The beginner’s guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — Optimizing your website for qualified traffic

Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Google Business Listing
  3. Website SEO
    1. Website design & sitespeed
    2. Website content & meta data
  4. Adwords & Paid Advertising
  5. Resources & Tools

Introduction

There are three main ways to put your business in front of customers using Google: Google Ads, your Google Business Listing, and Organic Search.

The first results in Google are the paid ads. These are advertisements that businesses can pay for to rank #1 for given keyword searches.

Especially for product or service based searches, you’ll normally see Google Business Listings in your search results. These are (often) businesses near you that provide the product or service that you’re searching for. It’s vitally important to add, claim, and verify your Google Business Listing, and then ask your happiest customers to write reviews for you!

Finally, there are organic results. Google’s organic results are the top websites that Google considers to be most relevant to your search query. These listings are FREE! If you optimize your website correctly, you can begin to show up in these organic search results for free, attracting free and qualified traffic to your website.

Setting up or claiming your Google Business Listing

These are the three steps to that are minimal to completing your directory listings. Each step is as important as the last.

It’s only three steps. Create your listing, add all business information, and then verify your listing.

Creation

NOTE: For the sake of ease, I recommend creating all business listings using the same gmail address. This will make it much easier for you to manage your listings in the long run.

  • Log into your Gmail account. If you don’t already have one, create one.
  • Head over to https://business.google.com/
  • Click ADD LOCATION
  • Type the name and address of your business. Google will attempt to find any existing instances of your business in their directory.
    • If your business listing already exists, claim that business.
    • If your business listing does not already exist, continue to create your listing.

Information

It’s important to have consistent data across all of your directory listings. For this reason, it’s important to iron out the details of your business information before you begin creating or claiming your listings. Start by filling out your business details here, and then keep the information consistent across all directories as you create and edit them.

At the very least, fill out the following information on your Google Business Listing: Business name, logo (photo), profile photo, cover photo, business address, phone number, website, email address, hours of operation, business category: e.g. “jewelry store”

NOTE: If you have multiple locations, you can add/manage them later from this business listing.

Verification

Once you’re confident that you’ve completely entered all of your information, you’re now ready to verify your listing.

You should see a message in your dashboard stating “Verification Required.” Simply click VERIFY NOW and follow the instructions. Google will send you a postcard to your business address which you’ll use to verify your listing.

If you don’t see this message, you can simply click on the Info tab in your sidebar and find the VERIFY NOW button from within that area.

Google will send you a verification code to the physical address you entered for your business. When that code comes in the mail, follow the instructions to complete verification. Do not skip this step!


Duplicate Listings

Check for duplicates or incorrect listings. If there are more than one listing for your business, you’ll need to get them removed. There are multiple reasons why there might be duplicate listings. You or someone in your business may have created these listings in the past, or, more likely, Google has obtained your information from your website or another directory somewhere, and automatically created your listing. It’s important to have only one listing per storefront.

Once your business is set up, you can further manage your listing by adding users to manage your listing, or adding additional locations if you have multiple storefronts.

Ask For Reviews

Once you’ve completed your Google Business setup, it’s time to be noticed in local searches. Ask your happiest customers to write reviews on your Google page, and it will help your rankings in local search.

Website Optimization

Google has automated bots called web crawlers that crawl websites all day long. These crawlers are looking for multiple things, and knowing what those are can be key to your business showing up in local search results.

Basic Website Design

One thing the Google crawler searches for is quality websites. Google doesn’t want to display a website with a bad user experience. If users on their phone have to use their fingers to zoom in and pan to read content, that’s a bad user experience. Responsive Design is today’s industry standard. It’s a design style where the content on your website will adjust the device of the user. If you have an old website, there’s a chance you’re not in Responsive Design. But don’t worry, it’s a relatively easy and straightforward upgrade.

You can see if your website is Responsive here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

https securityHTTPS

Along with website quality is security. A website with a secure connection (HTTPS) shows Google that your website is behind a secure connection, which is safer for your users. Google will typically rank a HTTPS website higher than a HTTP website. If you’re website isn’t already using HTTPS, it should be an easy request to your developers.

Site Speed

Your website’s load speed is another major ranking factor. Google doesn’t want to send people to slow websites. The Google sitespeed tester will grade your website’s site speed, and give your developers a breakdown of where they can make adjustments to improve your sitespeed. 

