What to Know About SEO!
By Lorie Rosenberg
Most people have heard of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but few understand how valuable it is to the success of their websites. While some understand its importance, they have absolutely no idea if their websites are properly optimized to ensure that the right people can find what they have to offer.
So Why SEO?
You may have the most attractive website with amazing graphics, photos, and content, but if no one knows that you exist, then it really doesn’t matter much. That is the essence of SEO. When configured properly, SEO is the way in which a website notifies the search engines what the site is all about. It helps direct traffic (viewers) to the site based on specific search parameters, and it can improve the ranking of the website on the search results pages.
Sure, you can drive traffic to your site using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a host of other social media sites, but the primary source of traffic comes from the search engines. These are the search queries that people make when they’re looking for information, a specific product, or a type of service they need.
When your site has been configured properly, the search engines can match your site to the specific inquiry and, based on a variety of criteria, determine how to rank it in the organic searches. Just remember that targeted traffic means you’re getting increased exposure from the right people who are interested in your product or service and have a greater probability to deliver results.
Optimize Your Website Speed
Another important component that rates your site higher with the search engines is website speed - the time it takes to load your site. If your site takes longer than 2 seconds to load, your viewers will become frustrated and probably stop the search and go to another site. This can negatively impact your ranking as the search engines note when people leave a site quickly after clicking on a link and will penalize your site. This could result in your site migrating down in the search results.
What the search engines are looking for is when a viewer lands on your site and stays to read everything you have to say or do some type of transaction on your site. Currently, the ultimate goal from Google is for your site to load in about half a second. You can use the Google Pagespeed Tool to help you test for speed issues on your site. It offers suggestions on how to improve your results. You can also use GTMetrix to analyze the speed of your website and determine what you need to do to improve your results.
Enhance the User Experience
To enhance the user experience, your website should be easy to use and navigate and offer high-quality credible information that relates to the search criteria and satisfies the viewer’s needs. The search engines monitor these types of interactions through social sharing, bookmarking, return visits to the site and inbound links. All of this contributes to higher rankings with the search engines, enhanced user experience, and increased usability.
When developing your site, it’s good to think about how visitors will interact with it. Are they doing some type of transaction where they sign up for a subscription, set up a dinner reservation, create a Gmail account, or buy tickets for an event? Are they navigating to a pre-determined destination or a specific URL to find out information about your product or service? Or are they searching for information on how to do something or to find answers to specific questions?
When determining your content, it’s important to decide what type of viewer interaction you want because that will determine what you need to include on your site to satisfy those specific intentions.
How to Improve Your Ranking
There are several ways to improve your ranking in the organic searches. User experience is one of the most important considerations by the search engines. Therefore, you want to enhance the user experience so that visitors stay longer on your site and ultimately fulfill the goal you have for them. That means you need to pay special attention to the quality of your site’s content, the organization of your content and its usability, and the links that come to your site from other similar websites.
*Here are some noteworthy statistics that you will want to consider:
- Around 75 percent of people search on Google
- About 58.9 percent access the internet on a mobile device
- About 75 percent of people never scroll past the first page of the search results
- About 80 percent of people ignore Google Ads
- About 71 percent of all buyers come from generic unbranded searches
Click here for additional statistics about the internet.
That’s why it’s so important to understand how the search engines operate to ensure your website is configured so that the right people can find you.
Keyword Research to Maximize Your Search Results
Researching the most effective keywords for your target audience ensures that you get the right people visiting your site and that more of them will find you for their particular need. To do that, the search engines need to position your site in one of the top ten positions in the search results or you’re probably not going to get viewed.
You need the right keywords, you need to use them properly on your website and you need to understand the level of competition you have within your industry. That’s because different keywords can have different values depending on the number of people searching them, and you need to take this into consideration when choosing your keywords.
So How Do You Begin Your Keyword Search?
You first need to consider the words people would type into a Google search bar in order to find you. Think about your product or service. What is it that exactly describes what you do or how you do it? What words come to mind when your prospects consider your product or service?
For example, suppose you manage a vacation rental in Tuscany, Italy, and want to get prospects to your website. What keywords would you use? Here are some options: Vacation Rental in Tuscany, Destination Wedding in Tuscany, Vacation Home Rental in Tuscany, Villa in Tuscany, and Vacation Home Rental Agency in Tuscany. These are some keywords that have been shown to pull better when searching for Tuscany vacation rentals.
One way to find keywords is to start by entering some keywords into the Google search bar and before you hit enter, see what Google suggests as other options. These suggestions will be some of their most popular searches on that topic.
