If you’re new to SEO, the thought of optimizing your website for search engines can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, with a little know-how and some elbow grease, you can implement a solid SEO strategy for your business without breaking a sweat.
Before we get started on the nitty-gritty, let’s first do a quick recap of the basics: what exactly is SEO and why is it so important to digital marketing success?
What Is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website’s ranking on search engine results. The goal is to make sure your website appears on the first page of search results for keywords or queries that matter the most to your target audience.
Search engines like Google and Bing use sophisticated algorithms to analyze each webpage on the internet and determine the order in which they will appear in search results for a given query. SEO works by optimizing your website according to the ranking factors that these algorithms take into account. Website speed, internal and external links, mobile-friendliness, and content quality are among such factors.
Why Is SEO Important?
SEO is important because search engines have become such a vital part of our daily lives. We use them to find not only information but also products and services that we need. A recent report by Statista found that nearly 30 percent of global web traffic is generated by search engines, so it is not surprising that search is still the primary source of digital traffic for businesses.
A solid SEO strategy will help your business become more visible in search results and this, in return, will significantly improve your bottom line.
Here are 11 key steps:
Step 1. Find the Right Keywords
Keywords are basically terms or phrases that are relevant to your business. They are also the words that your target audience will use when searching for your products and/or services online. If you are an HVAC company, for instance, your keywords can be “HVAC”, “HVAC services”, and “furnace repair”.
Shorter and more generic keywords, like the examples listed above, typically have a higher search volume. This means it will be more difficult for your website to rank for them. On the other hand, long-tail keywords such as “affordable heating repair in Atlanta” and “how to repair a furnace” have a lower search volume because they are more specific. This allows you to target the exact group of people who are interested in what you offer.
The best practice is to use a mix of both short and long-tail keywords in your SEO strategy.
Step 2. Include Keywords in the URL
Once you have your list of keywords, the next step is to use them on your website. A good place to start is the website URL. Google and other search engines check the text of the webpage URL to determine what that specific page is about.
You’ll want to use your keyword or phrase in the slug, which is located at the end of the URL, after the domain name and any subcategories. For example, if your chosen keyword is “Atlanta furnace repair”, you can optimize your URL to: myhvaccompany.com/atlanta-furnace-repair
Take care not to stuff your website URL with too many keywords. The key is to keep it short, simple, and descriptive.
Step 3. Include Keywords in Meta Tags (Meta Title, Meta Description)
Meta tags are short lines of text that act as labels, helping search engines determine the content of a webpage. For SEO, the most important pieces of meta tags are the:
meta title – also known as the page title, is the text that you see at the top of your browser when you open a webpage.
meta description – a brief snippet that describes what your webpage is about.
Both of these appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) when a user searches for your business online.
When optimizing your meta title, remember to keep it short and choose the keyword that best describes your business. The ideal title length is 50-60 characters, including spaces. As for the meta description, it should be 155-160 characters long, including spaces. Make sure you add the keyword or phrase in a way that makes sense and retains the readability of the text.
Step 4. Use Keywords in H1 Text
The H1 text is usually found at the top of a webpage in big, bold letters. It’s often the heading of the page or the title of an article/blog. Search engines assign extra importance to this text, so make sure you include your keyword or phrase in it.
Step 5. Write High-Quality Content That’s Helpful
In SEO, content is king. But not just any type of content. What search engines are looking for is content that actually meets the needs of your target audience. So when you are building your website, make sure it contains information that attracts, informs, and engages your customers. This means not only talking about your products and services but also providing answers to questions your customers might have. Cover interesting and useful topics that are relevant to your business.
Whether you’re writing a product page or a blog, be sure to use a clear, simple, and conversational tone. Avoid stuffing your content with keywords, as this will get your page penalized and taken down from SERPs. Here’s an article for best practices for making helpful content.
Step 6. Hyperlink Your Existing Content
Another vital SEO tactic is to link content or pages on your website that discuss related topics. This will improve user experience by making it easy for readers to discover other relevant content within your site. Moreover, this will help search engine bots as they index and contextualize your web pages.
Step 7. Optimize Your Images
Using original, high-quality images is great for both user experience and SEO. They help break up blocks of text and allow readers to visualize your content. Although images are not crawlable, bots do check and index the alt text or description of the image. Using relevant keywords in the alt text will make your website images much more SEO-friendly.
Another tip is to compress the size of the photos and other media you use on your site. Tinyjpg is great at compressing images for free. This is especially important for high-resolution images and videos as they are typically heavier and can affect the loading speed of a webpage.
Step 8. Optimize Website Speed
People and search engines love websites that load quickly. So much so that Google has declared page speed as one of their search ranking factors. You only have a few seconds to catch the attention of online users before they decide whether they want to stay on your page or leave to find something better. There are many tactics you can use to improve your site’s loading speed. These include compressing your images and reducing the number of plug-ins on your site. You can test your website speed using GTmetrix for free.
Step 9. Ensure Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly
In 2021, mobile devices accounted for 63 percent of all organic search visits in the US. Creating a more mobile-friendly website will make your business more visible and accessible to a large portion of potential customers. Not to mention make your site more attractive to search engines.
Step 10. Start Link Building
Link building is one of the most crucial parts of your SEO strategy. Basically, it’s the process of getting popular or authoritative websites in your industry to link back to your website.
Google and other search engines evaluate the number and quality of links that point to your site. This affects your overall search ranking as it shows how authoritative and trustworthy you are for a given topic. You also need to build external links that lead to other related websites in your industry. This further highlights your relevance for your targeted keywords.
Step 11. Track Your Results
Don’t forget to monitor your progress with Google Analytics (or another similar tool). This will help you see how much traffic your site is getting from organic searches, which pages are performing the best, and where there’s room for improvement. Regularly checking in on these metrics will give you a good idea of whether or not your SEO efforts are paying off—and if they’re not, you can adjust accordingly.
SEO can seem daunting if you’re new to it, but by following these 11 key steps, you can set yourself up for success. Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day — so don’t expect immediate results. Be patient and consistent, and you’ll eventually see those rankings start to climb!
If you need help with your SEO strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us! We offer a wide range of services that will help you outrank your competition.
About the Author:
Experienced President with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Skilled in Digital Strategy, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Integrated Marketing, Advertising, and Pay Per Click (PPC). Strong business development professional with a Bachelor’s Degree focused in Communications from Ohio University.