If a web searcher doesn’t know your business exists, having strong search engine optimization (SEO) is a free tool you can use to draw traffic to your site.
All search engines—like Google, DuckDuckGo, or Bing—use algorithms, which they change constantly, to determine search results. With strong SEO, your website could appear on the first couple pages of results when someone does a web search.
When you start to dig into more about SEO, it can be overwhelming. However, there are a few things you can do to improve your website’s SEO without too much stress or research.
1. The Home Page
If your website has a very clean looking home page with mostly photos and little text, you’re missing out on some very important SEO.
Search engines give more “weight” to the content or copy on a home page, so be sure your key information, along with keywords, are on your home page.
2. Label Every Photo
A search engine like Google doesn’t read photos, rather it read the words associated with the photo, and those words help to enhance a website’s SEO. The next time you load photos on your website, or on your blog post, take the time to rename your photo rather than load an image named IMG_3457.jpg.
You also want to give every photo a unique name or description. If you have photos named our-vineyards1.jpg, our-vineyards2.jpg, our-vineyards3.jpg, etc., it will confuse search engines and lower your SEO ranking.
Giving your photos proper names will also help with your website’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—a topic for another day.
3. Write Keyword-Laced Copy
When writing your web copy, include words and phrases that people use when doing web searches. How do you know what those are?
Just start typing words into any search engine, and like an annoying friend, the search engine will try to finish the sentence for you, plus give you options as to how other folks search using that same word or phrase.
Before you start to write or rewrite your web copy, spend some time doing keyword searches, listing out the keywords and phrases that come up first in your search. When you start to write, refer to your keyword list and try to include as many of the words and phrases as makes sense for your business.
When writing web copy, always keep in mind you never know on what page someone will land, and rarely does anyone read every page of a website, so repetition is encouraged.
4. Avoid Abbreviations and Jargon
Avoid using abbreviations and jargon unless you explain what they mean. It’s very annoying to be reading along and come across an unfamiliar abbreviation or word and have to look for a definition—or else do as most folks and just stop reading and leave the page. However, defining abbreviations and explaining jargon will improve your SEO.
Remember that every word on your website is “read” and indexed by search engines. When someone searches a word or phrase, the search engine goes back to that index and looks for a match. If you think like the end-user, you’ll find your website can match up with how people look for information.
5. Use Internal Links
You can improve your SEO just by adding a few internal links into your website. Plus, internal links can also help drive folks who come to your site to view more than one page.
There are many ways to do this. Examples: when you mention the vineyards or a specific vineyard block on a wine page, link the keywords to the vineyards page. Or, on the home page, have links to the interior pages other than those on the navigation menu. The possibilities for internal links are many, but use them wisely.
Additional SEO Tips
These are simple things you can do to help your SEO, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t stress the importance of a few other SEO factors, and some of them might not be as easy for you to complete without help.
Make sure you have photo alt-tags filled in—both for SEO and ADA compliance.
Every page should have a title tag or meta description. The title tag is what displays on the search engine result pages. The words used in the title tag can impact your SEO and also gives the searcher a snippet of information regarding the content of that webpage. That snippet can determine whether or not a searcher clicks through to your website.
How often you edit your content, especially the content on your home page, helps to improve your SEO. A great reason to have a “What’s New” or “News” section on your home page. If you thought you could build your website and forget it for years at a time, you’ll probably won’t have great SEO.
You can also drive traffic to your website through links in your emails, blog posts, and social media, which also improves your SEO.
Things to Keep in Mind
Just because you’ve changed some words on your website, that doesn’t mean you’re magically going to move to the first page of a Google search. It takes times for the search engine web crawlers to find your site to read and index your changes. Be patient and keep improving your website. Your website is one of your most important marketing tools, and is the virtual face of your business.
Remember, yours is not the only business that is trying to improve its SEO, and the competition to be noticed is fierce, but don’t give up.
Working on SEO doesn’t have to be complicated, but it also isn’t a one-time project. If you want to hang on to the ground you’ve gained, continue to enhance and change your site, and link to your website through your emails, blog, and social media posts.