There should be no doubt that Internet- based or online marketing strategies are the best approach to promoting your business. When we say “best” it is because online marketing presents the most efficient and effective avenue to creating markets for your products and services. While there are a multitude of techniques and processes available at your disposal, central to all of these is SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

As we discussed in our article, “5 Reasons Why Your Business Needs SEO Now”, 91% of Internet users prefer organic search to find information. The Internet is teeming with information; there are over 1 Billion websites operating in the World Wide Web.

SEO makes it possible for your website to be found by utilizing a combination of techniques so web crawlers can easily find and index your page. Without SEO, your website will be among the guppies in an ocean filled with predators. You’ll be swallowed up and will never make it to the first page of the search rankings.

Our purpose for presenting the basics is to give you an understanding of the fundamental concepts of SEO. It will help you comprehend and appreciate the work done by an SEO expert or a Digital Marketing company.  

The Golden Rule of Website Design

As important as search is, there is a golden rule to which web designers subscribe to:

“Design and build for your end-users not for search engines.”

To better understand this golden rule, let us identify the 3 types of search queries Internet users make:

  • Transactional Queries – Refers to an action that an Internet user wants to do at the moment such as book a reservation, watch a video or buy the latest pair of Air Jordans online.
  • Informational Queries – The Internet user launches a search query to find information such as the name and address of the best restaurant for charbroiled hamburgers or the name of the boxer who beat Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the Olympics.
  • Navigational Queries – This is a search action intended to take the Internet user to a specific website such as Facebook or www.mountaintopwebdesign.com.

Should your website land in the top 3 positions in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and users click on your link, would they like what they see on your website? Will they find what they sought? Would they have a memorable User Experience or UX?

Remember that when your web page is found and indexed, it is stored in a massive database. SEO’s number one directive is to deliver relevant results to the Internet’s users. Web design must be able to comply with the needs and wants of your audience.

Thus before investing in SEO, you should have a firm grasp on who your audience is. Conduct research on their wants, needs, interests, concerns and the issues they often seek resolutions to. Then make sure the website can meet expectations by delivering accurate content on a consistent basis.

10 Basic SEO Tips to Get You Started

In this article, we present 10 basic tips on SEO. This will not make you an expert as there is certainly more to SEO than these 10 tips. But it will give you a good foundation to build up your knowledge on optimization.

1. Maximize the Value of Keywords

You cannot write an article on the “Basics of SEO” without leading off with the value of keywords.

Keywords are the specific words or phrases that best describe the contents of a web page. When an Internet user launches a search, he will type a series of words or a phrase inside the query box. He chooses these keywords because he believes they will help the search engine find authority sites that are best qualified to find information relevant to his query.

SEO experts conduct comprehensive keyword research to find out the best ones to use on your website. The use of keywords must be done judiciously and strategically. They should be put in your title tag, page header and throughout your content but never at the expense of its quality.

2. Create Internal Links

If you noticed, in the second paragraph of this article we linked back to our previous content. This is called creating an internal link which is one of the most basic concepts of SEO.

Internal links redirect the audience to your archives. New readers will be exposed to previous content which could enhance your reputation as an important resource if they find value in it. For loyal followers, internal links will further reinforce their belief that yours is an authority site.

But similar to keywords, internal links must be used judiciously. You would not want to annoy your readers by constantly patting yourself on the back for a job well done. First and foremost, make sure the links are relevant to the content.

3. Content is King

Google’s Panda algorithm was formulated to penalize websites that publish thin content and those stuffed with keywords for the sake of moving up the search rankings. Panda is a constant reminder that content should always be written for end users and not search engines.

Google’s algorithm is calculated using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). LSI determines the relationship between keywords and concepts within the content. For example, if your website is about health and fitness, Google would expect to find keywords and phrases such as “build muscle”, “burn fat” and “best diet programs”.

So all you need to do is to write naturally on the page and make sure its content is relevant, usable, engaging and unique. The last criteria is particularly important. Your content should not be directly copied from another source. The penalties for plagiarism are far worse than just plummeting down the search rankings.

4. Integrate Social Media Marketing

Social media is a valuable tool for sharing content because of the sheer size of its various communities. Facebook alone has 1.94 Billion users which is 53% of the total number of daily Internet users.

Although SEO experts are not certain how social media is factored in by search engines when calculating their algorithms, what is clear is that social sharing has had an effect on search rankings.

