SEO or search engine optimization is important to every business. It doesn’t matter if you run a small, local business or a large corporation. But what exactly is it? SEO is simply the process of setting up and optimizing your site so that it’s easily found by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Most people, today, when they need something. They’ll go online to search for it. If your business isn’t showing up in search results, you’re losing valuable business to your competitors that do. Furthermore, users that find your website via organic search tend to be highly targeted, making them more likely to convert to customers.
Most businesses realize they should have a website, but simply having a website is only the first step. Building an effective website that will provide a strong, consistent flow of leads or sales requires online business promotion.
That’s where SEO comes. SEO makes your website visible to potential customers so that you can make sales.
Take a moment to think about what someone might search for when looking for your business. Now, search on Google. Does your business show up? If not, SEO is how you get there. Think about it… if you
have a website and it’s not showing up in search results, it’s just the same as having customers drive right by your business while looking for what you offer, and not even know you’re there.
Website Design and SEO
Online marketing isn’t as simple as building a beautiful website. Sure, having a well designed site is important. If visitors to your website don’t feel comfortable get frustrated trying to find what they need or any number of other factors that drive visitors away, then you probably won’t make the sale.
Let’s explore the other factors that affect your search engine rankings: on site and off site SEO. In order for your website to be effective from an SEO perspective, both on site and off site SEO factors have to be included in your strategy. What do ‘on site’ and ‘off site’ mean? Read on.
On Site SEO
SEO is divided into two main categories: On site and off site. On site SEO consists of the elements that exist on your website, and in your website’s HTML code, over which you have control. Here are the three main things that this consists of:
The structure of your website is very important, not just from an SEO perspective, but also a user experience perspective. When building your website, ensure that your web designer is knowledgeable in SEO best practices or works in conjunction with an SEO professional.
- URL structure
- Navigation structure
- Search functionality
- Page layout
- Internal linking
- Website Speed
- HTML & XML sitemaps
The code, the backbone of your website, needs to be clean and efficient. Messy code will bring your website’s rankings down and result in slower load times for your visitors. Usually, your website visitors won’t see the code, but search engine spider will see it all. Don’t cut corners. Ensure all the code is up to date, and includes proper meta tags, headers, and descriptions.
This is what your customers will see; the front end text copy, images, and videos that are on your website. The content of your website is the most important part of proper SEO, because search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to ensure they’re delivering search results with the most helpful and accurate content.
Your content should be fresh and engaging. Don’t make the mistake of writing purely “for the search engines” by stuffing unnatural keywords into the content and other old tricks of the trade that no longer work.
Content should target topics you want to rank for, but it needs to be natural and fresh. Google especially likes to favor pages and posts that have been recently created or updated, which is one of the many reasons I recommend businesses
maintain an active blog.
Off Site SEO
Once your website is structured correctly and contains excellent content, it’s time to develop and execute a solid off site SEO strategy. Off site SEO consists of factors that affect your search engine rankings which are not on your website itself. Here’s a look at the main factors of off site SEO.
Links from other sites on the internet come in many different shapes and sizes. A link is simply a clickable word, phrase, image, or button that directs you to another URL. Think of each link as a vote for your website’s credibility, vouching for your worthiness to rank highly in search results.
But not all links are created equal. Just as you’d trust your best friend’s opinion about something more than you’d trust a random stranger’s, links from well known and highly trusted, authoritative websites count for much more than links from unknown or untrusted websites.
So, thousands of links aren’t the answer, contrary to what many untrustworthy “SEO companies” and “SEO professionals” will often tell you. In order to rank well consistently in the search engines, you don’t need a high quantity of links; you need high quality links from authority websites. There are many ways this can be done, but it takes time.
Besides giving you ‘votes’ to help your site rank better, good inbound links will also drive free, high quality traffic to your website. A link to your website that’s created today, if on a relevant site with the right audience, will still be delivering you targeted customers well into the future without any work or effort on your part. It doesn’t get any better than that.