Every business owner wants his or her website to be found easily in an online search
. More often than not, this is easier said than done. Attaining good, long term, rankings for search terms, particularly competitive ones, takes time and effort.

But, gaining good rankings is worth the effort, we all know that Google delivers the most traffic to websites and in the UK approximately 90% of searches are carried out on Google.

However, time and time again, I see simple things that have been overlooked, or not done properly. This gives opportunities for picking the ‘low hanging fruit’, which can often lead to a great improvement in rankings for not that much effort – the easy way!

In fact the 5 ways, which I’ll explain below, should come as no surprise if you know anything about search engine optimization (SEO), and are all things that could be done, or at least started on, today.

1. Keyword Research

Keyword is incredibly important, but also easy to get wrong. More often than not, businesses focus on volumes (which are usually competitive keywords) and usually, untargeted keywords as they’re too generic. Spend more time really understanding how people search for your products or services in layman’s terms. Ask your customers how they would search for them – this will give important information from the users point of view and not yours. We’re often so buried in our businesses and the jargon that goes with it, that we don’t really know which terms people are using everyday to find our products and services.

Another useful tool is ‘Ubersuggest’ which scrapes results from Google suggest (the keywords that automatically come up when you start searching on Google). Although this tool doesn’t give any search volumes it helps you to understand how people are searching and gives you a starting point before you use the keyword research tool of your choice (I use the Google Adwords keyword research tool).

Getting your keyword research right can be time consuming, but once you really understand how people are searching, you can focus your site more towards your customers and attract more targeted visitors who are more likely to buy from you – a no brainer!

2. Meta Tags

Again, if you know anything about SEO then you’ll have heard of meta tags. These tags tell the search engines what your pages are about, and they are used to display your web pages in the search results. This is important, as it’s the list of search results from which users will choose which site to click on, and determine whether they click on your website’s link, or on a competitor’s link. So how your web pages are presented in a search is so, so important! I’ve seen some extremely badly written meta tags in my time, duplicated across the website, just listing keywords, with no thought as to whether or not it will encourage anyone to click on their link. You must craft your title tags and meta descriptions succinctly, describing the page the visitor will land on, but encouraging them to click at the same time. Get this right and you should attract more clicks from the search engines. So start reviewing your title tags and meta descriptions today, it can make all the difference.

3. Alt tags

‘Alt’ tags are used to describe images, and the better optimised your images are, the more likely they are to get found in an image search. Image optimisation is so often overlooked on websites, but is another way you can make sure your website is found in a search. This may not be so important if you have a service based business and the images on your site are just there for cosmetic reasons, but for a business that sells products, any type of product whether physical or virtual, image optimisation is incredibly importantYou can read more about image optimisation in this article from Search Engine Watch, and a few checks around your site may well reveal that this is an area which has been neglected, resulting in the loss of visitors to your site.

4. Google Places / Google+ Local

Google has many free applications, and Google Places or Google+ Local are made for business. Setting up your free listing can give your website extra visibility in the local search results, which often come above the main search results. It’s easy to set up, you can add images to make your listing look more attractive, along with your business description. Since it only takes a few minutes to set up, neglecting this means your business, again, could be losing valuable visitors to your website. You can read more about how Google+ Local works in this article from Econsultancy.

5. Fresh Content

Keeping your website up to date also helps rankings. Setting up a news or blog section which is updated regularly, adds additional interest to your website where visitors can learn more about your business’ products or services, answer their questions or show off your expertise, but keeps the search engines happy. In fact, if you update your site regularly, the search engines are more likely to index it more often. I recently had a project where an old site was revamped after several years and had never been updated. Over a month after launch, the search engines still hadn’t indexed the new site because they knew it was never updated and had no reason to re-index it on a regular basis. So not only was not updating the site affecting its rankings, but was a rather boring experience to the visitors which came across it. There are many more good reasons for having a blog, which we’ve covered in previous posts. If you’ve a blog or news section on your site, which is looking rather sad and neglected, then why not update it – today!

Let’s face it, we all want the best results with the least effort, but just making that little bit of effort can make all the difference. All of these tips can be started on today and you never know, you could start seeing improvements in a matter of days…..