Sometimes it only takes three little letters to scare the heck out of you. Mention the IRS and people feel faint. The FBI is outside your door? Yeah, that’s never good news. And when you’re talking about websites, SEO is often viewed as the big bad wolf.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is one of the most misunderstood, yet most important digital marketing topics out there. There’s a misconception that harnessing the power of SEO is quick and easy. Not true! SEO is a process that takes time to yield results. It can take months to see results.
What is SEO?
So let’s break it down. SEO is an organized process to improve your organic (or non-paid) ranking in an online search. SEO is sometimes referred to as organic search, free search or natural search. Whatever you call it, it’s all about where your website falls in the list of search results when someone searches for your product or service.
That premium position near the top of the search has many benefits. When your page ranking increases, you improve your discoverability — in other words, people can find you. Being found results in increased traffic to your website and increased brand awareness. Alternatively, when people can’t find you, you miss out on all that traffic, potential leads and sales.
How do the search engines find you in the first place?
Your page rank listing is based on how relevant your brand/company is to what the user is searching for. Search engines like Google and Yahoo “crawl” or review websites to display the information that matches the user search. The better the match, the higher the page ranking. The key to improving search engine ranking is to ensure your site has all the elements the search engines are looking for.
How to improve your search engine ranking
Here are a few helpful guidelines:
Ensure your site can be viewed across any and all devices: phones, tablets and laptops. Your site should be optimized, responsive and user-friendly. Site speed and load time can also impact the SEO process. So, make sure your site loads quickly and runs smoothly.
Your site should start with https, especially if you require sensitive information or have e-commerce functions.
Write content that people find useful. Useful content gets shared, spreading your content across Twitter, blogs and other social media. Quality is more important than quantity of content. Make sure your content includes keywords or phrases that reflect what you do and how users search for you.
Search engines crawl your images within your website. Make sure all of your images have “alt text” and image files are named appropriately. For example, “red convertible car” is better than “image_13.”
Include unique meta-titles and descriptions for each page on your site. Think about meta-titles as chapters of a book — they summarize the contents of each page. For instance, “pizza delivery area” is better than “page3b.” Make sure your URL structure is user friendly too. For example, “/blog/tips-for-SEO” vs. “/blog/article54.”
Include inbound and outbound links on your site. When one page links to another, it usually indicates to the search engines that this site has valuable information. Be careful though, only send people to trustworthy sites and make sure anyone linking to you is also reliable.
Don’t be afraid of SEO
These are just a few guidelines when thinking of SEO. Yes, SEO is a cumbersome and lengthy process, but it’s extremely important and should be a core part of your marketing strategy. If you’re looking for immediate results, consider a paid search marketing campaign, but don’t discount SEO and its powerful impact.
Nicole Wetwiski, Director of Digital Marketing