SEO, or search engine optimization, is just what it sounds like. It is a way to optimize your content so that it appears more often in search engine results. Improving your SEO means increasing visibility for your website or blog on search engines like Google. In today’s internet-driven world, SEO is a necessary part of digital marketing. Explore this overview of SEO and get to know the key concepts of search engine optimization.
Does Your Website Truly Need SEO?
Many people wonder whether SEO is a marketing technique that is truly necessary. After all, it is possible to run a small business, write a blog or create a website without understanding SEO or incorporating it into your content. While this is possible, it is certainly not recommended. SEO is an incredibly effective way to get more eyes on your content, and it also gets the right audience straight to you.
Imagine that you’re a small business owner who sells vintage furniture. You might set up your own website and start writing regular content on your blog all about your industry. You take photographs, participate on social media and work hard to see your business grow. Despite all your efforts, no one seems to be finding your business online. That’s because you’re not optimizing your website or your content for search engines.
With an SEO strategy, you could revitalize your website and all of its content. Adding in headers, keywords and metadata could help drive search engine users to you. Best of all, the people that find you are already searching for things that you offer. That’s exactly the kind of audience you want visiting your website, reading your content and learning about your business. Luckily, SEO does not have to be overly complicated, although it can seem overwhelming at first. With the right SEO tools and knowledge, you can optimize your website for search engines and users.
SEO Gives Search Engines Extra Help
Now that you understand the value of SEO, it helps to go a little deeper and see how SEO can actually make a difference for search engines. By optimizing your website for search engines, you’re making it easier for them to accurately understand what your company does, the type of content it offers and what kind of users it might be able to help.
Search engines send out crawlers, or automated bots, that essentially crawl every single page, picture or link on the internet. When these crawlers find your website, they quickly determine what is on each page. That data is stored for the search engine. Then, when someone uses the search engine, the stored data determines which pages appear on the search engine results page.
By using SEO, you’re helping these bots, or crawlers, accurately classify your website. You’re also ensuring that the people who do find your website are the right audience. There are a number of ways to help a search engine crawler best understand your website. To start, look at your website name and your URL. Then, take a look at your homepage. If you sell vintage furniture, is that obvious based on the first couple of sentences? You can also add in meta tags for pictures and bold headers in blogs. All of these techniques can be explored in detail, but they all work toward the goal of optimizing your content.
The Importance of of SEO Keywords
One of the ways that you can optimize your website and your content is through the use of keywords. SEO keywords are an essential part of an SEO strategy, and they should be included in every single blog post, article or webpage you create. Imagine that you’re visiting Los Angeles and you want to find a great pizza restaurant in the area. What would you type into your preferred search engine? There’s a good chance that you’ll type in one of the following keywords:
Each of these phrases is an example of a keyword or keyword phrase. If you were operating a pizza restaurant in Los Angeles, you might want to include one or more of those keywords into your website.
Finding the Right Keywords for Your Website
Understanding the value of keywords is the first step, but actually determining the right keywords for any given page or post is a little more challenging. In most cases, it will help to have two things at your disposal: A keyword tool and data analytics.
Data analytics may already be something you have access to. Your website will likely have some way to determine what keywords are already being used to help readers find your website. If there are keywords that are organically used and working already, then emphasize them in your content and be sure to continue with the pattern of success.
Researching the Competition
Another option is to take a look at what works for your competitors. Try typing a few relevant keywords or keyword phrases into a search engine. Are the types of businesses that come up your direct competitors? If they are, the keywords may well be the right fit for your business, too. If those keyword phrases bring up completely different pages and companies, then they might not be right for your website.
There are a number of keyword tools that can be very helpful as you’re putting together your content. If you have one keyword that is incredibly successful, for example, SEO tools may be able to provide you with a list of similar keywords used by the same audience. One of the most popular is the Google Keyword Planner. If you’re stuck and you can’t think of any new keywords, Ubersuggest is another popular choice.
The Role of Links in SEO
There is one aspect of SEO that doesn’t necessarily involve what you include in your content or on your website. Instead, it focuses on whether other websites are linking to you. While it is relatively easy to include keywords into your content, it is a lot harder to convince reputable sites and users to link to your pages in their own content.
Links from related websites in your industry are the best way to show search engines that you are an expert. Links from throwaway websites or websites that don’t have any connection to your business won’t help, and they can even reduce the quality of your SEO. If search engines discover that you have paid for link placement, they can remove your website from their search results altogether.
The best way to get quality links that can boost your SEO is by creating great content. The links may not appear overnight, but with time, they become increasingly common. You should also connect with noncompetitive companies in the same field. Often, these relationships can lead to reciprocal links. Sharing your content on social media is another great way to encourage the sharing of links with a wider audience.
SEO Doesn’t Just Help You: It Also Helps Your Audience
It’s easy to see SEO as a tool that can improve your marketing and your business. However, it’s also valuable to users and your potential customers. If they are looking for an answer to their query, accurate SEO will help them find exactly what they need. SEO also saves people time. Instead of going through several pages of search results, users can type in a long-tail keyword or question and get the exact results right on the first page.
SEO reinforces the principles of inbound marketing. Traditional marketing is like putting up a billboard and having everyone look at it in the hopes that a few people will be persuaded. Inbound marketing is creating a detailed website and labeling it clearly through SEO so that the right people find it. This results in the readers of your website being the people who are most likely to like your content, need your services or buy your products.
Your Guide to Common SEO Terms
Now that you’ve got the lingo down, you’re ready to improve your website’s SEO.
