There are a great deal of buzz words out there on the internet regarding SEO, and it can be overwhelming when all you need is an overview to understand the basics. So we have broken down the top 4 things (and a bonus tip) that every website owner should know about SEO.
SEO- Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of providing the best and most accurate information to search engines so that your potential customers find you first. SEO is typically broken down into three categories: onsite SEO, link building, and content. All three use the basis of keywords to create an online reputation for your site that search engines rely on for rankings. The end-result is to attract new visitors that are searching for your products or services to your site through the search engines.
1. Onsite Items and Keyword Usage
Onsite SEO: title tags, header tags, Alt tags for images, and text on the site, all go toward SEO ranking. You have the most control over Onsite SEO and it is the easiest to modify. The key with onsite SEO is to accurately describe the information a page of your website contains using terms that are highly searched. These terms should be targeted for users that most likely need or want your site’s services.
Here's some important terms for you:
- Keywords- Key Phrases- These are the words or phrases that visitors type into Google and other search engines.
- Title Tags- The Title Tag is one of the single most important factors for ranking in the search results. Not only is it the literal title of the tab or browser window, it is also the first line people see in the search results, followed by the URL and the meta description.
- Meta Descriptions- Meta Descriptions are the snippet of information found below the Title Tag and URL on a search results page.
- Alt Tags- Alt Tags are the titles used by Google to read images found on your website. While the text does not show up visibly on the site, alt tags are there so that search engines can understand images placed on your website.
2. Link Building Strategy
Link building is one of the largest contributing factors for attracting users to your site, and does carry weight in search engine rankings depending on the relevance of the link to your site. In essence: the number and quality of sites linking in to your site will positively affect the rankings you have for particular keywords.
Linking strategies generally involve engaging social media pages, blogs and related sites in the attempt to get them to link to your page. The more closely related the site or page is to your expertise the better the link because users, as well as search engines, will more readily notice your site. This can also be applied to your own social media pages as well, the more ways you find to link back to your site, the more those links will help your rankings in the future for the items you link to.
3. Content, Content, Content
In the end, even though you appropriately follow onsite SEO and linking strategy, the biggest contributor to effectively ranking on the top pages for search terms and keeping users on the site will be directly related to the content provided. This is also the best way to seek long-term success in your SEO efforts past the initial onsite efforts.
Create content that inspires viral sharing and natural linking
In the SEO world, we often call this "linkbait." Good examples might include David Mihm's Local Search Ranking Factors, Compare the Meerkat, or the funny How Not To Clean a Window. Each leverages aspects of usefulness, information dissemination, or humor to create a viral effect - users who see it once want to share it with friends, and bloggers/tech-savvy webmasters who see it will often do so through links. This high quality, editorially earned votes are invaluable to building trust, authority, and rankings potential.
Content is more likely to be shared or “go viral” if it connects with someone personally. Create News articles and posts that connect with the people visiting your site. Creating content that appeals to these markets is important for sharing and impressions.
4. Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools
Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools are free resources that allow you to track and analyze the traffic to your site. Using this data you can discover helpful information about the behavior of your customers, what pages are working well and which might need to be re-visited. These tools are vital in creating an ongoing strategy for not only your SEO practices, but also your marketing plan as a whole.
Bonus: The Value of Google +
Google Places is the information that a search engine receives and uses when listing your business. Paired with Google Places, Google+ is your virtual identity for both Google and those searching for you. Your Google+ Page will work best as a social platform used to communicate who you are and how to contact you. Maintaining an active Google+ page will help bring relevance to your business from Google’s standings.
Google+ Local for Businesses is all about the social aspect of search. This is where you connect with customers and/or others in the industry by putting them in your circles (similar to "friends" on Facebook or "followers" on Twitter). What is particularly interesting about Google+ is the idea that Google is starting to offer personalized search results based on your Google+ connections. For example, if person A puts your company in his/her search results, then when person A searches for something related to your company you are more likely to pop up at the top of that search. If person B types in that exact same query but does not have you in his/her Google+ circles, you might pop up at the very bottom of the search instead.
A Google Places page allows you to control what information Google has and presents to searchers about your business.