What is SEO?
SEO is our favorite tool in the digital marketing toolkit. Whether you are an SEO novice or a seasoned veteran, there is always something new and exciting to learn about SEO. So exactly, what is SEO?
If we were taking bets, we’d ante up and say that you may have heard the term “SEO” before. Simply put, SEO means “search engine optimization,” but it is so much more than that. SEO is the process of getting unpaid advertising and organic traffic to your website from natural or editorial search engine results. Just to clarify, SEO traffic is different than paid advertising.
There is a significant amount of information (and speculation) on the science of Search Engine Optimization. In this survival guide, we’re going to touch on the most consistent aspects of the SEO algorithm for this quick and dirty guide.
We all know the giant of search engines: Google. While there are many major search engines, for brevity’s sake we will use Google as our search engine example. Google, or other search engines, will produce search results where content and web pages are shown and ranked based on what is relevant to its users which is why your website should be SEO optimized.
Part I: Content, Keywords, and Pictures
Since an optimized website will pull your content up as a top result for searching users, the SEO content that you produce matters. The quality of your content is one of the top factors in search engine ranking. Your website should be well-written, informative, and have substantial quality.
Once you’ve got some quality content, don’t just kick your feet up and relax. The work is not done and the day is still young. Being on top of SEO means keeping your pages fresh with hot, sharable topics and interesting articles that encourage users to share and link.
Think of your content like a warm, freshly baked donut. People want fresh and tasty topics and not something that has been sitting in a box becoming stale as time passes.
Be sure to research any keywords that potential consumers will be using to find your company or the services that you offer. Once you’ve identified these keywords, be sure to use these words and phrases appropriately within your content to help boost your search engine presence.
Beware of keyword stuffing. Placing keywords in your content takes an artist’s touch. You want your keywords to be subtle and suited to the subject. People are smart and they’ll know when you’re trying to sell them something. Google, our search engine giant, will even penalize your website for putting too many keywords in your content. Be mindful of the ratio of keywords to content and less is always more. Content marketing is definitely an art form.
Along with quality written word, utilize as many infographs, pictures, or local articles that you can logically without link spamming. Infographs or pictures are easy to share which leads to organic advertising from a user sharing a picture from your blog which is, in turn, shared by that user’s friends and so forth until thousands of people have seen your pictures (and your website!)
Now that you know what you want to say; let’s talk about how you’re going to say it.
Part II: HTML, HTTPS, and Headers
Now we know that content is important but there is more to finding out what is SEO than a few nicely written blog posts. There are a lot of background optimization that will enhance your website and bump your search engine results up higher. You web design professional should definitely know all of this.
HTML tags can sometimes be a more compelling reason to click on content than the web page itself. Meta tags, or HTML, can be used to show snippets and entice a reader to click on something they had previously thought to ignore. Granted, meta tags are no longer indexed by Google and Bing, but these useful tags shouldn’t be ignored and can enhance user experience. Those tags could compel someone to click an informative post that the user shares with friends and family thus bringing in more organic traffic to the website.
HTTPS and Safety Protocols
The internet can be a dangerous place. Sure, winning that $1 billion dollar lottery could be real but it could also take your credit card information and use that information for nefarious reasons. The internet could even be compared to the Wild West — dangerous and lawless with bandits running around which means you want to provide your consumers with a safe and comfortable user experience.
If your website is optimized to be safe and secure then it will become a trustworthy source. Google, and other major search engines, value trustworthiness and authority very highly. This optimization may seem like a “no-brainer” but HTTPS can be easily overlooked in the excitement of launching your new website.
Headers and Beyond
SEO favors website layouts which are organized and easy to navigate. This is an easy thing to optimize– make sure that your website layout is coherent and organized and that you use appropriate headers to help your users find what they are looking for so they are not frustrated and give up or give your website a bad review. If a customer is looking for your phone number and it is buried too deeply in the site and inaccessible or without proper headers, that customer may move on to a competitor who is easy to contact.
Now that we know what to say and how to say it, let’s take a look at speed and accessibility.
Part III: Speed and Mobile Devices
When optimizing your site, remember that load times and site speed are very important. If your website takes too long to load then your potential customer will click away and find a website that will load instantly. Most people do not have time to wait on website to load. They need information as accurately and quickly as possible.
Which leads us into optimizing for mobile devices. You probably accessed this survival guide on your phone or tablet. Don’t be surprised as the average internet user is looking at websites from their mobile phone or tablet. Especially an internet user who belongs to a younger demographic. These people are probably accessing your content as they sit at the bus stop or while they’re waiting on their drinks to be delivered– that is why our search engines rank websites optimized for mobile viewing higher than websites that only have desktop view.
That’s all we have for What is SEO 101. Be sure to check back for more SEO survival guides.
Remember: never spam or pirate content! These things will penalize your site and undo all of your hard SEO work.