Having an online presence has become crucial in the business world. It can be hard to break through all the “noise” on the internet if you don’t have a solid digital strategy. Understanding what search engine optimization (SEO) is and how it works can give you a competitive edge in your industry.
What Does SEO Mean to Me?
In a nutshell, SEO is the practice of optimizing your website for search engines like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. If you’re a data-driven person, your percent of organic traffic can help you measure how healthy the SEO on your website is.
How did you get to this page? Chances are you were searching for something like “best SEO practices” or “how to improve website SEO.” Your search engine combed through the internet for relevant information, narrowed down the best results, and voilà – here we are. If your website is performing poorly, there are several factors that could be at play. Your organic traffic is a strong indicator of how many users are getting to your site through a search engine. You can automatically record your organic traffic over an extended period of time by signing up for a free tool like Google Analytics.
Search engines will pull results that are the most applicable to a user’s search. It will make this determination based on information like website content, links, readability, and page loading times. Here are some ways you can make your website stand out against the competition.
This might seem like common sense, but we’ve got to say it anyways. Many companies use website builders like Wix or Squarespace to create their website. There are many benefits – these platforms are cost-effective, easy to use, and provide stunning results. More importantly, these platforms will automatically convert your website to mobile and completely remove the cost of hiring a developer.
What does that mean for companies with outdated websites or content that is not mobile-friendly? These traditionalists will have very poor visibility in search results, because search engines won’t make their website a priority. Not to mention, people who visit a website that isn’t optimized for mobile use are far more likely to bounce right off the site due to a bad user experience.
Keywords, Ranking and Readability
Another factor that will influence your ranking in search engines is the type of keywords you are using. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to sound smart, but sounding overly sophisticated will actually work against you. When you’re researching keywords that are relevant to your business, put yourself in the shoes of a potential prospect. What were they searching for before they came to your website?
As a general rule, simple websites are always better. The average user was not typing “Conversion Form” or “canonical URL” when they found this article. Search engines are getting smart every day, and know how to sort through information based on our search history and past behavior. Even the pictures and files you upload to your website should be named with keywords in mind. Use language that is easy to understand and frequently used. This will help you create stronger content and ultimately improve your SEO ranking.
Keep it Fresh and Trendy
Once you have content that is relevant and easy to understand, you’ll need to update that content regularly. Information changes faster than most of us can process it. If you want to attract new visitors to your website, you need to show them (and search engines) that you are a trustworthy source and provide current trends. Try monitoring your social media accounts on a daily basis to see what people are talking about.
Increase Your Website Speed
Even a delay of just a few seconds can have negative impacts on your page views, number of return visitors, and user satisfaction. Search engines give us so many options, we do not have the patience to sit and wait while a web page loads. Your visitors are far less likely to explore other pages on your site if the landing page gives them a bad first impression.
There are many factors that determine page loading speed. The size and format of the media on your website is one of them. If you’re using huge images that haven’t been optimized for a website, it will decrease your SEO ranking and visitor count. Be careful, though – you don’t want to reduce the file size to the point where the image quality is poor.
Use Headers and Backlinks
As mentioned before, two important things in the SEO world are readability and trust. Instead of just dropping web copy on a page, make sure the page is broken up with sections and headers. It not only looks better, but it gives search engines a better understanding of the information you are sharing. Headers are a great place to drop in the keywords we mentioned earlier.
Backlinks direct people back to your website from different sources. The more backlinks there are directing people to your site, the higher your SEO ranking will be. You can do this through social media, email outreach, or anywhere that your company information is listed outside of your own website. Backlinks are like positive referrals in a way, pointing people and search engines in the right direction to get the information they want.
These best on-site SEO practices will help you increase your online visibility, and in turn, generate more organic traffic. The moral of the story is: you don’t need a strong SEO ranking just to beat the competition, you need it to compete. No matter how good your product or service is, you need online visibility to make it in the digital age. If you don’t have it, your message will get lost in all the noise.