If you run a small business you know how hard it is to get a handle on SEO solutions for your website.
Or maybe you’ve heard of SEO, but have no idea what it is or why it’s important. You may be thinking you don’t need to pay attention to it.
That would be a mistake.
According to Forbes, 80 to 90 percent of customers check reviews online before purchasing.
You can hire an expert to deal with your SEO solutions, but it’s necessary you understand what SEO is and why you need it.
Even a small amount of knowledge can make a huge difference.
Do you want to find out more about SEO basics? Then read on.
What Is SEO Anyway?
Have you seen pop up ads while browsing the internet? So has everyone else, and they are either something you ignore, or an annoyance.
People see up to 5,000 ads per day. All of this info becomes white noise after a while.
SEO, however, is not about that kind of advertising.
It’s the non-paid branch of marketing which helps your site’s organic visibility in search engine results.
This specialized area requires both creativity and tech know-how to properly optimize for search engines like Google and other major search engines, including Yahoo and Bing.
Why Your Website Needs SEO
You need SEO because the truth of the matter is most of the traffic on the internet is driven by search engines.
Think about how you find information online. If your first stop is Google or Bing then you already know the importance of SEO.
The objective with SEO solutions is to get your site to number one in the results of a search.
For example, if you have a pet sitting service in New York City, when a potential customer searches for “how to find a pet sitter in Manhattan” you want to at least be on the first page of results.
If you don’t take full advantage of SEO solutions, what will happen is your site ends up on the dreaded second or third, or fourth (you get the idea) page.
How Search Engines Work
The basic functions of a search engine are to crawl and create an index, then give search users a ranked list of the most relevant sites.
Web crawlers are a type of software used to look at web pages and follow links. They then take data back to the search engine servers.
Crawlers then create an index just like the one in the back of a book.
Now comes the part that you need to pay attention to: How the search engine provides answers.
The short answer is ranking. The meat of SEO solutions is making sure that your content ranks highly.
How Search Engines Rank Results
If you want to know how to rank higher in results, let’s start with Google’s advice, since it’s the top search engine in America.
Firstly, Google recommends making pages for USERS, not search engines.
This means you should make sure your site is useful and provides plenty of information.
Bing, on the other hand, recommends you produce new content regularly.
The search engine also instructs webmasters to build a keyword-rich URL structure and to avoid hiding content in rich media, such as videos.
A common example is having a company name hidden in a logo. The name should also be displayed as text for it to be indexed.
The Importance of Content and Keywords
Content and keywords are the most important part of your site when you are creating SEO solutions.
The placing of a keyword on a page helps a search engine quickly figure out what the page is about.
Keywords should be targeted to represent the page’s content and limited to one to four words. Research which ones in your industry rank the highest, and use them as inspiration.
Avoid keyword stuffing, which I’ll discuss below, as it makes content unreadable.
Content should be easy to read and relatable to your audience.
Content includes text, videos, and images. Be careful about images containing text though, since search engines can’t see and give you credit for them.
Use the keywords as a starting point and expand on them to give value to your audience.
Structuring Your Content
When building or modifying a web page, keep in mind how it looks to the human eye isn’t the same as how it looks to a search engine.
Search engines can’t see Flash or words embedded in images, so use HTML text instead.
Your designer and programmer should make the website’s code to make it search-engine friendly. Look at these three technical items to start.
Crawlable Link Structures
These are the first thing you should look at. A good structure allows the search engine spiders browse the pathways of a site.
Make a site crawlable by structuring its navigation so that a engine can access it. This means avoiding things like submission forms, links in plugins, or links pointing to pages blocked by the Meta Robots tag and the robots.txt file.
When a search is run by a user, a short snippet of information about a page is showed in the search results. This is the meta description.
For example, the homepage of a pet sitting service may have a description that goes “Welcome to Happy Paws pet sitting service in New York City – the city’s largest and oldest home for pets”.
A meta description serves as a piece of advertising copy, since a compelling description can draw users to your site.
An often overlooked but important feature, a URL is the address for documents on the web.
Make them as short as you can so they are visible in search results and they are easy to paste into emails or text messages. Be sure to use keywords but don’t overdo it, as too many can trip spam filters.
Avoid too many numbers and symbols as well. The URL address should be simple enough to be decipherable to the human eye. If there are a lot of words to separate, use hyphens to mark the spaces between them.
Building SEO Around Your Users
So how do you make your SEO solutions a good fit for users? You need two things. An insight into what your target market is looking for and how they are searching for it.
There’s a typical process that happens when a person uses a search engine. Let’s break it down into its elements.
A user needs an answer, information, or a solution. They formulate it into a phrase, known as the search query.
They enter the query in a search engine and browse results for a match, clicking on what looks like the best one. The user scans for a solution or link to the solution.
At this point, they either find it or leave the page and perform a new search with a refined search query.
Your job is to make sure a visitor to your site is satisfied with what they find. The more relevant your content is, the more it will be shown to search engine users in their results.
Examples of Good SEO Phrases
To go back to my earlier example, if your user is a pet owner in New York City, he/she is usually searching for a common set of details or information.
These include what services you offer, types of pets you accommodate, and what areas of the city you serve.
A good exercise when coming up with SEO phrases is to think of it in terms of doing, knowing and going.
Doing: I want to do X = “I want to find a pet sitter.”
Knowing: I need information on = “The best pet sitter in Manhattan.”
Going: I want to go to a particular place = “The home page of the ASPCA in New York.”
Put yourself in your potential customer’s shoes and you can’t go wrong.
Bad SEO Solutions: What to Avoid
There are a number of ways you can sabotage good SEO solutions.
The most common ones are bad or sneaky redirects, irrelevant keywords, and link schemes.
Redirecting means sending the user to a different URL to the one they requested. Google severely warns against this.
Stuffing a site is the practice of cramming in a bunch of keywords on a page to make the site rank higher in a search engine.
Link schemes are described by Google as any links intended to manipulate page rank or a site’s ranking in their search results.
Quick SEO Fixes
If you want some simple SEO fixes for your site you can do the following things without too much time and effort.
- Add alt text to images
- Fix URLs to include keywords
- Rewrite blog posts to include headings
- Update content on a regular basis
The quickest and easiest way to get your SEO solutions on track, however, is to hire an experienced company.
Along with our services like WordPress and web design assistance, we provide a full range of SEO services, so get in touch today.