The first search result that Google returns is a USA Today article about a hamburger named after Dirk Nowitzki – not the official website of your burger restaurant. In fact, your site didn’t even make the first 10 pages of search results (ouch). This is a big problem – when hungry people in your area search Google for food, or even more specifically the name of your restaurant, you are nowhere to be found!
Forrester Research found 54% of internet users find websites via natural search results – social media being the 2nd most popular channel at 32%. If the majority of people look to Google to discover websites, you better make sure your site can be found.
SEO, or search engine optimization, focuses on increasing visibility in organic search engine results; it includes both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic and increase awareness in search engines. In other words, SEO makes sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand, which increases your ranking.
Though search engine science can get very complicated, here are three quick checks you can perform that will make a big difference in your website’s SEO:
1. Are You Spider-Friendly?
Search engines spiders are bots that visit websites and analyzes their pages in order to help create indexes that can be pulled from whenever a user makes a search query. Having content that is clean (not Flash-heavy), a sitemap (a tool that helps spiders navigate your site), fast page-loading times, etc. are all ways to make your website “spider-friendly”, which will, in turn, improve your rankings.
2. Titles are Important
Title tags are the blue, clickable headlines that are displayed on search engine results pages. They should be both accurate and concise, as they are often the first element searchers check to determine whether or not a given search result will provide the information they are looking for.
When writing title tags, keep the following in mind:
- You have 600 pixels. Google’s current title tag character limit is 600 pixels (which adds up to 50-60 characters).
- Use your (key) words! Make sure your titles include the keywords you are targeting for a particular page. Don’t overdo it, however. Search engines may penalize you for trying to play the system and your rankings will suffer.
- Be unique. Though it may not be feasible to do so for each and every page, try to make your titles unique – this could potentially lead to higher click-through rates. Having default and/or overlapping titles could look like duplicate content to search engines, which could negatively affect rankings.
3. A Meta What?
Meta descriptions are webpage summaries that appear underneath title tags on search engine results pages. Though they do not directly contribute to search engine rankings, having a compelling meta description will make users more apt to click on a search result. Also, Google and other search engines will bold the keywords in a description that match the search query – further grabbing users’ attention. So be sure to write captivating, keyword-rich meta descriptions for your pages. Oh, and keep these under 160 characters.
Diving into the art of search engine optimization can be a daunting task. If you are unsure where to begin, these three checkpoints are steps in the right direction. By ensuring your website is spider-friendly and optimizing your title tags and meta descriptions, you will be well on your way up the search engine rankings, and one step closer to making Dirk’s Burgers a household name.