Search engine optimization -- SEO -- has always mystified me. How do people get their website or content to pop up in web searches? Is it really as simple as putting keywords in headlines? (Yes and no.)
To learn more, I reached out to my friend Trish Saemann, managing partner of GoBeyond SEO, to ask her for simple SEO tricks that every entrepreneur should know. To keep it manageable, I asked Saemann to share a couple basic, actionable ideas. Here her two top SEO tips:
1. Make sure the URLs for your web pages stand out.
As a quick gauge to determine whether a website is optimized, Saemann goes to the services page and checks out the URL. What she's hoping not to see: something like www.abc.com/services.
Think of it Google putting your pages in a file cabinet. With that generic sort of URL, that page is going into a file called "services," along with everyone else. Who doesn't have services?
Let's say our hypothetical ABC business tutors children in reading in Charlotte, so a specific URL for its services page might be something like: www.abc.com/services-reading-tutors-charlotte. For free help finding keywords, Saemann suggests using Uber Suggest.
I gave this a try scanning my own website's URLs. Almost all of them include "clt-pr" at the end, alerting people looking for public relations in Charlotte. Yay, me!
2. Have a high-functioning blog.
A high-functioning blog is one with meaty posts with real content, not fluff, which Google will bury. Give away your expertise, to some extent. It's not about you or being overtly salesy. It's about being useful to your readers.
Give them the information they need to DIY, resting easy that many will see you as the expert and turn to you instead anyhow. Use keywords throughout your posts, but don't twist your copy into knots to get them in there. Google doesn't like what's called "keyword stuffing" either.
A blog can help you with link building, which is important because links are like votes for your website, Saemann said. So it's important to include at least two links in each blog post. One should be an internal link, taking readers back to your services page, for example. The other should be an external link, perhaps to someone else's content.
Ideally, when you share the love like that, the other person and some other influencer will pick up your blog and share it too. Then you end up with what's called a reciprocal link, which is very powerful for SEO.
Finally, you want to share your blog posts on all of your social channels, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In this regard, I've done a better job for clients than I have for myself. Between writing for my clients and writing and socializing this regular column, it's hard to find the time to also keep up and socialize a blog. But when I heard Saemann's passion around it, it made me want to do better, so I'm going to try.
Really, SEO isn't so mystifying. Think of it this way: With all the time you spend on your website -- or client site -- and creating content, you want to attract the max number of eyeballs. That's all.