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15 ways to help your small business get to the top of the SERPs
If you're like most of us, you have trouble getting to the top position in Google and the other search engines. There are some of us who seem to get there fairly easy, but sticking to the top of the SERPs seems to be like an ongoing battle, because it is! You constantly have to work on your SEO, content creation, marketing, etc. in order to stay competitive.
Are you having trouble getting to the top of the rankings or are you just starting your rankings journey? Don't worry, I'm here to help you out a little bit with these 15 little tips that might be getting overlooked
Increase your contents word count
No one wants to sit down and write a 2,000+ word article about knitting, dogs, cars, weather, or whatever your niche might be. After around 1,000 words you could start to get repetitive and your article might feel like it's dragging on, but you need to stick with it in order to see the biggest benefit for your time invested
Longer articles have been proven to rank better than anything under 500 words, even though you've probably read that a lot of high quality articles are between 300 and 500 words. Longer content is more difficult to write because you have to add more points or interest within them in order to keep people reading, but it's worth it to sit down and map out your article.
What you should do is write out all of the sections you want to write about and sub sections. After you get 8 to 10 you should have plenty of things to write about since each section can easily be filled with 250 words. This means if you have an intro, 8-10 sections with 250 words each, and a conclusion you should have at least 2,500 words. This is an estimate because I'm assuming your intro and conclusion are 250 words a piece. Now, you don't have to set your minimum at 250 words for your intro and conclusion because even this discussion doesn't have a 250 word intro lol.
Show Google your XML sitemap
A sitemap is basically a page on your website that categorizes everything within your website. This means, when you decide to upload your XML sitemap to Google, you're showing them a pathway between all of your pages and they will be grateful you did this because it will be much easier to index everything on your website. We all know that indexing your pages is the first step towards getting a lot of traffic, so by submitting your sitemap to Google, you're essentially letting them know what you want indexed and that you should be ranked for your ideal keywords lol.
If you're using a custom HTML or PHP website you'll have to get something designed in order to get a sitemap together. There are plenty of pre-coded scripts out there that will allow you to do this, but if you don't know what you're doing, I would highly recommend hiring a programmer to go in and install it for you.
If you're using WordPress, you can simply download a sitemap plugin and it will create everything for you. After that, all you have to do is submit your sitemap to Google in order to have them come crawl your pages
Be sure to use 301 redirects
If you're deleting a page on your website and sending all that traffic to a 404 not found page, you're losing a lot of authority because no link juice will flow to a page that deserves it. Sure, backlinks out there will still aim at your website, but they won't look good in the eyes of Google because they're now sending their visitors to a page that isn't there.
If you're using 301 redirects, you're basically redirecting users to a page that is active and also a page that Google can stand behind because it's not a dead 404 not found page. Your visitors will appreciate it as well
Don't block Google by accident
This is a little trickier to figure out if you don't know what you're doing, but it involves your robots.txt file and who you're not allowing to view your website.
If you see something like this in your robots.txt file, you need to fix it immediately:
Basically, this is telling the search engines to not crawl or index your website and it doesn't matter how much SEO you've been doing, nothing will get you indexed. Again, if you don't know what you're doing, be sure to hire a designer or programmer to fix this if it actually is the problem.
Be sure you're responsive
When I say "responsive" I'm not talking about how you need to respond to any emails or support tickets as soon as you can. Responsive is design jargon for "mobile friendly" and you need to remember that. If your website isn't responsive, you won't see a decent boost in the SERPs because Google now prioritizes mobile friendly websites.
Google decided to prioritize mobile friendly, responsive, websites because the majority of their visitors are now using mobile devices. This means that Google is wanting their traffic to have a better time on websites they visit, so by prioritizing mobile friendly websites, they are making sure the majority of the search results are going to be ok for anyone on their cell phones or tablets.
Quick load times
Your website must load quickly if you want to be on the good side of Google. Having a slow loading website will not only hurt your sales, it will make sure Google pushes you down in the results because they don't want their visitors to get annoyed when they get to your website.