Another method is to log into your Google Search Console account. Click on Search Analytics. Sort by position, and then see where your keywords rank. Look at the ones in position 15 and beyond and then work to get those keywords up on the first page. Also, you can use SEMRUSH to see the results for your competitor’s keywords and how they are pulling. You'll also find their backlinks and other pertinent information on your competitors.
Keyword search is not an absolute science. And to help you with this task, you can find many keyword research tools that will help you enhance your keyword search and determine the best possible keywords to use on your site. They include:
- Moz Keyword Explorer
- Ubersuggest’s Free KeywordTool
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool
- Google Trends
Using Keywords on Your Web Pages
Your target keywords may be fairly popular ones. However, their effectiveness depends on the amount of competition you have and where your competition ranks in the search results. Once you have determined your keywords, you will want to use them throughout your site.
Include your target keywords in the following areas:
- Once in the Title Tag
- Once near the top of the page (possibly in your headline)
- Two to three times in the body copy on the page (copy that entices your reader)
- Once in the alt attribute of a photo or image (this is the information needed by the search engines to understand what’s in an image)
- Once in the URL for the page (this is the extension of your domain name ( /subject)
- Once in Meta description tag (This isn’t used by the search engines for rankings, but is the snippet of text displayed in the search results)
- It is not recommended to use keywords in anchor text that points to other pages on the site
Setting Up Your Title Tag
The Title Tag is the line of text that appears at the top of the page when people are browsing the internet and is the content that is shared using social media.
The Title Tag should be a concise description of the content on the page or website. It is used by both people searching the internet and by the search engines to evaluate the content of the site.
When determining your Title Tag, it’s important to note that the search engines display only the first 65 to 75 characters of the Title Tag in the search results and then will show an ellipsis to indicate that there is more copy that is not being shown.
Place important keywords close to the front to ensure that a user will click on the link. You can start or end with the brand name, depending on the name recognition of your brand. Using a brand name that is very familiar may help to increase your click-through rate for people who are familiar with it.
Creating descriptive Title Tags that incorporate your keywords will help rank your site higher by the search engines. Title Tags should describe what you do, be impactful and offer benefits to the viewer to entice them to click on the link.
A compelling Title Tag will help viewers to select your link over others on the page and get them to proceed to your site. Once they are there, your content should fulfill the objective of the Title Tag and provide content that solves a problem, offers new information, or provides benefits to help your viewer make a purchase of some kind. If they find the information they need, they are more likely to fulfill your intention for the site.
Creating Practical Content
It’s not necessarily the amount of content you produce, but the quality of the content you create. And it’s been found that practical information, such as “How-to” articles, is the most effective type of content. In addition, your content should be at least 1,890 words for the most effectiveness.
Perhaps you're wondering if people will read all of that. By incorporating infographics into your content, you can dramatically improve readability. These are visual images, such as charts, diagrams, or other graphics that represent the information you’re trying to explain. They get 2.3 times more shares than normal articles.
It's also a good idea to include your keyword in the URL - www.mysite.com/keyword. Also include your target keyword once in the first 100 words of your article, preferably close to the beginning. And, you'll want to include outbound links in your articles because they'll pull better than those that don’t include additional links in them.
Effectively Marketing Your Content
Once you’ve completed and published your content, it’s time to promote your content and get positive feedback from your prospects. This will help elevate your organic rankings as the search engines rank websites higher when there are more interactions with viewers and more positive user feedback.
You can do this in a variety of ways. One of the ways is through social networks by promoting your content through social media promotions that link to the content on your website. Another way is to create "backlinks."
Creating Backlinks to Your Website
Backlinks are when other websites link directly to pages in your own website There are a variety of ways to create backlinks to your website. But first, you need to find the content or websites you want to get your links from. They should be from a site in your niche that has several outbound links. You can type your keyword into the search bar with “Keyword – inurl:links” and it will bring up search results in your niche for sites with a lot of outbound links. You can then contact these sites to see if they are interested in adding a link to their site that points to your valuable content.
It's important to create content that people will want to link to. That is what Google is looking for, not just any type of link but links to quality sites. Try to make sure that the title of the page you want to link to has your keywords so people will use those words to link to you. And remember, if your content already ranks high in Google's search results, you’ll naturally get links from others wanting to build upon your success.
How to Create a Google-Friendly Site
As I mentioned previously, SEO is not an easy task. And the rules keep changing every year based on the criteria that Google sets up for ranking sites. But it is something that you need to address in your website development and in marketing and promoting your site. Click here to go to a page on Google to find out the steps you need to take to create a Google-friendly site. It will offer you additional helpful information and links to a variety of other areas to help you find out what you need to know most about SEO!