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In 2021, what you can’t afford as an entrepreneur is not having a presence online. In particular, what you must have is a professional website.
This might sound silly and obvious, yet, there are many entrepreneurs and businesses out there who either don’t have a website or don’t take care of their online presence, they developed their website ten years ago and it hasn’t been upgraded since then.
Even if you do have a website, you need to make it visible and authoritative, it needs to attract customers and, ideally, also do better than the websites of your competitors.
To give you a real-life analogy, ranking on search engines has the same effect as the location of a physical store in a town. Even if you do have the best window display imaginable, if nobody is going past your shop, they are never going to know about you. Where your website is concerned, think more “high street” than “side street.”
Your website has one major thing in common with a successful store, they both need lots of traffic (visitors).
So, how do you get to improve your ranking on the likes of Google, Bing, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, etc.? The first step is to understand what the most important search engine ranking factors are.
The Most Important Ranking Factors:
- Backlinks: the number of links you have from other websites. In particular, what actually influences how your website ranks is the number of domains pointing to it.
- On-Page SEO: as Moz explains, on-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.
- The Quality of Your Content: high-quality content provides a better user experience, and this is why it ranks better on Google. Did you know that the longer a person stays on a web page, the higher your website will rank? Google reckons that the longer someone stays on a website, the better the website must be, and it is trying desperately to provide quality search engine results.
- Page Speed: how quickly a page loads to users.
Once you know how ranking works, you can start working on optimizing your website.
What follows are the things you can do to increase your visibility online and attract more clients.
The best thing you can do to attract traffic — and potential clients — to your website is consistently putting out high-quality articles.
Show your expertise in your field through your content, show your potential customers you can solve their problem and make your content visible. They will eventually knock on your door.
Do Keyword Research
In order to increase your visibility, you need to know which are the most common terms used to search for products or services that you offer. If your article ranks high for one or more popular keywords, you will receive increased organic (natural, not forced) traffic.
To find the most popular keywords around the topics you know about, you can use several tools.
Personally, to do keyword research the only tools I use are Google Trends and the Ubersuggest Chrome Extension. They are free and very easy to use.
If I see that a keyword is popular and the SD (SEO difficulty) is not too high, I write an article around it and optimize it. The SD is a metric that tells you from 1 to 100 how difficult it is to compete for a certain keyword.
If you use WordPress, make sure to install the free version of the Yoast plugin, as it helps you optimize your content around your chosen keywords and improve its readability.
Use keywords naturally in the content and don’t try to overload the text with the keyword(s) — search engines no longer use density of keyword use as a metric. The best places to put keywords are in the main heading of the article, in a few of the paragraph headings, and just a sprinkling throughout the actual text.
Create a Plan
In order to have more visibility, you need to have a content plan. For example, if you are a personal development coach, you need to find keywords with a high-volume search around these topics that will interest your potential clients, and then create interesting, easily read articles that target those keywords (800 words is a good length for a blog post).
In other words, the keywords you target should be the phrases your potential clients will use to search on Google.
You can also target a group of keywords with one single post. I use Excel, as it’s the best tool to annotate everything you need, to organize a blog post around a group of keywords.
Focus on On-page SEO
Once you have written one or more articles, you have to make sure they are all well optimized to appear in search results.
Here’s a quick reminder of what you should check has been done before publishing a post:
- The keyword you chose should be included in the URL, better if the slug corresponds to the keyword. For example, if the keyword is how to be confident, the URL should be something like: yourwebsite.com/how-to-be-confident
- Make sure the keyword appears in the first paragraph of the article;
- It should also be included in the title, better if you include it at the beginning;
- The keyword should be included in some of the subheadings;
- Make sure the keyword is included in the alt text of the featured image.
If you have the Yoast plugin, you will automatically see a checklist at the end of your article.
When people link to your webpages, these will be more likely to rank high on search engines.
To build backlinks, the best things you can do are writing high-quality content, so that people want to link to it, and guest blogging.
Guest blogging on authoritative websites is the best form of building backlinks to start receiving more traffic on your own website.
For example, my website is about personal development and relationships, and I have guest posts on platforms such as Thrive Global and Plenty of Fish.
This helped some of my articles rank on the first page of Google for several popular keywords, and all this happened just a few months after launching my website.
Avoid Black-Hat SEO Like the Plague
While white-hat SEO practices — such as guest blogging, keyword optimization and actively participating in forums without spamming other users — are completely legitimate, black-hat techniques aren’t.
Black-hat SEO practices may work really well to rank higher. With one caveat, they only work in the short term as they go against the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
In the long term they may damage the credibility and authority of your website, because Google has several algorithms which are designed to detect black-hat methods and penalize the websites that engage in those practices.
Now you might ask: “Ok Sira, but what are some examples of black-hat SEO?”
Here are a few examples of black-hat practices:
- Buying backlinks;
- Keyword stuffing, that is filling your content with your target keyword so that the text sounds unnatural;
- Auto-generated or spun content with backlinks pointing to your site;
- Spamming forums with backlinks pointing to your website.
WARNING — If Google does catch you using black-hat techniques to improve your website ranking, it will penalize you by dropping your ranking way down and, no matter how much you then try to improve your ranking, it won’t make any difference. Many businesses have been ruined by using black hat SEO.
Convert Your Readers Into Clients
The most important step is to convert your readers into clients. That’s why you started to create content, right?
There are several ways you can do this. In particular, some of the most common — and effective — methods are the following:
- Add a call to action at the end of your article, for example inviting the reader to schedule a call with you;
- Create a pop up to collect your readers email, and then promote your product or service though a newsletter;
- Promote your products or services in the sidebars or throughout the article.
Attracting organic traffic to your website and converting users to clients is not easy, and it’s a long-term journey. You need a lot of patience. However, if you do it the right way, with love and a lot of dedication, you can definitely outsmart your competitors and really grow your little empire into a massive one.