You may have heard these words before: meta-tags, keywords, rankings. These are all concepts related to search engine optimization (SEO). In short, SEO is the process of getting your website to appear in search engines’ unpaid results on the search engine results page (SERP). The SERP is the list of webpages that result from a user query.
When a user inputs a query, search engines seek to produce results that are relevant to that search. By optimizing your website with keyword phrases about the products and services you offer, you indicate to search engines, like Google and Bing, that your website contains valuable information. Thus, your website is more likely to be displayed in the SERPs when someone searches using keywords related to the solutions you offer.
But optimizing your website with relevant keyword phrases is just the beginning. Here are some additional ways your organization can help improve your website’s SEO performance:
- Add Google My Business Listing(s)
Google My Business is a free tool you can use to manage your business information—like address(es), hours and contact information—to help customers find you in Google Search, Maps and Google+. Google My Business is an essential part of a local SEO strategy, which helps your institution show up in the SERPs to customers using location-specific keywords in their Google queries (ex. banks in Paducah). This easy-to-use tool helps you stand out from the competition by offering a snapshot of information about your business to potential customers in your area.
- Prepare for Mobile-First
Are you still managing two versions of your website—desktop and mobile? You may want to consolidate into one responsive website, and here’s why: Google is preparing to roll out its mobile-first index, which will prioritize mobile over desktop when crawling, indexing and ranking your Web content. Even if the majority of your traffic comes from desktop browsers, Google will use the mobile content to rank your website. Start by making sure all of the content, tools and functionality available on your desktop website are also available on the mobile version of your website. Then, make sure all features, such as images, are optimized for the fastest-possible page load time.
- Move Your Website to HTTPS
HTTPS is the acronym for hypertext transfer protocol secure. The “s” stands for secure sockets layer (SSL), which is the technology that encrypts the data on your website.
Basically, if your website has been around for more than a couple years, your URL could look something like “http://www.bank.com.” By moving your website to HTTPS (ie. https://www.bank.com), you help protect the privacy and security of your customers’ sensitive information from attackers by encrypting—or locking—that data. In addition, Google recently announced that HTTPS is a ranking factor, which means migrating could yield a boost in your position in the SERPs.
- Optimize Meta Tags
Meta content—or tags—are HTML elements that tell search engines what your Web pages are about. These tags are placed in the HTML of each Web page on your website (they can often be added using your content management system). There are two primary tags you should ensure appear on every page of your website:
- Title Tags: An important ranking signal for search engines, a title tag should include your brand name and one or two keyword phrases describing the respective Web page (in no longer than 50-60 characters)
- Meta Description: Often used by search engines in search results to tell users about the nature of your Web page’s content, a meta description should include a call-to-action, enticing users to click on your search result and visit your website (in no more than 160 characters)
Here’s an example of a title tag and meta description used for csiweb.com:
Leverage Internal Links
By utilizing internal links (links from one page to another within the same domain), you provide wormholes for visitors to explore related Web pages within your website. Internal links also help give your website authority—influencing your position in the SERPs—by indicating to search engines that there are related pages to crawl (and rank!).
SEO strategies like these are ever-evolving. Keep your finger on the pulse of the latest SEO trends—and help your bank out-perform the competition in the SERPs—by implementing these best practices and keeping your Web content fresh.
Victoria Bellino is a Web content manager at CSI. With experience in SEO, SEM and Web strategy, she is responsible for managing the SEO and paid-search efforts supporting CSI’s company website. She is Google AdWords Search certified.