Search Engine Optimization: A Primer

Let’s face the facts: the creation of a website alone is not enough to make it visible on the internet, although ranking for keywords that are relevant to your business is crucial.

Even if you pour all of your energy into your website, making it creative, content-rich, and innovative, it may be buried among thousands of other websites on the back pages of Google. It may as well be hidden in a cave in the desert! From a user’s perspective, there’s not much of a difference, because they won’t be able to find you by searching in Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

In today’s world, the majority of users find the majority of the information they’re interested in through the use of search engines, which provide relevant search results. How, then, can a business position itself well in Google?

What’s ultimately important: gaining a strong ranking position and using paid search to appear on the search engines that carry the highest percentage of traffic: Google, Yahoo, Bing, & their search partners.

To be indexed & included, however, isn’t enough. It’s vital to be on the first page, above the fold (a reference to newspapers), for the terms that your customers are searching to find you. Are your competitors showing up? You bet. It’s time to take action, and SEO is the best way to get there!

As a digital marketer, the goal is to increase the visibility of your site in search engines, earning a top position in Google by building a relevant, technically-sound, and engaging website that people love to use.

search engine optimization strategies

Although the process is very complex, here’s a high-level summary of the steps involved to gain a priority position in search engines:

Keyword research: by conducting a thorough analysis of your competitors’ sites: looking at how they position their products and services, corporate image; their description of themselves. They then surgically include these keywords on their sites in ways that signal to search engines that they’re important and relevant.

Tactical recommendation: compile a list of keywords that are important to your business & to include on your site. Fortunately, there are lots of resources showing how to do long tail keyword research for seo with examples, so you don’t need to look too far in order to find relevant information.

Site Optimization: This is where it gets tricky. Optimization of the HTML code to signal to Google that the site is relevant & authoritative For example, writing compelling meta tags that get your customers to click on your listing, placement & emphasis of important keywords in your content, optimizing the structure of the site to make it easy for the search engine “spiders” to crawl and index your pages. By setting up reporting correctly, you can confirm that your site has been crawled, indexed, and appears in Google search.

Registration in search engines: once your site is built, you have to say hello! Let them know that you exist by registering on Google & Bing webmaster tools, create a sitemap & robots.txt file, and submit them.

Improving the website authority: the improvement in the popularity of a website is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to be recognized as an authority in a particular industry, and takes lots of quality content, mentions from other authoritative websites, and building your brand’s visibility.

Rank tracking: Once you know which keywords are a priority, it’it’s important to track where you are! See where you stand today, so that you can create a benchmark and measure future performance.

Common SEO Misconceptions:

Misconception: you need a new website
Oftentimes, an agency will tell a customer that their website needs a complete overhaul in order to rank well in the SERPs. This is often wildly expensive, time-consuming, and may also require a brand refresh. This is largely untrue, and in fact, as most websites can be improved by simply creating great content & building mentions from industry authorities. It’s not that complex, but it’s in the agency’s interest to make it seem that way.

After all, who benefits from this? The agency that profits, of course!

Misconception: you can rank one website on page one for hundreds of keywords.
Although a single page can rank well for a certain family of terms, Google loves diversity. Why would they rank the same website for thousands of keywords, when there are almost certainly better options out there?

Misconception: rankings are guaranteed, or that there are “positions available” on Google.
This is a scam used by telemarketers; there are no positions “available” on Google if you consult with a particular company. Everyone is on their own, and the best website will rank. There is no way to guarantee that a strategy will work, and all websites are subject to penalties, negative SEO by competitors, and other factors that can’t be controlled.

In closing, analysis is key. Determining the keywords that are most important to your business, by way of competitor analysis, search engine tools, and common sense, is the most important step. Once that’s in place, take action! Write engaging content that stimulates your readers and positions you as an authority in your industry. Describe your pages accurately and succinctly without being spammy. Fix technical issues: bring on a web developer from UpWork if you have to. It’ll cost $100 – $500, and could illuminate issues that have been holding your website down for years. Finally, track results! See what’s working & what’s a waste of time by looking at your website analytics. Onward & upward!