Ways you can speed up your load times are to have smaller images and this could mean you have them compressed. You can also have a bigger, and better, hosting account which will guarantee that your load times are quicker than if you were on a shared hosting plan. Be sure to test out your hosting company of choice before you dive in and pay for a full year, you don't want to be stuck in a deal with a slow hosting provider for a year
Make your URLs work for you
I can't express this enough, your URLs need to be descriptive, and that means you need to use your titles in the URL itself. You need to get your keyword into your URL for the best result when it comes to your rankings within Google. If you're not trying to optimize your URLs, you're simply not trying lol. If you're using WordPress, you will see that each blog post will auto set your URLs to be your title, which helps prevent you from messing up this part of the work lol
People like using dynamic URLs, but I think they are horrible because they turn into your domain and a bunch of letters and numbers behind it. An example of that would be something like domain.com/al830ske9 which isn't optimized at all and likely won't help you out with your rankings.
Get a .com domain if you can
When it comes to the right domain name, you'll want to be sure it's followed by a .com if possible. Now, it's not a deal breaker if you can't get a .com but roughly 84% of the top ranked results within Google are .com's and that means you should follow suit. I wouldn't worry too much about getting your keyword within the domain name itself, you should worry more about getting a domain that is easily brandable.
Internal linking is your friend
You need to use links within your content that points to other articles that are similar. This is what Google loves because it helps them and your readers can jump between articles while still covering the same topic
Don't use your sub-domain for important info
How many times have you seen a big authority website put need to know information on a sub-domain for all of their readers to see? Not very often, and if you said you've seen it plenty of times, you're either telling lies or you don't know what a sub-domain is lol.
Keeping your important information on your root domain will keep everything in front of the search engines as well as your visitors. Google and your visitors will thank you for this lol.
You still need to use title tags
Some people will say that title tags don't matter too much because Google just wants to see the content on your website is high quality and informative. Using title tags is still a thing of the present, and I would highly suggest you use them on every page and throw a keyword in each one for optimal benefit.
Title tags are the things that will likely be what is indexed, so be sure to write them up in a way that will encourage people to click through
Use schema.org and love it
Shema.org helps you show rich snippets in the search results, which Google and their visitors will love because you're showing more information on your search results than some of your competitors. You'll actually get some additional clicks through the search engines because of it, so it's a good thing to invest some time into
Get started with your blog
Now, a lot of you probably already know the importance of this, but some may not and that's why it's in this list. If you're not already blogging, you need to start immediately and get a massive amount of content rolling out for your visitors to read. The more content you have on your website, the more likely you'll see Google boosting your rankings within their search results and sending you more traffic each month.
Blogging is a beautiful thing because you're able to get a lot of content on your website with ease. You'll also need to be optimizing this content so you increase the chances of ranking for your desired keywords.
Do your keyword research
Not know what you're going to target will actually put you a step behind your competitors. It doesn't matter what you're doing, if you don't know what keywords to target, you're basically dead in the water. Sure, you might have an idea of one or two keywords, but those are likely your most competitive keywords and it will take a much longer time to rank for compared to your long tailed keywords.
Your long tailed keywords are ones that have 3+ words within them. So if you are setting up a website about dogs, your long tailed keywords can be something like "fancy dog breeds" or "large dog breeds" and not something like "dogs".
Targeting your long tailed keywords first will always help you rank easier later on when you start your campaigns to target your short tailed keywords.
Now that you have everything up and running, you need to start doing some content marketing to bring people in. You can go to Google, Yahoo!, Bing, or even Facebook to do this because they all have great PPC platforms to bring in traffic right away. If you don't have the money to pay for some initial traffic, you'll have to get to posting on niche related forums, blogs, websites, and anywhere else that is related to your niche and industry. You need to be sure that you're not just spamming your links everywhere because you will get banned pretty quick if you do that lol.
You don't need to be a millionaire in order to be competitive within the search results, you just need to be strategic and know what you're doing. Not doing proper optimization or adding title tags or even doing your keyword research can set you back a long way. Just assume your competitors are doing everything I've listed above and outranking you for the keywords you need to be on top for lol. Get to work, start building up your rankings and thank me later
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