Google receives billions of visitors a month.
No wonder search engine optimization is all the rage these days- search engines are one of the best sources of targeted traffic, the kind small business owners dream of.
Unfortunately, Google’s popularity comes at a price: myths abound in the realm of SEO.
Have you ever followed all the instructions on an SEO guide and wondered why your search engine traffic didn’t move up? Did you come up with keywords you know buyers use to find you, just like they told you to?
Depending on keywords is one of the biggest mistakes a small business owner can make when optimizing their stores. That’s because while keywords are important, they are only one piece of the puzzle.
Search engines are complex; Google has over 200 factors that affect search engine rankings.
Here are some of the other 199:
The idea of Google originally came to Larry Page in a dream, literally. While still a student at Stanford, he dreamed of being able to index every single website in existence and analyze their relationships with each other. Links later formed the foundation of Google’s algorithm.
Of course not all links are equal: Google looks at a link’s relevancy when calculating rankings. If you sell recipes, your ranking has a higher chance of improving if you get linked on a popular food blog as opposed to a car site.
The key is to build natural, relevant links. You can do this by pitching to blogs and magazines, creating your own blog or even creating link-bait products. Link-bait products are outrageous products (usually so weird or overpriced) that get news sites or the forums talking.
Watch out for sites that promise you x amount of links. They often employ unethical SEO practices and can end up hurting your rankings.
Social media shares
Google doesn’t make their ranking factors public, but trial and error has shown that Google is giving increasing importance to social media shares. It makes sense given that people are more likely to share good products.
This is one of the reasons Facebook giveaways have become so common: by encouraging customers to link and share their page, small businesses are increasing their link popularity.
Encourage your customers to talk about your product on their social media pages. You can incentivize it in the form of a coupon code.
Page load speed
If your customers were faced with a long and a short queue at a brick and mortar store, which one would they go for?
The short one, right?
People hate waiting and this impatience carries over online.
When it comes to websites, customers often hit the back button if the site takes over a few seconds to load. Every second counts.
Since Google is all about user experience, they factor in page load speed when calculating a site’s ranking position.
To make your site load faster, compress your images (these take up the bulk of loading time!), strip the coding of unnecessary spaces and consider using a CDN. CDNs are hosting networks that are spread out over a geographical location- when a customer visits your site, the CDN automatically chooses the server closest to the customer to reduce loading time.
I hope these suggestions are useful in your journey to the top of Google’s search results. If you have any questions, be sure to comment in the section below
This is a guest post from Blaire Windsor. Blaire has been designing web sites since 1998. She is the author of SEO For Etsy: The ULTIMATE guide, and left the corporate world to blog about turning craft to business.