Understanding SEO and Why it’s Crucial For Your Business

SEO is a phrase business owners and marketers alike have heard much more of in recent years. While many know it simply as this – a phrase, it is a critical marketing tool. Once you have your head around SEO, the growth opportunities will flourish.

What is SEO?

First things first, what actually is SEO, and why is it so important? SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of increasing traffic to your website. This means that when relevant keywords are typed into Google, your site is one of the first that comes up. As a marketing tool, this is invaluable as it provides a consistent stream of customers directly to your services.

SEO increases traffic by specifically targeting relevant individuals. Increasing visibility to these groups of people will help your page to gain visibility. SEO is a great way to drive success within your business and intertwines with your business goals by increasing ROI and getting your business’s name out there.

Living in a digital world means utilizing technology has never been more powerful. Technology can be our friend and our enemy. If we are oblivious to its power, we do not make progress. But to harness technology and SEO’s power is to see long-term, visible results in line with your business goals.

How does SEO work?

SEO is based on search engine algorithms. The key, therefore, is in beating the algorithm. While out-smarting technology might sound like an impossible task, in understanding SEO, you get to know the key trends.

Simpler is better. The first step is to ask yourself: ‘what would I type into Google if I were looking for this service?’ This is what search engines prioritize; they rank sites higher up if they reflect what users are typically looking for. Understanding your audience is the driving point behind improving SEO.

Google’ trawls’ new URLs, meaning it actively processes new websites or ones that have been updated. Trawling essentially means storing the site into an index, where different sites are categorized.

Sites with high engagement rates are ranked higher up. The good news is that Google continually trawls sites. So, all you have to do is make the right tweaks, and Google will reshuffle your site’s place accordingly.

There are many factors that affect SEO. Some of them are as simple as using particular keywords or phrases. Getting this right is straightforward and proven to reap results. 

SEO is an organic process and essentially prioritizes content which is relevant or interesting. Search engines determine this based on the content itself and more mechanical factors such as the site functionality.

As a marketing tool, it is unparalleled in its capacity to drive organic growth. While paid or promoted ads can be a great way to drive traffic to your services, there is not so much of a focus on quality. Sites such as Facebook will still try to promote ads to the right audiences but are not as tailored for this as SEO.

Ways of improving SEO.

In order to be favoured by the algorithm, your content needs to be relevant to your audience. This goes beyond just describing your services, and relates more to using the right keywords. As already mentioned, using key phrases is an excellent tool for boosting SEO. Knowing the right phrases means doing a bit of research as obviously, it will vary drastically depending on your business.

If you are unsure of how your SEO is already, do a quick search. If your site comes up on the first page, you can rest assured that it’s visible to others too. The next step is getting this ranking even higher up, targeting people who will truly find value in your work.

Another key aspect of SEO is User Experience (UX). Enhancing UX means making your site as user-friendly as possible. This includes things such as relevant content and a site that is easy to navigate around. We’ve all clicked onto a site before, not been able to find what we’re looking for – and given up. Having a positive user experience is extremely valuable in driving traffic to your site, and is largely rooted in the technical side of things.
If approaching more advanced SEO services, consider taking it to the specialists. Using an agency can help to provide you with all the tools you need. As a business owner, you can’t be an expert in everything. Sometimes, outsourcing particular tasks is the best way to drive results effectively and efficiently.

This is a contributed post

Photo by Tyler Franta on Unsplash

Are you confused about SEO and how to use it in your business?

For most seasoned website administrators, SEO remains the holy grail of any viable marketing strategy. It’s the key to Google’s treasured vault of 1.52 billion search engine users and by extension the definite trail to unlocking leads and creating conversions.

For you, a small business owner; however, it probably is just ‘Search Engine Optimization,’ the only route you know to reaching a bigger audience.  And if you look at it pragmatically, there’s really no need for it to get more complex than this.

