Search engine optimization (SEO) is the technique of growing the quality and quantity of website traffic, by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. SEO targets organic traffic and excludes paid placements (such as traffic driven from ads)
SEO may target different kinds of searches; including image search, local search, video search, products, news and industry-specific topics. It is a vital element for internet marketing strategies. SEO also assesses how search engines work; the computer-programmed algorithms that dictate search engine behaviour, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. The higher a website ranks, the easier it is to convert visitors to potential customers.
How to improve SEO
- Use focused keywords. The use of proper keywords helps search engines match your business or blog with searches. Keep reading to learn more about keywords.
- Improve user interface. A well-structured website will rank better with Google’s search engine. All elements of a site need to be cohesive, easy to navigate and mobile optimized.
In addition, create clean URLs and focused backlinks (these are links from one website to another) to improve SEO. The endgame is to have high-quality content, a good reputation and have other reputable websites backlink to your website. Google will notice this and rank your website higher.
- Share on social media. The more you share, the more chances that people will discover your site. If new visitors share your links in return, SEO ranking will improve. There are many WordPress plugins and tools that easily automate sharing of posts.
- Write original high-quality content. Search engines love new content. The more often you update your site with new information, the better chance it has of ranking well in search results. This doesn’t mean that you should be constantly updating old posts or posts with irrelevant information just for the sake of doing so.
Write content that answers questions. When you’re thinking about what topics to write about, consider what questions your audience has and what information you can give them that will be useful.
Search engines want to display the best content for any given query. To do this, they must understand the content on your site. For every post, be clear, concise and avoid poor grammar or convoluted language.
- Improve website speed. According to research from Google, visitors will abandon a page that takes too long to load (try to aim for 2 seconds or less of load time). Don’t be alarmed if you don’t understand any of the terms below. If WordPress is the platform in use, there will usually be a plugin that can help optimize speed.
To optimize site speed, compress images (preferably to Webp), cache all pages, minify code, lazy load images, install gzip compression and most importantly, make sure the server has enough resources to support the site. (Shared hosting packages can hinder site speed and that needs to be taken into account.)
Why keywords are the key to success
Keywords are words or phrases (sometimes single words are referred to as keywords) that describe your business. The use of proper keywords helps search engines match your business or blog with searches. Your goal is to put yourself in front of as many people as possible who are searching for the things that you offer.
- Keyword Research: Start your keyword research by brainstorming terms related to your business. If you sell clothes online, start with words like “clothing” or “online store.” You can then use tools in Google AdWords Keyword Planner to see how popular keywords are.
- Create Content Based on Keywords: Now that you know what keywords you want to target, it’s time to create content around them. Think about ways people might search for your products and services and include those terms in places such as page titles, in content or even in the images you use. Get creative!
To help boost your rankings, here are six free SEO tools
- Google Trends. Google Trends is a go-to keyword tool. You can see how a list of keywords is trending over time which can help you determine if a particular keyword is worth targeting or not.
- Keywordtool.io. This free tool gives you up to 750 keyword ideas (and more if you upgrade to the paid version). You can filter your results by country and language which is useful if your target audience is international.
- Ubersuggest. Keyword Tool takes keywords you enter and finds other relevant keywords that people are searching for on Google.
- Answer the Public. Answer the Public takes a search term and provides questions and other related searches that people are asking around that topic.
- Yoast SEO Plugin (WordPress). If you have a WordPress site, this plugin is a must-have for any small business owner trying to optimize their website for search engines. The Yoast plugin helps guide you through optimizing each post and page on your site for specific keywords.
- Google Analytics. Google Analytics allows you to monitor traffic on your website over time, along with other helpful data like where your website traffic comes from, how long people stay and what content performs best.
What more can be done?
SEO optimization is an ever-growing learning curve. There is always more that can be done to improve content quality, keywords research and user interface.
- Always find ways to improve meta descriptions and titles.
- Use tools like Grammarly to improve content quality.
- Reach out to other bloggers and build reputable backlinks.
- Create social media accounts for your blog or business and share, share, share!
- Open a Youtube channel and recycle content from your website. Make sure to add links back to your site for reference.