Basic SEO Tips and Insights
Learning about SEO as a theoretical practice is a great way to get familiar with this digital marketing strategy. However, make sure that not all your knowledge is theoretical. The best time to start incorporating SEO into your website is today, so get started right away with these helpful SEO tips and guidelines.
Boost Search Engine Visibility With More Content
The goal of search engine optimization is to have more people finding your website and learning about your business. One of the best ways to do that is by increasing the amount of content you produce. If you just have a home page and a few landing pages, you can see your web traffic jump significantly with the addition of a blog.
Adding a blog, or updating it more frequently, means there is more content for a search engine to crawl through, more keywords that you can rank for and more search engine results pages you’ll appear on. To reach a wider audience, create a wider body of content. Of course, it’s still important to maintain high quality in all of your content. Quality is just as important as quantity in every aspect of content creation and digital marketing.
Start Adding Links to New and Existing Content
Another way to increase your SEO with minimal effort is to start adding links to your content. If you have an existing blog that doesn’t include links, then go back and update the posts to reflect your new SEO knowledge. It’s great that you’re ready to use SEO best practices in future content, but there is no reason why you can’t optimize all the content you’ve already created.
There are two types of links you can include in your current and future content: internal links and outbound links. Internal links drive traffic to new pages within your website. For example, you might have a blog post about how to save up for the down payment on your first home. If you have any related posts, you can link those using appropriate anchor text. If readers want more information, they can click the link but still stay on your website.
The second link is an outbound link. This leads readers away from your website and to another website. You might want to link to a news organization or just a relevant blog post. Some website managers and bloggers are worried about linking to outside sources, but this can actually be a good thing if it provides readers with helpful information. If you post an outbound link to a specific website, let the website owners know. They might share your article with their followers on social media, or they may reciprocate by linking back to your page in future content.
Write for Humans, Not Robots
It is easy to get overwhelmed with data analytics and start writing content that is geared toward search engine crawlers. However, that is a short-sighted plan that ultimately won’t benefit your business. At the end of the day, your content should be geared toward humans, not robots.
Keyword stuffing is the practice of using far too many specific keywords in written text. Stuffing keywords looks unnatural and gets confusing for the reader. Too much keyword stuffing, and search engines will start to catch on and hold it against your website. A much better idea is to use keywords organically. In a short text of 600 words, using two or three relevant keywords once or twice is usually sufficient.
Use Web Analytics to See What Is Working
Arguably the most important SEO tip of all is to use cold, hard data to see what is working and what isn’t. By analyzing data, you can see whether users are clicking your links. You can determine the average bounce rate, which shows whether users are leaving after viewing a single page. Plus, it’s something that you can do right now. If your website offers built-in analytics, then you can quickly see what keywords are being favored and what content is driving traffic.
There are also a number of fantastic SEO tools that can give you more information about your website. Moz and SEMrush are two great examples out of many, many options that exist for website managers and marketing professionals. All of this information should guide your decisions for future content. If there is one subject that lots of people want to know about, and people who read that specific content often become leads for your business, then continue creating related content. If certain posts get ignored, then it might be time to switch up the keywords and approach the topic from a different angle.
Add Meta Descriptions to Existing Content
If you type any keyword into a search engine, a page of results will appear. Each of the results on the page will have a short description underneath the actual link. That meta description has two main objectives. The first is to help search engine crawlers get the gist of the page it is describing. The second objective is to help users see whether the related content is something they want to click on.
If you haven’t been adding meta descriptions to your content, now is the time to start. Typically, this is a one- or two-sentence summary of the content or a quick teaser to attract interest. It can easily be added to existing content, and it should also be a priority for every new piece of content you release moving forward.
Add Keywords to Your Images
Search engine optimization doesn’t just apply to written content. It’s also an incredibly effective way of optimizing your visual content. When individuals type certain keywords into a search engine, they may want to see the visual results by clicking the image tab. Therefore, it’s important for you to add keywords to your images as well.
Alt text is a brief description you can add to images. Typically, this is just a word or two to describe what is being displayed in the image. Search engine crawlers can go through these descriptions to pull up the relevant results to searchers. If you’re not attaching alt text to your images, you might be missing out on a way to attract new readers, users, leads and potential customers to your website.
Start Compiling Effective Long-tail Keywords
Take the time to create a list or spreadsheet where you compile long-tail keywords that you have used or collected over time. A long-tail keyword is a more specific query for a search engine. Although fewer people search for long-tail keywords than more generic terms, the results are less competitive.
When compiling long-tail keywords, think about what questions you can answer as a website or as a business. If you offer babysitting in Miami, consider the following long-tail keyword questions:
Anyone typing these questions into a search engine is probably going to be a great fit for your services. So, it makes sense to use specific, long-tail keywords in your content. If you’re struggling to come up with keywords, then use keyword tools. Just a small selection of the most popular tools for SEO keywords include SEM Tool, Ubersuggest, Webmaster Tools and Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
Keep Your Website Fresh
An often-overlooked part of SEO is keeping your content fresh. Search engines prioritize new content over old content. The more often you update your website by adding new content, the better it will be for your SEO. If websites sit stagnant for too long, search engines may treat them as out of date and no longer relevant for readers. In addition to creating new content, you can update older content. Adding in new photos, changing information to reflect recent findings or just adjusting the meta description can breathe new life into your website.
If you’re having a hard time coming up with new content, take a closer look at your keywords. Often, you can create content that revolves around a specific keyword or query. Even when it seems like you have completely covered a topic in depth, keywords can give you new perspective and a new angle to write about.
These tips can guide your SEO strategy and help your content be seen by more of the right people. If you’re ready to add more content to your website, reach out to Textbroker to get started!