A Beginner’s Guide to SEO
How often do you scroll to page two of Google search results? Not Often. Thus, you can understand why effective search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to a successful business. Search engine optimization does exactly what the name implies; it optimizes your content so that search engines will place it higher on the list of results. In turn, an increase in rank will bring you closer to page 1 on Google while hopefully delivering more visitors to your website.
Since search engines drive the majority of web traffic, it comes as no surprise why countless brands from various industries invest so much time and effort into the optimization process. But whether you’re a spine surgeon or an online retailer, how can you ensure that these tactics are both ethical and practical? The digital marketing experts at Premiere Creative understand this complicated process, which is why we’ve compiled everything brands need to know about SEO into this helpful guide.
Understanding Search Engines
Before jumping into how to optimize content, let us give you a firm understanding of how search engines function. After a user types a phrase into a search engine, the search engine follows a complicated algorithm to provide the user with the most useful and relevant results. Afterwards, it ranks these results to provide a better user experience, with the best links positioned at the top. Search engines rank the SERP results according to relevance and popularity.
Relevance: There is an advanced system of checks and balances that most engines use to identify quality pages. For example, if a user types “shoe repair” into a search engine, the engine will scour the Internet to find websites that include the words ‘shoe repair’, and how many times the search terms appear. It will also crawl the titles, and put websites whose titles include this term higher. Then, search engines will carefully examine a website’s backlinks. This helps narrow the results further, with the notion being that websites containing quality backlinks are both authoritative and satisfy visitors.
Popularity: After the search engine determines a list of results that are relevant; it ranks these results according to popularity. Search engines assume that the amount of web traffic a website receives is directly linked to the value of the information it must contain. Search engines then rank popularity based on a number of factors including the number of page views, amount of social shares, and quality backlinks.
Using the Right Keywords Throughout Your Website
The first step to any solid SEO campaign involves evaluating targeted keywords. Keywords act as the building blocks for developing an SEO strategy because it dictates all content created in order to rank for a certain keyword or phrase. When a website creates more high-quality content surrounding a particular keyword or phrase, that website will have a greater chance of ranking on search engines. Brands also have the chance of ranking for similar keywords due to advance algorithms like Google’s Hummingbird update.
With so many potential keywords out there, how does one possibly expect to choose a few? The best keywords are the ones with high search volume, but also a low competition rate. In layman’s terms, this means that the phrase is popular, but not a lot of websites are targeting them, which places you at an advantage of gaining rank for that phrase.
As you develop your list of keywords you wish to rank for, think about words or phrases that potential customers might use when searching for the products or services you offer. After you’ve developed a set of solid keywords, carefully implement them throughout your existing web pages and through future published content. These keywords should not exclusively appear within the web copy, but also in page titles, header tags, and meta data. However, you must be careful not to excessively stuff keywords into pages. In the past, marketers would overload content with keywords in efforts to climb in search engine rankings.
While these black hat tactics worked for a short period, Google released the Panda update to punish websites that deployed these unethical methods. Now, if a website abuses keyword stuffing, the website will suffer Google’s wrath by losing their rank or even risk becoming de-indexed.
Tag Length and Placement
Tags help classify content for both users and search engines. Title tags can be extremely important for SEO. The title tag appears on the search engine result page or SERP. Most search engines only show the first 60-75 characters of a title tag, so be mindful of its length. It’s also a good idea to include keywords in the beginning of the title tag to encourage users to click.
Meta description tags are also useful in gaining clicks, as they also appear on the SERP.
When creating Meta tags, be sure to include keywords in full sentences. While not required, each page should still possess a distinct Meta description tag.
Short Descriptive URLs
While this may seem trivial at first glance, URLs are actually a key factor in an SEO strategy. The best URL allows a user to determine the exact content of the website before he or she ever click through to the page. URLs need to be descriptive while containing a specific keyword that webmasters seek to rank for. URLS also need to be short, minimizing the length to make them readable, and easier to copy and paste.
Most URLs start with HTTP or HTTPS. Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) refers to the standard protocol used to retrieve web files from the particular server they reside in. Meanwhile, HTTPS is the secure version of this protocol, implemented for heightened security. Both versions offer benefits; however, it is ultimately up to a Webmaster as to which version they want to include.
Proper Coding Format
Top performing search results include HyperText Markup Language (HTML) text. For SEO neophytes, this format is how developers code web pages to make them look stunning and practical. This format also allows Google bots to crawl throughout the page and potentially index them. As you develop your website, try to include HTML code throughout every page so that Google and other search engines don’t have difficulty scanning them.
When search engines experience roadblocks while crawling a page, they probably won’t index them. Once a search engine passes over a web page, webmasters will have to wait for Google’s bots to return, which could be an undisclosed length. To avoid unnecessary waiting, take the time to implement HTML code on a website from the start.
Ongoing Search Engine Optimization for Your Website
When optimizing your web content to appear on search engines, be sure to use the methods that work best for your specific content, and strategize their use. It is important to grasp that SEO is not a one-time thing; instead, webmasters must tend to it often and constantly update their strategy that it coincides with industry practices. Algorithms constantly update, so why should an SEO strategy remain stagnant?
As a general rule of thumb, think about how your SEO campaign will affect website visitors. While it can be easy to get caught up in the tricks to optimize your content, your focus should never be solely on creating an SEO intensive website. Rather, you should strive to create the best possible user experience. To learn more about SEO and how it can supercharge your business, call us at (973) 346-8100 or contact the digital marketers at Premiere Creative today.