Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of your website within organic search engine results. With the rise in use of the internet & search engines, especially Google, SEO has become an important component of most business’ marketing plans. If you have a product or service that people need, they will look for you, and Google has become our modern version of the Yellow Pages.
So how does it work?
Google uses an algorithm to determine what order sites should rank. With 230+ components, it analyzes your site’s technical architecture, content, usability, and strength in order to produce the best results for an individual’s query. The best way to start your SEO strategy is where all good marketing strategies start: with research. Identifying the keywords and phrases that would be valuable to rank for is critical to SEO success. If 10 people were asked to search for a specific type of business, chances are they would all use different terms to find it. Ranking #1 for one keyword will only draw in a small segment of your overall traffic potential.
Once you’ve established your keyword universe, make sure they are present within the content of your site – both in the body of the pages, as well as in the title tags, meta descriptions, H1 tags, and alt tags on every page of your site. You can learn more about writing each of these tags and descriptions from Google here.
Google also likes websites that have clean and simple urls and easy navigation. Along with providing best practices information, implementing Google’s Webmaster Tools is a free way to identify if all the pages of your site are being indexed properly.
Arguably the largest part of the algorithm is your back link profile. The links that point to your site from other sites are similar to referrals to your business in Google’s eyes. The links’ value is determined by many factors, including the site the link is coming from (it should be a strong site relevant to your business), the anchor text of the link, the page the link directs to, and the content surrounding the link. Over the years, quality of links has become increasingly more important than quantity, though the number of links pointing to your site is still very important. So how do you get these links?
First, take advantage of all the relationships and partnerships you’ve developed over the years. Are there opportunities to have them set up a link from their site to yours? Can you write a guest post for their blog (as I am now to promote digital marketing services)?
Second, produce great content. Great content can be given to other sites to link back to yours, and can also be placed on your site for other sites to link to – if it is interesting, compelling, and link-worthy. Google also loves fresh, unique content, so continually updating your site via a blog or news section will increase the overall strength of your site and drive more traffic to it.
There are a few final considerations: SEO is irrelevant if you don’t first design a website people would want to visit – one that is clean, well-designed, and interesting. Second, if you don’t provide clear calls to action, all the traffic that ends up on your site won’t know what to do when they get there. If you want them to call, make your phone number visible across all pages. Same for if you want them to fill pout contact forms, add products to a shopping cart, etc. Finally, SEO doesn’t necessarily equal sales – it just equals potential for sales, assuming your products/ services are competitive within your marketplace and are relevant to what a searcher is seeking.