For many small businesses, getting found online became even more important after the impact of Coronavirus which caused people to stay home and avoid public places. Customers have been forced to rely on Google to show them where to locate goods and services, this makes SEO even more in demand than ever before. Organizations everywhere have been forced to embrace change and start optimizing their websites to gain more traffic.
While online marketing can be complex and involves quite a few cryptic abbreviations, we’ll help you get the lay of the land.
To begin with, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and refers to the steps one can take to rank higher on Google.
When talking about SEO we are only referring to organic search (as opposed to paid search). When you type a question into Google the web pages or sites without Ads are placed at the top of the SERP or Search Engine Results Page. Site optimization determines how high a website is ranked and thus how close to the front page your website will appear in search results.
The reason we target Google is that Google makes up at least 88.1% of online searches conducted in the United States. The trailing pack includes Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo, making up roughly 10% combined.
The goal with SEO is to receive free organic traffic. Visitors who are considered organic are likely to be considered your target audience since they are typing in the keywords that relate to your webpage. Google’s algorithm tries to produce the best results to a search term or phrase in position 1 and then follow that on with other great results in sequential order.
You have probably noticed that when you run searches, Google displays listings at the very top with the word “Ad.” If you pay Google for an advertisement and receive clicks, you’re getting paid traffic. Optimizing paid traffic is a whole different project.
The goal of SEO is to get your site listed as close to the top of the results as you can. The best way to track these results is to use Google Analytics. A tool created by Google to show how successful your site is at bringing in the targeted audience. This tool enables you to see which keywords are bringing in the most traffic.
In addition, using Google Analytics, you are able to analyze the quality of traffic you are getting to your website. You can identify the time spent on each site as well as the number of pages users are visiting, and the bounce rate. Bounce rates are when a user only views one page of your website.
Conversions are an end goal established by the individual organization. You can establish what qualifies as a conversion on your site. This could be a purchase of an item on an E-commerce site, completing a form, starting a free trial, or simply providing an email address to elicit future communications.
Most of us are familiar with the term marketing funnel. A marketing funnel is when you follow the steps a user makes all the way to the final end goal. When you enable SEO within your website, you are capturing users in hopes to lead them down the funnel to eventually produce a conversion.
The first step is to be sure that Google is aware of your site and its various pages in the first place. You can check this very easily by searching your website in Google to view your site indexing.
Simply follow the format below:
In this example, we asked Google how many pages of the site called “mysite.com” are indexed and it returned 66,100 individual pages.
If putting in “site:” followed by your URL doesn’t return any results, fear not. Share it to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or other social media, and Google will quickly find it and index it.
Broadly, Google relies on two components to decide what pages should get top placement in its search results: On-page and off-page SEO.
On-Page SEO refers to measure taken directly to your website to improve your SERP. Here are a few examples of on-page SEO and where you can make changes to improve your optimization.
- Readability – Is the copy legible, broken up into easy-to-scan sections, well-written, and informative? Google wants to suggest pages that will make the search user happy to be sure your page is easy to read and informative.
- Originality – If your page is a copy of someone else’s work, you’ll actually get penalized and other pages within your site may even suffer. Be sure your content is original.
- Load speed – Google will not serve pages that load slowly as users will simply leave and try something else. Be sure you use images that are optimized for the web. You can check the speed of individual pages on your site and get recommendations for free here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
- Mobile-friendliness – Web searches are more and more happening on smartphones. Android is the #1 operating system globally. Google wants your page to be responsive: easy to read on a mobile device.
- Tagged Correctly – Google asks you to supply some data points to help it summarize your page:○Page Title – This is what you see in your browser tabs. Include your company name and a blurb about what this specific page is about.○Page Description – Expand on the page title by giving the searcher more info about the benefit of the page. Google shows this in the search results.○Header Tags – Google puts extra emphasis on the text you label as H1, your top-level headers, so be sure these are informative and specific to the page in question.○Image tags – In addition to text-based search results, Google returns image results. Be sure to clearly label your images using both the Alt and Title tags to tell Google what the photo contains.
○Navigation – Google wants websites to make it easy for the visitor to get between pages. Use clear navigation to help users get around your page.
○Relevance – Google will rank sites that are continually being updated higher than sites that rarely see updates. Starting a blog is a great way to keep your site relevant.
Off-page SEO is when you look beyond your own site in order to increase your SERP. The key goal of off-page SEO is to increase your domain authority or DA by having quality backlinks.
Backlinks are a common example of off-page SEO which takes into account how many external sites link to your site as a measure of its relative importance. External links to your site are called backlinks. Some easy ways to get links to your site:
- Create social media profiles and be sure each profile links to your website.
- Share content to social media and be sure each piece you share links to a specific page of yours.
- Claim your profiles on review sites: Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, etc. are great places to get profiles that link back to your site and may generate direct conversions of their own.
- Make it easy for visitors to share your content. Installing social share buttons is an easy way to make sharing easier for your site. The more your visitors share, the more links and impressions you get.
The quality of your backlinks determines your demand authority. This is a score that determines how useful your site is and how well it is able to answer a Google user’s search terms.
To gain insights into your site’s demand authority score, you can use a Backlink Analytics tool. You can view your site’s links and their associated authority score on the ‘backlinks’ tab to ensure all you are linked to appropriate sites for your business.
Now that you have a general idea of what SEO is, you can start testing your site and read up on specific topics we covered in more detail.