What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
In this article I’ll try to give a layman’s definition of what SEO is and what it’s comprised of. My goal is that you understand how it works and how you can implement it in your marketing strategy. Yes, because that’s how you can win with digital marketing, especially in 2020.
If you’re like most people in this digital age, you probably use Google or other search engines to find stuff online. Chances are that you’ve clicked the first few search results that show up. And finding the exact or close enough information on those search engine results saved you time. This can be attributed to how well optimized the website that has the link is.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic from search engine results. This traffic is based off the ranking of the search engines of what they deem is relevant for your users. These users are the visitors that are coming to your website for content you provide. The content is information that your website visitors are searching for and it could be anything from written to audio, to video and even images. Adjusting this content to be found and ranked on search engines is what is defined as Search Engine Optimization. The simplest definition is basically ensuring that people find your website when people search for content relating to it online.
Why should you be bothered with Search Engine Optimization?
There are a number of reasons why you should pay attention to SEO. But for the sake of your time (and mine J), I’ll cite a few. One important reason is for a fact that most people start by asking a question in a search engine. Google, with 92.7% market share has over 5 Billion search queries every day. That’s over 63,000 search queries every second to compete with. If your website’s content is not optimized to rank in search engines, then you’re likely missing a lot of leads.
Your competitors are just a click away. And if they show up on Google for a search query (content in your industry), then that business goes to them. Even when your website does get to be picked by Google, not ranking on the first page of the search results is costly.
What does it comprise of?
Google has over 200 signals their algorithm reads when ranking websites in search. To make it easy for you, I’ve picked the most crucial ones and divided them by category. We’ll look at what is known as On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO and technical SEO. These three cover your writing, links and design and development of your website. Now, let’s dive in.
On-Page SEO refers to the techniques implemented on your website to improve its rankings and earn organic traffic. It looks at improving both components visible to your users (images, text, audio and video, etc) and non-visible (HTML tags, CSS, etc). Your website’s content needs to be well optimized for both your users and search engines. Let’s briefly break down all these components that make up good On-Page SEO.
Your content is perhaps the most important piece of this puzzle that you should invest time on. It is what your users and customers come for on your website. Please note, however, that creating content for the sake of getting search engine traffic will hurt your ranking. Aim at providing valuable content for your users that makes them stay more on your site and come back for more. This signals to Google and other search engines that you’re providing relevant content for your users. Because time spent on a website is also an indicator in Google’s algorithm, it’s imperative that you create longer pieces of content. The recommended number of words is usually 300 or more. An average of 500 words or more gives you a better shot. And more importantly, your content should be relevant and interesting to consume for your users.
2. Keyword Optimization
Keyword Optimization, also known as Keyword research is an important aspect in the initial stages of both your organic and paid search optimization. It is the act of researching, analyzing and selecting the best keywords to target to drive qualified traffic from search engines to your website. A keyword is a word or phrase used to find a website with the related content being searched for. Know where and how to use Keywords in your content to rank top in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). This should be a combination of your Title tags, alt-text in your images and evenly distributing the keyword in your content.
Because it is a part of your On-Page SEO, Keyword Optimization should be done on an on-going basis. Continue to run Keyword Analyses, add more keywords to your database and increase more traffic and leads to your website.
3. HTML tags, Meta Title and Meta Description
HTML or Hyper-Text Mark-up Language is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser. Essentially, the pages you view on the Internet are written at the most in this coding language. The structure of a webpage is comprised of HTML tags. These include the Header, the body and in most cases the footer. The header will have your title tag and meta descriptions which we’ll get into in a moment. There’s other code that goes in there like your CSS or Java Script but that’s more technically advanced stuff. The body tag is what contains the content you’d be viewing on a web page. Images, video, audio, links, headline and body copy sits in the body tag section of a webpage. The structure of your website has to be well optimized with H1 (Headline tags) coming first then reducing in size.
Title tags and meta descriptions are bits of HTML code in the header of a web page. They tell search engines and users what your website is all about. The meta descriptions describe the content on each page of your website and how that relates to the search query. Both the title tag and meta description are usually shown whenever that page appears on search engine results pages. How well the Title tag and meta description are written can improve your click-through rate in search engines. The two are the first impressions users have about your business in search engines. There’s many tactics you can employ regarding captivating title tags and meta descriptions but one quick win is to be mindful of their lengths. 70 characters for your title tag is a good industry recommendation.
Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website for search engines to access, crawl and interpret your website. Search engines can easily index your website without any problems if your website is technically optimized. It is very critical that you get this right, otherwise all your SEO efforts will not yield desired results. So, how do you get your website working right to be indexed by search engines?
A well technically optimized website should be able to load fast for both your visitors and search engines. That means optimizing your images and code/scripts to be smaller in size. Your website must also be mobile-friendly or responsive. The code of your website should easily be read by search engines. This includes your robots.txt and xml sitemap code. A website developer can look into this for you in case this is too technical. Your website should also have little to no dead links to be easily indexed by search engines.
It should be noted that SEO is not a one-time thing, rather something you do, at the very least, once a month. So many times, a lot of businesses optimize a website’s page and never adjust it again. You constantly need to be optimizing your website to ensure that users always find your content in search engines.
Create content to benefit your users, and any optimization should be geared toward making the user experience better. One of those users is a search engine, which helps other users discover your content. Search Engine Optimization is about helping search engines understand and present content. And when users find this content, ensure that they have a great user experience.