
However, a few months after, you have decided that you are going to alter the permalink structure on your blogs so that dates are not shown. You believe this provides a cleaner look to the URLs. Unfortunately, this makes them less useful. Those that now visit your site from The New York Times will see a stale link and your traffic will drop 30 percent.
As an entrepreneur, it is very important that you are constantly checking for dead page links, and that you’re updating them ASAP. You can do this by running a crawl errors report to ensure that no visitors are receiving a “404 Not Found” error when trying to access content on your site. Once you are reported of dead links, you can use a 301 redirect and mark the dead URL as fixed.
There is nothing better than a quality SEO strategy for driving traffic to your website and serving as solid support for a PR campaign. Starting a business isn’t easy, and a marketing strategy can easily become an afterthought, but it is a very important foundational step for long-term success.