Definition of SEO
According to Wikipedia, SEO “is an acronym for Search engine optimization, the process of improving the ranking of a web site in internet search results.” Not only is it the process of ranking higher in search results, but it is the process to rank higher in the “organic” search results. The organic results are the websites listed in the middle of the search results because of their relevance to the search terms. The websites that achieve a high organic ranking, such as those on page 1, will typically garner more impressions and traffic because these results are more trusted by users.
The primary search engines that people use today are Google, Bing and Yahoo. Developing an SEO strategy around the parameters of these search engine giants is the best way to improve your overall website ranking and get more traffic.
Simple SEO Tips
Before getting started on an SEO strategy the most important thing is to develop a set of target keyword phrases. Think of your target keywords as your roadmap to success. Your target keywords should not only reflect the products or services your business offers, but they should be keywords that are actually searched on the web. If you choose words that are too niche with little to no traffic then your SEO efforts are in vain. There are millions of new searches a day so take the time to properly research keywords that are the best fit for your business. For more information on developing a target keyword list, please refer to our blog “Keyword Research – The First Step To Increasing SEO.” Once you have your list ready then you can set the next step of creating an action plan to improve your ranking for each of these target keyword phrases.
The following are just a few guidelines to getting the SEO basics of your website set-up:
- Alt tags – all of the images on your website need alt tags and should preferably contain your target keyword phrases.
- Meta data – create unique and optimized meta descriptions, page titles and meta keywords for each webpage.
- Headers – create h1, h2 and h3 heading tags that contain your target keyword phrases on each webpage.
- Content – a chosen target keyword phrase should be listed 3-4 times within the content of each webpage.
- Sitemap – develop an xml sitemap for your website and submit to the top search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing).
- Deep linking – link the most important content from the homepage and set-up links within the internal webpages.
- Domain – check to make sure that your domain is registered for more than a year. A domain that is set to expire within a year can have a negative effect on SEO.
After setting up the SEO basics on your website the next step is to work on getting inbound links to your website through local listings, directories, social media accounts, blog articles, etc… We will delve more into building inbound links in a later blog post.
What You Can Expect From SEO
One of the biggest things to keep in mind is that SEO is not an overnight achievement, but the results are lasting. On average you can expect that it will take about 3-4 months to start seeing any improvement in your website ranking, and not every website or industry can expect the same results. The more competitive the keyword phrases the longer it can take to see results, or more work might be needed to effectively compete. SEO is a continuous fight to achieve a better ranking and it doesn’t all rely on your efforts. There are three primary factors involved in how well your website is ranked: how well you’ve optimized your own website, how well optimized your competition is, and the parameters search engines are using for ranking. Unfortunately you can only control one of these factors, but it has a big influence on your ranking. So grab ahold of the piece you can control and develop a search engine optimization strategy today.
Benefits of SEO
If you decide that implementing an SEO strategy isn’t right for your business, one alternative is to purchase pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to appear on the first few pages of a search engine. Paid advertisements in search results appear typically on the side or top of the search results. PPC is an expensive alternative and it isn’t guaranteed to produce great results. Most people searching the internet tune out the paid listing sections in the search results, so it is typically quite difficult to get people to click on your ads. Most people prefer to click on the results in the organic search results display, knowing that the websites listed here are probably the best match for their needs. The following are a few common pitfalls of PPC: it takes a bit of time to implement, continuous monitoring and tweaking, and a continual investment to rank on the first few pages. Whereas, with an SEO strategy you are building a foundation that provides a long-term goal of continuously improving search engine ranking.