In today’s digital world, websites are the cornerstone of most businesses.
Websites are an online platform to sell your products. They share information about your business. And they form an extension of your brick and mortar location—an extension available 24/7.
Simply put, websites are a crucial aspect of your business. And generating traffic to your website can skyrocket your sales.
You want people to reach you through your website and buy from you, whatever service or product you are selling. Your website is meant to generate sales. The more people visit your website, the higher your revenue and profits.
This is where SEO comes in: if your site is optimized for search engines, more people will visit your website and will be interested in buying from you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) involves the various techniques you can use on your website to organically—i.e. without paying for Ads—attract quality visitors who are genuinely interested in your business.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of optimizing a website so that search engines will display it first on their search engine results page (SERP).
SEO techniques enhance your website to get more organic results. This is unpaid traffic, generated from search engines for keywords relevant to your business.
Why are search engines important?
Whether it’s Google, Bing, or Yahoo, 70.6% of all Internet traffic originates from a search engine. People turn to search engines whenever they want to buy something, book an appointment, search for a particular recipe, or listen to music.
Search engines use special programs called spiders or crawlers to index websites. This is a never-ending process covering billions of pages, as indexes need to be constantly updated. Search engines check dozens of things on a website, from its content—including text, images, and videos—to backlinks, site speed, how mobile-friendly they are, and much more.
Crucially, search engines also take into account your location and customize their results based on that. If you sell ice cream in San Diego, you want to attract local people who are actively searching for ice cream. Showing up on the first page when someone in San Diego searches for ice cream is what you are aiming for.
SEO can make that happen.
Why is SEO important?
The first five results on any Google SERP get 67% of all clicks.
Few people will go on to the third or fourth page. If your website is lagging on a page after that, you will most likely have a hard time getting new customers to visit your site because you will be invisible to them. This means your business will have fewer sales and less revenue.
Therefore, showing up high up on the first page of Google for relevant keywords is what businesses want to achieve. SEO can help them reach that goal.
What does SEO involve?
SEO encompasses all the techniques used by programmers and web developers to make your site more visible and easily accessible by search engines.
Search engines rank your website based on dozens of criteria. Anything can improve this ranking, from quality content that is fresh and regularly updated to photos, videos, podcasts, and every other means of digital communication of your brand. Backlinks, social signals, and truthful and meaningful interactions with fans also play a big part. That is why it can be hard to identify the factors keeping your website from showing up at the top of a SERP.
To determine that, SEO also involves specialized audits that will thoroughly check your website. The goal is to remove any roadblocks you may have put up inadvertently that discourage search engines from ranking you higher. These include things like not being mobile-friendly, hosting on a slow server, poor formatting, empty or misleading meta tags, etc.
On-page SEO refers to the optimization of content and programming of a website to deliver the best possible results. It includes everything that has to do with the actual website.
On-page SEO includes all the things that your web developer and content manager can do to improve your ranking.
Content is one of on-page SEO’s cornerstones. You may have heard that “content is king” and it’s true. Search engines ‘read’ website content and evaluate it according to particular criteria.
But what kind of content should you include to ensure your website’s high ranking?
There is a certain irony about SEO. It hinges on quality content; especially text written with SEO in mind, as it will contain the necessary keywords and be optimized for search engines.
At the same time, there’s no surer way to lose traffic than to write for search engines instead of people. That’s because search engines track visitors and measure how long they spend on your website (the so-called bounce rate). If everyone leaves after a few seconds, search engines lower your ranking and remove you from their SERP.
Your website should contain useful and relevant content. This means engaging, informative content that followers and visitors find helpful and interesting.
Also, content is more than just text: it can be blog posts, social media content, videos, podcasts, how-to guides, infographics, e-books, and many others. All these are kinds of digital information that different users will look at.
Videos can be particularly helpful with SEO, as they increase the amount of time spent on your website; a crucial metric for search engines. The same is true of other rich media such as infographics.
The thing to remember is that content is not about simply promoting your business. It’s about helping people learn more about your industry. It’s information about new technologies in your business. It’s about how your business relates to other businesses, industries, countries, and people.
Bombarding people about how incredible your products are is the fastest way to put people off your brand.
Fresh and updated content
Google and other search engines appreciate fresh and new content because it implies that you are dedicated to your business and your clientele.
So, information and content on your website should be updated regularly. Mentioning a trend that went out of fashion years ago means you are not a trustworthy or dependable business as you appear to have fallen behind. Your competitors will be way ahead.
Even worse, people are constantly informed and updated. They will spot outdated information and leave your website, thus increasing your bounce rate.
