Most people are familiar with the term SEO but they might not have experience with optimization themselves. The basic idea of search engine optimization is to optimize a website so that it will be easier to find on major search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. SEO means using specific keywords and creating content that will lead people to view your website. One of the goals of SEO is to increase your search rank so that when users type in targeted keywords they will quickly find your site instead of having to scroll through several pages. A webpage that is easier to find on major search engines inevitably receives more free traffic which is considered “natural” or “organic” because it is not achieved through paid search ads. Organic optimization is something that businesses can take advantage of to increase their success at reaching people online and converting more customers.
A crucial part of SEO is finding the right keywords for optimization and this is how most people begin the process. You want to make sure that you know what your goals are and how to match those goals to what consumers will be searching for. This means doing plenty of research about keywords so that you are not focusing your energy on search terms that ultimately will not convert to sales. As you research keywords you need to find terms that have a high search volume meaning a lot of people are searching for these words online. The keywords also should have low competition or a smaller amount of results so that you have a better chance of improving your rank. Most importantly the keywords need to be relevant to your site and supported by the content you create. To help you with this process, there are a number of keyword research tools online through Google and other sites that will allow you to find the most valuable keywords you need for your SEO strategy.
There are a few different strategies that businesses employ as far as the type of keywords they choose but one technique is known as the “Long Tail”. This involves using lots of low traffic keywords that can increase overall visitors rather than a few high traffic terms. Low traffic keywords can be very specific to what people are looking for such as a certain title or brand rather than a more general term. The combination of all of these less popular search terms can make up the majority of a website’s traffic instead of focusing SEO keywords mainly on the most popular terms. The idea is that businesses should not ignore low traffic search terms because they may be incorporated in order to create a more successful SEO strategy. It may take some time and lots of research to determine which combination of different keywords will be the most effective but it will be the most efficient way to benefit from SEO.
Once you determine the keywords that will work best for your website you need to start incorporating them into content. As people working in SEO have learned over time, it is important that content does not look spammy or littered with too many keywords. If you overdo it with your content it will be less effective and may be taken down. You need to strategically place keywords in the body of the text because search engines have bots that scan through your content and decide which keywords it will use to rank the page. Choosing the right keywords and placing them effectively within the text can influence the bots as they rank the content. The keywords should vary slightly through the use modifiers and long tails so you aren’t repeating the same terms. Incorporating keywords into the title or subheadings as well as the meta title, meta description and image file names can help to optimize the content. While creating content however, you should not focus solely on keywords or writing material exclusively for the purpose of optimization. Content can also serve as a way to engage people and convert them into customers. It can either be persuasive or provide them with valuable information that helps them make a decision. The most effective content is up to date and unique with eye-catching titles, relevant keywords and links to other quality sites that will compliment your website.
Search engine optimization is not just about putting keywords into your main content; it also involves optimizing your code to increase visibility. There are several different sections of code that can be optimized so that search engine bots will scan them and rank the site accordingly. Title tags are an important spot to place keywords when you are coding your content. Each page should have a unique title tag with keywords that emphasize what the content is about so that it will be ranked based on those. You should also focus on meta tags and mainly the meta description tag which is what tells users what the site is about. It may not have a major impact on your search ranking but it will determine whether users will continue to your site based on the content. Using keywords in the meta description tag gives you the chance to emphasize what types of people will want to visit the site so that it will attract specific users. You should include keywords in the meta description as a part of full sentences and incorporate a description for each page. Other sections of code that can be useful in optimization are the headings and subheadings tags. In code, headings are usually written as H1 (the main title) and subheadings H2, H3, etc. As the content becomes more specific you will usually use a higher number heading for the tag. Most of the headings and especially the main title should contain keywords that are relevant to your content. Keywords can be incorporated into other areas of your site including the domain name. Websites that have keywords in the domain name tend to rank much higher than sites without any. However using keywords in your domain name will make it less unique and in some cases it may be a better idea to focus on building a brand first which will also increase your rank over time. It depends on your goals and how much you want to incorporate SEO strategies into your website.
Aside from how you include keywords into your content and your code, there are other aspects of your website that you may need to address so that you can improve your search rank. URL structure can be important for SEO because when search engine bots scan through URLs they may have a hard time crawling them if they are messy or not well-structured. If search engine bots can’t crawl through your site then they will not be able to index them or rank them in search engines. URLs need to be search engine friendly so it is a good idea to get rid of any unnecessary characters like question marks or percentage signs and use only numbers and letters. Your URLs ideally will be shorter in order to rank better and they should use dashes rather than underscores which are problematic for search engines. When considering your site structure you should make sure that you think about how you are linking to other pages. Any links should be within your content rather than in a sidebar or footer and they should always link to quality content that is relevant to your site.
One of the most important parts of SEO is link building as it can be the main determining factor in how your page ranks. In order to successfully optimize your site you need to build links to your content because the more trustworthy sites link to you, the more a search engine will consider you an authority and rank you accordingly. It is important to have links within your own content and links from related sites rather than spammy or irrelevant sites. A good way to increase your link count is to use social media with sites like Digg or StumbleUpon which can greatly increase your visibility as well as your chances of getting linked. You can also submit your site to directories online which will link to your content. When building links it is a good idea to look into higher ranking sites and as long as they are not competition you may be able to get them to link to you. You can also look into sites linking to your competition and write to them asking to link to your site as well. There are many sites that are still linked to inactive websites and if you research some of these you may alert them to the dead link and suggest your own site as a replacement link if the content is similar.
If you follow some of the basic guidelines of SEO then you will most likely begin to see an increase in traffic from search engines. It may take some time for your rank to increase and it can also be a process of figuring out what works best for your particular website. The important thing is to avoid taking shortcuts or using tactics that search engines might punish you for in the end. Effective SEO means playing by the rules and creating content that users want to read while using techniques to help them find you online. If you create a quality website with useful content that you feel confident in promoting then you will get the most benefits from search engine optimization.
If you need help with optimizing your site or monthly SEO management give us a call. We’ve helped companies of all sizes get found online. Call us today at 1-800-932-5421.