So many equestrian business owners I speak with still do not understand what SEO is and the critical impact on website success. Your website is one of your most powerful marketing tools, and bad SEO is like hitching a pair of cowpony hobbles on it. It’s just not going to make it past the back yard. Upping your game with SEO will make you more competitive, help you sell more products and make more money.
Firstly, SEO = Search Engine Optimization. Don’t let the acronyms intimidate you. There. Now you know.
Why bother with this? Google is a just a robot and has no idea how to discern one site from another without refining all of the many, many data points that your site offers to build a complete picture – URLs, images, tags and content (bad or good) among other things. Doing a comb through of how things are named, H1 and Alt tags, and other low hanging fruit will be a great first step in the right direction. (see Keywords below for ideas on what to name things).
Get rid of garbage URLS. Internal pages that have http://yoursite.com/2c9mif/ or some other made up name ding your rankings. These mean nothing to you, your customer or Google. If you are using a CMS tool or web builder that doesn’t offer a solution to correct this, start shopping. Take a hard look at all of your pages and be certain your information is in alignment with the page topic. It should be in plain English so that man and machine can both understand immediately. Selling breeches? http://yoursite.com/ladiesbreeches/ See the difference?
Unrelated, bad or missing content can kill your site. Meaning – if you are writing about things that really don’t pertain to what you offer, or you are missing key information about what you do offer, you have a missed opportunity to be found by someone! Search for your site and see what comes up. If you only see random information in the returns that doesn’t support what you really offer, then get creating some new content. Look for ways to create more information that is helpful to your customers.
Posting new original content is best. Google likes sites that continue to grow and add relevant and original information. Posting the same exact article on multiple sites only confuses things. Google doesn’t know and can’t guess which one is the original, so it ignores both. I’ve made that rookie mistake in the past and it takes time to clean that up. Save yourself the hassle and just don’t go there in the first place.
Site speed is a must. You can be blissfully unaware that your site is slower than, well, molasses in sweet feed in January. Don’t get dinged for this easy-to-fix issue and be certain that your website images aren’t 4 MB each. You don’t need to be a Photoshop expert to downsize even large banner images to an appropriate fast-loading size. Canva offers image control without the monthly fee and is even tablet and smartphone user-friendly.
Your site is not listed #10 or better. When somebody searches for what you offer they mainly surf the first page of returns and no further. You don’t need to be listed #1, but you do need to be ranked in the top 10, or on the first page. If you are a giant in your industry and you aren’t in the top 3, you are already having a chat with your web team.
Not using or knowing your keywords. Having an accurate and up to date list of the words and search terms that people most commonly use to find your product is important. Why should you care? You thread them into your sparkling new content where it makes sense. Be sure things still read well when you are finished writing. It shouldn’t feel clunky or awkward.
Be the queen (or king) of backlinks. Links from other sites that have a direct link to your website in context are a huge part of a healthy SEO ranking. These take time to create and list, so don’t expect to get this done all at once. Look for opportunities to get listed and keep track of where you have been added. The bigger (and more highly ranked) sites that link to yours, the better. You borrow a teaspoon-full of those sites domain authority with every link you add.
Marketing equestrian products and services are so much easier when you follow the above basics for building a healthy SEO program for your company. Working with your programmer or SEO professional will save you time, get you found more frequently and bring you more business in the long run.
If the thought of monkeying about on the back-end of your website makes you nervous, get some help. Get a baseline of where you are starting and check it monthly. Data is power, so own yours. Using a service such as either MOZ or SEOQuake is a good place to start.
Need help getting a handle on your site’s SEO? Contact Full Gallop directly for SEO support today!
About the Author – Amanda MacDonald
Amanda MacDonald, Founder of Full Gallop Communications, is an experienced marketing consultant who specializes in helping equine, high-tech manufacturing, and non-profit businesses to define their marketing strategies and grow brand equity to attract more leads and sales. Leverage her marketing experience and industry knowledge and start feeling confident about your marketing decisions.