From all of the mysterious web jargon, SEO is probably the most veteran one. It’s been around pretty much as long as the internet marketing and in the meanwhile has evolved into an elaborated discipline that can incredibly help the online performance of your business.
This article will give you a solid foundation for understanding its principles and give a few simple tips and tricks on how to make it work best for your business.
What is SEO and why is it important for your online marketing?
If you’re still new to SEO, let me first tell you that this acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is part of web design and development process dedicated to helping your website to be found. Each time you search for something on the internet, search engine (such as Google, Yahoo or Bing) provide you with pages that can potentially be relevant to you and keywords you typed in.
When comes to marketing your business online, the value of showing up on the first page is immense. A study analyzing search queries executed via Google showed that on average, 71.33% of searches resulted in a page one organic click. Page 2 and 3 get only 5.59% of the clicks. On the fits page alone, the first five results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%.
The process of Search Engine Optimization is thus first and foremost about getting you found, and having it done right at the moment when your customer is looking for you. And believe it or not, there are certain ways how to make it work in your favor.
How does it work in practice?
Search engines usually need to analyze vast amount of data about quadrillion websites out there in order to determine what the most relevant results would be and in what order they should present them to the person who types their query into the search box. As you know, each search starts with a keyword, or a group of keywords.
To help a search engine think that you’re website is relevant enough for the searcher and make it appear high in the ranking, you need to equip your website with the relevant content . Sounds easy, right?
Well, it’s not quite, but the good news is that it’s not rocket science either so you can do the most of the ground job yourself!
So how to improve your ranking in the search results?
1. Use of keywords
Whereas using relevant keywords is probably the most crucial cornerstone of SEO practices, remember to do it effectively. That being said, avoid modifying sentences simply to ensure high keyword density.
Not only it wouldn’t create a satisfying user experience, but also search engines such as Google has a preference for longer texts that go more into the depth. Your main goal thus should be to provide your reader with a high quality content, which means writing about your products, services, trends and industry developments in an interesting, succint, relevant and easily readable way.
If your business falls under a high competitive industry with strong online presence (such as providing accommodation), you should also aim for texts of about 1500 words.
Remember to work with keywords essential to your industry, but at the same time keep on looking for relevant synonyms and modifiers that people tend to insert into the search box when looking for a place to stay. Google, for example, has developed an amazing Keyword Planner tool that can help you find out which words are useful for different businesses based on data from search engines – for free!
2. Structuring your text
Apart from paying attention to the content itself, the way you structure it is equally important. Search engines like structure, therefore the first thing you can do to make it much more easier for it to find you at the right time is to add a short, accurate title to each of your website’s subpages.
In web design language this is called “a title tag” and it’s important for helping search engines grasp the main topic of your text and thus quickly identify that your page is a great match for the searcher. In order to have it displayed properly, keep the length of the title tag under 55 characters.
Make sure that each page also has a catchy and informative summary, or “description meta tag”. Ideally it should be a short paragraph of about 150-160 characters, giving a brief overview of site’s main offerings.
Write one per each of your website’s pages and try to write it in a way that is both catchy and informative. Don’t forget to work with relevant keywords, but again avoid their overuse and focus on making the tag easy and interesting to read.
Both title tag and meta description tag help search engines get a better understanding of your content, match it with a search query and ensure a smooth appearance in the search results just like in the example below:
3. Friendly URLs and image naming
Another way how to provide a boost to your findability in search engines is to focus on the structure and meaning of your links (URLs). You may have noticed that there are two types of URLs – those composed of a not human readable combination of numbers and characters, and those that imitate or extend the title of the page.
Readable URL structure containing your most relevant keywords will not only help finding your page, but it will also make your links more appealing and encourage sharing.
Similarly, you can optimize the naming of images you show on your website. Instead of using generic filenames such as “image1.jpg”, you can do much better for your search results by opting for a descriptive image name and, eventually, giving it a short title which we ‘alt attribute’ such as “big-red-double-decker-bus-london-uk.jpg”.
Sometimes it happens that the user is viewing your content via technologies that do not support images, therefore a short title describing what’s on the image comes handy in these cases. Not to mention that such image-file naming allows your images to be listed in Image Search results.
4. Building ‘online’ bridges
An easy but efficient way how to help search engines better understand your website is connecting it to a related, complementary content elsewhere on the internet. Always use referral links for useful additional information on another page of your website or on a website you recommend (cross-linking).
Similarly, very helpful can be getting other websites to link to your website (link building). Make your content easy to share via social media plug-ins or get involved in the online industry discussions while referring to the relevant content that can be found on your website. And sharing your content and new updates with your network via social media comes without saying!
What does it mean for your website?
Following these few tips (using relevant keywords, proper title tag, meta description tag, comprehensible URLs and image naming, cross-linking, link building and help of social media channels) will improve your website experience significantly and increase search result performance.
Not to mention saving you few pennies of your marketing budget! If you still feel like you may need a bit of help with it, don’t hesitate to ask me for more tips designated particularly for your website.