A Beginner's Guide to SEO
Posted on 10/06/2021 at 10:00 AM
Ever wondered how search engines decide which search results end up on the first page and which ones get buried ten pages in? The answer lies in the practice of search engine optimization.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing content to help it rank higher in search engine results. This increases the quantity and quality of traffic to your website or social media, resulting in greater visibility. Put simply, it is taking various steps to make sure your content pops up before competitors when people search terms or questions related to your content. These steps involve research, implementation, and ongoing monitoring and adjustment.
How Does Search Engine Optimization Work?
Internet search engines want to provide the most relevant and useful content pertaining to a user's search query. To do this, they employ an algorithm that performs three main duties: crawling, indexing, and ranking. Crawling and indexing help search engines understand what each web page and website is about and how it should be categorized. Based on what factors are picked up during crawling and indexing, ranking factors are tabulated to determine where and when you come up in the search results. Before delving deeper, it is important to understand the difference between paid search results and organic search results. Paid search results will always rank before organic reach results since those websites have paid for the privilege. High-ranking organic search results come from following SEO best practices, so if you don't want to pay to play, you need to devote the proper time and effort to SEO. There are many ways to engage in SEO, and it is important to utilize as many of these practices as possible, both on-page as well as off-page.
On-Page SEO involves optimizing the various elements of website design that all factor into where the page will rank on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.
There is a lot that goes into page content, and all of it is important, but there are a few key ideas to keep in mind. Content should be well organized and easy to read and understand. There is no magic number of how much text there should be on a page, but too little or too much can be harmful to SEO. A good rule of thumb is to have enough text to be informative (FAQs are always good to have!) and to include a number of keywords, but not more than a 3-5 minute read per page. Make sure to keep content fresh and regularly updated to adjust for changes in information, trends, and keyword and page performance.
Headings and Title Tags
Headings and title tags are important in SEO as they provide a summary of what the page is about and are an easy way to work in keywords. It is important that your title tag (also known as a window title) and heading are different for two main reasons. Having your heading and title tag be different allows you to plug in more keywords while also avoiding duplicate content issues. Note: keep both your headings and title tags as close to 60 characters without going over.
Social tags are another useful way to show search engines that your content is useful and relevant. Having a button that gives users the option to share/repost certain content on your website helps establish your site in Google's eyes as well as getting more people to see your content.
Images are another useful type of page content, not only do they make a website more visually appealing and interesting for users, but they can also help with SEO. Adding alt text for images isn't visible to the average user, but is important for screen reader software. Screen readers allow those who are visually impaired to understand what the image is depicting, keeping your website in compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). It also allows you to include more keywords for search engine crawlers to pick up on.
Adding links on one page of your website that direct users to another page that is relevant make your site easier to navigate and understand. Adding an internal link to a page that does not get much traffic on a page that gets a lot can help direct more traffic to underperforming pages to give them an extra boost. However, it is important to not over crosslink as goes against SEO best practices. It is also important to include descriptive anchor text on the links. For example instead of saying: click here to learn more about digital marketing, say learn more about digital marketing.
Good meta descriptions are often not fully understood or are simply overlooked even though they provide great value. Meta descriptions provide a concise description of what a specific page is about. These descriptions are displayed in search engine results and can lead to more clicks by searchers. Following best practices, meta descriptions should be descriptive, clear, and keyword-rich. Note: keep meta descriptions as close to 160 characters without going over.
Off-site SEO is just as important to maintain and optimize as on-site SEO. The best strategy for a successful, effective SEO campaign requires a balance of on and off-site SEO best practices. Though there are many ways to engage in off-site SEO, there are a few options that are a simple, but effective starting point.
Social Media Marketing
Having a variety of social media platforms, namely Facebook and Instagram, to promote your business is usually a given in today's digital world. But social media marketing for SEO involves more strategy than simply posting content. There are three easy things to keep in mind for optimal social media management: timing, hashtags, and linking. Pay attention to posts with the most engagement and what days and times they were posted on to get an idea of when your audience is most active. When scheduling posts it is also important to make sure to post regularly but not to overpost. Hashtags are simple in concept but effective hashtagging requires a little more thought. Two to four hashtags is a good number to shoot for and they should be based on research. A simple way to do this is to enter a hashtag you are thinking of using on Facebook and see how popular it is to avoid using hashtags no one is searching or looking at (this is also a helpful way to find other relevant hashtags to use). Linking to your website within a post is perhaps one of the most important factors of good social media marketing as it drives more traffic to your website.
Ratings and Review Management
Monitoring and responding to ratings and reviews is a good way to establish yourself as a responsive, trustworthy company. Having a Google My Business account to respond to reviews and answer consumer questions is a great way to engage online. It also gives you a whole new platform to share posts and information about your business in a straightforward, visible way.
A blog is a great feature to have on your website as it provides the opportunity for more engaging and conversational content that can encourage a user to check your website more frequently. If you don't know how to start a blog or don't want to work to maintain one, guest blogging is great for off-site SEO. Writing a blog on another website (as long as it is relevant to your business) can be a one-off way to drive more traffic to your website and gain new audience members from the website you are guest blogging for.
SEO best practices include more elements than the ones listed above but these provide a solid base to build upon. Successful SEO also requires ongoing monitoring to see what is working and what is not, and making the corresponding adjustments. Effective, ongoing SEO requires a fair amount of time, effort, and experience but can have an immense payoff.
How Can Global Reach Maximize your SEO?
Global Reach Internet Productions has an experienced and knowledgeable team of web developers, digital marketing specialists, IT support, and graphic designers to perfect your SEO, both on-site and off-site. Learn more about SEO at Global Reach and schedule a free consultation to see how Global Reach can do the heavy lifting for you and your company!