Why should you care so much about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? Well, simply put, SEO helps make your website more visible, which leads to more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospects into customers. There’s A LOT to it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the basics. This knowledge can empower you to incorporate SEO in your marketing strategy and ensure customers find your website first in the search engines over your competitors.
The Importance of SEO
In its simplest form, the fundamentals of SEO can be boiled down to the 3 C’s: Content, Code, and Credibility. When you get these fundamentals aligned, you’ll be rewarded in the search engines with more visibility and higher rankings. Search engines have a single goal: to provide users with the most relevant and useful information. Every time you make a search online, search engines use their algorithms to choose web pages that are the most valuable to that search query. Then they rank them and display the more authoritative or useful pages first. The algorithms used are based on several ranking factors. Understanding these factors and applying them to your website is what makes up SEO. The more SEO factors that your website displays, the more those actions will lead to improved search rankings. Your next question is probably: What are they exactly looking for? We’re going to try to simplify this by providing you with more of a checklist so that you can evaluate your own website.
Search engines don’t have eyes. I know that’s obvious, but you need to look at your website as if search engines are using Brail to understand it. For humans when we see a webpage we see a collection of graphics, colors, images, formatted text, and links. For a search engine, it’s nothing but words. They use a completely different process, or code, in interpreting what’s on your website. For a search engine to understand your web pages, it needs to scan them to understand their content. It also needs to add it to its own index – which is a database of all the content it has found on the internet. If your website can’t be read properly, Google will find it to be inaccessible, aka useless. This is called on-site optimization. It’s the SEO part that ensures your website and pages are set up for Google to scan and index. Here’s what it includes:
Website navigation (internal) links
Search engines use links to help them connect from page to page on your site. You want to make sure each page of your website includes internal links that lead to other relevant pages. Think of internal links as doors to connect from room to room within your house.
Search engines don’t like lengthy URLs that are complicated. Keep the URLs of each page of your website short and use relevant keywords that you are trying to optimize for.
Search engines use load time as an indicator of the quality of your website. If it takes a long time to load, they view this as a poor user experience.
Sitemap and Robots.txt files
A sitemap is a simple file that lists all the URLs on your site. Search engines use it to identify which pages to crawl and index. Think of it as your website’s table of contents. A robots.text.file tells the search engine what content doesn’t need to be indexed.
Pages containing identical content confuse search engines. It makes it difficult for them to separate which page is which. If they do find this, your website will be penalized for it.
The same goes for broken links. These are links are your website that redirects to pages that no longer exist. If search engines find them on your website, it will backfire on you.
At the end of the day, search engines are looking for content. This is information that ties directly into what the user is searching for. Content can come in the form of blogs, webpage descriptions, reviews, and business listings, it’s all useful.
Having relevant content is valuable for SEO in ways:
- First, content is a direct result of what people want when searching. The more user queries your website matches, the greater your chance for improving your visibility.
- Content is also a tool that search engines use to rank your page. When crawling your page, they are analyzing key elements to determine their relevancy.
You attract people to your website when the “key-words” they are inputting in the search bar match what you have on your website. Keywords are the main products or services your business offer.
- If you don’t have these keywords, you make it nearly impossible for users to find you.
- This is why you want to identify the key topics or terms relevant to your business and incorporate them into your website.
Long-form content, consistent content, and useful content help your SEO marketing strategy in several ways. Long-form content will typically contain more in-depth information, which will be not only helpful for the end user, but it positions your business as an expert, which matters to search engines. Without a high volume of relevant content on your site, search engines do not have the information to index the quality of your site.
Website Content Basics
SEO-rich content needs to include several elements in order to gain a ranking position with search engines. Here are some of the main factors to that make up relevant content.
Useful and Informative
This includes the basics such as contact information, upcoming events, locations, hours, online menu, etc. It needs to be consistent across any and all online directory listings and on your website.
If you were to write about how to organize a closet, make sure your article includes step-by-step instructions, links to products to purchase, troubleshooting tips, and so on. The more informative the more search queries your article could tie into.
Whatever content you include, you need to come from an area of expertise. This includes original research, citations, reviews, links, and so on
Your content should be written for humans first, and search engines second. It should be created primarily to give users the best experience possible.
You want users to stay on your page. Make sure users are distracted by poor navigation, functionality, and excessive amounts of errors and widgets.
This is the process of organizing your content so that search engines can understand a page’s topics and the key terms you want to rank for. By structuring it a certain way, you make it easy for them to scan and understand the contents of your page. Here’s what they are looking for:
This is the title of your page, article, or blog. It should include valuable keywords that would match a search query.
This is your web address and should also include the same keyword you want to rank for
This tag displays the title of the page need to identify what search terms are best, and which you should be targeting, and then optimize your content with those keywords.
Meta title and tag
These are two code elements that search engines use to display their listing. It’s how the title of your page and the brief description of its content will look in the SERP.
Since search engines can’t see graphics, this is the file name you provide for each image so Google can understand what it is.
Links to other relevant pages on similar topics help Google further comprehend the topic you’re referencing, and it adds more credibility to your site as a valuable resource. Include external links to help build your site’s authority and trustworthiness.
We hope this helped you better understand the importance and power of SEO in your marketing strategy. The information we share with you is just the starting point. Take a look at your current website and determine if all these factors are incorporated. Without these elements present, having a strong online ranking could be impacted, which means fewer potential customers finding your business.
We live, eat, and breathe SEO marketing and can help your business implement an SEO strategy that will generate more calls and more business, so please reach out to us if interested.