Use the Google Sitespeed Tester here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Web Content & Meta Data

But all of this means nothing if Google doesn’t know what your website is about. That’s where meta data and content comes into play. If the main header of your homepage says “Welcome”, then Google see’s that content as being relevant to the word Welcome. Another website that starts will “Lafayette’s Jewelers” will be more relevant to the Jewelry industry and the Lafayette area.

Here’s what an organic Google search result looks like:

The title tags and meta descriptions for a webpage are the first things Google looks at to determine what your webpage is about. It’s also the information that will be displayed to users in Google search results. It’s important to optimize this meta data for each page on your website. Research which keywords are most relevant to the product or service offered on that page, and insert those keywords into your page title tags and meta description. 

Page Content

The next most important content that Google is looking for is your H1, which stands for “heading 1”. This is the primary heading on a given web page, and it is used communicated what the page is about. If your H1 says “Welcome”, then you’re telling Google that this page is relevant for the keyword “welcome”. Instead, use a descriptive title such as “Pearl Stringing Services” or “Engagement Rings in Lafayette”.

It’s also important to include relevant keywords in your paragraph content and additional headings on the page.

Ideally, you should have a content page for each of your products and services. This will maximize your SEO rankings. Blogs are also a great way to maintain fresh content. Blog concepts can be as broad as holiday sales, customer testimonials, local business awards, or the process cleaning jewelry. 

Image Alt Text

seo image alt textWhen the Google crawler sees an image on your website, it has no way of knowing what that image is about. The image alt text is a way for you to tell Google what that image is about while adding even more keyword value to your web page. For example, if you have an image of a product, you should add the long tail description of that product. Don’t use engagement ring. Instead use 14k white gold halo style engagement ring.

Most content management systems have functionality to allow you to easily add alt text to your images. If you’re unsure how to do this, ask your developer!

Links

Another major contributor to your local SEO rankings is the amount of quality links you have pointing at your website. When Google’s crawler sees another website linking to your own, it increases the relevance of your website for the related content. 

Here are a few basic ways to develop links:

  • Make sure all of your local directories are linking to your website.
  • Occasionally link your blog posts and content pages on social media sites.
  • Write content on your website that people will naturally want to link to.
    • Post blogs with videos or images of jewelry being created from start to finish.
    • Share customer stories that people will want to read about.
    • Participate in local events and post it to your blog.
  • Collaborate with local publication agencies.

Google Adwords Paid Advertising

If you want more immediate results in Google, you can always pay for advertisements. Bid on keywords against your competitors and show up at the top of search results for keywords that drive qualified leads. 

Ask me about my Google Adwords services!

Resources & Tools

Here’s a list of tools and services in my SEO arsenal. Hopefully they can be of some use to you!

Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free web data tracking tool that allows you to see activity on your website such as pageviews, user activity, demographics, and more.
https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/#/

Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager allows you to set up Google Analytics event tracking without using JavaScript.
https://www.google.com/analytics/tag-manager/

Campaign URL Builder
Here’s the Campaign URL Builder. You can enter a URL you’d like to link to from social media, email, etc, and then add Campaign data and other tracking parameters so that clicks will send Google that campaign data.
https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/

Adwords Keyword Planner & Google Trends
The Adwords Keyword Planner allows you to see the monthly search volume of a list of keywords and related keywords. It’s great at ascertaining which keywords are best to optimize your website.
https://adwords.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/

Google Trends
You can also use Google Trends to see how keywords, phrases, and mentions are trending over long periods of time. You can see, for example, if a given phrase has increased or decreased in popularity over the past years.
https://trends.google.com/

XML Sitemap Generator
If your website does not already have a sitemap, you need to create one. This XML sitemap generator is an easy way to create a quick sitemap.
https://www.xml-sitemaps.com

Mobile Friendly Tester
Test if your website is mobile friendly. If your website fails this test, it’s likely suffering in search rankings.
https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

Site Speed Tester
Test the speed of your website, which is both a usability factor and a ranking factor with Google.
https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Google Adwords
Use Google Adwords to pay for ads in Google search results.
https://adwords.google.com

Google Business
Create and manage your businesses and locations through the Google Business dashboard.
https://business.google.com

SEM Rush
This is an extremely powerful tool that requires a monthly subscription. If you want to take your SEO to the next level, hire a SEO and subscribe to SEM Rush!

https://semrush.com/

MOZ – SEO & Internet Marketing
Moz has been an industry expert in SEO and internet marketing for a long time. You can learn everything from basic SEO to advanced marketing strategies from this group of experts. Start with the SEO Basics section of their blog, as well as their Whiteboard Friday videos which can also be found in the blog.
https://moz.com