What is SEO? and How It Works for Small Businesses?
We’ve created this SEO guide for you as an introduction to Search Engine Optimization.
For businesses that are just looking to build a website or need a complete a website redesign, search engine optimization, or SEO can feel a bit intimidating. We want to make it less so.
There are steps you can take to make a positive impact that will help you improve your search engine optimization. With a little SEO knowledge, you can improve your brand’s search engine ranking.
Let’s get into answering the big question-
What is SEO and How It Works?
SEO is an acronym that stands for search engine optimization, which is the process of optimizing your website to get organic, or un-paid, traffic from the search engine results page. We want to make your site more attractive to a search engine getting your site displayed as a top result on the search engine results page.
Search engine optimization can get rather complicated due to all the factors that impact your ranking; the process is not as difficult to understand.
The bottom line is that search engines want to provide the best experience for their users. This means delivering results on the (SERPs) search engine results pages that are not only high quality but also relevant to what the user is searching.
Search engines will scan, or crawl, a website to better understand what the site is about. This helps the search engines deliver more relevant results to those who are searching for certain topics or keywords. Similarly, the search engines will scan the site to determine how easy it is to navigate and to read. They reward user-friendly sites with higher rankings on the search engine results page.
SEO is the process that companies go through to help make sure that their site ranks high in the search engines for relevant keywords and phrases. For example, if you write a blog post about how to make a sandbox. To get your article in front of the right people, you want to try to optimize the post so that it will show up as a top result for anyone who searches for the phrase “make a sandbox.”
By improving your SEO, you can work to expand your exposure on the search engines. This helps you reach and engage more potential customers. By creating more engaging and effective SEO-focused content, you can increase your chances of bringing in more targeted organic traffic.
Factors That Impact SEO
Now that you know what SEO is and how it works let’s take a look at some of the factors that can impact your search engine optimization ranking. The elephant in the industry, Google does not tell us the details of the algorithm they use to rank sites. However, we do have a pretty good understanding of some of the factors that impact search engine results page rankings. These factors include both on-page and off-page factors, which we will discuss below.
Another important factor in SEO is the architecture of your site. You want a website design that makes it easy for search engines to crawl your pages and content. Building internal links between your pages and creating a site map can both help improve your site’s crawl ability and give your search engines a better understanding of your content.
With the over 50% of Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, one of the most important factors is having a site that is optimized for mobile. This means responsive design, one that adjusts the layout to accommodate the size of the screen on which it is being viewed. A site that is not mobile-friendly will get slapped with a penalty that can drop your ranking by 30% or more, regardless of the other steps you take.
Content is king! Content is effective in both attracting the search engines and helping your company connect with site visitors.
The more quality, relevant content pieces that you have on your site, the more likely search engines will be to rank your pages higher on the search engine results page. Additionally, the more engaging content you have on your site, the more likely your visitors will be to spend some time on your website and maybe even become a customer.
The best method for creating content that is optimized for both the search engines and people visiting the site is to provide a variety of different kinds of content that are well-written and on topics that are of interest to your audience. Here are just a few ideas that you can focus on to help improve your content and as a result, your search engine rankings:
- Infographics or other visual content
- Blog posts and articles
- E-books and whitepapers
- How-To Guides and Tutorials
- Videos and audio recordings
As you create content for your site, it is crucial to keep in mind your SEO keywords and phrases. These are relevant words and phrases that a search engine user might type in when looking for answers to their questions or relevant products and services. When your content includes these keywords and phrases, you improve your chances of ranking higher for these keywords on the search engine results page. Use synonyms for these words too, someone might search for “tool chest,” and someone else may search for “toolbox,” make sure you get them both.
Remember that blog you were so excited about when you launched your site several years ago? When was the last time you posted to it? Fresh content can impact your search engine ranking. Remember, Google wants to make sure that their users are getting good, up-to-date information. Regularly posting content to your site can help your ranking. It is, however, not necessary to always create new content. You can also update posts, by rewriting them to make them more effective or adding further information and statistics over time.
Creating content takes time and resources; it is an investment that will more than pay off in the end. Search engines love great content, and consumers need quality content to understand better the value your organization can provide. Start by creating a few blog posts. Share these posts on your social media accounts, and build a following on social media. Once you have loyal followers, your organization can create different types of media to attract and engage new leads.