While SEO can indeed become the anchor of a broader marketing strategy or the cornerstone on which a whole brand is built, for a small business without a mega marketing team and deep pockets, it’s usually better off being just a means to meet a clearly defined and simplified end.

If your goal, for starters, is to get things up and running with your website, and reaching a wider audience is your primal target, here’s how to get SEO to do just that for you.

Google (and your users) remember fast websites

A few decades ago a page load time of say 5 seconds was by no means out of the ordinary. In fact, a handful of major news publishing websites had load times that averaged more than 5 seconds. It wasn’t a big deal, and search engines weren’t making a fuss about it.

Today, however, on the backdrop of an internet space predominated by ‘impatient’ users, speed and faster page load times matter, a lot! Per eConsultancy, no less than 40% of visitors abandon a website with a page load time of more than three seconds. 80% of these visitors won’t return to that site, ever again. It comes as no surprise then when search engines blacklist slow websites, placing them foot side of organic search engine rankings in preference for better performing websites. Google implemented the protocol to do this way back in 2010.

The key takeaway for you as a small business owner is that fast websites are a must, not a negotiable luxury. Assess your site, make sure its returning content to users in lighting fast speed. If this is not the case, make conscious efforts to optimize it for better performance

Quality content is still king, forget what anyone says

When developing content for your site, it’s easy to get caught up in a keyword and content optimizing frenzy that borders on intentionally fine-tuning everything for web scripts and Google crawl bots. While this approach was at one time effective, SEO has long gone past that phase. We’re in an era where quality content, the kind that attracts real-life users and drives engagement rules over that created to essentially tick all the checkboxes of Google bots.

Don’t get me wrong, keywords still matter. But rather than base the content of your website on emphasizing a specific tranche of keywords, it’s usually a better strategy to develop content that appeals to users. Search engines have a way of compounding several metrics to see if the content on your site is actually value-creating as opposed to merely keyword-harvesting.
The first step to developing quality content is understanding the needs of your target audience (consumers). Will they love visual cues more than text-based material? Are you better off writing in a professional, friendly or conversational tone? What topics in your niche pulls the crowd? These are the sort of questions you need to start answering.

Inbound linking is still the undisputed Queen

Inbound links, i.e. links of your website on other websites remain one of the most surefire ways to gain accelerated visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). And no, we’re not encouraging you to go on a link farming spree, that’s black hat SEO, and even though it might deliver some results in the first instance, it’s almost always tailgated by a backlash of punitive measures from search engines.

Instead practice link building the right way, the way it was intended to be practiced. Focus on creating high-quality content that engages the audience and attracts other content curators. If you don’t relent in this game of churning out killer content, other sites will in time start incorporating bits of your work, before invariably proceeding to give you credit by way of inbound links.

The best part is this process is more of a positive feedback mechanism – the more quality inbound links, the better your reputation and authority; and the more other sites feel inclined to link more web pages to your site.

Make use of all the tools you can lay your hands on

One good thing about SEO today is that unlike in the past, it’s no longer a game of hide and seek. You can proactively monitor, track and micromanage every aspect of your SEO drive with a growing selection of SEO tools.

Need to know how your site is performing on Google search, Google Search Console, Google Analytics and a slew of other analytics software are just a click of the button away. Confused on what keywords need to be integrated into your content, take your pick from apps like SEMrush, Google planner and Google AdWords. If you need to know what visitors are doing on your website when they come online; there are apps for that too.

One app we’d certainly recommend over and above is Yoast SEO. It’s a lightweight and intuitive content moderation solution that keeps you on top of your SEO game, content-wise. Yoast SEO allows you to specify everything from your Meta description, slug, title and alt SEO text with consummate ease and in line with current industry best practices. Best of all there’s a free version for users who are on a budget.

Don’t underestimate social media and other traffic sources

With a heightened (and justifiable) focus on search engine traffic, it’s easy for small business owners to sideline other valuable traffic sources. Don’t place all your eggs in one basket. Cultivate a social media following and improve your brand image – together these two work to deliver a steady supply of both new and old visitors to your site.

