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Ranking Your Website on Google for the Long-Term

Very few methods of advertising or promotion continue to pay off after you stop paying for them. With traditional advertising, your ad shows up when you pay for it and disappears if you don’t. Fortunately, search engine optimization is different, and that’s one of many reasons why I love it.

With SEO, your website can rank for high-value keywords for years if you put in the effort and optimize it well. Here are a few do’s and don’ts if you want your website to be found on Google for the long haul.

DO: Optimize your site for your main keywords

If you want your site to rank long-term, you need to get the setup right. Invest some time and energy to optimize your home page for your main keywords (usually “event planner in {city name}” or “{city name} wedding venue” or whatever main keyword you want to be found for).  Make sure that phrase is in the content on the home page, in the meta title, and in the meta description.

Also, make sure you have strong services pages that describe what you offer in detail. Include the name of your service, a list of what’s included, and sample photos of your work.

DO: Write a few in-depth helpful articles

Show Google and your website visitors your expertise by writing a few in-depth articles on your blog. Google likes to rank websites with high-quality content that keeps visitors browsing longer. Set yourself up for long-term success with a few articles that answer your target clients’ top questions.

DO: Work for high-quality backlinks

The number and quality of links to your website is one of Google’s most important ranking factors.  If very few other websites link to yours, it’s going to be very hard to outrank a website that has been linked to by large publications.

To set your site up to rank for the long term, you’ll need a variety of good links.  Set a short term goal to build your link profile.  Offer to guest blog on other websites, work to get on preferred vendor lists, submit events for online publication, submit yourself for podcast interviews, sign up for a few quality online listing sites for the event industry, and reach out to other vendors to make sure you’re credited on their posts.  See if you can get links from 10-20 new sites over the course of six months or so.

DO: Make regular content creation a habit

In lower competition markets, a well-optimized site with a few pages of good content can continue to rank on Google’s Page 1 for years. However, if your competition are updating their websites regularly, you may need to do the same to keep your ranking.

In highly competitive markets, regular blogging may be needed to stay ranked.  Set a goal to blog at least monthly, showcasing past events or sharing more helpful information.  Create a process around it and make it a habit, perhaps by writing on the same day each week or month or delegating the work to your team.

Now, a few things not to do if you want to stay ranking on Google for the long term.

DON’T: Delete a ton of old content without redirecting it

I have seen many event clients lose Google ranking because they cleaned out a bunch of old portfolio items or blog posts.  I understand that you may want to remove old work that no longer represents your best work, but do it carefully.

First, check in Google Analytics to see if the pages you want to remove are getting traffic.  If it’s significant, you may want to reconsider and keep those pages.

If they aren’t getting much traffic, feel free to delete them.  However, make sure to redirect the deleted page URL to a similar page on your site (maybe a similar event or your general blog page).  If you don’t redirect the URL, you can cause 404 errors for your visitor, and you may lose SEO value from backlinks pointing to that page.

DON’T: Redesign your site without considering SEO

If your site has been ranking well for some time, a website redesign needs to be done very carefully.  You don’t want to lose traffic to your site by trying to improve it!

You or your web designer should create a spreadsheet of all pages on your site (I like using the free tool XML Sitemaps for this).  Then, make sure every page is either transferred to the new site or redirected to a page on the new site.  If you want to protect the rankings you have, what you don’t want is a huge, abrupt loss of pages on your site.

Another thing to be careful of in a redesign is significantly changing or cutting back your site’s written content.  For sites that rank well, what you write is important.  Make sure your keywords are included in the new copy you write and replace on your website and that the written content is not much shorter.

The bottom line is that to get your website to rank for the long term, it needs to be set up for success and then carefully managed in the future.  Optimize your most important pages and add to the site as much as you can.  Once you’re ranking well, tread carefully with any major website changes.  Long term success bringing in traffic from search engines is absolutely possible.

Sara Dunn is a wedding SEO consultant at SaraDoesSEO.com, helping wedding planners, photographers, venues, florists, and more reach rockstar status on Google.

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