The mainstream image of SEO (such as it is) tends to present it as a vague and wearying process — sure, you need to think about it, but it’s no instant-impact solution to your marketing troubles. And that’s true, at least compared to other promotional methods: for instance, running a PPC ad campaign can bump your business within hours.

But SEO, in general, being a long-term investment for discerning businesses doesn’t mean that it can’t make a huge difference. There are certain tasks, particularly of the technical variety, that are worth making a priority because they can meaningfully affect your business as soon as you implement them.

Curious about what they might be? Let’s take a look at 5 actionable SEO tips that can instantly start your rankings (and popularity) moving in the right direction:

Create a Google My Business listing

If your business has a physical store (or visitable location) of some kind, then this step is enormously important — particularly given how easy it is to complete. Google’s business listings are used not only by its search engine but also — perhaps more importantly — by its map search. If your business isn’t listed, then it won’t show up as a suggested result when someone in the area (likely eager to buy) searches for a local business in your niche.

Of course, it matters even if you don’t have a physical property because it affects the credibility of your business. Having a Google listing allows people to review your business and confirm its legitimacy — and if you don’t appear as a business on Google, many people will wonder if you’re engaged in some kind of fraud (unfair, yes, but accurate regardless).

Thankfully, it’s extremely simple to create your business listing. Simply go to Google My Business, click “START NOW”, and follow the process. You only need to do it once, and it will soon make a big difference in how your business is perceived.

Add social sharing buttons

We don’t know to what extent Google factors social signals into search results, and perhaps we never will (they’re unlikely to divulge the details), but what we do know for sure is that getting mentioned more frequently online is almost always going to help (and that’s in addition to the broader brand-authenticating power of sites like Instagram). Social sharing buttons are perfect for this, so if your website doesn’t currently allow visitors to easily share your content through Twitter and Facebook (at a minimum), then you’re missing out.

The more people talk about you on social media channels (particularly relevant influencers), the more social media users will get curious and follow your links or even search for you directly. As a result, your page views go up, and so (soon enough) do your rankings. And if visitors are sharing content without being directly prompted, it will be completely natural, avoiding any blowback for social media promotion.

So how do you add sharing buttons? There’s a website called ShareThis that can help. You select the channels you need, choose a layout, set some other parameters, create a free account, and get a chunk of code to add to your page. It’s simple but can get you a lot of traffic.

Increase your page loading speed

Page loading speed matters for SEO in two big ways: firstly, if your page loads very slowly on mobile, it can be penalized in the mobile rankings (we know this following a Google update in 2018), and secondly, the longer your page takes to load, the more visitors will stop waiting and go back to searching — thus damaging your on-page metrics.

Furthermore, we don’t know how integral page speed will become in future versions of the Google algorithm. As the web gets even faster and standards improve accordingly, it will be even more damaging to provide a slow website experience.

There are various ways to improve your page speed, but a good start would be to trim large content chunks (compress your images, remove video embeds, etc.) and ensure decent hosting. It’s become incredibly affordable to run a store on a rock-solid hosting package, and remember that you don’t need your page to be lightning-fast — just fast enough that it doesn’t drive people away.

Improve your metadata

Your website’s metadata is intended to provide context about its intentions and nature, so if you’ve never given it much thought (perhaps just letting your CMS set it for you), then you certainly have huge room for improvement. There are two metadata fields in particular that you should take the time to polish: your meta page titles, and your meta descriptions.

Your meta page titles should clearly and succinctly describe their pages, being accessible to human readers while working in high-priority keywords for search engines. For example, the title for this article could be something like “Fast SEO Tips: Improve Rankings, Win Clicks, and Help Your Business” — that way, if someone searched for “how to win more clicks”, there’d be a much better chance of its ranking.

As for meta descriptions, they’re mainly for enticing searchers to click, so make sure they’re as tempting as possible. Don’t worry so much about keywords. Set up the page content, then set out a hook to capture as much attention as possible.

Pursue high-value backlinks

There may be hundreds of factors that play into search rankings, but the humble backlink has been the star of the show since the beginning of the industry. It’s a simple and undeniable statement of association: one website links to another, and if the first website is trustworthy and competent, it’s a good reason to think that the second website is also those things.

And while plenty of SEO tactics take gradual effect over time, winning a high-value backlink can change your fortunes overnight. If an unknown website gets a follow link from a huge industry site, it can leap hundreds of places in relevant searches following the next index update

Of course, getting links like that is easier said than done, but I still contend that making an effort to pursue them will immediately help your business. After all, it will focus your efforts, and the first result you get from a high-value site is sure to give your rankings a bump.

These 5 SEO tips vary in effect and difficulty, but each one has immediate value and is absolutely worth pursuing. Get the first four done as quickly as possible, then make the fifth a general pursuit for the coming months. Good luck!

This blog post was created by Kayleigh Alexandra from Micro Start-Ups. Check out their website here.

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