Did you know that the top position in a Google search gets over 30% of all clicks for that search? Or that less than 1% of people will go to the second page of Google when looking for an answer or service? If your website isn’t in the top ten best search results, then you might as well be hiding it under a rock. Thankfully, we have 8 simple and easy tricks to help boost your ranking, and get you that coveted #1 spot.
1. Know Your Audience
The foundation of any effective sales pitch is understanding your target audience. If your service doesn't align with your audience's objectives and needs, then it's unlikely to succeed. To thrive in the online space, it's crucial to understand your audience's search intent, comprehend what they seek, and how they search for it. As a birth center, it is important to focus on expectant mothers, write for them in a voice and style they will resonate with. Cater your pitch to answer their concerns and questions. Instead of trying to boast about how great your services are, focus on what you provide and the emotional and comforting support you provide.
For instance, an expectant mother most likely isn't going to start her search by focusing on pricing or comparisons. She won't be approaching this the same way as she would when buying a new car. Instead, she is looking to soothe her concerns and craft an ideal birthing experience. Most likely, she will begin by seeking clarity on what birth centers offer and look to address her foremost worries. While this is a momentous occasion, pregnancy can be an unsettling period for new mothers. Addressing these fears and worries can be a great way to build trust early on.
Think of questions your clients have asked you in the past, how you answered their concerns or what advice you offered. Add those answers and advice onto your site. Oftentimes your website will be the first interaction your audience has with you or your business, so it's important to put your best foot forward and show that you are a compassionate and knowledgeable expert.
2. Target Valuable Keywords
Keywords are one of the biggest factors in how search engines decide which content is relevant to a search. It helps the search engine to only show relevant information based on the user’s search intent. For example If I am looking for tips about nutrition during pregnancy, then I don’t want to see the latest celebrity fad diet, tips on weight loss, or other random suggestions that don't relate to my query.
Search engines such as Google pull keywords from the content on a website to try and match the user’s search intention. For example, if I type in “Nutrition tips during pregnancy” Google will pull from my search the keywords “nutrition tip” and “pregnancy”. It will then try to find related keywords and ways to combine these words, such as “tips during pregnancy”, “nutritional advice”, and “pregnancy diet”. Google then searches through its massive catalog of websites, picks the best pages that match these keywords, and displays them for me in order from best to worst. If a website doesn’t mention anything about pregnancy or nutrition, then it is unlikely to be shown. As you can see, having the right keywords on your site that match your audience’s search intent is crucial.
So, how do we get these keywords on your website? Adding content, usually through text. However, before you start writing, take some time to list out the keywords you want to target. Think of the services you provide, the topics your site covers, and the questions your audience might ask.
There are many different tools to help you figure out which keywords have the most search potential with the least amount of competition. Unfortunately many tools such as Ahrefs or SEMRush have monthly fees. Free sites such as Google Trends are a great way to help you find the best keywords to target, even if they don't provide as much in-depth information. Simply enter in a keyword you want to target, such as “Prenatal Care” or “Home Birth” and start comparing. You can also use listening tools such as Answer The Public to find frequently asked questions that you can answer on your site for even more SEO value.
3. Content is King
Now it's time to start writing. This can be one of the most challenging tasks when it comes to improving your website. It can be difficult to convey your message in a clear and concise manner, while still hitting all the keywords you want to rank for, and not coming across as robotic or artificial.
Unfortunately, content is king. Nearly every study has shown that well written content is one of the biggest factors that search engines use to determine who to show in their search results. Without enough content it can be nearly impossible to achieve that coveted #1 rank, and all the search traffic that comes with it. Having keyword rich content that provides value to the target audience has always been a massive ranking factor, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
Here are some important things to remember when making content:
- Everything is Content - Text, images, videos, blogs, anything visual on your site is content. From your logo to your Contact Page, it all matters, but it doesn't all matter equally. Identify where you want your traffic to go, what pages you want your audience to see, and place your most important information there.
- Be consistent - Keep a similar voice and style across your site. Using the same logos, colors, and fonts across your site creates a more unified feel. Everything needs to look clean and professional. People do judge a book by its cover, and even the most valuable information can be ignored when wrapped in an ugly package.
- Write for people, not machines - We know you have a lot of keywords to try and fit in, but keyword stuffing actually hurts your ranking. When writing for your site, keep your audience in the forefront of your mind, and Google’s preferences in the back. Your content needs to flow organically, even if it means putting in some extra effort and writing a few more paragraphs.
- Provide value - Everything you do should provide some value to your audience. Just adding content to eat up space can hurt you. Irrelevant information can hurt your site’s authority, or cause it to rank for erroneous search queries. Remember, step one of this guide was to Know Your Audience. There's a reason we put it first.
