If you’ve taken the time to create a website for your business, you really have nothing to lose by putting a little bit of effort into optimizing that site for search engines. Search engine optimization is the process of tweaking your site to get better placement within the thousands of search results for any given set of keywords. The best way to accomplish better results is up for debate, since no one knows for sure what search algorithm’s real criteria is for determining each site’s rank. Through research though, we can deduce that there are certain things you can do to your site to improve your search rankings. Here are my top 5.

First: Inbound Links

Google’s genius is in their realization that there is no way they can review all the web pages on the Internet to determine each site’s relative value. There are simply too many websites to review. Search algorithms let the Internet’s webpages determine for themselves their relative value by tracking hyperlinks between pages. Each web page uses hyperlinks to link to other web pages. If a webpage links to one of your pages, search engines count that as an inbound link, and considers it an endorsement of your content. Each endorsement increases the value and ranking of your site relative to your competitors.

To get inbound links, consider link exchanges with other businesses in your area. Write content for other blogs and ask to link the article back to you. You could even pay to advertise on other sites but be careful that you are linking from high quality sites, not link farms that are created solely for the purpose of SEO. There are no shortcuts here.

Second: Create Great Content

Really, the best way to attract inbound links is to focus your efforts on creating great content that others want to link to. Think about questions that your existing customers have asked you, and answer them by writing blog posts, creating great product descriptions and service explanations, beautiful images, info-graphics, and invest the time into creating video. Make sure your content is genuine. Search algorithms have become very smart at identifying sites that portray themselves as something that they are not.

Third: Target Keywords

Now that you have a lot of great content, you can start the process of optimizing each individual page. Start by writing out a list of keyword combinations – 2-4 words each – that you think your prospective customers will be searching the Internet for. This is a huge part of search engine optimization. Each page within your site should correspond to a specific keyword set. Then, make sure, on that page, your title and content contain that keyword phrase. This goes a long way to helping search engines determine the purpose of each page.

Fourth: Mobile is critical

Over half of all searches are now from mobile devices and Google has announced recently that it may actually begin to rank down sites that do not have a mobile version. You need to get with your web designer right away and create a mobile friendly version of your site. With responsive design, the process is cost effective and will improve customer response.

Fifth: Use Video

The future of the Internet is video. Using video on your site is great for added content, but hosting that video on YouTube is a great idea for search engine optimization. YouTube is the second most used search engine after Google itself, so adding video increases your chances of customers finding you.

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