Fundamentals of search engine optimization
It’s one thing to have a great looking website, but it’s another thing to have a website that gets the results you want. That’s where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes in. Without great SEO, your website runs the risk of not showing up (or ranking poorly) on search engines.
And, a website with poor SEO won’t provide visitors with the kind of user experience that makes them want to learn more about your product or business.
That’s why it’s important to talk SEO with your web developer or digital marketing company. And while most website professionals are skilled in optimizing websites and are always on top of latest SEO trends, anyone with a website integral to their business should know the basics of SEO.
The first thing to know about SEO is that it’s divided into two categories: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page refers to optimizing web pages to rank high on search engines and to attract relevant traffic. Off-page SEO is optimization of a website done outside of your website. Social media, for example, is a good example of off-page SEO.
Below we break down on and off-page SEO a little further and explain the key components of both. If your website isn’t utilizing all of these tactics, it’s time for an SEO refresh.
Fundamentals of On-page SEO
Good content. The content on your website should be engaging and relevant. And most importantly it should serve a purpose, or supply a demand. Whether it’s a video, photograph, graphic or text, it needs to leave the visitor feeling like they gained something useful.
A word about keywords. Using the right keywords is essential to good website content and SEO, however overusing keywords is considered “black hat” SEO. Don’t overuse keywords (known as keyword stuffing) thinking it will help you get traffic. Instead keep your content engaging and easy to read. Well written copy is good SEO.
Content has to be linkable. This may seem obvious, but far too many websites are still using PDFs, content that requires a log in, and content that is otherwise unable to be shared. And if it can’t, it won’t rank at all in search engines.
Strong title tags. Think of this like the indexing of your website. Title tags show up on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the headlines for your webpages. These need to be engaging, but they also have to be accurate. Any misleading or “salesy” title tags will get your website ranked lower.
Clear URLs. Again, this is like an index, or more specifically, a table of contents. You’ll want to structure your URL to be in line with the hierarchy of your website. It also needs to be highly relevant to the web page. This isn’t the place to get creative or fancy. Keep the URL clear and direct.
Fundamentals of Off-page SEO
Link building. This is the perhaps the biggest component of off-page SEO. The more backlinks a website has the greater its potential to rank higher in search engines. There are three types of links. Natural links happen organically. For example, when your website is linked from a blog article, like we are doing here.
If you can get people to share your website, or if you get an influencer to mention your site, it’s considered a manual link. And, self-created links are links within things like signature lines and press releases. These are easy to do, but it’s not recommended that you so often.
Social media marketing. While Facebook ads and posts won’t directly affect your ranking in search engines, it’s a great way to share website content and basically link build. Facebook, especially, can drive traffic to your website and attract customers, as can review sites like Yelp.
Good SEO practices aren’t difficult to master and follow. It really comes down to having engaging content on your site that’s accompanied by solid title tags and URLs. Link building and having a solid social media presence can help drive traffic, too.