What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is a set of practices designed to improve the appearance and positioning of web pages in organic search results. Basically, SEO determines how high you appear in search engine result pages (SERP) like Google or Bing (excluding the paid ad search results).
Organic search is the most prominent way for people to discover and access online content – this makes a good SEO strategy essential for improving the quality and quantity of traffic to your website.
Why is SEO important?
With 68% of online experiences beginning on a search engine and 75% of users never scrolling past the first page of results, SEO isn’t something most businesses can afford to ignore. Unlike pay-per-click ads on a SERP, you cannot pay to increase your natural organic search rankings. The only way to take advantage of the trillions of searches that occur via search engines each year is to implement SEO practices. If you don’t, you’re missing out on a plethora of qualified buyers who may be interested in your business.
How does it work?
Search engines like Google and Bing are constantly updating their search algorithms. To do this, they use something called “crawlers” (you may have heard them called bots or spiders) to gather information about all content on the internet. The most important thing a crawler is looking for is the internal links and external links on the page. An algorithm then uses this information to understand what this web page is about and how it’s connected to all the other search results already in the massive database.
When a user types or speaks a query into the search box, the search engine uses more complex algorithms to pull out what it believes to be the most accurate and useful list of results for that query. By implementing SEO practices, you intend to maximize the relevancy of your search results to the terms that are most common.
What does implementing SEO look like?
At its core, SEO is all about creating the most valuable and relevant resource for any given search term. There are ways you can signal to Google that your web page or resource might be a great fit for a specific search query, such as including relevant keywords in your content. Page titles, meta descriptions, image alt text, headings, and paragraph content should all include the search term and keywords related to it. You should also be sure to link to relevant sources within your content. If you link to trusted sources or trusted sources link to you, Google is more likely to recognize your content as high-quality. The more places you include the terms best suited for your business, the more your content will be identified as useful by the search engine and users alike.
Beyond what you include in your content, search engines are integrating more and more features you can use to optimize your SEO. This includes things like the Google My Business service which can list your phone number, hours of operation, hi-res photos of your business, and more. Including yourself in Google My Business will also boost your presence in local searches and make Google think of you as a prominent local business.
You can go even further and optimize your site to be included in features like rich results and knowledge panels. Rich results are the snippets or cards you often see at the top of a search result that often include the product’s image, rating, and supplier. Since these rich results appear at the top of the search results at “position zero”, they can often be worth the time and effort to implement them.
5 Tips for Implementing SEO
Look Out for Broad Keywords
With adequate research, SEO can go beyond only increasing the quantity of your traffic to also improving the quality of your traffic. However, to improve quality, you will want to keep an eye out for broad keywords that could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different users.
For example, you wouldn’t want your Apple computer repair company to be showing up in results for the food “apples”. When optimizing your website for the search engines, you would want to make sure “apple” is always paired with “computer,” so Google knows not to show your company in the results for people searching for apples to eat. Better yet, you could avoid using “apple” at all by replacing it with “mac.”
Mix-ups like this happen more than you might think, so be sure to always consider user intent for any keywords you target. You should research and include the exact keywords and phrases (or variations of these words and phrases) people use when seeking you service.
Include External Links
Remember those crawlers mentioned earlier? They’re working all day to comb the internet for links on your web page to contextualize it within the search engine’s database. One of the easiest and most effective ways to make sure your web pages are seen and deemed relevant by the crawlers is to include as many relevant links as possible.
The trick with linking content is maintaining relevance. Let’s pretend you’re making content for a cooking tips site and writing an article on how to bake chocolate chip cookies. For the links in your article, the type of article you’re looking to link to maximize your SEO is other cooking articles and tips so the crawlers know how to contextualize your article. Think of linking to something like “Tips on how to make the perfect dough” or “Top 5 chocolate brands for baking”. Don’t use links that could confuse the crawlers like “Health effects of chocolate chip cookies” that would suggest your article is relevant for nutrition not cooking.
Create Internal Links
Along with external links, including internal links can help you boost the search rankings of specific pages of your website. Google follows links to discover content on websites and rank the content in the search results. So, if you have many links going to a specific page of your website, it is a signal to Google that the page is high-value — even if the links are coming from your site.
Looking at the Macbook repair shop example again, you can create content answering common questions users may have such as “how much does it cost to repair a Macbook” or “is it worth fixing a Macbook” or “how do I fix my Macbook.” With all of this content linking back to the “repair” page of your website, Google would recognize the page as a high value source of information on “fixing Macbooks” or “repairing Macbooks.”
This strategy isn’t just great for SEO; it can also help with user engagement as well. Relevant links to other landing pages on your site give customers easy pathways to more information, products, or services they might be interested in. The more pages a user engages with, the more opportunities you have to convert them into a lead or make a sale.
Include Location When Relevant
Local SEO is SEO designed to maximize your visibility within locally relevant search queries. Any business that has a physical location or serves a specific geographical area is able to benefit from local SEO. Google My Business is a great place to start to let Google know where your business is located and which areas you serve.
When creating content for your website, make sure to include details like contact information and your address in the footer of your website. This lets search engines know every page of your website is relevant to users near your location, which should increase your chances of ranking high in relevant search results for users in your area.
Another common strategy for local SEO is to create a landing page for every single relevant area surrounding your business. By including your address on every page, you only create hyper-local SEO. But if you serve a surrounding area, your business should ensure those areas are being served in search engines as well.
This strategy can work for businesses that have multiple locations as well. Create a “locations” section on you website and create a page for each location.
Create a Mobile-Friendly Site
Today, more than 55% of worldwide internet traffic comes from mobile devices. With that in mind, search engines like Google have been shifting the focus of their algorithms more and more to support mobile friendly content. This means if your content is not friendly to mobile users, you could get left behind.
The key to generating mobile-friendly content is ensuring that your website pages look great no matter the size of the screen a user is viewing them on. You want users to have a fantastic experience regardless of if they are using a mobile phone, a laptop, or a huge monitor. Ideally, you want a responsive website where formatting is automatically adjusted based on the size of screen a user is utilizing. Luckily, there are tools that can help visualize your search results on mobile devices and advise the optimal word counts for your titles, page descriptions, and content across all devices, such as the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.
Need help with SEO
If your head is spinning after digesting all of this information, don’t worry — you don’t have to implement SEO on your own. At MINDSCAPE, we can perform an SEO audit of your site, help you with keyword research and content expansion, and update technical and on-page SEO elements to help you increase your rankings. Just click below to get in touch with us!