If you’re aiming to keep your business competitive online, be it locally or on a much wider scale, then you need to fight hard for the attention of your audience. It will require more than just an advertising budget, it requires effective organic marketing strategies as well, including search engine optimization (or SEO).
Working with a local SEO company in Toronto might offer you the best chance of success, instead of taking on the time-consuming workload yourself. However, if you want to know the details of how to boost your site’s ranking, we’re going to go over the techniques you can use.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization describes a variety of techniques that are all designed to do the same thing: help your website rank higher on search engines like Google. The more effective your SEO practices, the higher your site and individual pages are likely to appear in the relevant search engine search engine results page (SERP.)
It’s a common assumption that SEO is the name of one specific practice, but it actually refers to a variety of practices. There’s no denying, once you look at the stats, just how vital SEO for Toronto businesses really is.
1. Publish Quality, Relevant Content
Search engines are driven by content. Hence the common saying “content is king.” There are a variety of ways to make sure that you’re writing killer content that search engines love to rank highly. Let’s look into a few factors that can help you write the content your site needs.
Make It Relevant and Valuable
Don’t write content for the sake of writing content. Make sure that it has some relevance to your audience. It can be helpful: answering some of their questions, or informative: going into deeper detail on the workings of your business, or it can even be newsworthy.
A good way to get an idea of what kind of content your audience might find relevant is to look at what your competition is doing. Take a look at the kind of pages they publish and consider what pages might suit your website, too. Writing your content to be unique is vital and it’s a good idea to try and add a little extra insight or value that you don’t see elsewhere.
Consider the kinds of questions your audience is likely to ask, as well. Specific questions that have detailed answers are great for creating content because if someone searches that question, your page (with the relevant answer) is more likely to pop up.
Go Deep on a Subject
Are you an authority on a topic? Then you can make sure that your page is much more likely to rank high by going deeper, in terms of both the information and insights provided as well as the detail that you provide it in. Articles over 2000 words that break a concept down into different sections and offer a comprehensive look at any given subject are more likely to rank higher than partial answers or articles that are light on detail.
One great technique is to publish one comprehensive guide to a subject, with smaller breakdowns of the various topics and sub-topics contained. From there you can create individual pages that explain and expound upon the various sub-topics. Then you can link between the different pages to make your site even more authoritative.
Effective Linking in Your Content
Your choice of citations matters. As mentioned, an effective strategy is to create internal links that lead to other relevant material that offers further details on topics that you discuss. It also helps to make your website easier for search engine bots to crawl and index, which is how they get your site on the search engine to begin with.
Making sure that the information you provide is accurate, well-cited, and authoritative is another focus of search engines. To that end, using links to highly rated sites that are trusted and also rank highly on Google (and other search engines) is important.
It used to be common practice to practically stuff every kind of link you can into an article. However, when Google shifted towards focusing more on quality, a lot of sites saw their ranking drops significantly because they didn’t prioritize authoritative and trusted sites.
Metadata is vital to how search engines categorize and display your website in the SERPs. When designing your website, making sure the right info is between the <head> tags can help boost your page significantly. Title metadata is the most important of all and is the headline that will appear in the SERP as well as the top of the browser window. Some things that can help improve your title metadata include using the keywords you are targeting and including your location if it is relevant to your customers or clients.
Description metadata is a longer text description that appears just below the headline in the SERPs. It’s best used to give a brief overview of the content found within the page and can be a good place to insert keywords. This should include information on what the person searching will see on the page and shouldn’t just be the first few sentences of your content.
Format Your Content
Make sure that you have formatted your content well so that it’s readable. Make use of headers (via H1, H2, and H3 tags) to make sure that search engines read the different sections of the content, as these can be used to pair searchers with the sections that suit their search queries best.
Bullet points and checklists make the site easier for the visitor to read and can also sometimes get featured above the fold for relevant SERPS, even above the number one page link. When it comes to things like your font, you want to keep it simple, clear, and consistent. Things like bold, italics, underlines, and different colors should be kept to a minimum and used strategically to bring the reader’s focus to the word or phrase.
