It would be difficult to go a week or even a day without encountering acronyms & abbreviations in today’s world. If you are big into TV shows, you probably know what GOT refers to, If you enjoy beer from time-to-time like we do, you more than likely understand what ABV and IBUs mean. But, when it comes to the health of your website, and thus, possibly your business and livelihood, no other three letters are more vital than SEO. This subject is no laughing matter BTW, so we hope our rundown of beginner steps will help you understand what SEO is and why it is so crucial to continuously think about and work on.
What are Search Engines & What is SEO?
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization, but before we can elaborate on some best practices regarding this three-lettered acronym, let’s first understand the back story of the entire topic. Whenever ‘surfing’ or ‘searching’ the web, we all usually use what are called ‘search engines’. These are your Google’s, Yahoo’s, Bing’s and Baidu’s of the world. These search engines basically act as digital encyclopedias by interpreting what you type in, crawling (or searching) the world wide web, and then presenting you with its findings based on your search. Ultimately, you are then shown certain types of results (organic results, not paid for) which are referred to as the ‘search engine results pages’ (SERPs).
Have you ever wondered why these specific results are shown to you? Well, this is where your website’s SEO comes into play. All of those results are found and then interpreted by the search engines (based on their algorithms) as relevant and helpful due to what was searched. Simply stated, SEO is any sort of optimizing efforts that are implemented within your website to help the search engines find it more easily. In the end, the goal of SEO is to then help your website show as a top organic (free, natural) search result which will hopefully lead to more traffic.
Digging a little bit further, Google has a major hold on search engine use/market share so many SEO best practices are based on Google’s platforms. Also, it is believed that over 70% of users never go past the first page of the search results…and furthermore, the first three organic search results get roughly 60% of the traffic! In effect, the first page and the top results are prime real estate so let’s learn some best practices to try to get there!
SEO Foundations for Your Existing or New Website
Now that we understand a little bit more about search engines and SEO, here is a list of our top beginner best practices to take into consideration and to follow so you can improve your website’s SEO:
Step 1. – Keyword Research
The goal is to rank on the first page of the search results so you must try to understand what people are typing into the search engines when it relates to your website. To do this, you should first perform what is called ‘keyword research’. This is basically understanding what phrases and words users are searching for. One of our favorite free tools to use is Google Keyword Planner. In addition to this, you should take time to do competitor research so you can better understand what topics/phrases your competitors are using throughout their sites. Also, don’t forget about yourself. Think about keywords you want to rank for that you believe make sense to your business. This first step is a great foundation on the path of SEO.
Step 2. – Website Audit & Onsite Tags
With your keyword and competitor research in hand, you should do an audit of your website. Whether new or old, you are going to want to make sure all of your URLs are written simply. By that, we recommend using short, but to the point descriptions. For example, this blog URL is, “/what-is-seo-for-websites.” Not only is that easy to read for humans, it is easy for the search engines to crawl and understand what the page is about.
Another major factor to consider are your onsite tags. You want to optimize them with appropriate keywords. Secondly, the words you use to optimize them should relate to and be based on the content of pages you are describing. The onsite tags include:
Step 3. – Copy Optimization, Link Building, & Conversion Rate Qualities
Optimize any existing copy, links, and content throughout the website by making grammar edits and adding in relevant keywords. But, do not overstuff your content or links’ anchor text with keywords…you should always create easy to read, natural, & relevant content.
In addition to copy optimization, think about linking some of your pages to other pages across your website that receive good amounts of traffic. This strategy provides great user experience and may help boost page rankings. In addition to internal linking, gaining links from other websites is a major piece of SEO. Doing guest blog posts for a partner company and getting a link from their site to yours is one way to do it. Or, even better, continue to make great content on your own and hopefully others will use your website as a great reference destination and link to you in their website pages!
In addition to those ideas, make sure you have easy to find and relevant ‘calls to action’ on all of your main pages and landings pages. For example, if you have a consulting company, make sure you have buttons that say something like, “Call For a Free Quote”. Engaging your target market, giving them information they can trust, and giving it to them in a way that is easy to find is the name of the game.
Step 4. – Fresh & Engaging Content
In addition to optimizing your content on a regular basis, you should continuously update your website with new and relevant content. New blogs and pages that are descriptive, relevant to your business, and include keywords along with calls to action are a great recipe for ranking higher in search engine results. Remember, each piece of content should serve a purpose, whether it is to be informative or to drive action.
Step 5. – Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
Being 2017, the majority of website traffic and searches are done on mobile devices! In effect, it is paramount to make sure you have a ‘responsive’ website that functions and looks great on smaller mobile devices. With the amount of traffic and the fact that Google’s algorithm favors responsive websites, we want to leave with you the major recommendation to make sure you have a mobile friendly site. You can check with many free tools such as Responsinator. If your site does not fit or adapt to mobile screens, you may want to think about a redesign!
Continue to Know Your SEO As The Times Are A Changing…Always
Who knew three little letters could be so important?! Although this is a solid beginner list, there are plenty of other more technical items of SEO to consider. We also want to warn you that since Google and other search engines are always learning and changing…so is SEO. We recommend staying up-to-date on all things SEO by checking out Moz, SEJournal, and Search Engine Land.