If you spend any time online trying to market your business, you may well be aware of the term SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This is a variety of methods that are used to ensure that a web page shows up on the first page of the search engine result pages when a search is done for certain keywords. It is a way to improve a website to increase the visibility of it so that when someone is searching for your services or products they will be attracted to your page. SEO is important, so it must be done right to ensure that your site is not penalized by the search engines.
So How Does It Work?
All the search engines deploy bots to crawl web pages, moving from site to site while collecting information about each page and indexing that information. This index is like a massive library where information is pulled out to help searchers find exactly what they are seeking. The algorithm of the search engines will analyze the pages contained in the web pages which helps them to appear in the search results when a query is made that contains your keywords.
You are not able to pay search engines to give you a higher ranking in the same way that paid search ads work. This means that you need to ensure that your page has all the key factors which will help it to rank higher for certain search terms. Not everyone understands all these factors, so that is when you will want to enlist the services of an SEO professional to take care of the details for you.
SEO Basics – What’s Involved?
Content is the meat of the substance of your website. It offers your visitors something to look at, to provide them with the information they are seeking. Content needs to be of top quality and not just a bunch of keyword stuffing. Inferior quality content is not going to get you the visitors that you want, it is only with excellent quality content that you will standout from the crowd and get noticed. Relevant content tells Google (and other search engines) that what you offer is worth visitors coming to your site. You do not always have to produce content on your own, you can follow content that others have created and put your own twist on it. You can take someone’s content, change it up, add more value or go more into detail on certain aspects, it is up to you. When someone keys a search into Google, the intent is what Google is trying to read. Your content should be updated regularly so that Google understands it is “fresh” and will reward you for that by sending you visitors.
Creating quality content means understanding your customer avatar. Who is the reader? What do they like, dislike and why are they on your site? You want your text to be easy to read, so break it up with headers and images. Make the content actionable so that the reader gets something after the complete their review of your content.
You need to carefully research your keywords and understand the intent behind keywords and the competition of certain keywords. If you choose keywords that have high competition, you are going to be fighting an uphill battle against other websites that may be much more established. Choose keywords with lower competition that are more targeted. Long tailed keyword phrases are the best option and are what you should be researching.
The HTML of your website is a crucial component of SEO. If your site does not contain the right descriptions, tags and headers, Google will not be able to understand what your content is about and why Google should give it a higher ranking than the competition. There is no need to understand code, HTML can be changed with simple copy and pasting. Title tags are displayed at the top of a browser and show up when your page comes up in a Google search. Your meta description is where you can describe to the searcher what your content is about. You can optimize this section with keywords, but you only have 160 characters to accomplish that. This section needs to display correctly on desktop screens and on mobile screens. Subheadings are the title of your content article and appear at the top of the page as the main header.
Your site needs to be friendly for mobile devices. This is because most people will view your site on a smart phone instead of a desktop. The content of your site needs to be readable on a small screen as well as it is on a large screen. While we are talking about mobile devices, your page also needs to load quickly because if it is slow to load most people will give up and leave your page. If you have a slow-loading page, you may be penalized by Google, and it could be hard for you to rank above your competitors.
Your site needs a readable site map. If you are doing this yourself, you can use a plugin with WordPress which is an effortless way to ensure your site is properly mapped and crawlable. Equally important is a redirect plugin which helps you in the event you have broken links or old pages that do not display any content. A broken link checker plugin will show you which URLs you should redirect to other pages.
If your website has been around for a long time, it automatically garners more trust. If you have been consistently producing quality content in a way that pleases the search engines this will help your site to rank higher than any newer site that is like yours.
You want to be able to build trust when it comes to your site. You should first be very patient because trust is not given immediately. Google will not instantly crawl your site when you publish it, but you can make some changes and request indexing once you do. There are no guarantees when it comes to Google. You need an understanding on the intent of your site users and when someone does a search in Google you need to understand that they have intent to accomplish something. If your site provides a solution then people will come to your site, but if your site does not provide what they seek, they will move on. This can increase your bounce rate which will also lower your rank. The best way to prevent a high bounce rate is to give people what they seek as they land on your site. Many people want an answer, not to read a complete article, and the sooner they find what they are looking for, the better.
Links are not the be all, end all, but their quality matters much more than the number of links that you have. You want to build quality backlinks and offer value in exchange for a good link. You need to build links the right way and Google will reward you for doing so. Search engines will ignore links if they are not of excellent quality. How can you determine if a link is good or bad? Links that point to your website should be relevant, so if you pay someone to get you 5,000 links that will not get you the results that you want. These links are going to be low quality and are not even going to be relevant to your niche.
You want to use anchor text under a link. This appears in your content and should be a natural as possible. You do not want to add text with words such as “click this” because it looks spammy. The links in your content should be natural and should lead to something productive. Do not fill up your site with links, which can be counter productive. If you must add links, ensure they are high quality and natural.
The most important thing to remember is that SEO is an ongoing process, and it does take a lot of work and attention. It is especially important and if it is something that you do not feel you can do yourself, you should have someone do it for you. Choose someone who has experience and a good track record because you only get one chance to make a good first impression with the search engines. Your site is your business, and you will not have any business if it is not done correctly. SEO is the lifeblood of your website, and it is how your site is recognized by the search engines and displayed to your potential customers. This is how people find you and become a customer, then purchase from you. Give your customers a reason to return to your site by offering excellent quality content on a constant basis.