Does your company need SEO? The answer is yes.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a non-paid strategy used to increase traffic to your web page. Think about the first place you go to find information on the internet. My go-to is Google. In fact, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, with Google as the search engine leader. You might have a beautifully designed website with amazing content, but what good is it if users can’t find your page when searching online?
The Inner Workings of Search Engines
The primary search engine function is simple: a user enters a search query and the search engine delivers results. Search engines have robots, or “crawlers”, that browse the internet. These crawlers store the information found on the internet in a large database that can be accessed at a later time. This process is called indexing. From there, this information is stored in smaller databases, or indexes, centered around keywords.
Search engines use algorithms to rank pages, first by relevance and then by popularity. 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. Now, the big question is: how do you get your webpage to the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)?
Developing Your Keywords
Keywords are the terms or phrases that users search. If your company sells shoes, an obvious keyword would be “shoes,” right? Wrong. “Shoes” is too broad and would be nearly impossible to rank for. You have a higher chance of ranking for a specific phrase, or a long-tail keyword, such as, “size 8 cheetah print Sperrys,” rather than just “shoes.” These are called long-tail keywords and although they are less searched, they ultimately convert better since the user has such specific intent
Determining your keywords is a strategic process. To begin that process, you must consider your target market’s needs and what words and phrases they are searching for. Sound like lots of work? Don’t worry, there are keyword research tools for that!
Next, you need to research who is ranking for those keywords (your competitors) to see what you’re up against. It is important to understand the work required to achieve high rankings.
It takes time to create quality content which leverages your keywords, and depending on your timeline or budget, sometimes search ads can be a more immediate alternative to drive website traffic.
Once you have your target keywords, they need to be used naturally yet strategically throughout your page and content. Keywords should be mentioned once in the beginning of a title tag, once at the top of a page, a few times in the body of the text, once in the ALT attribute of an image, once in the URL and once in the meta description (although the meta description is not used for ranking).
Give The User What They Need
Once your page has been ranked, it will show up on the SERP. When a user clicks on your page and then immediately returns to the SERP, it is considered a bounce. This means that the user was not satisfied with the content provided on the page. High bounce rates contribute to your ranking score; therefore, it is important to consider the user when creating and laying out content.
Keep your content user-friendly, not search engine-friendly. The point of search engines is to help users. So, if your content is useful to the users who find it, Google will see that you have a high quality website. Of course, you still need to include your keywords to be found by engines, never stop thinking about what the user is looking for, and what will benefit the user the most. Be sure to deliver high quality content that is both useful and up-to-date. Useful information gets shared, which is ultimately the goal.
Sharing is Caring
I could write forever about search engine ranking factors, but the most important factor to discuss is inbound links - also known as off-page SEO. An inbound link is a hyperlink to your page from another website. For example, I just hyperlinked “search engine ranking factors” above to Moz.com because I trust their information and feel that it is worth sharing.
Inbound links give a page authority. Search engines measure authority by analyzing the number and quality of links from other pages. “Quality over Quantity” definitely rings true in link building. The goal is to obtain links from sites that are also authoritative, trustworthy and influential and this will add to your ranking score. If you have inbound links from low-profile or spammy webpages, it can have the opposite impact and actually hurt your ranking. Again, there are tools offered to keep track of your inbound links.
Measure Your Success
Now, it is time to find out if your SEO efforts are working. Keep track of your rankings,conversion rates, and the traffic patterns. There are many tools that can help your with this. Our favorite is Google Analytics. Sift and analyze this data to continuously improve your SEO.
Search engine algorithms are always changing. It is important to pay attention when they release updates because what helped your SEO in the past may now actually hurt your SEO. The thing to keep in mind is this: no matter how many times Google updates its algorithm, the fundamental purpose of search engines is to help guide users to the right information. If you always consider user needs first, you will set yourself up for a long term, consistent SEO journey.
Want to learn more? Check out these articles to learn more about past SEO Updates:
Google Releases Two New Algorithm Updates
4 Old SEO Practices Gone Bad and How to Fix Them Immediately