- Size isn’t everything - Writing lengthy dissertations or posting a new blog daily isn’t as useful as you think. Quality beats quantity in the long run. A single post with a thousand views will help you more than a thousand posts with only one view each.
4. Titles and Descriptions - Signage In The Digital World
Big things come in small packages, and while titles and meta descriptions don’t look like a lot, they can have a huge impact on your search engine optimization. They serve as the first impression of your page in the search results, and can play a critical role whether or not your website gets clicked on.
If you imagine your website as a physical storefront, then the title and description would be the sign out front. Let's look at a good and bad example of each.
Midwife Mary’s Birth Center - Midwifery Services in Dallas
Bringing the Midwifery Model of Care to expecting mothers throughout the Dallas area. We offer prenatal classes, pregnancy care, delivery, and more.
Mary’s Midwifery Services in Dallas, Texas - Home Birth, Water Birth, Natural Birth
Call Today for a free consultation. We are located at 1234 Cottonwood Drive. Prenatal classes start at $100. Call for more details.
The first example contains a well crafted Title and description. It includes the name of the company, says what their service area is, and contains valuable keywords saying what they offer. The description then goes on to expand upon their services and tells a bit more about the company’s philosophy.
The second example is too long, remember you only get 580 pixels worth of length for your title, and 920 pixels for your description. Keep them short and succinct, or your listing might get cut off and look unprofessional. This example also contains too many keywords stuffed into the title. While keywords are very important to have in your title, especially for your home page, you only want one or two. Best practice is to immediately say what the most important part of that page is, not list out every aspect of your business. Listing too many keywords in the title can confuse search engines and dilute the value of your keywords.
Listing your services in the description is another good practice, as long as you don't go over the character limit. The description is mostly there to help your audience understand what you do. Keywords placed in the description are not a ranking factor in most search engines, but are easy for your audience to detect when skimming through a search engine;s results page. Adding a call to action in the description such as “Call today for a free consultation” can be a good idea, just make sure you don’t come across as too pushy. You also don’t need to put your address or contact info in the description.
5. Picture Perfection
A picture is worth a thousand words, which is why it's important to make sure they are saying the right thing. Just as you want your content to be relevant to the page it is posted on, your pictures also need to add value wherever they are placed. Don’t add graphics and images just to eat up space. Make sure that everything on your site has a purpose and enhances the visitor’s experience.
When picking the right image there are also some technical considerations that you should keep in mind. The most commonly used file formats for the web are JPEG and PNG. Most platforms and devices prefer these formats, and will run better if they are used over larger file types such as a TIFF or RAW file. JPEG images tend to look cleaner, and are commonly used when uploading photographs. PNGs are best suited for images that contain text and line drawings such as logos and clip art.
You also don’t want to slow your site down with large images and massive file sizes. Oftentimes the biggest drop in page speed comes from loading oversized images. Multiple studies have shown that page speed plays a major role in your bounce rate (how often views leave a page or site without interacting with it). A general consensus is that for each second it takes for a page to load, there is a corresponding drop in conversions by roughly 40%. Simply put, slow pages can cost you potential business.
The worst part of having an oversized image on your site is that most devices will shrink the image to fit on the screen or to match the devices display. Meaning your audience won't even notice all the detail in your image anyways. Always check the size and dimensions of any image you upload to your site. Make sure the file size is appropriate for the dimensions of the image, and try to follow best practices by keeping image sizes under the 2 megabytes maximum. There are tons of free image resizing and compression tools free on the web, including options from Microsoft and Adobe.
Providing alt text (short for alternative text) to your images can also help search engines to understand the context of an image. Adding text such as “midwife giving advice to a new mother” or “woman sitting in a birthing tub” can help Google to better understand the image and ensure it counts as relevant content. Remember, when adding alt text, keep it under 125 characters, only include one or two keywords, and you don’t need to say “image of….” or “photo of…” in the alt text.
6. Common Technical Optimization Tips & Tricks
Technical optimization is the backbone of a successful website. It ensures a smooth user experience, enhances search engine rankings, and safeguards your site from security threats. But what is technical optimization?
Technical optimization, also called technical SEO, is the process of fine-tuning and improving the parts of your website that your audience does not see. This includes a lot, and can get a bit complicated. So let's take a brief glance at some common optimization components that you might want to keep an eye on for your site.
- Page Speed Optimization: People have short attention spans. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, most viewers will leave. Quick and efficient web pages that aren’t slowed down by large images or unruly code help to improve user experience. Which in turn causes a positive impact on search engine rankings.
- Mobile Optimization: The amount of online shoppers is rapidly growing each year. Already, over 20% or all sales in the US are made over mobile devices. No matter what your industry is, if your site isn't optimized to run smoothly on a smartphone, then you are missing out on potential clicks and revenue.
