What is SEO (and why does it matter?)
SEO is a term which is thrown around so often that you may feel a little embarrassed to admit that you’re not quite sure what it means.
You probably know that it has something to do with keywords, title tags, meta, great content, social sharing, alt tags, backlinking, site rank and title tags, but it can be hard to know where to focus your energy and what can be skipped.
If you have no idea how to use SEO, or even if you have a basic idea but are unsure how to implement SEO techniques, here’s a brief rundown so you can understand just what this weird SEO thing is, and how you can use it to draw more visitors and potential customers to your website.
What is SEO?
SEO means search engine optimization, and it’s the process of improving the visibility of your website for people who are using search engines (websites like Google, Yahoo and Bing) to find information.
While social media is a great way to drive traffic to your site, most people use search engines and simply type in their query. The key to understanding SEO is to think about how you usually search online. The keywords you use lead you to certain pages, and those results are listed in the order that Google deems the most important.
There are three main types of search queries:
Informational This includes searches containing the words where, how, when, what, who, review, news, time, weather, phone, etc. Some examples could be “When does the sun set in Christchurch?”, “Best freelance writer in Australia” “Where is the best diving in Mexico?” “What is SEO?” or anything else that is specifically asking for information.
Transactional These queries are for people who want to do something like listen to a song, buy a flight etc. The search will include words like: purchase, buy, shop, cheap, order, coupon, pricing etc.
Location These can be looking for a specific place on the internet like Facebook or the homepage of a website, or could be searching for an actual destination and may contain words like: directions, how far away from, train station, highway, flights, maps, near, how fast, airport, driving directions, toll etc.
Here are some ways you can implement SEO on your website:
Write for Readers
It’s important that you’re writing your content for visitors to your site, and not simply to please the search engines. There’s enough crap on the internet without adding to it, and if visitors aren’t impressed by the content on your site they’ll simply click back to their search results-increasing your bounce rate and decreasing conversions.
Think about problems you can solve for your visitors. Give them interesting, helpful content and you’ll gain their loyalty. Even if they don’t purchase your product or sign up to your service right at that moment, they’ll think of you when they need what you’re selling in the future.
Make sure your site is Crawlable
It sounds kind of gross, but when it comes to SEO, your site needs to be crawlable. Search engines need to be able to browse both your website and all of its pathways so they can find all the pages on your site. This means linking content within your site so that Google can “follow the yellow brick road” and lead potential customers to your door.
Use the Right Keywords
We’ll be going into keywords later on in another post, but for now you should know that they’re vitally important when it comes to SEO. Instead of just choosing your keywords willy-nilly, you need to do some research and check out how popular your keywords are, and how much competition you have.
If you want your site to rank well for a particular keyword you’ll need to ensure you use it in all the right places without “keyword stuffing”. Keyword stuffing is when people try to manipulate Google and “stuff” keywords into URLs meta tags, text, and links. However, this sends up red flags and is more likely to get you penalized by the search engines. Remember that using keywords is about drawing your target audience to your site by using words they’ll be searching for, and not just trying to rank well for random keywords.
Optimize your Pages
On-Page Optimization is about using effective keyword techniques and using your keywords in the right place (while still avoiding keyword stuffing). This means using your keyword in your title tag, close to the top of the page, and at least two or three times (including different variations) throughout the rest of the copy on your page. It’s also important to have the keyword in the URL and in the meta description tag (the little blurb under the search result in Google which tells potential visitors what the page is about).
Optimize your Images
Images make your site more pleasing to the eye, and break up your text, making life easier for your readers. Your images should also obviously be connected to the topic you’re writing about so they don’t distract from what you’re saying.
The first thing you’ll need to change is the file name. Search engines can’t actually see what your image is about, so now’s your chance to change the file from 36223.jpg to beach-in-mexico.jpg (can you tell I recently got back from a trip to Cancun?) so that Google can know what the subject of your photo is.
The alt text is for when visitors can’t see your image for some reason (they may have turned them off or be visually impaired and using a screen reader). This ensures that they’re not losing any information since you’re telling them what the image is about. Make sure that the alt text includes your keyword and also describes the image.
The title text isn’t helpful for SEO, but can add extra information about the image such as the mood or context.
Create Fresh Content
By regularly creating new content on your website you’re showing Google that it needs to continue crawling your site. This is why it’s so important for your business to have a blog, as you can introduce new topics and keywords which also help improve your site rank.
While this is by no means a comprehensive guide to SEO, hopefully it has given you a greater understanding of what SEO is and how SEO can help your business. Remember: The top three results in Google get all of the clicks. Close to 70% of searchers will click on the first result, while page two and three only get around 6% of clicks after that. On the first page of results, anything listed in numbers 6-10 accounts for less than 4% of the total clicks. This is why SEO is so important.
Do you need some help with your on-page SEO? Do you want SEO friendly articles and blog posts written by a pro? You’ve come to the right page. Get in touch today and let’s chat.