Social media platforms are a powerful vehicle for distributing content. You can post content to your social media account from your blog page or include a link back to your website when engaging in focus group discussions.

But before integrating social media marketing into your SEO strategy, choose the platform that best suits your buyer’s profile. Not all social media platforms function in the same way. If your business relies heavily on image or video-driven content, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube may be the ideal platforms for you.

5. Build Links to Other Sites

Another proven SEO technique is link building. This is an arrangement with the proprietor of another website to include a link on their site to yours. If the webmaster agrees, make sure to return the favor. Link building presents a win-win situation for both parties and helps foster strong relationships.

Before proposing a link building arrangement, conduct due diligence work on the website. You have to be sure their SEO strategies are in line with Google’s best practices. You also have to be sure they are not engaged in activity that can potentially harm the reputation of your business.

6. Use Search- Friendly URL’s

URL is the abbreviation for Uniform Resource Locator. It is the global address where all documents and resources of your website are located. In other words, it is your website’s address on the World Wide Web. Our URL is www.mountaintopwebdesign.com.

For effective SEO, create a URL with search- friendly keywords. As an example the URL structure “www.mountaintopwebdesign.com/new-website-design/”  describes the content of this particular web page as providing details on our website design services.

However a URL such as “www.mountaintopwebdesign.com/12576/S345/?s” could be confusing and off-putting to both searchers and search engines. Keep your URL clean, simple and easily understood.

7. Transition to Mobile Responsive Design

Mobile responsive design plays an important role in site optimization because it contributes to 2 important criteria for search rankings: Usability and User Experience.

If your website cannot be accommodated by mobile devices, it will be slammed down the search rankings by Google. The search engine giant made the point crystal clear in their “Mobilegeddon” directive dated April 21, 2015. Put simply, no one wants to patronize or link to a website that gives a forgettable experience.

With mobile devices dominating online traffic, there is no plausible reason not to transition to mobile responsive design. You could always build a dedicated mobile website but then you would have to manage two URL’s. That would be inconvenient,  expensive and not recommended for SEO. When you have two URL’s, you duplicate content and lose out on traffic.

Smartphones, tablets and laptops will continue to grow in popularity over the next 5 years. You cannot ignore the emergence of mobile technology. If you have a website, make sure it is responsive to mobile devices. Remember, it is better to swim with the tide than to go against it.  

8. Focus on Website Download Speed

Another factor that contributes to User Experience is page loading speed. With the Internet literally at the palm of their hands, searchers have lesser patience when it comes to accessing information. They will abandon a search if the page does not load fast enough.

And what is fast enough?

According to research, the average page loading time of websites using Google  falls in a range between 9.82 seconds and 13.84 seconds. Thus if your website’s loading speed is below 9.82 seconds, your website is very fast. Conversely, if it is above 13.84 seconds, you have to find ways to improve its speed.

Last June 2010, Google announced it would penalize websites with slow loading times. You can use Page Speed Insights tool from Google to find out how to improve the loading speed of your website.

9. Work on Your Tags and Descriptions

Title and Heading tags and meta descriptions are given special considerations by search engines in determining rankings. The title tag tells the search engine and the audience what your site is about in the most concise way possible. It is very important to include keywords in your title tags.

Heading tags have a hierarchy beginning with <H1> or the title of the post all the way down to <H6>. Heading tags are valuable for rankings because like title tags, they give search engines an idea of your content. In terms of SEO, <H1>, <H2> and <H3> have the highest value.

The <H1> tag should carry the main keywords. As a hierarchy, <H2> is considered a sub-heading and should contain similar keywords as <H1>. Thus, <H3> is a sub-heading of <H2> and should follow the same pattern of using identical keywords.

A meta description is essentially your sales pitch about your website and plays a key role in your branding strategy. Keep the description short; no more than 156 characters but well-written.

10. Regularly Track Performance

The biggest advantage of online marketing is that it can be tracked frequently with accuracy, precision and provide real-time data. Thus, performance can be measured and it is possible to calculate the ROI on total investment.

Online tools such as Alexa allow you to keep track of your search rankings and assess if the present campaign strategy is close to achieving targeted results.

Always measure performance and institute changes in strategy if the current one veers off from expectations or projections.

