The Simple Guide to Search Engine Optimization

It is common for the term “SEO” to be thrown around casually, but it is rarely understood. SEO is like many marketing jargon terms that rarely gets explained in a brief and simple way to those outside of the marketing field: it’s used frequently in online articles to impress casual viewers, but the actual explanations given for it tend to be almost as arcane and difficult to understand as the acronym itself. We find this to be unfortunate, because SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization,” is actually really important in operating a business in the digital age.

Grasping the way search engines operate is difficult, but every company should be committed to learning it. Most CEO’s are catching on to the value of optimizing for search engines and why it deserves a spot in the marketing budget. Whether you are a small business startup or multinational corporation, we strongly recommend that the SEO process should be a priority and never be overlooked. First, we imagine you’d like to know what exactly “Search Engine Optimization” is, why you should use it, and how you go about utilizing it.

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What Even Is "SEO"?


As stated above, SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of getting traffic to your website from search results on search engines like Google and Bing [1]. There are many techniques and tactics available to increase visitors on a website at the cause of search engines. The main goal of these techniques is to achieve the highest rank placement in search result pages as possible. To this end, it is typical for a business to hire a service provider for ongoing efforts and support, but small businesses tend to try what they can on their own. You may be asking why it is important to have search engine optimization in the first place. Well...

Why Do I Need SEO?


Search engines have flaws. Consider for a moment your own use of Google, Yahoo, or Bing: if you’re looking through the results for a typical search, unless you’re truly pressed to find multiple sources or if you just can’t find what you’re looking for, you don’t click past the first search results page. In other words, if the name of your company blends into the search results and doesn’t come up immediately when searched, it’s unlikely people will be able to navigate to your website: you’re bound to lose customers and sales. The process of SEO allows the search engine to understand your website better and place it more prominently among search results. The engine needs to figure out what each page is about and how it is relevant to viewers [2]. Small issues occur when an engine tries to assume relevance such as uncommon terms, language subtleties and mixed contextual signals [2]. SEO involves avoiding these confusing signals, so the search engine can help you in the best way it can.

SEO is an investment for your company. The process takes time and long-term commitment, but when executed well, the returns are high. Almost all clicks on search engines are on the top three spots on the first page. If you can manage to grab this spot, you are golden.

Overall, your content needs to be able to reach out to your target customers efficiently. Many businesses spend a lot time and money developing content for their website and updating it regularly. You can work all you want on development and aesthetics, but if SEO is ignored, no one will ever see it. Most people use search engines to find an exact match for what they are looking for. Once they find a quick, sufficient solution, the search process is over. They will only return to the search results in order to continue browsing for a solution. The service or solution that is presented on your website needs to be seen and once it is, satisfy the customer’s need.

How Can I Do SEO Myself?


Figuring out your perfect SEO strategy is not a quick task. There is a lot of uncertainty over what the basics of SEO are that beginners should be focusing on. You’re likely to find a lot of contradictory or confusing information about SEO online, but we’ve come up with the Three F’s of SEO to help make this easier to understand: Focus your content to be easily searchable, Furnish your content and your pages so that they work effectively on a technical level, and Fortify all this with links to your website across multiple other social media accounts.

Here’s some specifics on how to accomplish these steps.

  1. Choose one topic your website is focused on. This will determine your choice of keywords that draw customers to your page [3]. Include these keywords in your titles, domain name, tagline, description, and content. This ensures that a viewer searching for your topic will find you and be satisfied with the solution.
  2. Remove any non-essentials that slow down your website such as music players, graphics, and images [3]. You may want to use large, high quality images on your page, but do so wisely. Decreasing the size of image files will increase page load speed, which is very important to viewers. Most consumers are willing to wait about 3 seconds for pages to load and click away if it is longer. Because of this, search engines like Google use page load time as a factor in their ranking algorithm [5].
  3. The URL should always be constructed wisely. Put yourself in the mind of a user, and you should be able to predict the content you would expect from the page. Use simple keywords in your URL that appear credible. Users can easily remember and copy and paste this way. If you need to separate words, hyphens are recommended, since some web applications cannot interpret underscores or spaces [2]. Be careful with this practice though, because more than three hyphens tends to look “spammy” [4].
  4. Well-chosen images help strength your message and are just as important as your content. Make sure your images are titled with the main keywords necessary [3]. Alt tags and title tags in images help search engines determine the website’s purpose [5]. If your image doesn’t add to the purpose of the website, consider removing it to improve your SEO. For more guidance on this, read Google’s “Image Publishing Guidelines".
  5. For search engines, links are streets between pages [2]. Cautiously link to other websites with relevant information so that engines can discover how pages are related. When people continually click on your links, search engines recognize that you are a trusted authority [3]. This applies to having other websites link to you as well. Consider adding link lists or a resources page to your website to achieve this.
  6. Update your website as much as possible, so it is recognized as dynamic content. Blogs and directories always do well on search engines, because they are constantly updated [3]. Blogs bring fresh content and high-structured data, and it is easy for outsiders to join conversation that is already taking place in your industry. Search engines will recognize if a site hasn’t been updated in months and decrease the rank.
  7. Spread the word for your website! You should have links on business listings, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and whatever other sites you may find that are popular and/or relevant to your business. You want people to be able to navigate to your website from a variety of sources, and the best way to do that is to advertise it wherever you can. The best part of being online is that a lot of these postings can be done for no charge at all: take advantage of that!


Conclusion


In the age of “Google it” being the mantra of everyone looking to acquire information on the go, Search Engine Optimization is the key to being discovered and maintaining your presence online. You have to Focus what you’re going to present, Furnish your website to load quickly and look stylish, and you have to Fortify the links to your website across multiple other sites and social media. Once you’ve accomplished these steps, you’re on the right track, but it doesn’t just stop at a one week set-up.

It’s important to treat SEO as a long-term commitment, because what may work this year may not work next year [4]. Results may take months to see, so patience is key. It is not necessary to hire an SEO expert if you are willing to learn as much as you can on your own. There are many free web resources available out there to help, such as:
Keep an eye on what works, be willing to compromise on what doesn’t and overall, remember: SEO is about optimization. Optimization is always based around improving, and you’ll always have room to improve and grow. Be flexible and willing to learn, and SEO can be the best friend your online presence could ask for.


Questions?

Contact us by email at alliaudrey@idesigncollaborative.com.


  [1] http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-seo
[2] http://d2eeipcrcdle6.cloudfront.net/guides/Moz-The-Beginners-Guide-To-SEO.pdf
[3] http://goinswriter.com/website-seo-tips/
[4] http://searchengineland.com/21-essential-seo-tips-techniques-11580
[5] https://www.shopify.com/blog/7412852-10-must-know-image-optimization-tips