Let’s just dive right into this one. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website – the volume or quality of traffic to a website – in organic (unpaid) search results.
Basically, the goal for businesses is to be one of the first websites that pop up when a potential customers is browsing online. A whopping 2.8 trillion search queries are made yearly on Google alone. A strong SEO strategy will help generate more business leads and get your brand found by prospective customers and clients. But, as we know, competition on the interwebs is fierce and many brands are contending for that same spot. Your competitors are using the same keywords and as you all jostle for that first-page spot, you want to make it easy for people, whether they know who you are or are ready to discover you, to search for you online.
The search world is constantly changing. Search engines like Google switch up their criteria for rankings more frequently than Starbucks tries to get me to drink a pumpkin-spice latte this time of year. Staying up-to-date on the latest trends helps us identify where to spend our time and energy so some knowledge is handy. But I don’t expect everyone to be able to keep up. So what are you to do if you’re unfamiliar with the intricacies of search engine algorithms? That’s where we come in, to break it all down for you. Keep reading for more SEO tips.
SEO success is influenced by on-the-page – those directly controlled by you, the publisher, and off-the-page – those elements influenced by readers and others. We’re diving into the SEO elements you can control. Can you answer, “Yes!” to the questions below?
Quality: Are the pages on your website well-written and full of substantial content? Always, always start by creating high-quality content. Valuable content comes from expert, authoritative, and trustworthy sources.
Research: Have you researched the keywords your key audiences might use to find you and your quality content? Develop a SEO keywords list that includes the best keywords.
Words: Do your web pages use the words and phrases you want them to be found for (the ones you identified in your SEO keywords list)? For example, if one of your pages is all about the benefits of bird-calling but you never use the term “bird calls” then your bird-calling club is never going to be discovered and gain a huge cult following.
Crawl: Can search engine like Google easily “crawl” pages on your site? Ensuring your site is “crawlable” means the links to and in your website can be discovered and followed by search engine spiders. Spiders/bots are programs that find and revisit content (images, video, web pages, etc). If a spider can’t follow a link, then the destination page won’t be included in search engine results.
Mobile: Does your website work well on mobile devices? Google is still figuring out how to provide a great search experience for mobile users and we all realize that mobile can’t be ignored. Please, develop mobile-first designs.
Speed: Does your site load quickly? A faster loading site means more opportunities to retain visitors.
Titles: Do your HTML title tags contain keywords relevant to your page topic? A meta title or page title is the phrase that shows in the bar at the top of your browser, when the page loads. It’s also the bold text that shows up on a search results page when you rank in a search engine. Title tags should be 70 characters or less, unique to each page, and use the most important keyword.
Side note: meta titles, descriptions, and keywords are collectively referred to as ‘meta tags’ – elements that provide information about a given web page, most often to help search engines categorize them in the correct manner. (These meta tags are inserted into the HTML and not seen by a user visiting the site.)
Descriptions: Have you added meta description tags that describe what your pages are about? Meta data tells search engines what your website is all about. Meta descriptions are unique, short descriptions of a particular page/post; it’s the snippet text engines pull for search results pages. It’s a really great opportunity to place targeted content for your ideal audience to see on the search results page. A good rule of thumb is that meta descriptions should be no more than 160 characters, about two sentence, and use target keywords to invite people to visit your site and learn more about you, your product, or service.
Headers: Do your headers and subheaders use tags with relevant keywords?
Images: Have you added alt text to all images? Alt text (alternative text/tag or attribute) is a word (or phrase) that describes an image on the web. Search engines only read the alt text of images, not the actual images, so add alt text whenever possible, which include your keywords.
I’m going to end this list (there’s a lot more to be discussed, trust me!) with a word of advice – don’t be excessive! Stuffing your page(s) with the words that you wish it to be found for will get you marked as spam and hurt your rankings.
Looking for next steps?
Organic search takes time to establish. You won’t see immediate results. If you do want to be at the top of Google today, a search-engine-optimized paid campaign can help drive targeted visitors. Options include Google AdWords and social ads.
To kick off a search campaign, set the basics up. Identify top keywords and complete an initial round of site optimization (this includes crafting title tags, search-engine-friendly urls, and optimized html text.) It’s also important to establish analytics and use both free and paid tools to monitor your website’s performance (and crawl rates and site rankings).
Good SEO is worth it’s weight in…sales. There’s never a 100% guarantee of top results but focusing on Content, HTML, and Architecture are the SEO factors in your control. Next comes the fun part – creating optimized and relevant content, building landing pages, and monitoring engagement. But I’ll save that for another time.
Still unsure how to create and implement a great SEO strategy? We’re here to help! Get in touch with us today.
BONUS RESOURCE: Check out this post on “How to Target Long-Tail Keywords for Better SEO.”