It is always advisable to hire the services of an SEO expert or Digital Marketing company to handle your optimization needs. Effective SEO requires more than just knowledge. You must have experience in correctly selecting techniques, designing strategy and implementing campaigns.

Did you enjoy what you just read? Do you feel more empowered with knowledge about SEO? If we piqued your interest and you want to learn more about SEO and how it can help your business, please feel free to call or e-mail us.  We will gladly take you through a more detailed process on SEO.

When broadband technology became available in 2004, it was only a matter of time for the Internet to assert its influence on business and everyday life. Within 10 years, mobile devices made it possible to access the Internet anywhere and everywhere.

Today, more than half of the world’s population is online every day. It has become clear that the battlefield for market share has shifted to the Internet. With 91% of Internet users favoring organic search, it is imperative for your business to be found online. If your business was not found online, that is more than half the battle lost. And that is why your business needs SEO right now.

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a marketing discipline which utilizes different techniques and processes to drive your website up the SERP or Search Engine Results Page.

In the Internet, launching search queries is the number one method used by consumers to find information. According to statistics, 75% of users do not go beyond the first page of the results. In fact there are studies that show 60% of Google users only click on the top 3 links on the SERP with 33% going to the website in the number one position.

The objective of SEO is to get your website in the first position of the results page. But the race for search engine rankings can get quite competitive considering there are over 1 Billion websites operating on the Internet.

You can view SEO as the way your website communicates with the search engines. To launch a search query, a user types in a series of words that best describe the information he is looking for.

For example, if you want to know which types of equipment to buy to set up a home gym, you might type in “best equipment for home gym”. Once you press “Enter” the search engines’ web crawlers will seek out websites which contain these keywords.

Once found, the crawlers will index the web page and store it in massive databases for recall whenever a similar search query is launched. The search engines will only present results which are relevant and useful to the query. Also, the search engine will base its rankings on the popularity of the website.

Search engines use mathematical equations or algorithms to measure the levels of relevance, usefulness and popularity. But it is not just about having the right keywords. Search engines want to know if the keywords used were relevant to the content.

Keyword density or the ratio of keywords to total word count is another factor that could influence your website’s search rankings.

Based on Google’s adjusted algorithm, the recommended keyword density is between 0.5% to 2.5%. So in a 1,000 word blog, the main keyword should appear between 5 to 25 times within the content.

But in the end, “Content is King”. You should always focus on producing high-quality content over keyword density. This means content that is relevant, original, informative and engaging.

In addition to keyword usage, there are other techniques and processes in the SEO toolbox that can be used to help your website get found.

5 Best SEO Strategies for Your Website

In its early days, SEO was widely criticized as a marketing discipline which ostracized other online marketing tools and techniques. But that was the mistake of its first practitioners because effective SEO is more than just integrating keywords in code and in content.

There are other SEO strategies that can be used to drive traffic to your website.

Here are the 5 best ones to consider:

1. Content Marketing Process

People are on the Internet 6 hours every day. 23% of the time is spent reading content. 61% of consumers report their decision to purchase was influenced by a blog or a post they found online. The statistics supporting a sound content marketing strategy are overwhelming.

That’s why keywords must be used judiciously and strategically. When writing content, don’t just integrate keywords for the sake of getting found. Keyword density should not come at the expense of presenting relevant, usable, engaging and original content.

Your audience must find value in your content. And it’s not just in written format. Other powerful avenues to drive content include videos and podcasts. If you consistently deliver great quality content, you build up your reputation as an expert on the field and as a valuable resource.

2. Create Backlinks

Backlinks are links from another webpage that point to your website. The number and quality of links that direct to your website can influence its position in the search rankings.

A strong content marketing strategy can help create backlinks for your website. If the user considers your content a valuable resource, he may want to reference it in his own webpage as a hyperlink. Anyone who clicks on the hyperlink will find himself on your website or web page.

Thus by creating backlinks, you can potentially increase the number of views or followers of your website.

3. Transition to Mobile- Responsive Design

Search engine giants such as Google will penalize websites that are not mobile responsive in their rankings. User Experience or UX is one of the most important criteria for search ranking consideration by Google.

If users cannot access your website via their mobile device or if they can but the experience was unpleasant, 61% will click out and patronize a competitor with a mobile-responsive website.

On the other hand if the experience is positive, there is a 67% chance the user will buy a product or service.

