Everyone wants to be first. But when it comes to search engines, you really need to be first when potential customers search for keywords or phrases related to your business because if your content is what they’re looking for, they’ll never return to the results page to even look at result #2 and beyond.
In an age where the brand name Google has become a verb used in phrases like, “Just Google the definition of that,” search engine optimization (SEO) has become a key to a successful online presence.
To start your journey on optimizing your company website or blog for search engines, get familiar with how to create strong copy and strategy for ranking higher in results. But before you can create a plan for what to do with your SEO marketing, you must first know what SEO is really all about.
All search engines (i.e., Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) return organic results they believe are most relevant to the user’s search criteria. These results are not always paid ads, which we’ll explain later. They’re simply web pages that these search engines have crawled for the keywords related to the user’s search. Search engines are intuitive and use search history to provide relevant content based off previously winning results for that user because after all, the only way users keep coming back to “just Google it” is if they’re ultimately finding what they want with ease.
The way these search engines decide whether or not to show your content is based off of complicated algorithms including total web traffic, average time users spend on your page or article, trustworthiness of your website, connections via back links to other valuable and related websites, and of course, keywords that match their search criteria.
These factors can be greatly affected by how strategic and well-thought out your website is. If your pages lack page titles, search engines won’t trust you as much, and they are less likely to find your webpage because it’s looking for consistency in keywords in your body text as well as your URL and page titles.
By this point in the article, you’re probably starting to realize just how complicated the algorithms search engines use truly are. The good news is, Fabrica is laying out a plan below that helps you understand step-by-step, how to plan your website for search engine optimization, so read on to start showing up in results.
So now that you know what SEO means, let’s talk about how to get really chummy with search engines to ensure your website is SEO friendly. There are a few main keys to ensuring this.
- Include social media in your SEO marketing plan (which we’ll discuss in greater detail below). Search engines love consistency. So, when you set up your Facebook page, ensure the business page name matches your full company name on your website. For example, if your website name and URL is Search Engine Optimization Guru and searchengineoptimizationguru.com, don’t make your Facebook page SEO Guru. To a search engine, this looks like a separate entity. That link between your company and each of your social media channels should be crystal clear without explanation. Search engines like to see the link in your social profiles be your company URL and your social profile links on your website to go straight back to those same profiles because then the connections are clear.
- Along these same lines, search engines appreciate websites with clear URLs. This means not have your blog posts look something like this: searchengineoptimizationguru.com/content181. This extension on your URL doesn’t tell the search engine more information about what’s on that page. A better option is a link that looks like this: searchengineoptimizationguru.com/10SEOTips. Now there’s a clear description of the content and that extension should match your page title of 10 SEO Tips.
- Ensure your images and videos have metadata attached that tells a search engine what it is. Search engines cannot pull scripts from videos, which is where your keywords are, automatically. It needs some help on this that you can do in the backend when you post your video. The same is true for photos. If you post a photo, be sure the name of the file includes information about what is pictured and add alternate text. Not adding alternate text, while faster for posting blog articles and new content to your website, is a mistake not worth the saved time because now you have a chunk of your page set aside for content that the search engine can’t understand.
You may be asking yourself, what is SEO writing? SEO writing means authoring and posting content targeted with specific keywords to ensure you’re appearing in the search results you hope to. Sometimes this can be a challenge due to the way people search for items on Google. Take for example how someone might search for a search engine optimization guru: search engine optimization guru, Utah. How do you fit that into normal writing?
The good news is, that pesky comma before the city name doesn’t have to be there in your articles to ensure your content appears in results. You can actually adjust those phrases slightly with punctuation as needed and “stop words” like in, a, the, which search engines tend to overlook in crawling.
The key to successful SEO articles is to write the content in such a way that the reader would never know it was written to achieve certain keywords. The easiest way to do this in your SEO articles is to naturally write the articles about the topic and then go back and insert the keywords where they make sense. That way you aren’t sacrificing the narrative for the keywords. When you reread it, it should be fairly apparent where you can insert the words.
If you aren’t well-versed in this tactic, it may be best to hire SEO content writers. These professionals are trained and have made a profession out of ensuring content is engaging while still helping you achieve your search engine goals. SEO content writers will sprinkle in your keywords in a way that makes perfect sense to the reader.
- Start your content strategy with SEO. This means actually deciding what keywords to optimize for before ever deciding what kind of content to create, where to post it and how to promote that content. If you start with SEO as your focus by doing keyword research, you’ll ensure that everything you do surrounds those keywords. This allows your content strategy to be very strategic instead of being a shot in the dark or just following what your competitors are doing.
- Is targeted, thorough and answers your customer’s search engine query. Targeting your content to your audience ensures that not only will they find it on a search engine, but it will reach the right person at the right time. This ensures your content is actually selling your product or service. If you’re blog or website reaches a large audience but doesn’t convert, this won’t help you. Thorough content means you’ve gone in depth into the topic. Generally speaking, pages or blogs with 1,000 words or more tend to do better than short-form posts because they provide greater detail to your customers so they don’t have to go elsewhere to read further information and it fully answers their question to where they see you as a subject matter expert to buy your product.
- Design from a customer perspective. Content that is engaging with images and interaction ensures your visitors will stay and read your full piece of content, increasing your time on page, increasing the likelihood that search engines will continue to show your content in results. Use visuals that can easily be shared on social media to further spread your article’s reach. Ensure the content is clear and easy to read. Chunky paragraphs and a website design that has no way of breaking up the content with visuals will make your content look difficult to read and send your visitors away to look at the next result in their search engine.
- Ensure accuracy. You don’t want to have grammatical errors and typos strewn throughout your content or your readers will be turned off and look elsewhere for something they enjoy reading. Be sure all content is fact checked as well because you want to showcase yourself as a subject matter expert to bring recognition to your company name. While incorrect facts may bring that recognition, it isn’t the kind of recognition you’re hoping for.
- Paid search engine ads. If your rank is low, but your keywords are strong, you may need to drive more traffic to your site to help increase your ranking. The algorithm search engines use favors popular websites that receive large amounts of traffic. Target your paid search ads to the keywords you’ve optimized for to ensure the right traffic is going to your site so that search engines are seeing the correlation.
- Quality inbound links. Partnerships with other organizations or providing content that bloggers or others want to link to will help your site rise in the rankings. This needs to be strategic though. You can’t put out content related to plumbing for your search engine optimization guru website because your links will be from sites completely unrelated to your subject matter, which search engines don’t favor. Don’t pay for services that just link up your content to large amounts of other websites. Google is fully aware to these tactics and can tell a good link vs. a paid, irrelevant link.
Why is SEO important?
By now, we hope you’re convinced as to why SEO is important, but if not, we’ll reiterate the importance of a strong SEO strategy. As sales and consumers’ interaction with companies move online more and more, you need to be not only present, but first, and here are the key items to keep in mind:
- Not all types of content play well in search engines. Forms, images, videos and flash all need background details to tell a search engine what type of content this is and why it matters.
- Uncommonly searched phrases, though synonyms to commonly searched phrases, won’t help you rank. Knowing what keywords to target and how to incorporate them is a key to ensuring you’re actually appearing in results you want to.
- Not all links to your site are equal. Yes, you want inbound links, but ensure these are quality sites linking to you because search engines are intelligent to know the difference.
- Creating content regularly that is at least 1,000 words in length helps search engines see that your site is being updated regularly and that you provide thorough content that provides longer times on page from visitors so that search engines favor your site.
We hope you found some of the SEO tips and tricks useful!