The Quick and Dirty SEO Guide for Non-Marketers
In the past, we’ve talked about how SEO-optimized marketing blogs can help drive visitors to your website, but to many people just getting started in the wonderful world of entrepreneurship, there are some very basic questions that still need to be answered. You know, like what is SEO, and what can you do to make sure you’re getting the most out of your website?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is just a fancy way of describing the strategies and techniques used to increase visitor traffic to a website via a search engine. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo all use algorithms which analyze the contents of webpages and turn those data into search results. SEO optimized pages contain all the information these algorithms need in order to not only match the page to the correct result, but to rank higher than other pages. Having a high ranking will put your website on the first page of results, while lower rankings get shuffled to the back.
Immediately, you can see why having a high ranking page is important; most searchers rarely go past the first page when they’re looking for results, especially when their search is related to finding a certain sort of business. In order for your company’s webpage to be discovered, it has to show that it’s the most relevant to the search. So what is that you need to get your page to the top of the list?
With statistics like this, you can’t afford to leave SEO out of your online marketing strategy. Infographic courtesy of wsibrawnmedia.com
According to SearchEngineLand.com, there are 5 things that are important to consider for SEO:
- Content – Search engines check the entire contents of a webpage, and take note of which words show up. Webpages that include words and phrases that are relevant to searches are served up in the results.
- Title – All webpages have a title associated with them, whether it’s a public title that shows up on the page itself, or hidden title that’s written directly into the code. Because page titles often summarize the contents of the page, much like a book title, search engines place higher priority on pages with titles containing keywords than ones that do not.
- Links – Webpages with a lot of links directing to them look good to search engines! Each link to that page is like an endorsement, reinforcing the page’s relevance and making it more likely to rank.
- The words in links – Search engines also notice what words are being used in the links directing to a webpage. Using keywords in links that point to another page will help the search engine associate that word with that page.
- Reputation – Webpages that consistently update with fresh, quality content and are linked to by other, reputable websites are often considered better by search engines than webpages that remain stagnant.
The greatest challenge is figuring out which keywords are both relevant to your page and will get search hits strong enough to generate clickthroughs (which is, like the name suggests, when someone clicks the link on the search engine page to get through to your website).
The best keywords are usually ones with high search returns and low competition. While figuring out which keywords are right for your page is often a matter of trial and error, Google’s Keyword Planner is a great tool for finding keywords that fall into this sweet spot. Of course, it does require an AdWords account to use it, but you don’t have to pay for any ads.
Weekly check ups are also important for finding keywords that work for you. Even if a keyword looks good in the Keyword Planner, there is a chance that it’s just not effective in practice. Using analytic tools like Google Analytics makes tracking the success of keywords easy and can give good insights into what is and is not working for your website.
Don’t know what keywords to use? The Google Keyword Planner can help you pick the ones that are right for your website.
Having a diverse range of keywords all related to your page will increase your chances of at least one of them ranking greatly. After all, not all keywords are heavily fought over, so it is possible to rank on some keywords, sometimes even ones you wouldn’t expect!
Unfortunately, just having keywords seeded throughout your website isn’t quite enough. You see, there are hundreds of thousands of websites out there, all competing for those upper ranks in the keyword, and having good SEO alone isn’t going to be enough to get you that coveted top spot. A lot of the websites already occupying the top ranks of a keyword have been sitting there for some time, and often spend a hefty sum of money on marketing campaigns as well.
Getting the keywords you want can become a balancing act between time/money investment and return on investment. And just like how figuring out which keywords are going to deliver the biggest amounts of click throughs, finding where that balance lies is often about trial and error.
SEO is a very important business tool for companies with an online presence. Learning how to get the most out of it isn’t easy, but once you find the sweet spot, the clicks are sure to start rolling in. Just make sure that you don’t spend so much time searching for the perfect keyword that you forget to maintain your website.