Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most important aspects of running a successful website. Although most people are aware of the term, many lack a complete understanding of why using a search engine is important to market your company, how the process to do so can often be tweaked and improved, or what optimization even means. Let’s get you up to speed with this handy primer.
What is SEO and Why is it Important?
Google defines SEO as “the process of making your site better for search engines.”
According to Ahrefs, over 57% of web traffic comes from Google. Whatever your business, specialty or niche, there are people out there conducting web searches related to it. Your goal is to ensure that these people wind up on your website, and not that of your competitors.
Search engine optimization means just that: helping search engines help you. Understand the concept and you’ll show up near the top of relevant search results. Neglect it and you’ll be lost in the abyss.
Although Google is far from the only search engine, it is the dominant one, so having an understanding of it is useful. While specifics can differ, other search engines have many similarities.
Like most media companies, Google makes a living (and a very good one!) by capturing an audience and advertising to it. In order to keep people coming back to the site, Google has to give them what they want: relevant, useful, quality websites that meet their current needs. To the searcher, it seems like magic, but it’s actually the work of Google’s incredibly complex and ever-changing algorithm. Improving the accuracy of this algorithm is what keeps Google, or any other search engine, in business. Optimizing your website to appeal to the algorithm is what will keep you in business!
Basic Concepts of SEO Marketing
To say that there are many factors in SEO is a massive understatement. Google is essentially a world superpower and the details of their algorithm are more closely guarded than Colonel Sanders’ list of eleven herbs and spices. Despite this, certain principles and best practices are widely understood to be essential and never go out of style. Let’s examine some core concepts.
When writing and reviewing your content, consider the following questions:
- What words or terms are people using when they search your category?
- How much competition exists for each of these terms?
- Which terms seem to indicate that the searcher is in the mood to buy exactly what you’re selling?
- Which are more related to learning, and how can these interested parties be attracted and possibly converted into clients?
Doing some keyword research can help you answer these questions. Using a tool like Google Ads Keyword Planner (Note: you will need a Google account to use this tool) allows users to see how often various terms are searched and the level of competition there is for that particular keyword. Additional tools like Keyword Tool, Keyword Everywhere (browser extension), and Answer the Public will help you find additional terms and phrases that people are looking for that you might not have thought of. Collecting these terms in conjunction with Googling them will show you what types of content is being directed toward these terms. Combine this with your own industry knowledge and intuition to formulate a keyword game plan that is achievable and on strategy.
On Site SEO
Now that you know what people are searching for, it’s time to help Google understand that you’re a great source. Including relevant terms on your page in specific areas like your page title, subtitles, URLs, meta descriptions, image alt descriptions, and within internal links will suggest relevancy. But beware: Google is a powerful force, and will not be mocked! Ruthlessly stuffing long strings of keywords into places they don’t belong will be detected, and punished (ie. your content will be ignored)!
Search engines love content. New and fresh content shows the search engine that your website is dynamic, current and worthy of attention. Not only that, but it will make you a trusted, top-of-mind source for your audience. This can come in the form of video, photos, references, or any other form of well written copy.
User Engagement and Bounce Rate
In the interest of increasing traffic, you may be tempted to try to rank for high volume terms that don’t exactly relate to what you offer. Avoid this temptation! Those who are fooled into clicking on your site will quickly realize that they aren’t going to get what they came for, and will leave. Search engines will interpret this as a sign that your website is a house of lies, and will punish you accordingly by pushing you down the search results list. If, however, the searcher engages with your site and spends time exploring it, you increase your chances of being rewarded with an improvement in the search result rankings.
Internal and External Links
Linking the various pages of your website together through hyperlinks shows Google that yours is a well organized page full of complementary or curated information. If your content is of a certain quality, you may find your pages being linked by external sites as well. If these links are frequent enough, and from quality sources, you will experience a bump in your SEO rating. Once again, attempts to drum up phoney links from garbage sources will only serve to anger the algorithm.
Other SEO Factors
The above list is by no means exhaustive. Organizing your site intuitively will not only appeal to search engines, but to site visitors as well. Ensuring that your site is secure, mobile-friendly and quick to load are also important factors.
A well-built website will position you for success in the crucial arena of SEO. This is why Peak Ed Designs conducts keyword research during the planning stage of every website we build, uses the reliable WordPress platform, optimizing the pages for SEO, and structures our websites intuitively. Additionally we offer maintenance packages which keep your site functional and secure, as well as content creation services to ensure things are relevant and current.
Let’s make sure your users get what they came for! Boost your bottom line by improving your website’s UX design!