How much time (and money) do you spend on SEO for your website?
It might surprise you to hear me say this, but chances are it’s too much. Sure, SEO still matters, but if you aren’t paying attention to other aspects of running a great website you are losing visitors (aka, potential customers) every day. And even the best optimization in the world won’t fix that.
So what should you be paying attention to other than SEO?
It’s All About Content
Relevant, engaging, interesting content on your site is critical. Every person that logs onto a search engine is seeking an answer to a question. They want to land on a page that answers the question–not the page that’s stuffed with keywords but the one that has actual information. Search engines will always prioritize sites with good content that answer the question asked.
In addition to useful information, there’s fresh content, which often takes the form of a blog. If you’re struggling to find topics to blog about, try thinking like your customers. What questions do you get asked the most? What conversations do you frequently have with customers? Where in the decision-making process do you think your customer is when they’re arriving at your website? Answer questions like these and you’ll start to have a nice pile of content to develop.
Say a potential customer is searching for something relevant to your business. Thanks to the great content on your site, you turn up in the results. But say they were searching from their phone—and your site “doesn’t do mobile.” Menus look funky, images stretch for hundreds of pixels on end, and weird background stuff shows. Your site, in reality, isn’t usable—and there goes the customer. With regard to this example, you’ll want to make sure your site is usable on a variety of devices (study up on responsive design), but usability goes beyond that.
Think of your website as a digital representation of your store. Someone sees your signage and walks in to find a front desk (your homepage!). Then they browse the inventory (a products and services page!). Then they ask you a question (a contact page!). Think about how your customer “flows” through your business and apply that research to your web presence. That’s usability.
If you’re generating solid content and have addressed usability, what’s next? Distribution, specifically, social distribution. The world is now sharing things on social media — and folks are not just sharing cat photos. No, they’re sharing information that is useful to their communities, such as that great blog post they saw on your site.
It’s up to you to make sure your content is dead simple to share. Would you rather require your visitor have to copy a link, open up a new tab, go to Facebook, paste that link and then push publish? No. Of course you wouldn’t. Thankfully there are tools out there (like WordPress’ Social Sharing Toolkit) that make content sharing as simple as one or two clicks. Make sure your site has seamless sharing functionality.
Now Focus On Link Building
While it’s fine to alert other websites to something of yours that might prove useful to them, but don’t beg for links – and don’t buy them. If you have addressed the first three points above, organic inbound links will happen.
But Guess What…
You still need some technical and on-page SEO. Get square on the points above, but also consider these three basic SEO tactics:
- • Your Title: This usually comes from the title you’ve written for the content, as in the title for your blog post. Get your relevant, targeted keyword in there and limit the length to about 65 characters or so.
- • Your Description: Technically the <meta description>, this is what we all see in search results: the text under the link we all click. Think of it as your call to action. You get 160-ish characters to showcase the relevant keyword and tell they searchers why they should click on you.
- • Links within your content: If you’re writing about a sweater, linking to other relevant articles about sweaters, hoodies or shawls you’ve previously published can expose visitors to more of your content. This can also create a useful internal link structure to help the engines find more of your content. Control yourself though and limit linking in an article.
Do all this and you’ll be well on your way to a useful, functional, shareable site that your customers will love. And hey, they might even tell their friends about it too.
This post originally appeared in WeWork Magazine.