SEO means search engine optimization and it refers to strategies used to rank your website higher on the search engines.
Reaching the coveted first page on Google is not the easiest thing to do. It takes lots of time, plenty effort and a fair bit of knowing what you are doing. However, the rewards are well worth it.
Imagine never having to pay for advertising again. Imagine your customers finding your business and coming to you. Well that is what happens when you are on page 1, specifically the top 3. It is all about letting your customers find you when they want your products or services. So let’s see how SEO is done.
Google offers permission-based advertising which means that people will see you when they are looking for you. On the flip-side is interruption advertising where adverts are displayed whether the viewer wants to see them or not. Obviously the permission-based advertising is far more effective.
The best place to start is with good solid research. You will need to know what words or phrases your potential customers are typing into Google when they are looking for your business.
This can be a little overwhelming because, initially anyway, you need to target keywords that not only get traffic but are also not too competitive. If your domain is under a year old you don’t really want to take on competitors that are established unless you are concentrating on a local market.
If you have the resources you could do an analysis on what your competitors are doing. If nothing else this will give you a starting point.
Choose your keywords carefully because they are the basis of your SEO strategy.
The Website (On-Site SEO)
A good quality website is extremely important. Google looks for a range of factors to determine the quality of a website.
Content, content, relevant content. If your content is not related to your keywords you lose quality score. They look for dynamic websites where new relevant content is added periodically. A blog is great for this. Comments are also content so comments on your blog articles add to the quality of your website. This is content marketing and it is growing.
Blog articles (text, image and/or video), if posted regularly, give Google a reason to index your website more often and they also give you the opportunity to target a specific keyword in each article.
These articles are great for new businesses because you and other people can share the articles on social media which will bring your traffic. Traffic is one of the ranking factors that Google looks for. The more traffic your website generates, the higher you rank and the more traffic you will get.
Here are the some of the important points regarding on-site SEO:
Make sure that your keywords appear in the URL. This doesn’t mean that it is important to have keyword in your actual domain name but it is important to have them in the page or post title. For example: “www.mydomain.co.za/keywords-here”
Your keyword should also appear in the header tags and also in the first paragraph of your content.
Tag any images with your keyword and make sure that the images are optimized to be as small as possible.
Check the number of keywords that you have in your content. Too many and the content will appear spammy and lose quality score, to few and it will not be regarded as relevant.
Don’t make your content difficult to read. Use short sentences and avoid difficult words. Also ensure that you have checked your content for spelling errors. Yes, the quality of your content is also dependent on your spelling.
Keep your paragraphs short and use lists where possible. Lists are easy for people to navigate and it looks more structured than just a bunch of text.
You don’t have to write huge amounts to have a good quality score. Anything more than about 300 words per page/article is fine.
Don’t copy and paste from other websites. Google has probably been to those websites and will know that you have duplicated content. Do your research and your content into your own words.
The Internet (Off-Site SEO)
There is way too much to consider for off-site SEO so I will stick to the important points.
Pagerank is a system that Google uses to measure the authority of webpages (a scale of 0 – 10). Backlinks are the units of measure for pagerank.
A backlink is a link on a website pointing to your website. A backlink is like vote for your website. The more votes you have, the more authority your website is given and the higher you will rank. Backlinks can also be harmful and reduce your authority if they are on the wrong websites.
Although Google doesn’t share their algorithm it is widely understood that backlinks are the most important SEO factor in ranking websites. They also take the most time and effort to get.
The best backlinks are organic meaning that they happen naturally over time. If people like your content they will share it, or links to it, on their website. Backlinks can also be built by adding your website to directories, social bookmarking sites and other websites.
Over the past few years the search engines have recognized the importance of social media and have built it into their algorithms.
Likes, shares, +1s, mentions, favorites and retweets are important to search engine rankings. By, the way, don’t forget to share this post.
Social media is also the best and cheapest way to get traffic to your website when you are starting out. Social media is one of the most powerful tools that a business owner has to market their business in the new online business world.
This article covers a small but important part of SEO and is in no way comprehensive. There are still importnat points like submitting sitemaps so that the search engines index your website faster. Like I said before, SEO takes effort and time. It can take months for your website to show up on Google but there are strategies that can speed up the process, if you have the time, are willing to put in the effort and know what to do. If you are serious about SEO, keep track of your progress or find someone that will send you progress reports.
Your comments would be greatly appreciated and please don’t forget to share.