Search engine optimization (SEO) is a vital marketing tool to increase traffic to your website. For some businesses it can be the lifeblood that constantly brings in new customers. However, SEO can be challenging to understand as a beginner because there are a bunch of technical words and principles to master.
The potential upside of SEO means it’s worth the hassle to invest. A by-product of excellent SEO leads to a great user interface and intuitive website structure your audience will appreciate. It’s likely that your competition is already utilizing SEO to their advantage so don’t get left behind.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of increasing your search engine result page (SERPs) rankings so that you get a large share of the traffic. The majority of traffic is dispersed among the first page entries, and most traffic going to the top 3. Therefore, you need to rank for as many top 3 positions for search terms that are related to your products.
The start of any SEO campaign is solid keyword research, which allows you to determine the search phrases you should be targeting. You need to consider the type of keywords users might use to find your products and buy.
Therefore, search intent is very important as it identifies the buying keywords. In total there are 4 types of search queries, which include navigational, informational, commercial and transactional. There is no point in wasting time on keyword types that don’t lead to the outcome you’re after.
You can use keyword tools such as the Google Keyword Planner to figure out the most searched for keywords in your industry or niche. You can find out information such as the number of searches per month and the level of competition. Check a couple of keyword tools out for the features they provide. Some might other unique features such as the ability to figure out the keywords your competition is targeting.
Once you have a list of keywords it’s a good idea to narrow them down. SEO takes time and resources, so you need to pick your battles wisely. The best keywords will have low competition, but a high amount of traffic – it’s a compromise in reality. Choose the keywords that you have the best chance of ranking for.
Best website practices
SEO can be broken down into two forms: on-page and off-page. The former is about what you can do on your own website and here are the best practices:
- Content: Google looks at your content for relevancy to the keyword so you must pick your words carefully. However, don’t spam keywords within your content as that will do more harm than good. Content needs to be written for humans so they engage with your website. Google monitors engagement so that will ultimately improve your SEO ranking.
- Meta tags: these are tags that search robots read to get an idea of what the webpage is about. They are also commonly used as the content that’s displayed in the SERPs. Therefore, your keywords need to be in there and they must be descriptive.
- User interface: Google monitors metrics such as time spent on page and the bounce rate. Various factors play a role in determining the metrics behind these factors, but your user-interface is one of the primary ones. Therefore, you need to create a clean user-interface that doesn’t turn people away.
- Website speed: your website should be optimized to provide fast loading speeds. This means decreasing the file size of images and cleaning up your coding. Do a few tests to figure out the page loading speeds of each webpage.
Creating backlinks that point back to your website is the main off-page activity you’ll be doing. However, creating backlinks within your website is also important – more on this later. The on-page tips above are simple since you have control over your website. Generating backlinks is trickier because they need to appear on other websites over which you have no direct control.
Here are a few backlink considerations to make:
- Anchor text: this is the text that makes up the backlink. Ideally it should be one of the keywords you have identified during the keyword research phase. Keyword diversity is important since that appears more natural to Google. Therefore, when generating backlinks choose a bunch of keywords within your niche.
- Backlink location: the webpage the backlink is located at plays a role in the strength of the link. The best links are those on authority websites that are related to your industry. Google was built upon the foundation that backlinks act like a vote, but not all votes are created equally. One highly relevant link can be equal to a 100 that are from less popular non-relevant websites.
- Link velocity: when starting a link building campaign you cannot go too fast as that might be counterproductive. The link building process needs to be natural, which means a steady increase in links is the right approach.
- Internal backlinks: don’t forget to create keyword rich hyperlinks within your website since that also improves your SERP rankings. It helps users navigate around your website more efficiently, which means they will read more pages per visit.
The proven strategies outlined above are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more that you can do to increase SERP rankings. However, it’s a good starting point that will propel your website in the right direction.
Don’t forget to track your work and results to see what’s working and what isn’t. Over time you’ll figure out where you should be focusing your efforts to achieve the best results for your budget.
SEO is a long-term game that can take months, and even a year to show results. Therefore, you need to be patient during the process to not give up. Once you get the rankings you’re seeking the traffic payoff could potentially be huge. So get started today to reap the results of your efforts tomorrow.