Increase your search ranking for free

In today's digital environment everyone wants to be top of the pile in the search rankings. Think about it, how often do you look past the first page of search results? Hardly ever right?

The first step is to put things into perspective, what are you actually trying to achieve? A good first approach is to establish a focus - you should begin by specifying what matters most to your business. Let's take a step back.

Ask yourself, where is the greatest opportunity?

Is it through local business, if so your focus is going to be on local search. Or maybe it's a specific service or key differentiator that is unique to you. If it is then your strategy can revolve around this offering.

Let's put this into practice, say you are focusing on local search, both your on-site and off-site search engine optimisation (SEO) must focus on this key principle. Firstly, before we dive into the practical inputs that would help you achieve this goal, we can define SEO into two categories.

On and off website SEO

On-site SEO refers to elements of the actual website, its keywords, meta tags, alt tags, page headers, titles, layout, ease of usability, structure, content and most crucially whether it's mobile friendly.

Off-site SEO is fundamental to reaching a wider audience. It includes social media presence, back-links (preferably from sites with high authority i.e. reputable sites), reviews and advertising.

How to increase your SEO - in practice

So let's look at some methods of increasing your search ranking for your defined goal, we are using the example of a local search, starting with on-site SEO.

When building your website, you should make sure that the location is included throughout the site; website description tag, headers, meta tags, keyword tags and content where necessary. Content needs to be well written, informative, original and have a purpose. Creating great content on your site can be a useful tool in off-site SEO too (read on for more).

But after all this you can't neglect the basic principles of your website's design, otherwise, your SEO will be negatively impacted. The site's structure needs to be clear and easy to use, avoid more than 3 clicks to reach any page. Ensure your site is not only mobile friendly but it's OPTIMISED for mobile devices, this is essential, consider the mobile user experience in the design of your site.

Off-site SEO offers more opportunities to maximise your search ranking for your focus, being active on social media is crucial, it creates authority for your site, but focus on your goal: social media presence offers a great opportunity to reach a local audience through people's, locally focused, social circles.

Depending on your business, different channels will be used, for example, professional service companies could prioritise LinkedIn and Twitter, whilst product based businesses with a more visual offering will likely focus on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Also, don’t neglect Google +. Ensuring your business is active on this channel will be beneficial to your SEO because Google search favours businesses who are present on their social channel and your businesses’ info, photos and description can appear in the search, meaning you can go ahead of those who neglect it.

The other key part of off-site SEO is: backlinks

Having external links directed to your website will give you a big boost. Other websites will refer to yours if you have something of value with the exception of directories and review sites. This is important, sign your business up to as many as you want: Yell, Free index, Yelp and more specific sites such as for businesses in that field. These can be great for your focused goal, for local SEO these sites are beneficial and add credibility to your sites’ SEO.

Perhaps the best way to generate back-links to your site is through content creation. Having blogs, insights and articles with original, useful and intriguing content can be referenced from other sites and shared through social media channels. But have your focus at the heart of the content, if focusing on a local search you should have content that talks around that and includes all the relevant on-site factors to increase the SEO.

SEO doesn't have a ‘one approach fits all’ solution

Instead, it consists of various methods and tools, which if are implemented with a focused approach can lead to a real increase in your site's search ranking and ultimately bring in more traffic to your website, and that's the key: better SEO = more visitors.

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