Now for the good news: you can learn the basics of digital marketing by learning about search engine optimization (SEO), and now is the perfect time to get your feet wet. Keep reading if you want to learn more, and give us a call at 888-601-5359!
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What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. At SEO's most basic level, this entails following a set of protocols and best practices to make your website rank better in online search results. While there are lots of search engines, we’ll only talk about Google SEO to keep things simple.
This may sound complicated, but don’t worry! We’ll break it down further.
Pretend you own a car-detailing business. When a customer decides to get his car detailed, he’ll probably go straight to Google and search something like “car detailing service near [city].”
The objective of organic SEO is to make sure that any time someone searches a term like that (known as a keyword), your business will be one of the first results to appear.
Google typically displays 10 search results per page, and the closer to the top of the page your business is, the more attention, leads, and satisfied customers you can get.
How does SEO work?
All Google search results are based on an algorithm. This algorithm is a piece of computer code that does its best to provide users with relevant, helpful results.
While Google keeps the exact algorithm a well-guarded secret, it’s still possible to gain a sense of how it works. There are two broad categories of “signals” that Google uses to judge a website: on-page signals and off-page signals.
On-page signals are elements on your website that you can influence directly. They include qualities like how many times a keyword appears on a certain page, whether a keyword appears in the page’s title, and whether your headings are properly formatted.
On-page signals can also be more technical things like how your URLs are structured, whether or not you have any duplicate content on your website, and how long users spend browsing your pages.
Off-page signals are things you cannot influence directly through your website.
The most important example of an off-page signal is inbound links. Google tracks how many times other websites link to your website, and those links help improve your site’s standings in Google search results.
However, all links are not equally helpful. A link from a government (or similarly authoritative) website is typically much more helpful to your website than a link from a low-traffic personal blog, or, even worse, a link from a spam website.
Every signal carries different weight in Google’s search algorithm, although it’s important to cover all of your bases while optimizing your site.
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It’s also vital to know that these signals can be overdone.
For example, it’s beneficial to use keywords naturally in your content. However, writing it multiple times per sentence (a practice known as “keyword stuffing”) can make your website rank worse than before.
Why should you care about SEO?
To understand why SEO is so valuable, you have to understand the sheer magnitude of Google’s reach.
Google currently processes over 40,000 searches per second. This translates to 3.5 billion searches per day, or 1.2 trillion searches per year. This is an enormous market that you can tap into simply by optimizing your site with SEO marketing best practices.
You should also know why it’s so important to rank at the top of search results.
Three-quarters of searchers stay on the first page of results, so ranking on page one can dramatically increase your website's traffic.
A smart SEO strategy gets you more quality leads, as you can pick and choose what search terms you want to rank for. Returning to our car-detailing business as an example, ranking for the term “auto detailing in [local area]” will result in local leads to your website that are probably ready to buy.
Simply put, SEO can result in high-volume, high-conversion leads delivered right to your front door.
Making the transition from traditional marketing to SEO
We know this is a lot of information, and we’ve really just scratched the surface of what SEO is.
To make things easier, here’s a short list of actionable items that you can do for your first time working on SEO:
- Write up a list of keywords that you’d like to target. As a rule of thumb, the more specific the keyword is, the easier you can rank for it (“gluten-free red velvet cake recipe” will have much less competition than “food” in search results).
- Keep this list in mind when creating content for your website. If you’re writing a page on gluten-free red velvet cake, be sure to include that keyword in the title, and a few more times throughout the article (but don’t overdo it!).
- Start thinking about other relevant websites you’d want to link to your website. Make a list of potential websites and contact information for each one. When you publish your next piece of stellar content, you can reach out to the sites on your list. If they like your content, they might link back to your site!
Want to take your SEO to the next level?
While SEO may seem confusing and different from traditional marketing, it’s absolutely key to a thriving business in today’s economy. Online search is the single biggest market in the world, and focusing on your SEO efforts ensures you won’t miss out.
Looking for some help to jump-start your SEO efforts? We’re here for you! At WebFX, we have a dedicated team of Internet marketers with years of experience making websites SEO-friendly. We know what it takes to thrive online, and would love to help your business succeed. Contact us today to speak with an SEO expert about our advanced SEO techniques!