What Is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, in its simplest form, is the process of increasing both the quality and the quantity of traffic to your website through search engine results. It is the magic you have to work on your content to ensure that search engines include it in the top results
What most people don’t seem to understand is that SEO is part of the foundation of any good website, not just an add-on for later.
The same goes for when you are building your brand. When you launch or site or brand SEO should be part of your foundation. Why? Because SEO is all about cultivating the user experience, that’s why.
That is precisely why search engines care about the web design, content, mobile-friendliness, and speed of your site. All these will factor into your rank in search engine results.
Key SEO Ranking Factors
Backlinks continue to be one of the strongest indicators of authority for search engines. But, over the years search engines such as Google have learned how to differentiate the good from the bad, so quality matters just as much as quantity.
The key is to create content that people crave and promote it effectively. Your goal must be to focus on these three main ranking signals: link authority, link diversity and number of backlinks.
We have all heard the phrase content is king, right? Well, it’s true. But, what are search engines really looking for in quality content?
Quality content focuses on keyword usage, length, and comprehensiveness. What does this really mean? It means creating content that is relevant and easy for your audience to digest.
Don’t get caught keyword-stuffing. Concentrate on creating relevant content written in natural language.
- User Experience
In Google’s own words “searching users are often the best judges of relevance”. Always ensure that you are focusing on and creating a website with user experience at its core.
Here are a few key components to lay the foundation with:
- Findable: Place a focus on high-quality content with information that is easy to find.
- Desirable: Your site's design and content should be appealing.
- Usable: Make sure that your site is easy to use and navigate.
- Useful: Ensure that your content is of high quality, is useful and is relevant.
- Credible: The goal is for your sites’ content and brand to be trustworthy and considered an authority in your industry.
Your brand image is how users feel about you. In order to help your users feel good about your brand, it is important to focus on user experience. This experience does not go unnoticed by search engines.
- Misc. Technical Factors
There are many technical factors that play a critical role in the foundation of your site’s SEO. Some of the top factors that could impact your rankings include:
- Page speed: Google has confirmed that they consider 2 seconds to be the expected page-load speed and that speed is considered a ranking signal.
- Anchor Text: Ensure that your backlink anchor text is diverse and organic and avoid being spammy or unnatural or you risk penalties.
- H1 & H2 Headings: Each year there are more and more landing pages with H1’s and H2’s in the source code. There is still a strong correlation between the use of good headers and rankings.
- Mobile Friendliness: Google has committed to switching to mobile first indexing soon. And, with over 50% of searches already taking place on mobile devices, if your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you may not rank at all.
When you are optimizing your site; ensure you use HTTPS encryption, focus on content and anchor text that is diverse and semantically relevant and don’t be scared to use your headings, they still matter.
How To Maximize Your Online Presence With SEO
- Business Analysis
Complete a website analysis to determine how well you are positioned for search engines. Analyze keywords, tags, headers, visible text and even code. You want search engines to be able to easily crawl and index your site.
Complete a competitive analysis and determine where your competition is ranking, and why. Based on your analysis of their content, keywords, and rankings you can better develop your SEO strategy and make necessary changes.
A good way to begin is to use the first page of Google listing results and then expand as required. There are many useful tools that can be used to simplify this process. Check out Semrush, Keyword Spy or SpyFu.
Finally, develop a targeted list of search terms directly related to your target audience or existing customer base. Try to think of what someone searching for your business, website or product would type into a search engine.
- Keyword R&D
Keyword analysis is an important step in any SEO strategy. You must identify a targeted list of keywords and phrases, review relevant industry sources and study competitive lists.
Analyze your identified keywords and phrases to determine the number of recent search engine queries and how many sites are competing for each one.
Ensure that you are prioritizing your keywords and phrases even down to plurals, singulars, and misspellings.
In order to properly understand where you are going and assess future rankings, you need to know where you are now. Completing a baseline ranking assessment will provide you with a good starting point.
Something as simple as tracking your ranking weekly using an Excel spreadsheet will help to provide you with an idea of progress. You should now be seeing increased website traffic, which is also a key indicator of your progress for your keywords.
It is now time to set some goals and objectives. You must clearly outline your objectives in order to be able to properly measure your progress and ROI.
It is ok to start simple, but you must absolutely not skip this step. Get comfortable by starting with comprehensive, top-level numbers, but remember that in the end, your goal is to narrow down to improve your sales, services, and products.
- Optimizing Your Content
Optimizing your content is one of the most important steps involved in on-page SEO. There are many factors involved, and it will take time, patience and follow-through, but the end result will be increased traffic.
It may seem simple, but many people forget to create page titles and meta tags. By creating keyword-based titles and tags you will help to form the page theme and direction.
Integrate keywords into your existing content, and even source code, on selected pages to help search engines quickly determine what the page is about.
It is suggested that every content page contains 1 to 3 keywords or phrases. But, ensure that you are integrating this language in a natural and unforced manner to avoid keyword-stuffing penalties.
Make it easier for search engines to index your site by developing new sitemaps. Creating both HTML and XML versions is suggested.
To help get your website indexed by search engines it is also critical to get natural backlinks to your site. You can also submit your website to directories such as Yahoo!, Business.com and Dmoz to help get your pages indexed more quickly.
- Test and Measure
It is critical that you are continuously testing and measuring. A constant analysis of website traffic and search engine rankings will help you to define the efficiency of the strategies you are implementing.
Narrowing your analysis will allow an even more in-depth understanding of what changes are working and what changes are not. For example; test the results of each change you make as well as individual keyword performance. Again, a simple excel spreadsheet is a good place to start.
Based on your analysis and the results you are seeing you can now enter into the maintenance phase. Continue to implement changes, modify keywords and update website content as necessary to improve search engine rankings.
You do not want your growth to stall, or worse yet regress. A good way to continue constant growth is through the use of a blog. Ensure that inbound and outbound links are relevant to your business and continue to add content to your site through articles and postings.
There has never been a more crucial time for businesses to focus on maximizing their online presence. Even with a great product or service, if your company is buried in the search results people may not be able to find you, making it as though you don’t even exist.
Search Engine Optimization is one of the most efficient ways to gain online visibility. SEO allows you to direct more traffic to your site through free, organic search results.
By optimizing your website, in turn increasing your search engine rankings, you will gain more visibility by meeting specific parameters deemed important by search engines.
The good news is, even if your website is currently ranked lower than you’d like, you can increase your ranking by implementing a new SEO approach.
Make sure your website is relevant and update your SEO strategy to focus on the appropriate search engine ranking factors like Keywords, Content, Traffic, and Engagement.