The Basics of SEO
WHAT IS SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of optimizing your website to earn a high ranking on major search engines like Google or Yahoo when people search terms that are related to companies like yours.
SOUND SIMPLE, RIGHT? WELL NOT SO MUCH.
These search engines have large teams of engineers working on the search algorithm full time, so as you can imagine, updating ranking factors is a very common thing. SEO is an ever-evolving practice for marketers to compete for listings based on those changes, so websites must be continually optimized based on the evolving ranking factors. Simply put: SEO is time consuming and always changing.
SO WHY DO IT?
The higher you rank for your industry terms, the better chance someone will click on your website. How many times have you only gone as far as the the second or third suggested search results pages to find what you wanted? In 2018, Google stated that the first 3 listings alone get close to 55% of total traffic.
OK, SO NOW WHAT?
In order to create a good SEO plan you have to take into account the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), which is what is displayed to a user when a search query is entered. The main goal is to be on page one of that result list as it translates to your specific business. This is where optimizing your site for crawlers helps. Check out a few of the top ranking factors for 2018 and how these can affect your standing on major search engines:
1. Crawlable URLs, Images, etc.
Make sure to optimize everything on your pages to keep it understandable when bots crawl it for content. It’s important to know how to make it understandable to a search engine, otherwise crawling is worthless to you. Google’s own example of how things are interpreted and missed by marketers shows us where we need to use words that directly correlate to the content it refers to:
2. Keyword Research & Content Optimization
Optimizing your content is hands down one of the top things you can do. Beginning with keyword research into your company’s category, you will want to identify commonly searched keywords and phrases to input into titles, h1 tags and content. This is key when having your website indexed by crawlers, and these are the main areas that search engines identify in terms of ranking content from search queries. Careful though, you need to make sure that when identifying these keywords they are not overused by competition, in which will be difficult to compete for ranking.
3. Page Speed and Security
Another thing to think about is page speed and security settings. Google takes into account the actual speed/load time of your website, as well as whether or not there are secure calls (HTTP vs HTTPS). This one is simple: the slower your page is, the worse off you are and secure server language (SSL) is also a plus.
4. HTML Markup and Schema
This one is important as it relates to how your development team structures the code itself. The crawlers do not see the pretty website, they see a bunch of code calls, so it is important to make them organized in a fashion that allows these crawlers to understand the information easily. To learn more about this, visit the shared collection of correct vocabulary at Schema.org.
Last but not least, links that are both pointing to you and that you are linking out to is always a big factor when it comes down to the algorithm. It ranks your page authority based on the quality of websites that are linking to you. For example: If Forbes links to your website, it will be far higher ranked than your local news blog linking to you. Why? Millions of people visit Forbes per year and that is noted as a credible source by search engines. So, Forbes linking to your business’s website notes to the search engine that your website also has credibility for specific subjects.
Google’s algorithm is designed to find and weed out any deception or cheating of the ranking factors listed above. Things like rapidly repeating specific keywords and buying links to surpass page rank are forbidden within their guidelines, so it’s best to keep the content relevant and do it right.