A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

If you have a website or if you’re involved in marketing, you’ve probably heard of search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO is very important to the success and visibility of your website, but some people are unaware of what it is and how it works.

What is SEO?

SEO is a marketing tactic used to increase the visibility of your site on a search engine, such as Google or Yahoo.

Think of it this way: when you’re in need of a business, product or service, you probably turn to search engines to perform a search on what you need. Once you search, results are generated for you on a search engine results page, also known as a SERP.

Unbeknownst to most, these SERPs do not just appear randomly. Instead, search engines use specific algorithms to rank websites based on numerous factors, and these algorithms are part of SEO.

The use of keywords.

When a user performs a search on a search engine, they generally type in keywords to help produce better, and sometimes more specific, results. For example, if you were searching for a cost-effective plumber in the city of Chicago, you would probably enter “cheap plumber Chicago” into the search engine. These are known as keywords.

When a business or person creates a website, they need to implement keywords into their website content to help with SEO. Search engines use a technology known as a spider to virtually crawl through a website looking for keywords, and they use this information in their algorithm to rank your website.

When writing content for your website, it is important to include a great amount of keywords throughout your pages. To be most effective, these keywords need to flow naturally in your content, and you should never have a page on your website that just mentions keyword after keyword in order to try and generate a higher page rank.

Before writing content for your site, it’s important to think of popular words or phrases that people would use to locate your website. For help, Google offers a keyword tool through Google AdWords that can help you locate the most popular keywords for your site. Be sure to incorporate your most popular keywords into your content. The more keywords search engine spiders find, the better results your site will see.

Basic ways to improve SEO.

First, you need to ensure that your content is rich with keywords that those searching for your website would find useful. Then, you need to make sure that any pictures on your site contain a description, meta and alt tag that have keywords. While a search engine spider can’t see your images, they can read the text behind them, and if they are rich in keywords instead of IMG1234, it will help improve your search engine ranking.

Next, check the URLs of your website. If possible, try and keep your URLs free of random words, symbols and numbers that have nothing to do with your website. If your URL is easy to read and has valuable keywords, spiders will be able to read the URLs and rank them more appropriately.

If possible, update your content on a regular basis. The implementation of a company blog that is attached to your website is a great way to do this. If the content on your site is constantly changing, spiders will regularly come back to your site, crawl it for keywords, and reassess your ranking, and this can be great for your visibility.

Let’s say that you have a website dedicated to banking. Your website contains every banking keyword, and when someone searches for anything related to banking, your site comes up. This is a great thing. The problem is that you’re only reaching an audience interested in banking. If you have a blog on your website, and in one of your blog posts you talk about the benefits that banking provides to schools, you are now adding keywords associated with education. Now, if someone is searching for great banking tips for schools, your site will appear, giving your site more visibility and a wider audience.

Finally, you need to ensure that you produce great content that people enjoy reading and want to share with their friends. If a spider comes across a link to your website on another website, it will have a greater affect on your site’s algorithm.

What to take away.

SEO is important for the visibility of your site. The higher your site gets ranked on the search engines has an impact on how much traffic is brought to your site and how many new leads or new sales you can acquire.

It’s important to understand, though, that great SEO doesn’t occur overnight. If your site is currently on the last page of a SERP, don’t expect adding keywords to propel you to page 1 very quickly. These SEO tactics take time to marinate, and it’s important that you implement them correctly and remain patient, and you’ll eventually see great results.

Photo Credit: thewebpunk