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How to Make Your Website Spider-Friendly: SEO Basics for Entrepreneurs
Smart entrepreneurs know that SEO is a huge part of every small business marketing plan. Being on the first page of Google’s search results is key for acquiring customers online. But with an overwhelming amount of conflicting information on the web about SEO best practices, it can be hard for entrepreneurs to know where to start optimizing. Unfortunately, much of the advice available on the web today hails from the olden days of SEO. These outdated tips and tricks aren’t always reliable, since Google has made changes to get better at delivering the exact results searchers want. These days, SEO is all about providing and organizing valuable content, not keyword-stuffing. Here are some basic SEO principles that you’ll need to know getting started.
First of all, it’s important to know why you can’t afford not to optimize your site for search traffic. Customers today prefer to research companies and brands online before they buy, and usually the first place they turn to is a search engine. Your customers might be searching for “Restaurants in Santa Barbara Open Late” or “Graphic Design Firms” or even “Best Cupcakes in Los Angeles.” And here’s the kicker: Whatever results show up at the top of the first page of search results are the companies they’re going to click on. They’re also likely the ones that will end up winning your prospects’ business. 60% of searchers will click on one of the first three results of a Google search, so showing up at the top of the first page is crucial for your business to attract new customers.
Once companies started to realize the value of showing up as the number one search result, SEO firms began coming up with aggressive tactics to boost their client’s pages to this coveted position. A big factor Google used to use to establish page authority was the quantity of websites linking back to yours. So SEO wizards set up elaborate networks of sites to dramatically increase the number of backlinks to a site. Keywords used to play a very large role in Google’s search ranking, so keyword-stuffing (a.k.a. repeating keywords ad nauseum throughout a website’s copy) was rampant.
The old rules of SEO don’t apply anymore, and for good reason. The sketchy tactics that used to get pages to the top are no longer recognized by Google as indicators of relevant content. Since search engines’ main goal is to return the results users want to see for any search query, Google has focused on improving its search algorithms to prevent anyone from taking advantage of their rules. With Google’s 2011 Panda update, these tactics lost their effectiveness and it became easier for users to find high-quality, relevant content.
Even though these SEO hacks no longer work, that doesn’t mean SEO is dead. You can make your website rank higher by ensuring that it is easily accessible to programs called “spiders” that Google uses to “crawl” the web. These programs analyze the content on your site and store it in archives. Search engines look through these archives every time someone conducts a search in order to direct them to the best content.
Making your site spider-friendly involves making it easy for these programs to find and correctly categorize your website. You can do this by using keywords naturally throughout your site. There is no need to repeat them excessively, and doing so can even make Google think your website is spammy. You can use meta descriptions to help both users and spiders understand what the page contains; these descriptors show up under the title of your website in Google results. Optimizing your website structure is also another way to get your site crawl-ready. Making sure there is a logical structure that connects the pages containing your quality content will make it easier for spiders to document your whole site. Creating a sitemap makes it even easier for Google to understand what your site has to offer.
Above all, Google and other search engines aim to deliver relevant, quality content to users. If you know you’ve got what they want, make sure your site shows it off. If you’re not sure where to start, ONTRAPORT’s free guide to SEO for entrepreneurs is a good place to start. It will walk you through all the necessary vocabulary you need to learn about SEO, explain what you need to know about the current states of SEO, and go over some best practices that will help your website begin its ascent to the top of the page.
Don’t let your website stay hidden on page 2 or 3. Get the SEO know-how you need to boost your website and be seen by your customers – download SEO Basics: The Essential Guide for Small Business Owners now.