Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something everyone seems to know about—or at least they know that they need it. That presumptive attitude leads to many myths and misconceptions. To play and succeed in the SEO game will take planning, strategy, and most of all work. There is no magic wand to make your website number one in a search result. Let’s dive in to find out the real story behind SEO.
The Obvious Question… What is it?
On the surface, we all know the basic goal of SEO is to increase your rankings on search result pages, but it’s important to understand what factors go into that ranking.
These are constantly being updated, but the most important factors in 2020 continue to be content, page mobility, page speed, relevancy, the structure of content, links to the content, domain age and authority, and many more. So, as you can see, search engines use complex algorithms to return the best and most relevant content to their users.
It sounds a little overwhelming, and it can be. Below we’ll get into some basics and best practices that will help get a handle on your own SEO.
Why Do You Need to Worry About it?
You make widgets and people will search for widgets so your site should be there, right? Well, let’s say all of the other ranking factors were thrown out the window. That leaves us with the subject matter of your widget. Chances are there are many, many, many other sites from those that manufacture, sell, write about, and even complain about similar widgets. Now your site is lost in a sea of generality about widgets. That’s where the other factors come in. The more factors you address, the more likely you are to move towards discoverability.
So How Do You Find SEO Success?
You can try to go for the quick fix, but that usually involves more money and some unethical practices that can be discovered by Google and get you blacklisted. The best approach is the long game. The more you post, define, refine, and promote, you’ll eventually establish an authority. This includes the age of your domain, the number of other sites linking to yours, and the sheer amount of content you generate over the years on a particular subject.
For those just getting started with a new domain and website, make sure you are very proactive about getting your information out there for the world.
Your SEO Plan
Where to Begin?
Whether your site is 10 years old or you’re just about to launch, having the right SEO strategy is crucial to generating the organic traffic that can lead to sales—or whatever your goal is.
The best place to start is with an SEO checklist to simply confirm that all of the basics are done and best practices are followed.
Define Your Goals (Realistically)
What do you expect SEO to do for you, your website, and your business overall? Do you want more traffic, more leads, more sales? “Yes” is generally the answer. SEO often has the perception it is a panacea for all business issues. It’s not but it can certainly help with the right strategy and expectations.
If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, focusing on local as a strategy is a great way to be as “relevant” as a big box store. That doesn’t mean you’ll get the business, but with simple tactics, you can be listed right alongside the mega-sites with all the money and SEO wizardry money can buy. So be sure to list your business with Google and other search engines. Including Google My Business, Google offers many tools and resources to help out even the most novice web user.
If you want more leads, look at how you can use structured data to motivate and inform a potential customer. Displaying your site with richer features on the listing page might be all it takes to attract customers actively look to make a purchase.
For additional planning, utilize Google’s Keyword Planner. Primarily intended for ads, another traffic-driving option, it can be used for your websites as well. It will help you discover more searchable words and phrases that aren’t too specific or too general.
“Content is King”
I’m sure you’ve heard it before. It could not be more true. While you should address as many factors as you can, ignoring this one will be the most detrimental to your rankings. Google stresses the importance of fresh, relevant content.
Give Visitors the Information They’re Looking For
Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. – Google, Steps to a Google-friendly site
What does this mean for you? You are now a professional writer. Maybe that doesn’t sound right, but who better to talk about your business than you? The key to this is having a website with a CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress. Beyond giving you the ability to update your website on a regular basis, the WordPress platform has inherent optimizations and offers plugins to help you up your SEO game dramatically.
Run an SEO Audit
Hubspot offers an SEO audit kit to make sure you’re on the right track or identify what needs help. A key measuring tool for this is Google Analytics. If you aren’t using it, or something like it, already I would suggest doing so. It’s free!
Find Your Niche. The Worldwide Web is a Pretty Big Place.
Going back to our widget-maker example from earlier, the reality is they are not trying to sell to everyone looking for widgets. Their widgets are lightweight, hand-crafted widgets that make import cars go faster. Now they can start to focus on a smaller group of internet searchers. Defining themselves can not only help identify their audience but their competition as well. This enables our widget-maker to use language and offers their competition does not. And now they are beginning to separate themselves in an even smaller pond. With more SEO love the fish will soon be jumping in the proverbial boat.
SEO Resources to Consider
Remember, there’s no magic wand for SEO. The best resource is you. SEO takes work. It needs to be part of your daily business routine. Add new content. Update existing content. Schedule posts. Send out emails directing your audience back to a post. Have a sale and promote it through all of your channels. Just keep at it!
Don’t forget social media is a great—and free—resource to drive traffic to your site. The widget-maker may not have a lot to share with his friends and family regarding their space-age, go-fast widget for cars, but they can certainly join a group, start a business page, and comment on other related posts. All of which can become shareable and continue to establish the widget-maker as an expert.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is another way to go. Maybe you’re not ready to spend big bucks on paid search or PPC, but fear not, you can set caps and a budget. Once again, Hubspot has a great piece on this. You can also learn more from Google itself.
Here’s a list of just some of the other resources available to a business owner with a website that is looking to increase traffic and rankings:
- Google Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide
- 10 SEO Myths You Should Ignore
- Yoast SEO WordPress plugin and blog
- SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide for 2020
- Google How Search algorithms work
SEO Deserves your Attention
While the title of this article is a little tongue-in-cheek, in order to achieve SEO success, you need to show it some love every day. It’s simply not a set it and forget it notion. You may never rank number one in a given search, and that’s okay. If you’ve made a solid plan with a multi-pronged approach and continue to feed the beast, you’ll be in good shape.
If you would still like some help from the experts, don’t forget you can always talk to Peabody!