Studies have shown that Google prefers mobile- responsive design because having only 1 URL makes it easier for its search bot to index the website. It also minimizes the risk of on-page SEO errors.

4. Get SSL Certificates for Your Website

As the threat of hacking continues to grow, data protection and security of information have become the paramount concerns of search engines. In fact, Google gives secure websites a boost in the search rankings.

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. When you transmit information through the Internet, it may go through a number of servers and browsers before it reaches its destination point.

SSL encrypts the information you send out to make sure it cannot be intercepted by shady third parties.

5. Write Long Form Blogs

Studies have consistently shown that long form blogs or those that exceed 1,600 words rank higher than short form blogs.

In fact there are studies that show websites with the highest search rankings feature content exceeding 2,400 words.

Long form blogs that are well-written, loaded with valuable information and embedded with the right keywords will present you as a knowledgeable resource. It will also keep readers engaged in your web page for a longer period of time thereby improving your bounce rate.

5 Benefits of SEO for Your Business

After going through the different strategies optimization professionals use to give your rankings a boost and to drive more traffic to your website, it should be very clear why your business needs SEO right now.

As consumers continue to grow more dependent on the Internet for information, it becomes more important for your business to increase its visibility online. SEO is a proven strategy for enhancing your online presence.

Here are 5 benefits of SEO for your business:

1. SEO Works

For years naysayers have proclaimed “SEO is dead”. But today, it continues to thrive as an integral point in the online marketing strategy of many businesses.

SEO works because organic search will continue to be the number one go-to approach by Internet users for finding information. An updated study by Search Engine Journal showed that 93% of consumers launch a search query to find products, services and general information.

If you do not work on improving the search rankings of your website, your business will not get found by consumers.

2. SEO is a Cost Effective Strategy

Traditional advertising and marketing strategies are expensive and unsustainable. Production costs for flyers, press releases and print ads are rising and it is not cheap having them featured in local or national publications. Once the campaign is over, your collaterals will just line up the bottom of a trash bin.

SEO presents a cost effective and sustainable strategy. As discussed earlier there are several ways to drive traffic to your website and push your rankings higher up the SERP.

The SEO professional can design a framework that incorporates strategies to fit your budget. For example, he can emphasize content marketing and create long form blogs for distribution to various online channels such as social media, large scale informative sites and aggregators.

The long form blogs that have been published can be reused again after a few months to attract a new audience.

3. Consumers Do More Research

Consumers are taking advantage of the accessibility of information by conducting more research. An estimated 80% to 90% of consumers search for online reviews and product information before making a decision to patronize a business or not.

If your website cannot be located by the consumer, how do you expect to generate business? In the Internet, the probability of becoming a “hole-in-the-wall” success story is highly unlikely.

There are no avenues where consumers can stroll down by chance and find your business. It is all about your positioning in the SERP.

4. SEO is Measurable

SEO Professionals use keywords analysis to determine the size of your market as well as their buying behavior and preferences. The data gathered can be used to fine-tune or customize your online strategies to make it more focused toward your target audience.

Thus the measurability of SEO makes it possible to create more flexible marketing strategies. Flexibility is an important quality in strategy design because the availability of information makes it more difficult to pinpoint consumer tastes, preferences and changes in demand.

5. Everyone Else is Doing SEO

In today’s highly competitive business environment, you should use every available tool and process to your advantage. If you are not using SEO, there is a very good chance your competitor is. Is this a chance worth taking?

It is also possible that your competitor is not very good in SEO. In either scenario, including SEO in your business development plan at the very least, evens out the playing field with your competitors.

Conclusion

In view of the continued growth and influence of the Internet and the increasing popularity of mobile devices, online marketing will remain your best option to market and promote your business.

Having a mobile-responsive website is a step in the right direction but optimizing its content will certainly help accelerate its growth and visibility on the Internet. Thus it is very important to invest in an SEO program now more than ever before.

Think of SEO as the Sun with the various processes as the planets revolving around it. An effective SEO strategy will keep the processes aligned and in place so your business can identify, capitalize and monetize on the opportunities available on the Internet.

If you enjoyed what you just read, please share your comments and opinions below. We certainly would love to hear more from you.

If you wish to know more about SEO, please do not hesitate to give us a call or an e-mail. We will be more than happy to discuss how our digital marketing company can craft an effective, results-oriented strategy for you.