It, however, goes past just ushering in new web visitors, aside from guaranteeing more predictable and less volatile traffic volume, social signals – the way people interact (likes, pins, shares, views, votes and everything else) with your social media content – play a big role in your overall search engine performance. It’s on the record that SEO experts Moz.com moved to the top of SERPs for the key phrase ‘Beginner’s guide’ only after their guide was tweeted out by The Smashing Magazine.

Finally, if you don’t have a Google My Business account, now is the best time to get one

How do you easily outrank the so-called authority websites for broad, established and competitive search queries? I’ll give you a hint; the answer is not related to link building, onsite SEO optimization, fast webpages or quality content. Yes, you guessed it right, it’s the rather simple easy-to-effectuate solution you’ve been ignoring for too long – your Google Business Account.

In its last few search engine updates, Google has increasingly placed a heightened emphasis on local businesses. By virtue of this, registered businesses have a higher SERP priority especially in local searches for keywords related to the service they offer. Simply register your business and get a part of the SERP juice you deserve.

I hope these tips have helped you understand how to better use SEO in your small online business.

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Update Your SEO for More Traffic

Update Your SEO for More Traffic

On-Page SEO today is a lot different than it was just a few years ago. Today, Google’s robots can recognize things like ad-heavy websites, poor navigation or low quality content. Social media has become an increasingly important ranking factor. All of this means it’s probably time to update your on-page SEO.

Here are the changes you should make to bring your on-page SEO up to date. Use these best practices moving forward.

The Basics: Title Tags and H1 Tags (plus others)

Your title tag is still by far the most important tag on your page. Your title tag should have your keyword inside the title tag. If you have a brand name, make sure it’s after your post title, not before. Your H1 tag is the second most important tag. If possible, have a keyword in your H1 tag as well.

Other tags found on the page have decreased in importance. Meta Keyword tags, image alt tags and so on don’t make as much of a difference anymore. It’s still good practice to have alt tags on your images, but it may not affect your SEO.

Internal Linking: Categories, Related Posts, You Might Like

Your internal linking helps keep people on your website. That reduces your bounce rate, increases time on site and boosts your overall website quality, which in turn boosts your rankings. Also, good internal linking will help spread your “link juice” and PageRank throughout your site.

In general, you should build 3 to 5 categories of content. All your content should fall into these 3 to 5 categories. Your category pages should link to your content pages, and your content pages should link back to your category pages.

Additionally, each page of content should have related posts and/or “You Might Also Like” sections. WordPress plugins can make this very easy to build. While there are automated options, you’re usually best off hand picking which articles should be featured at the bottom of your content.

Finally, link to other places within your site from within your content, not just in your sidebars or at the bottom of your posts. Google places far more importance on in-content links.

SEO Best Practices for Content

Google prefers in-depth, meaty content. Generally all your content should be above 1,000 words. Keyword density no longer matters, so don’t try to optimize your keywords in your content. Instead, try to provide high quality content. Solve a problem and create a resource that people want to read.

Don’t stuff your site with ads. Google now measures the content space versus ad space as a ranking factor. Make sure you have social media buttons on your site, for both SEO reasons and for social media traffic. Finally, add an image or two – it helps improve your site quality, as well as keep people on your site for longer.

SEO is changing. Update your on-page SEO and make sure to incorporate these best practices in your content moving forward.

Starting with the top 5 or 10 pages of your website that get the most traffic, check your title and H1 tags to ensure they have your keyword(s) in them. Continue to work on your existing content to improve their SEO.

If you use WordPress, add a plugin to generate “related posts” within your pages. While you’re checking your title and H1 tags, look for ways to add in-content links to your pages.

If you have an abundance of categories, look for ways to combine topics to cut back on how many categories you have.

By updating your on page SEO you will lead more targeted traffic to your website which will help you build your list and grow your sales.