• jzitek@harborcapitalgroupinc.com
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  • Bloomington, MN 55437

What you need to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

We are now live in a world where people Google before they shop, visit Yelp before hiring services and use social media to get informed about the latest discounts from local retailers. Some even rely on YouTube or Instagram to get a glimpse of the products they consider buying.

Regardless of the business niche, you need a website to establish a presence in the virtual world and therefore stay ahead of the increasingly competitive market. Whether you are a retailer, contractor, consultant, or offering services of any sort, having no website is just as bad as giving away customers to your competitors. It doesn’t even matter if you run a small startup or a bigger sized company.

But having-a-website-alone is enough to attract visitors and customers; bear in mind that your competitors also have websites of their own. Your website must be optimized in terms of security, layout, performance, keywords, links (both inbound and outbound), and of course contents. You need to implement Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which refers to the practice of increasing traffic to your website. There is a large variety of SEO software you can use to generate a website analysis report you can use to plan and execute your optimization strategy.

Why SEO?

By now, every business owner knows that a website is like an online representative of the company, ready to welcome customers any day anytime. It is the place where customers and partners can learn more about the company as well as its products in a convenient manner. People can even place an order via the Internet on the website from the comfort of home.

One thing to remember is that having a website does not guarantee you will gain more customers. Just because your company has a website, it does not necessarily mean you will generate more sales in an instant. You can only make money if customers are at your storefront, or visit your website to buy what you’re selling. The following are some of the things you can do to improve your chances of attracting visitors and converting them into loyal customers.

SEO Basics

Creating a website is the first step to establish an online presence, and thankfully it is quite easy. You don’t have to be a computer or software engineer to get the job done. There are free domains, free hosting services, and free templates you can use to see if the website can run as intended; if not, you can always try again without spending a dime. While free options are available, the premium ones are almost always miles better for business purposes. A website is a powerful marketing tool, and that is why you want to have it built and optimized by professionals. In addition to using a useful (and relevant) domain and reputable hosting service, you also need thorough and complete website optimization practices, including but not limited to the following.

On-page SEO: there is nothing complicated about this step. All you need to do is to make sure that you use the right title for every page, the right keywords relevant to the title, human-readable contents, useful Meta descriptions, quick loading time, and the likes. On-page SEO is about making the website function as it should.

Off-page SEO: the more challenging part is the off-page optimization. It involves more sophisticated techniques to acquire quality backlinks (links directed to your website/content) from the more authoritative sites, social media integration, guest blogging, and brand popularity, among others. The purpose of off-page optimization is to build a better reputation and make the website more authoritative.

Internal linking: make it a priority to link a post to another on your website. The goal is to tell search engines that all your contents are relevant to each other. It also promotes the idea that visitors will remain engaged with the website because it provides detailed information about a particular topic. Visitors will stay longer on the site, improving your chances of converting them into customers.

Key-phrase instead of keywords: while keywords are most likely inevitable, you may also want to target key-phrases. You use more words to target a specific idea and insert the same phrase several times in a longer post. Longtail key-phrases (consisting of at least three words) are traditionally seldom-used, which means you don’t have to compete with more websites. Search engines prefer key-phrases to keywords because key-phrases give more specific information.

Reinforced website security: search engines are more eager to index secure websites with “https” as opposed to “Http” in their addresses. HTTPS features an SSL certificate to indicate an encrypted connection to the site. Your information is secured as well as the visitors’. If your website is also an online shop, secure online transaction processing is a must.

Fast loading speed: minimize the use of large-sized multimedia files such as videos and images on every page, or at least compress them to the smallest size possible without adversely affect view quality. Another excellent method is to use a dedicated server rather than a “shared” one. Switching to a “lighter” theme and enabling browser caching also help. Mobile-friendly: search engines have now moved to prioritize mobile-friendly websites in their indexing processes. Every day, more people are using smartphones to access the web, so it makes no sense to skip this step. Being mobile-friendly means your website will work the same way across devices of multiple platforms.

Last but not least, you need good SEO software to perform detailed analytics of website performance. Based on the analysis, the software may offer suggestions on how to fix errors and increase online visibility.



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