Stop Paying Too Much – Follow These 10 Best Practices for SEO Success

Lately, I’ve heard from way too many local business owners who are paying way too much for SEO services that are simply not working. The scary truth is that unless you have a very custom niche – or a bottomless budget – paid SEO is not the right fit for most small businesses. However, there are some things that you (or someone in your office) can do to get higher search engine rankings that don’t cost anything except your time (with the exception of the first item on this list).

Please note that search engine algorithms that determine rankings change often, but there are still tried and true SEO methods that are proven to help you rise higher in the rankings despite these shifting trends.

Here are the Top 10 best practices for SEO success:

  1. Ensure that your website is secure. Most people are concerned with the privacy and security of the websites that they visit. Consequently, this is also a crucial ranking factor in the search engines. A secure website will always rank higher than one that isn’t secure.
    • Talk with your web host or web manager about the type of security that is most appropriate for your website. A security certificate will ensure that your content is delivered by SSL (secure socket layer).
    • With SSL, your website will start with an “https://” instead of “http://” and the little lock icon will show up next to the web address in many browsers.
  2. Add your main keyword early into the content. Including your keyword early on lets search engines know what your content is about. Additionally, sprinkle the main keyword throughout the rest of your content – without going overboard.
    • This will tell the search engines that this term is important, which will help you rank well for this term.
  1. Use unique titles, descriptions, and content. This lets search engines know that your content is original material and can add further knowledge to the other information that can already be found on the internet about your topic.
  1. Optimize your title tag for SEO. Always include your main keyword in the title tag for your website, and if possible, put it at the start of the title. This will give priority to this keyword.
  1. Ensure that your website loads quickly. It’s important that you make your website load as quickly as possible. Especially with the dominance of smartphones, loading time is an important ranking factor for search engines.
    • Compress the size of images, remove any unneeded code, and consider using a content delivery network (CDN). If you use a CDN, your website will be able to serve images and other media from servers that are close to your audience, thus cutting down on the loading time.
    • Many web hosts now use CDNs to deliver content for their clients’ websites. Talk with your web host or your web manager about this priority.
    • If you have a WordPress site, there are many plugins that help you speed up the loading time for your website. 
  1. Optimize any images. You can do this by giving the filenames descriptive names. Using image alt text is also recommended so that search engines can understand which images are on your website. Properly optimized images can boost your website rank.
  1. Use internal linking. The key here is to link to your main pages. So, any smaller pages can link to a larger, authoritative piece. This will help to increase the rank of the more important page.
    • Try to use the main keyword, or a variation of it, in your internal links to ensure that the search engines know what the page is about.
  1. Create amazing content. Write high-quality content that answers questions that your readers might have about your topic.
    • If you can answer a question in less than 1,000 words, that is fine.
    • While search engines sometimes give weight to longer, authoritative content, be aware that your readers might not read it all. So strike a proper balance between catering to search engines and serving the clients who do find your page. 
  1. Build backlinks to your website. Despite what you may have read online that backlinks are no longer important, when done properly, are still critical. They show the search engines that your content is valuable enough for other webmasters to link to.
    • When you first start your website, you may want to go slow when building backlinks. After a few months, you’ll be able to ramp up your efforts.
    • With this strategy, you want to obtain links from other important websites in this field.Links from low-quality websites that accept advertising from anyone to any website are actually likely to hurt your search engine rankings.
  1. Look at the user experience. If you find that visitors are struggling to navigate your website or that you have a high bounce rate, which is when people leave your website after just a short time, take a close look at your user experience.
    • Perhaps your visitors aren’t finding the answers that they’re looking for, or maybe your website is broken in some way. See what you can do to improve the overall experience of your visitors.

Following these Top 10 SEO best practices will enable you to achieve higher rankings affordably. The higher you rank, the more traffic you should be able to drive to your site, which ultimately leads to more sales.

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