Ranking high on Google’s search result page is something almost every business thinks about. I recently began helping a friend do some simple search engine optimization (SEO) for his site: www.cornerstone-edge.com. While this was far from a full deep-dive project, I implemented three keys that have already made some significant progress. Prior to implementing these keys, the site was non-existent on Google. We couldn’t find any results, even for branded terms. I knew we had plenty of room for improvement.
Key #1: Update, backup, secure, and optimize
Cornerstone-edge.com was hosted using WordPress. However, the site hadn’t been updated in a long time. Core WordPress files were out of date as were most plugins. As a result, my first step was simply to update WordPress to the most recent version, update all plugins, create a complete backup, and harden all passwords. While none of this would likely improve search ranking, these items had to be done simply to keep the site alive.
Key #2: Create a mobile friendly site
After the site was up-to-date and secure, I moved on to making the site mobile friendly. A quick check on Google’s mobile tester showed that the website was not mobile friendly. Many sources (including Google) tell us that having a site that works well for mobile devices is one of the most important search factors. As a result, the poor mobile results of the Cornerstone site was a critical problem.
Since we both wanted quick results with a smaller investment, we decided to install a purchased WordPress theme. While this meant we couldn’t custom design our look and layout, it did give us the ability to quickly update the look and feel of the site while also gaining the benefit of a mobile friendly site. Once the new theme was installed, we resubmitted the site to Google to re-index.
Key #3: Connect with Google Webmasters
The third basic adjustment we made was to connect the site with Google Webmasters. This is easy to do and provides a lot of valuable data. Google Webmaster tools provide us with detailed information about the number of searches, rankings, keywords, impressions, and errors. We were able to spot some errors on the site (pages that linked to non-existent pages) and quickly correct those problems. We were also able to use this to benchmark if the search volume begins to increase.
While we are still waiting on a complete re-index by Google, it looks like results are already starting to work. Currently www.cornerstone-edge.com is number 3 when searching for “Cornerstone Edge”. While branded terms (terms that use your brand name in them) are generally fairly easy to rank well for, this is a significant improvement. These three simple steps have helped move the site from complete obscurity on Google to the top of the first page for this branded term.
I completely recognize that these are some pretty basic steps. There’s a lot more to do. Our next step will be to begin looking at content. We’ll start matching each page on the site with a keyword and then optimizing around that keyword. A much harder and much more involved process. But, for now, we’re excited to see the site start to show up. The bottom line is that we all hope this drives more business to the company.