What is This “SEO” You Keep Hearing About?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about increasing your visibility. More specifically your visibility in organic search engine results, not paid search results. You can do this in a number of ways by incorporating both creative and technical elements.
Why should you care about SEO? Well SEO is critical if you are interested in boosting traffic, improving ratings and increasing awareness. Not only does SEO help make your site more searchable, but it also makes your site more navigable for people by teaching one to empathize with their customers.
Your Website Needs SEO.
Search engines, like Google and Bing, are the primary method of navigation for the majority of web traffic. Unlike other forms of traffic generation, such as social media sites, search engines provide targeted traffic. Search engines search for relatable content around the web that potential customers are looking for. If your site is not optimized for search results, then you are missing out on valuable opportunities to reach clients.
Search queries – words users type in the search engine – are extremely valuable. Studies have shown that search engine traffic can make or break an organizations success. Targeted traffic can provide publicity, revenue, and exposure like no other channel of marketing. Investing in SEO can have an exceptional rate of return compared to other types of marketing and promotion.
Before I help you optimize your site for search engines, one must understand how search engines work.
How Do Search Engines Work?
Search engines perform 3 tasks:
- Crawling – Search engines “crawl” through site after site via links.
- Indexing – Sites are then indexed and stored for a later use.
- Provide a ranked list – After scouring document after document, the search engine returns only relevant results. It then ranks the sites based off of popularity.
So how do search engines determine what is relevant and why do they care about the popularity of a site?
Well relevance means more than finding the right words used on a page. Search engines determine relevancy through complicated algorithms that sort and rank data. When it comes to popularity, search engines just automatically assume that sites that are more popular contain more valuable credible information.
What Does Google Suggest You Do To Improve Your Rankings?
- Make your pages for the user, not search engines. Make sure your content matches with what users search for.
- Make a site with a clear hierarchy. One static text link should be available on every page.
- Make your site rich with useful information that clearly describes your content.
- All elements such as your title and ALT attributes need to be descriptive, yet accurate.
- Use keywords to create descriptive, human-friendly URL’s.
What Does Bing Recommend You Do to Help Your SEO?
- Again, ensure you have a clean, keyword rich URL
- Make sure to avoid putting text inside images that you want to be indexed. For example, do not exclusively put your name and contact information on a cute logo. Search engines will not be able to find you!
Now, one of the most important elements to building an online marketing strategy catered to SEO is to have empathy for your audience. Grasp what your target market is looking for (look at your buyer personas), then you can easily improve the fluidity of your site.
There Are 3 Types of Search Queries People Generally Make:
- Transactional Queries: These are used when someone specifically wants to do something. Such as buy a ticket to a concert, or listen to a particular song.
- Informational Queries: These are used when someone wants to know information about something, like the best new restaurant in Bellingham.
- Navigation Queries: These queiries are used when someone wants to go to a particular place on the internet, like Facebook
Is Search Growing?
What do you think? YES. Search is extremely popular, growing strong at nearly 20% a year. Search reaches nearly every online American, and billions of others around the world. It’s important to know that higher rankings in the first few results are critical to visibility.
75% of web traffic originates from search engines
SEO is an extremely valuable tool, but it comes with a price. SEO can be very complicated, but it is great if you know the basics.
What Should You Avoid?
Search bots are smart, but they need your help. Here are some good tips to consider when designing your site:
- Search engines are not good at completing online forms (login pages), and all content behind them may be hidden. Create a landing page instead!
- Poor link structures that are difficult to understand may not reach the search bots. Crawling may be minimal on these sites, that is why effective link building is such an emphasized aspect of SEO.
- Rich media, such as videos and images, is also difficult for bots to read. Any text placed in photos, images, logos, flash files, audio, and plug-on context will be completely disregarded. Instead, make your rich media richer by adding supplementary text for each piece.
- Again, this is common sense, but make sure your content matches what people search for. Do not write about “food cooling units”, they are more commonly known as refrigerators.
Are You Interested In Learning More About SEO?
Head to this link. Moz will teach you everything you could possibly want to know about SEO through their Beginners Guide to SEO. The depth of education you wish to receive is all up to you.
Now I would like to take a look at a large component of SEO which is link building. I found this company called Moz to have an extremely helpful guide to link building. Throughout my research I found that Moz is all about the top of the sales funnel. They help tell you how your site is doing with respect to SEO and what particular parts of your site needs improvement.
Knowledge and know-how of link building is essential to thriving in the online world.
So, What is Link Building?
Link Building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites in to your own website. Links are important because they help search engines navigate between pages on the internet, a process known as “crawling”.
Search engines read links to discover new pages, as well as help determine how well a page should rank in their results. When determining a pages rank, content is not the only factor that Google tends to look for. Search engines also look at the number of links pointing to that page from external websites and the quality of external associated sites. In general, the more high-quality websites that link to your site, the more likely you are to rank well organically.
Think of links as an earned vote of confidence about a page.
What Goes Into A Link?
Now lets understand a little bit about what goes in to a link. Here we have the structure of a link and the respective components of a hyperlink:
- First we have the anchor tag “<a”. This tells search engines that a link to something else will follow.
- Next we have the link referral location. The “href” stands for “hyperlink referral”. The text inside the quotes is pointing to the URL the link is directing to.
- In the blue we have the visible/anchor text of link. This text is made visible to users on the page. Usually it is formatted with an underline and blue ink.
- This is the closure indicator, “</a>”. In other words, the period, “.” to the link.
Why Should You Be Concerned With Building Links Into My Site?
Building links helps build respectable relationships with bloggers and relevant sites within your industry. By incorporating links of others into your site, others will recognize you and your efforts, and in turn may do the same. Think of links as a referral. You scratch my back, I’ll send them to your link. Building links also makes you more credible, which in turn can increase your rank. Overall, good link building helps build your brand. It makes you an authority in your niche. Most importantly, make sure you are linking to sites that others find valuable. There’s nothing worse than clicking on a crummy link that has sub-par information. Have standards and build links strategically.
That’s all for now! Remember, if you’re looking for more in depth information than what I have provided with you today. Check out Moz! They can help you answer all of your questions. While researching, I also encountered a company based out of Seattle that provides Search Engine Optimization services. If you are interested in all or any of the services that they offer, check them out here!