When we talk about SEO, we’re referring to ‘search engine optimization’. In its most basic form, SEO refers to how well your website is structured and how easy it is for a search engine like Google to find, crawl and catalogue the content on your website.
Today, SEO has expanded to include not only the basic structure of your site but your search ranking, content and keywords, on-site images, website user engagement, backlinks and more.
Let’s dive a little deeper.
What is SEO?
Your site’s SEO is determined by how well your website allows search engines to find the information on your site and catalogue it. When a user performs a search, your site’s ranking within the organic (non-paid) search results is determined by a combined score of various attributes.
How do search engines rank sites?
When your website is “published” on the World Wide Web, search engines are able to find your site using bots that “crawl” the internet looking for new or updated content. Search engines process the information they find and store it in an ‘index’ – a ginormous database of content that they have deemed reputable and worthy of consideration ranked based on a combined score of various attributes.
Google, for example, has over 200 variables that it uses to score a website’s “SEO” to determine its potential ranking. These variables are proprietary and change often, so it’s nearly impossible to know with absolute certainty where you’re going to rank and for how long.
We rely on search engines like Google to find answers to anything and everything, even if we probably shouldn’t (we’re looking at you, WebMD). As soon as we (the user) clicks ‘enter’ on a search, engines such as Google organizes the information from within its ‘index’ and displays the content it thinks the user will find the most relevant and helpful near the top of the results. When used correctly, SEO will help you rank near the top of the first page.
What’s Important for your website’s SEO?
As you can imagine, with there being over 200 variables that Google (and most other search engines) use to rank your website, and with these variables and ranking priorities constantly changing, it’s pretty challenging to keep up.
But never fear, here are 10 basic SEO rules to live by to optimize your search result ranking:
- Understanding your audience. Knowing what your customers are typing in Google, the frequently asked questions, and how they are currently engaging on your website can lend a hand in understanding where to make adjustments going forward.
- Create compelling content. Using the knowledge gleaned from understanding your audience, create content that effectively answers their questions and use every opportunity to invite website visitors to engage with more content. This can be done quite easily with a regular blogging schedule. Be sure to keep paragraphs short and the content easy to skim with headers and subheaders.
- Use relevant keywords. Creating relevant content is essential for your SEO and will ensure that you’re adding relevant keywords to your site. Keywords are essentially what your prospective website visitors are typing into search engines. Having a great understanding of your audience, along with creating compelling content, will keep you ranking high in search results.
- Structure your content. When planning your content, make sure to structure it in short paragraphs with headers and subheadings. When uploading the content, make sure to use H1, H2, and H3 tags (as appropriate), wherever you have a headline or subheading text. While you’re at it, be sure to include relevant keywords within these headlines (and the URL) whenever possible.
- Use alt-tags on images. Ensuring that every image has alternative text (alt tags) that describes the image and uses relevant keywords is essential. Unless the alt-text is provided, search engines can’t “read” images. Alt-text also makes your website more user-friendly for accessibility users.
- Use Snippet & Schema. Snippet and schema markups are a technical SEO framework that using structured data and coding can help your content rank in organic results. Performing snippets and schema markups can certainly improve search engine ranking but can be costly and time-consuming to implement.
- Backlinks. Backlinks are considered to be any authoritative website that links back to your website. Ten years ago, examples of these would have been online company directories. Today, however, it’s often a news article, press release or other unique content that contains impactful and relevant information and links to your site. Consider reaching out to local papers or industry publications for opportunities to be featured.
- User engagement & UX design. How a user engages with your site will directly affect your SEO and search ranking. The longer a website visitor stays on your site and clicks different pages, the more search engines will see the content as relevant and useful for users.
- Mobile optimization. Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly and responsive is one of the leading factors for search engine optimization. 2021, nearly 60% of all online searches are conducted on a mobile device, and this number is only expected to grow. It’s therefore essential to ensure that your site’s text size, buttons and images dynamically respond to support various screen sizes and mobile devices without losing UX capabilities.
- Social media & email newsletters. Although many industry leaders do not consider social media and email marketing as part of an SEO strategy, it can help to increase your SEO and search ranking by increasing brand awareness, website traffic and engagement on your site.
It might surprise you to know that this blog is just the tip of the SEO iceberg! Chat with our team of digital marketing experts at Sims Advertising today. We can help skyrocket your website traffic and boost your online presence.