Most of the small businesses I’ve worked with scramble to keep up with the next change to the Google algorithm. This is one of those marketing tasks that can seem daunting, especially if your specialty is cupcakes or automotive repair, and not SEO.
Let me back up for a second. SEO (search engine optimization) is a strategy or collection of strategies web-marketers employ to rank highest on internet searches, which drives traffic to your website; traffic which then hopefully converts to lots of happy fans of your product or service. Google is far and away the most popular search engine, and has long set the standard for indexing and searching websites.
The algorithms Google uses to index websites and organize them into search results are constantly changing, with one very specific goal in mind- improving user experience. Google wants to delight its customers just as much as you do, so in turn, it makes sense that they will push quality websites to the top of your search results, and leave the spammy or unhelpful websites in the depths of the internet doldrums on page 6.
In 2016 Google made several updates to its algorithm. They ranged from changing adwords, to the way businesses ranked for local searches, and of course, an update to their algorithm further boosting mobile-friendly websites. The focus has been very clear in 2016 to improve user experience, with Google boosting rankings for websites with fresh content.
While completely ignoring changes to upcoming Google algorithm changes would be ill-advised, it does not make much sense for a small business owner to constantly change their web strategy to keep up with the latest chatter.
With limited time and resources, it is best to maintain a strategy that keeps your site relevant and useful to your visitors. Here are a few quick tips to keep ahead of the changes without driving yourself crazy.
- Blogs are the easiest way to keep fresh content on your site, and at the same time, provide useful, value-add information to your customers.
- Keep navigation on your site clean and clear. Visitors should be able to tell where to go to get the information they are looking for at a glance.
- Avoid keyword stuffing. This will actually hurt your ranking on Google. Don’t write long descriptive paragraphs on every page loaded with words you want to rank for. No one is going to read through all of that, and the Google-bots have gotten wise to this tactic. If your visitor doesn’t want to read it, Google doesn’t either.
- Clear call to actions. This strategy is important for getting those visitors to convert into customers. Maybe you want them to sign up for a newsletter or make a purchase. The process to do either should be easy to navigate, and the benefit of doing so should be evident.
- Mobile-friendly, or responsive design is only going to become more important as more and more people use mobile devices to navigate the web.
- It is important to push your website out there. Don’t just rely on Google to get visitors to your site. When you post a blog or have an update, send it out via social media. Some social media platforms will be more relevant to your business than others, so it is important to do your research. You can use a scheduler like Hootsuite for free to schedule posts, which will save you time and help you optimize the timing of your posts to get the most views.
- Set aside a reasonable budget for Google Adwords. Adword campaigns are a simple, cost effective way to increase traffic to your website. You can adjust your budget to be just about any amount you want, allowing even the smallest marketing budgets to take advantage of the service. Test out a few campaigns to see what works for your target market before committing a significant chunk of change.