These are the elements on your website that help SEO. These are factors that you can improve over time by following best practices for SEO. This goes beyond just your content marketing to the deeper levels of your site’s structure and coding.
Here are some of the on-page SEO factors that can help you improve your search ranking:
- Title Tag – The title tag on each page tells the search engines what your page is about. This should be 70 characters or less, including both the keyword your content focuses on and your business name.
- Meta Description – The meta description on your website tells search engines a little bit more about what each page is about. This is also that text that shows up on the SERP to let visitors know what the page is about and if it’s relevant. This should include your keyword and also provide enough details to tell the reader what the content is about.
- Sub-headings – Not only do sub-headings make your content easier for visitors to read, but it can also help improve your SEO. You can use H1, H2, and H3 tags to help search engines better understand what your content is about.
- Image Name and ALT Tags – If you are using images on your website or within your blog content, you will also want to include your keyword or phrase in the image name and alt tag. This will help search engines better index your images, which may appear when users perform an image search for a certain keyword or phrase.
- Internal Links – Building internal links, or hyperlinks to other content on your site, can help search engines learn more about your site. For example, if you are writing a post about the value of a specific product or service, you can link to the product or service page in your blog post.
Strategically placing your SEO keywords and phrases on your pages is crucial. Just don’t overdo it, Google and other search engines will penalize your page if it attempts to use keywords too many times throughout the content. This also makes it unpleasant for people to read, which does not help you either as they will likely leave your site.
Additionally, you want to make sure that each piece of content focuses on just a couple of keywords. This ensures that your content is specific and relevant. Trying to tackle too many keywords at once may negatively impact your search engine optimization because it is not informative on one subject.
This is an important part of your overall SEO strategy. Here are some of the off-page SEO factors that can impact your search engine rankings:
- Backlinks – These are links from directories, websites, blogs and more that link to your site. The more sites that link to your site, the more of an authority you appear to be to Google. However, there are a few things to be aware of:
- Trust – Trust is becoming an important factor in a website’s ranking. This is how Google determines whether your site is one visitors can trust and is a legitimate site. One of the best ways to improve trust is by building quality backlinks from sites that have authority.
- Links – You want to be careful here as spamming sites with your links is a quick and easy way to get your site banned from the search engines.
- Social – Another important off-page SEO factor are social signals, such as likes and shares. When it comes to boosting SEO, you want to look for quality shares from influencers. The more quality content you publish, the more likely you will be to get people to share your content with others.
Though you do not have direct control over what happens outside of your organization, you can increase your chances of improving off-page SEO simply by creating quality content that others will find valuable. The more relevant and interesting your content is, the more likely others will be to link to your content and share it on social media. The more people trust your content, the more the search engines will as well.
White Hat SEO
You remember in old westerns the bad guys wore black hats and the good guys wore white ones. We refer to people that follow the “rules” of SEO to be White Hats. We only wear white hats. White hat SEO is an effective approach to optimizing your website for search engines. We work on optimization by focusing on the human audience that will be clicking on and reading the site’s content. The goal of this type of SEO is to produce the best content possible on a site that’s easy to read and navigate while also following the search engine’s rules for optimization.
It’s important to note that though black hat SEO tactics might help you rank quickly, it is inevitable that the search engines will eventually figure out what you are doing and penalize your site. Depending on the severity of the offense, your site may not be able to come back from the penalties. The only way to build a sustainable online business that will bring in more organic traffic over time is to follow SEO best practices and create effective content that your visitors will find valuable.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully you now know more about what SEO is, and how it works, you can now work to make changes to your site in order to improve your SEO and boost your rankings on the search engine results page. Remember, there are a lot of factors that impact your SEO ranking, but the most important thing to consider is whether your content is valuable and relevant to your intended audience.
Keep in mind that search engine optimization takes time to work its magic. You won’t experience the benefits of SEO overnight. In fact, it will likely take months to enjoy the results of your hard work. However, following SEO best practices by creating quality content that’s focused on helping your human visitors is the best way to build a sustainable online business that will continue to bring in new organic site traffic for years to come.
If all of this seems to be more than you can handle, and you would like some help building your SEO, and your are not happy with your search engine rankings, it may be time to call in an Aronson Hecht Agency. Our team can provide you with the quality SEO results that will help you improve your search engine rankings and bring in more relevant organic traffic to your website. Call us today to get started: 973-653-5144.