2. Use Keywords Effectively
To some people, this is the first and most important step to optimizing their website. Keywords are the words or phrase that you anticipate your target audience is going to use in order to find your website. It can be anything from a single word to an entire question. There’s no denying that keywords play a vital role in driving your search engine ranking, but you need to ensure that it’s done with care. A lot of sites get penalized for keyword stuffing, which is why working with an SEO company in Toronto can help. Keywords are used not only in the content on your website, but also in the metadata, making keyword research an important step.
Research Your Keywords
When it comes to researching keywords, it’s best to know what kind of keywords you want to use. There are short keywords, base keywords, long-tail, commercial, branded, and product keywords, to name just a few examples. The standards of which keywords you focus on will differ from agency to agency, and even business to business. Keyword research should be done based on what your goals are. If you want to lead visitors into a product page with the intention of converting them later in the marketing funnel, focus on keywords that are specific to the product.
There are keyword research tools that can help generate long-tail keywords based on the likelihood of getting searched for, as well as how steeply others are competing over them. From there, you can analyze how those keywords perform over time. Using these tools, you can find a variety of keywords that are relevant to your product or service, allowing you to build content and meta information around them.
Once you know what keywords you want to rank with, it’s important to place them effectively. If possible, you want to use part or all of the keyword phrases you choose for each page in the URL of that page. It’s also important to make sure it will work naturally and organically in the page title, headings, and subheadings. If you’re slotting keywords into the page and they start to look out of place or overly repetitive, you should step it back.
There are tools that teams like our local SEO company in Toronto use to figure out precisely how much keyword density your content needs, based on its length. Typically, you also want to avoid using too many keywords for a single article. Keyword stuffing is a technique that many used to use. This is the practice of using as many keywords as possible, as many times as they could get away with it. Search engines have caught on to the practice and now penalize those who do this.
3. The Technical Aspects of SEO
While content might be king, and keywords the crown jewels, the technical aspects of your website, and how search engines rank that website, might be considered the kingdom. Ensuring that your site is usable, fast, and uses only working assets helps ensure that your site doesn’t get penalized.
Maintain a Fast Page Load Speed
If your website takes too long to load, you could be losing a lot of your potential traffic. Some visitors might go through with the click but are less likely to come back to a website that is slow loading. Aside from killing traffic to your site, a slow-loading site also kills your SEO ranking. Google’s algorithms have their ways of recognizing whether people stay on your site and sites that have a high bounce rate (i.e., a lot of people exiting out) can get penalized.
Make sure there are no Broken Links, Images, or Other Assets
Google’s bots crawl every page of the site, testing every link, every image, every widget, every video, and so on. If there are broken assets, then the site is going to get penalized for it. There are tools you can use to check your site for broken links and images. Run these tools once in a while to make sure your site is working as it should be. If you come across broken assets, make sure to fix them or replace them with something better.
Optimize Your Media (Especially Your Images)
A lot could be written on image SEO, but here we’re going to cover the basics. Effectively, you want to make sure that your images aren’t too big so that they don’t take too long to load. If it’s over 100KB, you may want to resize it.
You also want to ensure the pictures on your site have a descriptive filename, rather than just a series of numbers or letters. Choose two to four words that basically say what the image depicts. Lastly, make sure you enter alt text for your images. These are actual short descriptions that are useful for the visually impaired and are also taken into consideration by search engines when indexing the site.
4. The Local Side of SEO
If you’re looking to compete with the businesses around your area, then working with a local SEO company in Toronto is going to lend you a significant advantage. There are differences to search engine optimization techniques targeting larger regions and local SEO.
For instance, use local keywords in your pages, not just generic keywords. People will get search results based on their location and making sure you have some local area keywords can make sure that they’re more likely to see your page.
Connecting your business’s online presence to your physical location (or the location you want to market to) can help. This includes making sure you have a Google Business profile built, optimized, and verified, and that it lists your location.
Get the Best Results with an SEO Company in Toronto
There’s still a lot more that goes into a comprehensive SEO campaign. Most business owners, managers, and website owners simply don’t have the time to do it all. For that reason, it may be a good idea to consult with an agency that specializes in Local SEO in Toronto.
Our team can help you ensure your site starts climbing those search engine results pages, driving more traffic to your website and giving it the authority and recognition, it deserves. Get in touch with our Toronto office and give your site the SEO care it needs.