One of the questions I get asked the most is: How do I get my website to do well in terms of SEO (search engine optimization)? The answer’s not simple. Ranking well in Google and other search engines is not just a matter of flipping a switch. There are several factors that contribute to a website’s ranking. However, I have found three strategies in particular that are very important and relatively straightforward to implement:
- Having original and high quality content.
- Optimizing the site’s title tags.
- Gaining relevant and quality incoming links.
You can and should strive to accomplish these three goals regardless of the size or composition of your site. If your website includes a blog, it makes doing so that much easier — especially the first and third items. Let’s look at those two elements in detail.
Original, valuable content
Google and other search engines love to see that your site has regular, new information, i.e., that it’s not stale. While updating the number of years you’ve been in business is a good practice, what they’re really looking for is original content that readers will find helpful. Having a blog can make that happen.
The more frequently you post, the better. Large organizations may include a department or team, whose job is to write lots of new content on a daily basis. However, if you’re a single practitioner, you probably don’t have that kind of time or resources. A more realistic goal might be for you to post on a weekly or monthly basis. The more the better, but know what will realistically work for you.
Try to write about timely topics and what your clients or customers may want to know about. With the billions of web pages out there, it’s very challenging to come up with something truly unique, but attempt to write about areas that haven’t been saturated by others. Or think up an original slant to a common subject. Come up with something specific. For example, if you’re a therapist, rather than writing about the general challenges of COVID-19, you could write about the challenges of the pandemic for single parents working from home. Or how it affects people struggling with depression. The more specific your topic is — although it may not attract a huge audience — the more likely it is to rank high in Google and grab the attention of a large percentage of a smaller targeted audience.
Posting fresh content on a regular basis increases the chances of people returning to your site and spending more time on it. Google values both of these characteristics. The more visitors your site has, the more popular Google thinks it is, which can improve its rankings (a nice sort of spiral). The longer those visitors spend on your site, the more informative Google thinks your content is. Another win.
The more content your website has, the more opportunities there are for other websites to link to it. And, the more value your content offers, the more likely someone is to link to it. The trick is to draw attention to your blog posts to garner those links. How do you accomplish that?
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. are great ways to promote your content. Every time you post on your blog, you should get the word out on all your social media channels. Include images and hashtags to increase the visibility of your posts on those outlets.
Within each article encourage the reader to link it. Include “share” buttons at the beginning and/or end of each post to make it easy for readers to add to their social media channels.
A newsletter is a great way to let people who have given their permission (i.e., your subscribers) to find out about your content when it’s published. You don’t have to write a full article in the newsletter; you can simply direct them to your latest blog post. A common thing to do is to email a “teaser” — e.g., the first two or three paragraphs of your post — and then link to the entire post.
This may feel a bit “pushy” to some, but the idea is to be sincere. If you truly feel that the article you just posted may be of interest to someone you know — a client, colleague, acquaintance, friend, or even a family member — send them a personalized, casual email letting them know about it. For instance, if you recently met someone at a conference and discussed a certain subject (that you just so happened to write about) you can email that person to say hi, it was nice meeting you, and let him or her know that, based on the conversation you had when you met, they might find the article you just wrote of interest. Who knows, maybe they’ll read it and decide to link to it from their website.
There are lots of other ways to accrue links to your blog posts. We’ll cover those in detail in the future.
Until then, keep posting on your blog. Or if you haven’t started a blog yet, there’s no time like the present!