Seeing your website empty as a ghost town is extremely disheartening for you and your business. Whether your paid advertisements flopped, you’ve cut marketing budgets, driving people to your site organically is not simple or straightforward.

The upside is that there are plenty of SEO strategies you can do to increase organic traffic without pay-per-click advertising and costs (except your time), and we’ve teamed up with Erin Dooley of Sidekick Web Studio to share them with you. 

But First, What is SEO and Why is it Important?

“SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the practice of creating your website and maintaining your online presence in a way that is favorable to Google’s organic search results,” says Erin. 

There are two things to understand about SEO fundamentally: 

The first, Erin says, is, “Google has a monopoly on the market. Even though there are other search engines out there like Yahoo, Google sets the rules when it comes to being found online. If you don’t play by those rules, you’re not just losing the game; you’re not playing the game.”  

“Google is all that matters,” she emphasizes.

Second, “Google is a business just like you, and they have customers, metrics, and products. Their ultimate goal is to give their customers the best possible search results based on keywords and queries. Thus, you have to think of Google as a business when you’re doing any type of SEO optimization,” Erin explains. 

SEO is an entire world with processes to learn, understand, and execute. SEO is more than the six strategies that we’re going to list out, but you can find a more in-depth overview in Sidekick Web Studio’s articles above. That being said, here are the SEO strategies that you can do tonight that will up your ranking.

1. Use Google My Business

“People don’t realize how important it is to get your business verified with Google,” Erin explains. 

Google My Business makes it easier for Google’s customers to find information about your business, including hours, contact information, and locations—across multiple devices. 

The bottom line is that your business must be listed in Google so they can rank you in local search. To verify your business head to Google My Business to make sure that your Google Page is complete and accurate to help optimize your results. 

Related: How To Set You Your Google My Business Account

2. Have Ongoing Content Creation

Google loves content. 

Relevant and useful content on your website helps you generate keywords, improve click-through rates, generate backlinks, and encourage visitors to stay on your page longer—all things Google considers when determining rankings. 

But if the phrase “content creation” stresses you out, let us reassure you that writing content can be straightforward. Though we can’t say that creating content will take you no time, there are ways to streamline and reduce the intense time commitment content typically takes. 

Erin suggests, “Keep it simple and…”

  1. “Write about what you know. Write about your expertise.”
  2. “Write about what your customers need to know so they can buy, use, or share your product.” 

She continues, “That way, you don’t have to be as concerned with keyword optimization, but are still creating content within your industry that will build keywords naturally.”  

Remember, when it comes to content, you have more influence than you think and don’t make these mistakes or assume that your consumers know everything about your products and services. With these things in mind, you’ll be able to create tons of more content with a lot less hassle. 

Related: It’s Time to Ditch These 8 Myths About Content Marketing

3. Collect Online Reviews

Erin quickly reiterates Google’s purpose, “Google wants to give their customers the best possible search result. For example, t’s a poor experience when they pull up a business that was closed six months ago.” 

“If you put yourself in Google’s shoes, you’ll always want to make sure you’re listing valid and open businesses. Reviews show that people are engaging with your business, and are one of the only ways Google can tap into real user feedback to optimize their organic search results,” she concludes. 

Further, in our competitive landscape, review culture is a vital part of the customer journey. Google wants to not only capitalize on reviews, but also create a competitive edge against competitors like Yelp or Facebook.

Altogether, this means, “Google will rank you the highest if you leave reviews on their platform, rather than others.” 

Erin summed this up for us confidently,  “Google reviews over everything.”

Related: How to Create a Customer-Obsessed Reputation With Live Chat

To collect some online reviews, we highly recommend going straight to customers and referral partners with an email template asking for a review, then offering to give them a review in return.

Or you can take Erin’s strategy, “Write the entire review for your customer, send it to them, and ask if they could leave the review for you. People love it when I take the extra step for them, simply because they are busy. Your loyal customers want to leave you a good word, but more often than not, it’s a low priority. By writing it for them, it takes the burden off, and ensures that you get your review in a timely manner.” 

4. Streamline Your Online Listings With Moz Local

In Erin’s words, “There are tons of places where your business information—name, contact info, address—can be potentially listed online.”

“From Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Yahoo, there are dozens of options. Google scans all of these listings, and if you have different information across them, Google will decrease your SEO ranking because they see the varying listings as unprofessional and unverified,” she adds. 

You can easily streamline and update all your listings with Moz Local for about a $100 a year or hire an SEO company to do it for you. 

5. Start Generating Backlinks

“Backlinking is when another website links to your website,” Erin informs.

Backlinks are the currency of SEO in Google’s eyes. The more websites that link to your website, Google sees you as a trusted, valued source of information on the internet, and will naturally rank you higher.

Erin clarifies that “Backlinking doesn’t mean that you need to get listed in the New York Times. Backlinking can be as simple as your local chamber of commerce linking to your site.”

There are tons of easy ways you can push the needle with backlinks such as: 

  • Publish your content on other social media platforms
  • Write guest posts for other blogs
  • Asking referral partners to link your site

In sum, “Look at your community involvement, philanthropy, associations, and partnerships you’re involved with. Each can give you a valuable link,” Erin says. 

6. Optimize Your Website for Mobile

With mobile at the forefront of technology, Google is prioritizing websites that ensure fantastic site experiences on their phones. 

Ensuring your site is mobile optimized provides a modern, user-friendly experience in a way that Google will rank you higher. Here’s what you can do: 

  • Compress images
  • Improve your website speed
  • Insert meta titles and descriptions for every page
  • Deactivate plug-ins you’re not using

Pingdom is an excellent free way to check and analyze your load speed, and learn how to make your site faster. 

SEO Has the Power to Make or Break Your Business 

SEO is a big undertaking, but it’s worth the organic traffic and ROI, and it is absolutely worth every second, penny, and an ounce of energy you invest. 

We get that SEO can feel like a black hole of information at times, and we hope we’ve given you a clear starting point with these accessible and actionable tips, because no matter what, you have to start somewhere.

If you pay attention to these tips, we guarantee you’ll create better content, drive more organic traffic, and grow your bottom line—without having to pay to play. 

However, if you’re building a brand new website or want a deep dive into SEO, then we highly recommend checking out some of the following resources from Sidekick:  

If you need any extra support to execute these strategies, then reach out to use a hey@feelmeflow.com.

Last but not least, a big shout out to Erin Dooley of Sidekick Web Studio for sharing her expertise. Connect with Erin on LinkedIn or reach out to her directly at erin@sidekickwebstudio.com

Erin Dooley

Erin Dooley is President of Sidekick Web Studio, a web development firm based in Denver, CO. Sidekick specializes in custom website development and e-commerce store development, partnering with businesses of all types to bring their ideas to life online. She is responsible for managing all aspects of the business, including the overarching strategy for the business, sales, marketing, client relations, and project work. She also co-founded a women’s networking organization based in Denver called Moxie Collective.