- Crawlability and Indexing: Making sure search engines can effectively crawl and index your website's content. If Google can’t see your pages, then they won't be ranking well or showing up in searches.
- Eliminate Duplicate Content: Most search engines will penalize you for duplicate content on your site. Or if you copy content from others. Avoid doing this at all costs.
- Internal Linking: Linking between pages on your site can simplify navigation and helps search engines to understand which pages or topics are related.
- Redirects & Broken Pages: Properly manage broken links by using redirects and 404 error pages to improve user experience and maintain SEO integrity. Broken links look unprofessional, and cause search engines to think your site is not being actively maintained.
- Website Security: Implement measures like SSL certificates, firewalls, and security updates to protect your website and your user data. Not only is this good for SEO, but protects your users from theft and fraud.
- Structured Data Markup: Add schema markup to provide search engines with additional information about your content. This helps your site appear in rich snippets which appear in the search results page.
- Robots.txt and Sitemaps: You can control what pages search engines can see or display by using a Robots.txt file. This can also help to keep your Sitemap up to date.
When performed correctly, technical optimizations improve website performance, user experience, and search visibility. They focus on the technical foundation of your site, which affects functionality and accessibility. Ignoring these optimizations can harm performance, frustrate users, and reduce search visibility. Causing a negative impact on your online presence and business success.
7. Internal Linking - The Path To Success
Internal linking is when one page on your site links to another page on your site. We have all seen buttons or different colored text than when clicked takes you to another page. That's essentially all a link is, but these simple tools can have a big impact on your site’s SEO.
Internal links can be used to establish a hierarchy among your pages. Pages should logically move from a broad category down to more specific options. For example, a baker’s website might have a page about their Cakes, which then goes to Holiday Cakes, and eventually Halloween Themed Cakes. Another example is how clothing sites will usually be divided into Mens and Womens, then the type of apparel, Shirts, Pants, Shoes, ect, and finally by brand or style. You can set up your site in a similar fashion to help move users to more specific areas and help search engines understand your site hierarchy.
Really skilled website designers will also link their popular pages to pages that need a boost in traffic. You can leverage the parts of your site that are doing well to support the parts that are underperforming. Having a site with traffic flowing throughout it is better for SEO purposes than just having a few pages hoarding all the views. You can do this easily by finding a way to organically mention the topic of the struggling page in the popular page’s content, and adding a link.
8. Usability - Simplicity Is Key
Google doesn't just display websites to be seen online, it also watches how users interact with them. User experience is a crucial ranking factor, and bad UX can lead to annoying or confusing potential customers. Here are a few pro SEO tips to help ensure your site is optimized for both users and search engines.
- Make a good looking site
Visual clutter and inconsistent themes can hurt your site even worse than some technical issues. It's hard to build trust or be taken seriously when your site looks poorly designed or unprofessional. Be sure to use visuals that add value for your users, help them to understand the content better, or get your point across. Use consistent colors and font types that match your logo or company’s look, and double check that everything is in line and spaced properly.
- Use Headings
Proper use of Headings and Subheadings can help viewers to understand your content better. H1 tags can also be used to let search engines know what the page is about and to put more emphasis on specific keywords. However, you should only have one H1 tag per page. This tag is meant to highlight the key point on the page, and you don't want to dilute its importance. You can have as many H2s, H3s, and H4 tags as you want on any page without causing a problem. Just be careful not to make an entire paragraph a Heading or you will confuse search engines.
- Don't Be Annoying
This one should be obvious, but a surprising amount of sites are full of spammy pop ups, obnoxious buttons, and navigation that always tries to lead you back to a sale. While your website is part of your business, and you want to make money, being too pushy will just push your viewers right into the arms of your competition.
- Call To Actions
Include clear and prominent CTAs that guide users toward desired actions. It's ok to ask your audience to sign up for a newsletter, make a purchase, or to give their contact info. A call to action is a vital technique, and should be used regularly. Just be sure to ask too frequently, and place your CTAs in the appropriate areas; such as the meta description, the end of a page, or a prominent button at the top of the page. CTAs are valuable tools when used correctly, so don’t be afraid to A/B test where and how they are placed on your site for the best results.
So, there you have it, 8 best practices for optimizing your website’s SEO.
While optimization can feel like a massive beast, it can be overcome with a bit of planning and elbow grease. We didn't manage to cover every aspect of SEO and website optimization in this blog, but these tips and tricks should help you blast past the competition and skyrocket to the top rank. Don’t worry if all this looks like a monumental task, that's why in-house specialists and digital marketing agencies exist. They can be used to help take some of the load off your plate, so you can focus on what you do best, running your business.