Today we’re visiting an issue that comes up just about for every client we work with: search engine optimization or SEO. What does it mean? What do you have to do?
Never fear, it’s not so hard. But it does take a bit of thought and effort.
Let’s agree that SEO is actually about delivering a great website to your visitors, and forgetting search engines. Sounds counter-intuitive, right?
Well, SEO is the art and science of, while keeping visitors in mind, placing the right words and other content in the right places (on your website and off) but without gaming or appearing to game the search engine system. Do that and search engines will come, over time, to emphasize your website in search results.
Say what? Think of it this way. Search engines want to deliver good results (good websites) to their users — individual searchers. If you have a good online presence, there’s a greater chance your website will be favored by search engines. That’s more or less the message: happy visitors, happy search engines.
And by search engines, if you are in the western world, we mean primarily Google and, to a lesser extent, Bing. But there are others (duckduckgo (http://duckduckgo.com) anyone?).
So keep the following pointers in mind and you won’t go wrong.
11 Simple Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics
- Search engines want to deliver good results to their users — individual searchers. Search engines therefore, are always trying to figure out what are the best websites for specific searches. They do this by reviewing the content (and structure) of your website.
- Searchers use words to make searches. These words are often called “keywords”.
- Your website has to have on it the keywords that searchers use to find the types of products or services you offer.
- Where you put the words matters: In the content itself of course, but also for instance, page titles, meta descriptions, and URLs. If you don’t know those terms of art, Wikipedia it! Or talk to a professional.
- Words alone are good, but adding images, audio and video is better. However, those too should be imbued with relevant keywords, in file names, alternative text and tags for instance.
- If you “stuff” your site with keywords, the search engines may think you are gaming the system and punish you by diminishing where you appear in results. Rule of thumb: Does the language on your website sound natural? If so, you’re probably not “keyword stuffing”.
- Your website has to be mobile friendly. Period. Double period.
- Your website has to be easy to navigate, on any device.
- Your website needs to load relatively fast. No huge images!
- The more content the better. The more varied the content the better. The more often updated the content the better.
- Your website should be listed, consistently, on online business directories.
Now, just because you have all the basics in place doesn’t mean that oodles of traffic will arrive tomorrow. Remember that gaining organic search traffic takes effort over time — months even. With the increased competition online, you have to be patient.
Now get to it!
What did I miss? Leave a comment below.