Trying to get your website to rank on Google can be a complicated and difficult process. The science behind helping your site rank is called search engine optimzation. There is no universal answer or magic pill to have the best SEO. What you need to do to make your business rank will depend on several factors, including:
In the SEO community, there are relatively few simple yes or no answers. Frequently, a question that may seem simple to you as a business owner will be answered by an SEO specialist with “It depends.” That’s because that yes or no question requires you to consider all of the factors above and more. In some cases, just getting the basics down will be enough. For others, you’ll have to dig deep into the issue to find the right solution.
So let’s talk about basic things you can do to start making your business climb the mountain that is Google search results. When I talk about the basics, I’m talking about bits of advice that I can comfortably give to just about anyone, regardless of the many factors we discussed. There are few cases that wouldn’t benefit from taking these SEO measures. Here, I’ll assume that you’re running a WordPress site and that you run a local business. That is, one that serves a specific geographic area and has an office in that area. If you run an e-commerce site or otherwise serve customers all over the country from offices that are not local to them, your approach will need to be a little different.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to have a page for each broad term that you want to rank for. Usually, that means having a page on your site for each service you offer or each product you sell. These are the most important pages on your site because when someone searches for the term that each page is optimized for, that is the page you’ll want Google to rank. So take your time with them and be complete with the information.
For example, if you run a lawn care business, you might want to rank for “Pueblo Lawn Care,” “Pueblo Mowing Services,” “Pueblo Lawn Aeration,” and “Pueblo Sod Installation.” “Lawn Care” stands out of that list as being a broad term that could be considered to encompass the rest, so you might consider optimizing your homepage for that term, and creating internal pages for all of the others. There is no magic number of words to write, but usually, we find that longer content tends to perform better. That’s because Google likes content that answers a searcher’s query thoroughly.
A word of warning here: people often take this advice too far. Having multiple pages optimized for the same thing probably won’t help you, and it can cause some damage. Stick to one really well-written page for each product or service. Also, be careful that you don’t become too granular with this approach. Many pages that cover topics that are too similar have a tendency to be hard for Google to differentiate. That leads to a problem called “keyword cannibalization,” which means that Google can’t decide which page to rank for a term, and will often not rank either very well as a response. The better option would be to include closely-related subtopics on one page, which will add to that page’s value. For example, if you install three kinds of sod, you probably don’t need a page for each one. Instead, write a paragraph or two for each on the sod installation page, and compare the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The structure of your menu should reflect the hierarchy of your content. Usually, you’ll want all of your service or product pages linked in the menu, unless there are too many of them to fit reasonably. In that case, utilize some sort of categorization method and link the category pages.
Google will use your sitemap to take stock of every page on your site and note when changes are made. There are two different types of sitemap. The first is an XML sitemap, which is not ever meant to be seen by a user, but is submitted directly to Google. The Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress will automatically create an XML sitemap for you. Just install the plugin and it will be visible at yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml. You’ll want to verify your site on Google Search Console and submit the sitemap to Google there.
The HTML sitemap is user-facing, and should be linked from every page on your site, usually in the footer. You can very easily create an HTML sitemap by installing the WP Sitemap Page plugin. Once the plugin is installed and activated, just create a new page called “Sitemap” and add the WP Sitemap Page shortcode to the page.
Breadcrumbs are links on every page of your site that create a trail from the homepage through parent pages and to the page that the visitor is on. This helps Google to understand the content hierarchy of your site better, and provides automatic linking to more prominent pages. Yoast is capable of setting up breadcrumb navigation on your site, but it must be compatible your theme, so talk to your developer about getting it set up for you.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. None of these steps take your business’s many unique situations into account. But following these basic steps will give you a great start in getting your site off the ground. If you’ve tried all of this with no luck, you may need professional help, so please reach out to us, and let us see what we can do for you.