Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a way to get your site high on the list of search results when someone Googles or Bings or uses another search engine to look up a keyword. Did you know that the top 4 rankings get (almost) all the clicks? It’s true, and your company needs to optimize your site to ensure you are one of those top 4 for keywords specific to your business.
When choosing keywords, it is important to find the ones that customers are using to search for your site. There is a difference between what a business thinks their keywords are, and what consumers think the company’s keywords are.
The goal of SEO is to grow the “visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results” (according to Moz). SEO can help you find the keywords that generate traffic to your website, make your site friendly to search engines, and build links andmarket the unique value of your site. Doing the right SEO things can increase your visibility on search engines, but taking the wrong moves and decrease your visibility and bury you at on page 9 of a Google search.
Google searches through millions of websites (called “crawling!”), and indexes the results for themselves so they are ready for when a user Googles a word or phrase. There are hundreds of variables that go into deciding which page is most relevant and popular for each search, and SEO can help site owners sort through those variables. The most important SEO practices, is to avoid setting your page up so it is only search engine accessible. Focus on your customer, and make your website ideal for any human user; not some computer. That being said, it is important to make your website easy for both humans and search engines to understand.
Search engines are not perfect, they aren’t good at completing online forums so many pieces of information that are hiding being login pages, or other forums might not show up on a search. Make information accessible whenever possible to ensure the search engine can reach it.
Google’s rankings change daily, which means SEO needs to be a continual process, and not just something you do once. There are a few best practices you should do with your site to get noticed on search engines. First, make sure all pages on your site are linked together. There should not be any page on your site that is only accessible through a search box, or else, a search engine would not be able to find it. Second, create good URLs that describe what the page is about.
Bad example: http://www.example.com/dksjflaewkhr32.
Good example: http://www.example.com/how-to-write-a-good-URL.
Third, hire Moz to see how you are doing with search engines. Moz will fudge a ranking for you, and tell you where you can improve.
Moz, a company that specializes in SEO, is ranked #3 midsize company to work for in 2013. What makes moz so great? The fact that they give you 39 sick days a year, contribute to your vacation, charitable match program of 150%, and the list goes on. Moz treats their employees amazingly, but they also provide an amazing service. They offer subscriptions to users to help improve their inbound marketing, and marketing analytics software. It is possible to DIY SEO, but you will want to to a lot of research to ensure you don’t go backwards! What I like best about Moz is their commitment to teaching people like me about SEO, and Link Building as part of their inbound strategy.
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link users back to your website. At the beginning of my last sentence, I provided a link to Moz’s Link Building guide, which is an example of link building. “Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own” according to Moz. Search engines use links to discover new webpages, and to determine how a page should rank in search results. Creating good links is one of the most important, and difficult jobs of SEOs. If you can build links well, you are going to be able to succeed in SEO. Ideally, links should lead to a sites homepage, awesome content, or contain your brand / company name or other keywords. After you create content for your site, you build the links to get customers there.
One company that has had success using SEO is Meridian Financial Advisers (a small fee-only financial adviser in Massachusetts). Before Meridian optimized their site, they were receiving 128 visits per month. After optimizing, the monthly traffic visits increased by 128% to 343 visits per month, and kept growing after that. In general, when using SEO, users should try to target niche keywords, but what Meridian did was target geographical keywords since they didn’t want to promote a particular service area niche. The company was successful, and was able to grow its business and its website using SEO.
70% of users on Google will click on an organic result over a paid result. It’s important to optimize your site so that you have the chance to introduce users to your site. The other 30% of users will click on a paid-ad.
Like SEO, Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is using search engines to advertise your site. You can expect to learn more about SEM in my next blog on Wednesday.