Throughout my career in marketing, I’ve worked with many businesses, both small and large. I have found that the vast majority of the people in those companies have heard of SEO and know it is a way to drive more traffic to their websites. But, they are usually unable to explain what it is or how to implement it—and many wonder if it is truly necessary. “Google is getting smarter every day,” they think. “Do I even need to worry about optimizing my website anymore?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” No matter who you are—or how big or small your website is—you should be optimizing your site’s SEO. But, what if you don’t have time to learn SEO or keep up on the latest trends? Well, it’s your lucky day, because I’ve outlined four easy steps to make sure your website is up to snuff!
Let’s start with the basics. Everyone (hopefully) knows how to do a Google search. In the example below, for instance, we’re searching for “iPhone 7.” Typically, the first-listed content on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP) will be paid advertisements. Next to those ads, you may see a knowledge graph where Google provides information it thinks you want to know about the search term. You’ll also see organic search results (i.e., results that Google hasn’t created and that advertisers haven’t paid for). This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. According to Moz, technically speaking, SEO is the “practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”
For marketing professionals, SEO is very complicated, but there are a few easy things that anyone can do to make an impact.
A Few More Definitions
Here are a few more definitions to make sure we are all on the same page (pun intended):
Also referred to as the title tag, this is what shows up first for your website on a SERP. It is the headline that declares to all searchers what your website—or a page on your website—is about.
This is the description of the page. It’s your chance to give the searchers (and Google) more details on what the page is about.
The URL is the actual web address for your site or page. It tells users where they are going when they click on the link.
Now on to the good stuff: Here are four things anyone can do to optimize SEO for their website:
Want to up your site’s SEO game? Be sure to download the Mozbar. It’s a free Google Chrome extension that shows your website’s SEO ranking and—more importantly—the page title and meta description for each page. (Please note that you may need to create a free account to access the data in the Mozbar.)
4 Tips for Upping Your SEO Game
1. Make your page titles pretty.
This is a big one—I’ve seen many sites with page titles that look like this:
Clinic ABCD PT 1
Typically, these kinds of page titles exist because the person who created the site didn’t realize anyone would see the name of the page. He or she thought, “I’ll just name it whatever—it won’t matter, because I’m the only one who will see it.” Sadly, that’s not the case; not only will Google see and index it, but also searchers looking for your clinic will see it as well.
How do you fix it?
First off, go find the pages that aren’t named correctly. Once you’ve installed Mozbar, you can turn it on by clicking the “M” at the top-right of your browser. Then, click the icon under the search bar that looks like a piece of paper with a magnifying glass.
You can now navigate around the different pages on your site and see the page titles and meta descriptions (more on that in a minute) for each page. (Note: If you have a huge site—one with 100-plus pages—leave a comment at end of this article, and I’ll provide you with a quick step-by-step guide on how to collect data on all of your pages at once without having to visit them all.)
Once you find all the pages that need a page title, it’s time to get writing. A couple of pro tips: Keep your page titles 50-60 characters long (any longer and Google will cut it off in the results page), and try to include a keyword that you want to rank for.
Keywords are what people enter into search engines before (hopefully) landing on your site. For example, if you were looking for an iPhone 7, you might type “iPhone 7” or “where to buy an iPhone” into the search field. So, try to think strategically about what keywords you want your website to rank for—and add them to your page titles, URLs, and meta descriptions. Just keep in mind that you should only ever include one or two keywords in any of those areas.
To continue with our fictional example, you could change the page title from, “Clinic ABCD PT 1” to, “Arizona-based Physical Therapy Clinic | Company Name.”
This puts your company name in the page title and also gets a keyword in at the beginning. (In this case, the keyword is “Arizona based Physical Therapy Clinic.”)
2. Write amazing descriptions.
If someone is looking for a physical therapy clinic to go to, what will make him or her choose your site over the hundreds of others out there? Simple: A description that explains exactly what the page on your site is about and why the searcher should investigate your site more.
I’ve seen many sites that haven’t created their own meta descriptions. Instead, they let Google auto-fill them. And generally speaking, Google will simply take the first text on the page and try to squish together a sentence using that copy. Many times, this description is nonsensical or could actually make searchers less inclined to click on your site’s listing.
How do you fix it?
This one is simple: take some time to write a description. You have 160 characters (any longer and Google will start cutting words) to write an accurate description that summarizes what the searcher will find on the page.
You can see a good example of this is when you search “Phoenix Arizona.” This will turn up lots of results, but one of the top ones is from VisitPhoenix. The meta description for this page says, “Come to Phoenix, Arizona, a city rich with art and culture, resorts, shopping, nightlife, attractions and events, all surrounded by beautiful desert scenery.”
Perfect! If I was thinking about visiting Phoenix, and I saw this description, I would not only have an idea of what I would find on this page, but I’d also feel confident that the page was providing good info.
3. Get rid of ugly URLs.
Let’s say you’re searching for information about puppies and you see the following page URLs:
Which one would you click on?
I know which one I would trust more (spoiler alert—it’s the first one!).
The lesson here is that when you’re creating URLs, you should do your best to make them short and descriptive. And use real words—don’t settle for random characters!
How do you fix it?
To cleanse your site of URL gibberish, follow these steps:
- Find all the URLs on your site that are “ugly.”
- Log in to your content management system (i.e., the place you log in to update content on your site).
- Go to the page you want to change, and find the area where you can change the URL (if you’re using WordPress, you should be able to update the URL at the top of the page). Feel free to add one or two keywords to the URL as well.
For the above example, I could make the URL mydomain.com/puppies-kittens if the page was about puppies and kittens.
Looking for a more in-depth resource on creating SEO-friendly URLs? Check out this guide by Neil Patel.
4. Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Final step: Make sure you have Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your site.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free website analytics platform that Google offers. It allows you to see who’s on your site in real time, which pages people go to the most, and much more.
Why is Google Analytics important for SEO?
Google Analytics can help you determine whether your SEO optimization efforts are actually helping you driving more visitors to your site. It can also help with prioritization. If you have limited time to optimize your website, you can check out Google Analytics and start working on the pages that are already getting the most visitors first.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a free resource that provides status updates on how Google sees your website. These updates include alerts for errors on your site and most importantly, information on the keywords people are using to find you and your website. (Note: Google only shows you a select number of keywords—they are stringy and won’t show you everything.)
Why is Google Search Console important for SEO?
Easy—it gives you an exact list of what people are searching for when they find your site. It will even show you keywords that put your site in a searcher’s results, but did not convert the searcher into a site visitor. Knowing this info will help you write better page titles and meta descriptions to entice such searchers to click on your site.
You got it!
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The world of SEO is huge—I’ve barely scratched the surface on all the different ways you can optimize your website. But if you follow the four steps I’ve outlined above, you will improve the SEO on your website, make your site more professional-looking, and (hopefully) bring in more visitors and patients. As always, let me know in the comments if you have any questions or would like more info on anything I mentioned above.
Sometimes referred to as A-A-Ron, Aaron Treguboff is the Organic Reach Lead at WebPT. He has five-plus years of experience in digital analytics, SEO, digital marketing, and social media.