According to Internet Retailer, e-commerce growth was up 14.6% in 2015. As this trend continues, so does everyday business chatter centered around SEO. But sometimes – especially for small-to-medium sized businesses with legacy clients from a strong local brand (e.g., restaurants or auto shops) – the term “SEO” delivers the purest form of dread.
Some business owners might have been ripped off by a hack SEO agency, and now refer to everything SEO-related as a scam. Then there are the ones who simply say SEO is dead, and their online presence can do without it.
But undoubtedly – the higher your business ranks in Google, Bing or Yahoo, the stronger your business will be. SEO ensures that search engines can easily locate and index your website’s pages, and ultimately serves the potential customer in an effective way.
Before you seek out a reputable SEO agency or work on SEO in-house, take a look at these simple questions to make sure you’re on the right track.
1. Is our content diverse?
A well-diversified website contains a lot of quality content, mainly text in the form of product copy, blogs and reviews, along with photos, videos and infographics. But you must make sure your content is optimized.
Are you using the proper keywords in your headlines and copy? Do your photos contain descriptive ALT text and captions to keep visitors engaged? Did you compress your videos and PDFs (or use cloud storage to reliably serve your files) to make sure site speed is on target?
2. Are our technical and on-page SEO metrics optimized?
Start with technical metrics. Are your hosting configurations tuned? Most website hosting companies offer free support. You can ask them simple questions such as, “How’s the overall health of my hosting configurations?” They may find something simple that will vastly improve your website.
Also, there are various online tests to help check site speed, such as Pingdom and PageSpeed Insights. Analyze on-page SEO basics, including page titles (Do you include correct keywords?), URL length an structure (Are keywords up front?) and meta descriptions (Is the marketing message clear?). Use technical SEO tools like Onpage to boost your search engine performance.
3. What about visitor metrics?
Every business should understand how to read a Google Analytics website report. There, you can track crucial visitor metrics and optimize your site – both from a content and a technical perspective – to garner more traffic, and ultimately more sales.
Here are the top 3 metrics you should review:
Click Through Rate (CTR): You want this trending positively. Tweak notable elements that influence CTR like page title, meta description and URL structure.
Bounce Rate: This is when a person visits your page but quickly returns to the search engine page. The higher the bounce rate, the lower the authority, thus bringing it to the bottom of search engine results pages (SERPs). You want to stay below a 40% bounce rate. Quicker load times and more appealing content are the notable factors to optimize.
Time on Site: This metric is all about engagement. It tracks how long a visitor was on your site, and which pages they spent the most time on. The longer the better, because it drastically improves the above two metrics. Notable factors for additional engagement include content length and types, such as video, information image captions, and the number of resources you have.
4. Is our content trustworthy and authoritative?
Visit every page and ask yourself this very question. Think like an editor, and only publish the most trustworthy and authoritative content on your site. Solve problems. Add value. Did you check all the facts? Would readers view your content like it was written by an industry expert? If not, revise accordingly.
Grammatical errors and false facts can immediately dethrone your authority. Look at your company website from a designer’s perspective. Make sure the layout is crisp and easy on the eyes – especially on mobile, which is surpassing desktop as the viewing platform of choice.
Well-written, trustworthy and authoritative content naturally becomes linkable assets, which helps build the holy grail of SEO: backlinks. When other reputable sites link to yours, search engines see your site as authoritative, thus increasing its ranking in SERPS. This is a solid content strategy for obtaining links from places like industry-relevant sites, directories, press releases, .edu sites and social media.
Answer these four SEO questions and take the first step toward improving your SERPS, which will not only help grow sales, but also play a fundamental role in building brand awareness.
This article has been edited.
Kristopher B. Jones is a prominent internet entrepreneur, investor, public speaker, and best-selling author. In 2008 Kris wrote a book on Search Engine Optimization that is currently in its third print for Wiley (2008, 2010, 2013) and has sold nearly 100,000 copies. Kris is the founder and former President and CEO of Pepperjam (sold to eBay), managing partner of KBJ Capital (13 companies), and the founder and CEO of LSEO.com and APPEK Mobile Apps.