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.
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.