SEO: just those three little letters can cause some confusion for business owners. You’ve probably heard plenty about it. But there’s so much conflicting information out there, and you may not be sure of what’s really essential. That’s why this week, we’ll be talking all about SEO, what you really need to know, and how to make it work for you.
What is SEO?
SEO is a common acronym for search engine optimization. It’s the art of making your website and all your content easily found and understood by search engines like Google and Bing. The SEO definition is broad because SEO has a lot of moving parts – from setting up your website properly to adding keywords to your blog posts and more.
But the overall goal of SEO is pretty simple. This would be to increase the number of people who visit your website and content by increasing how high you appear in the search engine rankings.
And to really take your SEO strategy to the next level, you want to focus on getting the right people to your website. These would be the prospects who are most likely to become customers. With the right SEO techniques, you can do all of this.
It just takes time, effort, and patience.
Why is SEO Important?
Search engine optimization is important to any business with a digital presence for one reason. And it’s the incredibly high popularity of search engines.
Think about it: where is your first stop any time you want to find information, a product, a piece of news, or pretty much anything at all? If you’re like most people around the globe, you start by typing your question or need into a search engine.
Search Engines are Popular
81% of online shoppers turn to search engines first to find what they want to buy. And there are more than three billion searches on Google every day. If you’re not set up to be found and recommended by those search engines, your business is already behind the curve. Potential customers will have a much harder time finding your website and buying your product or service.
And those search engine visitors to your site come in without you spending a dime on marketing. That is called a sustained lead, and it helps your business grow over the long term without a constant outflow of marketing dollars.
SEO techniques take at least a few months to pay off, sometimes up to one year or more. But once they’re in place, you’re on the path to sustainable growth.
They’re Also Competitive
Optimizing your site for search engines is important so people can find you. But it’s getting more difficult than it was years ago because more businesses like yours are realizing how important it is to do well.
You’re now competing for those visitors with other savvy web marketers. That’s why you need to understand and implement at least the basics of SEO – to cut through the noise and reach your ideal customers.
But while many SEO guides get intimidatingly technical, search engine optimization is actually fairly straightforward to implement on your website.
What Are the Basics of SEO?
You need to put some thought into SEO, and for good reason. This is because while real people are the ones performing the online searches, a series of algorithms is deciding what content gets shown on that search engine results page (SERP). You want to make sure these algorithms know a few things about your site and your content so they will rank it highly.
There are several types of SEO (we’ll cover them in our blog post next week). But they all boil down to the same two factors.
Most online searchers click on the first few search results, so you want your content to rise to the top to get more visitors.
Here’s what goes into those search engine rankings:
Search engines want to deliver relevant results to their users: content that is exactly what they’re looking for. They use automated search bots to crawl your website, looking for signals that your site matches their search intent. They determine this by seeing if you use words and phrases, called keywords, that matches the search intent of the search engine users.
So, if you’re searching for a Dallas SEO company, you don’t want to see information about the Dallas Cowboys instead. You want information that matches your search intent.
Search engines will also consider how well your content matches the needs of the search visitors who land on your page by measuring how many users click onto your page and immediately leave, called your bounce rate. After all, if your content matched their needs they would stay on your web page longer.
The second thing Google uses as a search engine ranking factor is how popular your site is on the internet. If your site has been around a long time, gets plenty of visitors, and is shared as a resource frequently, the algorithm assumes you’re creating useful and engaging content and boosts your results.
But if your site is new and has low traffic to start – don’t despair. We’ll go over ways to build your site authority below.
Three Ways to Improve Your SEO Quickly
Improving your search engine ranking starts with understanding some of the most important search engine ranking factors. The most important thing to remember when trying to improve your SEO is that you aren’t just writing and thinking about bots and algorithms when you create content.
You’re also looking to engage, delight, and capture real people.
1. User Experience
Search engines want to send their users to sites that give them a good on-page experience. In practical terms, this means delivering a site that is easy to navigate, fast to load, and looks great on every device. Frustrated users will give you a high bounce rate, which hurts your search rankings.
Here are the key elements Google is using to gauge your site’s user experience:
- Navigation should be easy for even a user who isn’t tech-savvy – you don’t want visitors getting lost on your page or unable to find the information or content they’re looking for. A good rule of thumb? If it takes more than three clicks to get to any page on your site, your site organization is too complicated.
- Page speed is how fast a page on your site takes to load. If a page takes more than three seconds to load, most users will abandon it because they’re frustrated. And that raises your bounce rate, which lowers your search rankings.
- Mobile optimization is critical because people aren’t just using their desktop computers to conduct Google searches anymore. Your website should look and function great on every kind of mobile device, from a tablet to a smartphone, to make sure all your site visitors have a positive experience no matter where they’re browsing.
2. Keyword Research
Along with giving your website visitors a great experience when they’re on your site, you also need to get them to your site in the first place. That’s where keyword research comes in. Keywords are the words and phrases that people search for in Google and Bing. If you can find search terms that are relevant to your target audience and that has a high volume of search queries, you can get a lot of traffic to your site.
Keyword research tools range from the free and basic to the highly detailed and expensive. You should use the one that fits your goals and your budget now, and you can always upgrade over time. You can also use complete SEO services that will take care of the research, and sometimes the writing, for you.
Two factors in keyword searches
When you’re researching keywords, you want to aim to hit a balance of two things.
- Search Volume. Of course, it’s important to target keywords that people search for a lot. That’s indicated by the search volume numbers. If you’re creating a piece of content for a keyword no one searches for, that’s not going to get you many visitors even if all your other SEO is perfect.
- Keyword Difficulty. But as we discussed earlier, SEO is now a very competitive game. If your site is new, you’re going to struggle to rank highly for the most competitive keywords against more-established and popular websites. Aiming for keywords that have less volume but have a lower level of difficulty to rank for is a good strategy while you get established.
SEO in its infancy was about stuffing as many keywords as possible into a single page or piece of content. But search engines have become much more sophisticated, and will punish you for shoving too many keywords artificially into an article. Even more so, generic and short keywords will get you nowhere. You want to aim for longer ones that really reach your ideal audience.
The point is, always write for people first – the keywords are just an indicator to the search engine that your writing answers a question or fills a need.
3. Link Building
To raise your website authority, you want to encourage other sites to link to your webpages. This is easy for big sites like the New York Times, but harder for a small business that just got their blog up and running. But don’t worry – you can still get those coveted backlinks no matter how small your site is.
You can build links a few ways. The best but longest game is by writing the highest-quality content you can, and sharing it widely on all your social media platforms. If your content is truly high-quality and very engaging, other sites will eventually link to it as a reference.
But you want to build your page authority now – there must be a faster way to get backlinks.
You can sponsor local events or host a webinar in your industry in exchange for a sponsor shoutout and a link on the organization’s webpage. You can network with others in your industry and offer to write a guest post on their blogs – that’s a good way to build credibility and get a backlink.
Get creative and bold about sharing your content and you’ll see that backlink profile grow over time.
Get SEO Expert Help
As we’ve established, SEO is very important for your business’s website, but you might not have the time to research and make changes needed to improve your site’s presence.
Looking for more personalized help on your digital marketing strategy right now? Schedule a free business review here to find out how we help businesses grow. You can use these insights for inspiration, and let us do the marketing for you.