Authority and trust
Search engines respect and value serious and trustworthy content because it grants authority to your website.
Being an authority in your field means that people trust your opinion. If people trust your opinion, then search engines will do so too and place your website higher.
The thing to remember is that search engines make their money by delivering the most appropriate results to keyword searches. They want to always give users what they are looking for.
Delivering results that are not what users want will discredit a search engine. Therefore, search engines always strive to deliver results that are relevant, correct, pertinent, and helpful. If your website responds to these criteria, then search engines will boost it by raising its ranking.
Title tags with keywords
Search engines read the titles on your website first. They will initially assess title tags for appropriate keywords to determine what your business is all about. The more keyword-rich your title tags are, the higher the search engines will rank your page for those keywords.
Meta descriptions are the short descriptions that show up under a search. They describe your business in a few lines. Search engines and users read these to check whether the result is relevant to their keyword.
By writing up enticing, keyword-rich descriptions, you both encourage people to visit your website and help search engines index you for the right keywords.
Headings and subheadings
Just like titles, headings and subheadings stand out from the rest of the text. Including keywords that describe your business and line of work in your headings will improve your chances of showing up at the top of a results page.
Internal links between pages
Linking between pages on your website is also valued by search engines. For instance, linking between products or linking particular words to internal pages (hyperlinks) is a valuable way of enhancing your SEO.
Good website design
There is nothing better than a well-designed website to improve your ranking.
Easy-to-navigate pages with quality content always attract people. Users and visitors visiting your page want to find the information they are looking for fast or they’ll leave, thus contributing to your bounce rate and lowering your ranking with search engines.
Off-page SEO refers to all the tips and improvements a website owner can do to improve the ranking of their site, apart from the actual website.
Links and backlinks
Google and other search engines like it when a website is perceived as an authority in its field. One sure sign of this is backlinks—links to your website found on other websites (also called inbound links).
One way to ensure this happens is to develop and encourage relationships with influencers, fans, organizations, and businesses related to yours. Once these external entities start linking to your website, search engines will improve your website’s ranking.
Another way to generate backlinks is to interact with comments on your page, thus boosting your social presence and the so-called social signals.
A website is rarely alone. It usually serves as part of a whole ecosystem that includes social media. Your website’s collective shares, likes, and overall social media visibility are referred to as social signals.
Having people, fans, and followers respond to your content and liking it demonstrates to search engines that your business is appreciated by the public.
A carefully crafted social media presence can attract followers who will like back your content and show their approval of your business. Search engines value these interactions as they’re almost impossible to fake.
Why are keywords important?
Keywords are the cornerstone of SEO because they are the words potential customers and clients use to find you.
Finding your audience
Before you consider SEO, you need to research the appropriate, relevant, and suitable keywords for your business.
In order to do this, you need first to establish who your audience is and which keywords they’ll use to find your products. This requires not just imagination but also awareness of your products and services, as well as your audience and clientele.
Google Keyword Planner
A helpful tool in finding keywords relevant to your business is Google Keyword Planner—a free online tool that gives you keyword ideas. Once you have found the right keywords, you can then include them in your titles, title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and content.
Think outside the box
We are often asked to think outside the box. This is valuable in SEO as well.
Apart from finding the right keywords for your business, you need to consider words and phrases linked to your products and services. For instance, an architectural office will probably need keywords such as ‘architecture’, ‘building’, ‘design,’ or ‘construction.’
But other keywords or phrases, such as ‘building cost’, ‘environment,’ or ‘garden’ are equally valuable in our example. These are words that are loosely related to the initial concept but can still be used to attract visitors looking for something linked to your business.
Mobile-friendly and mobile-first
Over 50% of Internet searches are conducted on phones.
Google’s algorithm has started to prioritize mobile versions of websites in its searches. In fact, Google has moved from a mobile-friendly approach to a mobile-first one.
Your website should, at least, have a mobile-friendly version to score highly in search results. Even better, your website should be primarily geared towards mobile searches: Google will appreciate that, and users will visit it no matter where they are.
SEO is a must for every website
SEO can place your business ahead of your competition.
If two websites are selling the same service or item, the search-engine-optimized website is more likely to have more customers and make more sales. This is especially apparent in the case of e-commerce websites, as their sales are completely dependent on website traffic and conversion rates. SEO can mean the difference between a successful online venture and an unsuccessful one.
That is why it’s important that you plan ahead and keep optimizing your website. SEO is an ongoing, never-ending effort for those who wish their website to be first.