Search engine optimization might sound complicated, to begin with, and if you want the best results, you’re going to have to seriously invest some time, effort, and money into it. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t start building your brand’s SEO reach by yourself. There are a lot of methods that even beginners to online marketing and branding can start using to see their rising in the rankings, attracting more clicks, and creating more conversions. 

Know your visitors

This is the first step of SEO. When you look at SEO, it’s about improving visibility and driving traffic to the site first and foremost. But when it all goes wrong, the traffic you’re driving to your site isn’t really going to be interested in it or what your business or brand has to offer. Taking a generic approach to search engine marketing means that you’re going to get generic traffic. Narrow your focus. Develop a real-world understanding of your customers or users. What are their motivations? What are they looking for? What terms are they going to use to find it? Get in the minds of your audience and visualize their online journey when they’re looking for the services or content you provide.

Content is king

You don’t need to flood your site with content necessarily to gain visibility. Having high-quality copy will immediately boost your SEO efforts. High-quality means free of errors, false information, and well-written. But it also means distinct. Search engines have been cracking down on web pages that provide generic content that can be found on lots of other sites. Blogging and consistently adding new content to the site can be a great help. Content that’s relevant to both you and your audience, but not necessarily marketing your services, can still drive interested traffic to your brand and build awareness indirectly. However, you have to approach it carefully, as spammy content can work against you. The best way to approach is to consider the subject matter and work to come up with a unique approach to it. Is there data you have that can lend evidence to the information or advice that others don’t provide? Is there a new spin you can put on a well-worn topic? If there is, that’s the approach to take.

To keyword or not to keyword, that is the question

If you’re writing your own site content with SEO in mind, you might hear about the importance of keywords. These are the words and phrases in your content that allow people to find; they are used by search engines to match against search queries. You can see what these keywords are and change them through tools like the Google Keyword Planner. When maximizing keyword productivity, many businesses will fit as many different keywords into as many different pieces of content on the site. That’s known as keyword stuffing, and it’s a long-known exploit that most search engines not only ignore but actively penalize. Instead, create keyword rich content. If you have a set of ten different keywords, for instance, then creating ten pieces of quality, informative content around each is a much better strategy.

A site worth recommending

Search engines have started paying attention not only to the relevance of web pages but the quality of them, too. Anything that gets in the way of that quality is counted as a negative against your site. These red flags include lacking some standard quality-of-life measurements like fast page load times. Some of the bigger infractions include broken links contained in the site and broken assets like images and videos that don’t load. In a similar vein, sites that aren’t responsive and mobile friendly are likely to get lower results in searches than sites that are adapted to a variety of devices. When building your own website remember to keep these best practices in mind. 

Get local

This tip is relevant for businesses who want to focus on their local area. For instance, if you have a physical store location, you want people near it to be more aware of it. Lots of search engines pay attention to the physical location when it comes to providing search results. For instance, in Google, setting up a Google My Business account including your website and your location will drive search engine users from the surrounding area to all your content. You can go even further, listing your business site and details in directories like Facebook, Yelp, and more. Search engines take all of these into account. For small business owners, this helps you narrow your niche and capture more of your local market than, for instance, businesses that are in the next town over.

Keep it connected

SEO is not an individual strategy to be kept separate from the rest of your marketing and outreach. Rather, it’s bolstered by them. If you’re looking to increase the search engine click rate of a certain page, then it needs a certain authenticity and credibility. This is where link-building comes in. The more relevant and trustworthy links leading to your pages, the more visibility it is likely to get. To that end, sharing those pages and your content through social media like Facebook and Twitter not only works as its own way of driving traffic, but search engines pay attention to these links and use them to decide which sites to give visibility. You should be driving traffic through emails and online newsletters. But you should also be creating a community just as willing to do it. Ask local businesses to cooperate with you, sharing your site through their own social media and outreach, in return for you doing the same for them. Similarly, ask satisfied customers or site users to share your content with people they think would be interested. The more organically you build links, the better. Spamming your domain name where it doesn’t fit isn’t going to work.

The power of word-of-mouth

Asking people to share your links isn’t the only way to use the power of the social side of the internet to bolster visibility, either. Plenty of people are going to take the initiative to leave reviews. Both positive and negative, you can further their visibility by replying to feedback. Managing reputation is another matter, and you can have reviews and news based on false or out-of-date information lose their visibility. But your response is always going to help improve the brand’s visibility online. For positive reviews, thank them and let them know their support is valued. For negative feedback, let them know it’s appreciated and offer to get in touch to get a more in-depth understanding of what their complaints are and how you can accommodate them. Beyond improving SEO, this creates a customer and user-friendly brand.

It’s who you know

There are certain voices that search engines value higher than the average customer’s, user’s, or local business’s voices. Widely read news sites, bigger brands, and popular influencers are all going to constantly be on the first page of most search query results. Another way of driving traffic is to get yourself some PR by featuring on these sites. This way, your site and your brand can leapfrog off someone with a much wider reach, but it also succeeds in building more authentic and valuable links to your site, improving your own site’s SEO rankings.

Quality, authenticity, reach, and relevance. These are the building blocks of good search engine optimization and good branding in general. Even if you’re making use of some beneficial professional services, understanding this is going to help you work with them to create an approach that’s truer to your site, your brand, and the kind of people you want visiting them.

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