EDIT: Attached to the bottom of this post is Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. If used properly, it can provide you with valuable insight towards bolstering the SEO strength of your website.
(You will need to be registered and logged into our forums in order to be able to download this).
Before we get into the details, we want to share two companies that we have worked with, and have referred customers over to, regularly. We do not favor one company over the other (they’re both incredible groups of people to work with). It’s also important to note that both companies are headquartered in Richmond, VA.
Net Search Direct (Ask for Jason McClellan)
Big Oak, Incorporated (Ask for Shell Harris)
Please note: We do not receive any commission from either company. We have mutual customers and are happy to work with both companies. When contacting them, make sure you let them know you were referred to them by the Richweb team, please.
The answer is “Yes” and “No”. Yes, by way of our suggestion of utilizing the Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin. Let me explain a little bit more in detail.
The “No” part of this question:
The Search Engine Optimization process is one that requires an ongoing process to update your site regularly, while staying on top of the ever shifting trends, rules and guidelines by various search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc). A good SEO campaign takes about 4-6 months to implement to get your site properly indexed and moving up towards the first three pages of search results. In some markets (such as Real Estate), it’s a monumental task due to the sheer number of competitors in that industry.
Getting your site listed on the first three pages of a search engine doesn’t happen overnight. There are a lot of little things these SEO professionals have to tweak, consistently, while reviewing reports on your site’s current traffic patterns.
Richweb doesn’t have a dedicated person (or team) that is fully versed on these ever changing metrics. Partially because it can be time consuming (taking our resources away from day to day operations of a site), and partially because it requires having people on staff with in-depth knowledge of the requirement changes that can shift from one week to another. In many cases, we will refer customers out to a third party company that specializes in Search Engine Optimization.
We’ve seen cases where one method of optimization was valid yesterday, and is no longer valid today. Search Engines, themselves, have to constantly stay on top of their own game, so that they don’t serve up a ton of spammed results when you’re searching for XYZ.
Because of the fickle nature of Search Engine Optimization, this is (generally) not a low cost industry. We’ve seen some companies charge as low as $1500 per year, to as much as $3000 every three months for these changes to be made. It is an “uphill battle”, at times, to stay at the top of your game when it comes to Search Engine Optimization Professionals.
The “Yes” part of this question:
That being said, there ARE a few things we can advise our customers to do, which will help get your site listed a bit better. Here’s a list of items you/we can do:
SSL Certificates: Search Engines, last year, started “favoring” sites that ran exclusively under an SSL Certificate. It’s sort of like “you’ve paid for your site to be `verified’… but what this is actually telling Google, Bing, Yahoo and others is that you’ve invested in your site, both financially, and with work. Most sites that are build for spamming keywords and descriptions will not extend the financial cost of running their sites under SSL Certs. Do keep in mind that these individuals/organizations frequently put 20-100 sites up overnight to try to spam search engines and get their stuff listed above legitimate sites like yours.
Richweb’s suggestion: Get an SSL Cert! We offer SSL certificates for $195 (three year SSL Cert) and can handle the entire process for you/on your behalf. Please note that there is an additional $2/mo or $20/year charge for putting your site on a dedicated IP (required for SSL Certs).
With or without the “www”: It doesn’t matter if you run your site with or without the WWW in the URL. My personal preference is to run it without the WWW. What you want to pay attention to is that your hosting provider redirects any incoming web requests for the “other URL” over to your primary one. If your website’s URL is http://MaAndPasKettleCorn.com, you’ll want to make sure that anyone that types in http://www.MaAndPasKettleCorn.com is automatically redirected over to the URL without the “www”. Otherwise, Search Engines will see this as two separate sites with exactly the same content and “penalize” you for it.
Richweb’s suggestion: Run your entire site under one and make sure your web traffic is being redirected over from the other one. We can do this very easily and effectively without any changes on your part. You just need to let us know if you want your site to run with or without the “www” in the URL.
Use the “Yoast’s SEO Plugin” if running WordPress: This is a bit of a tough one to address. The developers of this plugin often push out an update every 7-10 days, because of the little nuances centered around Search Engine Optimization (see below). Once you learn how to work with this plugin, it’ll add maybe an additional 5-10 minutes of work any time you make a new post or create a new page. It’s a *very* powerful plugin which does an incredible job of staying on top of SEO standards (guidelines). You just need to remember that the Green Lights are a very good thing… so you want to get as many of those as you can.
Richweb’s suggestion: Use this plugin… heavily. Read the SEO section below each post/page entry and get as many lights green as you can. You’ll have a better chance of successfully getting your site SEO optimized!
Is your website Mobile Friendly (Responsive)?: This is a HUGE one to pay attention to. Breaking its usual pattern of silence about changes to how its Search Engine Algorithms are handled… Google, last year, started warning website owners that, unless their website was Responsive, site owners would be penalized in their search engine rankings. Make sure you’re using a website theme/template that is responsive.
Richweb’s suggestion: Unless otherwise told by you, we’re going to select a theme for your website that is responsive. You have to specifically tell us that you do not want a respolnsive theme if you don’t want one.
Site Maps, Site Maps, Site Maps!: Are you using a Site Map? Yoast’s SEO Plugin comes with one… but if you’re not using that, you need to look at getting one situated for your site, whether manually done (there are websites that will generate them for you) or whether you have one programmatically created. You need to have one that’s ready to go, no matter what platform your site runs under.
Richweb’s suggestion: If running Yoast’s SEO Plugin, you’ll be situated with a Site map. Otherwise, we can create a site map for you, manually, or via custom programming, or via a plugin (if running WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or another CMS).
Register for a Webmaster Tools account: Any SEO work done will almost always guarantee that you need to register for a Webmaster Tools account. Thankfully, these tend to be free (though some do offer paid upgrades). You’ll need to have these situated ahead of time, so that you can monitor how people are finding your site and adjust accordingly.
Richweb’s suggestion: Get yourself situated on all three, but don’t submit your site for indexing just yet. Let Richweb finish everything off for you. Simply provide your login credentials for each of the above and we’ll take care of the rest… especially if you’re running Yoast’s SEO Plugin (do you notice a recurring theme here?)
Let’s get SOCIAL: Social Media really is one of the biggest and (in most cases) FREE resources you can take advantage of when it comes to promoting your site. Just remember one thing: It’s SOCIAL Media… meaning that you should interact with people that ask questions or provide feedback based on your own updates to the various platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are some of the best resources available for you to grow your presence.
Richweb’s suggestion: We have a few customers that are using “Social Networks Auto-Poster” Plugin by NextScripts, which automates posting your content to a myriad of Social Media platforms. They have free and paid versions available. It can take about an hour or two to fully integrate this into your site and train you on how to use it properly, a bit longer if we set up the Social Media accounts for you.
By implementing most, if not all, of the items above, you’ll be on your way to getting your site indexed a lot deeper into search engines. Just remember, this isn’t an overnight process, and by no means is this a complete list of things you can/need to do.