SEO Series Part I: Covering the Basics, & Covering Your Bases

What is SEO, and why does it matter for your business?  

Is your business ready for more? More clients? More revenue? A higher standing in the community? Then it’s time to start thinking about search engine optimization, more commonly known as SEO. It’s exactly what it sounds like – optimizing your web pages so search engines can find you, understand what you have to offer, and properly rank you on their pages.

What is SEO? Why does it matter? We’re going to address those questions in these post, the first in a five-part series we’re starting about search engine optimization.

Why SEO isn’t easy.  

Let’s just say this up front: SEO is complicated. Google and other search engines give us a pretty decent amount of information about the algorithms they use to rank websites, but they don’t tell us that if we do X, Y, and Z we’ll rank on page one. Plus, search engines update their algorithms all the time to avoid people “hacking the system” and ranking web pages that aren’t ultimately valuable to the end user. At the end of the day, this means that search engine optimization is complex and fluid.

What we do know.

Although we don’t know everything about SEO, we do have some information. For example, if you want to rank your web page for a certain keyword, that keyword needs to be placed in certain locations. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Title tag. Search for something in Google. You’re going to get a bunch of results with titles in blue. What shows up in blue is known as the title tag, and it’s a very important place to have your keyword. You’ll probably notice that the phrase you searched is bolded in some of those title tags. By using SEO and including that keyword in your title tag, you’re giving your web page the best shot of ranking high when someone searches for that phrase.
  • Meta description. See the little blurb that comes up beneath the title? That’s your page’s meta description and, again, it’s a key place to have your keyword. Your meta description should give people searching for info a quick blurb on what they’ll find if they do click through to your page. Working your keyword into your meta description helps users find helpful info on your site, so it’s a great way to optimize your page.
  • In the URL. Note that the URL shows up in green between the title tag and the meta description in Google. Put your keyword in your page’s URL to make it easier for actual humans and internet crawlers to find your page.
  • On your web page. Obviously, you shouldn’t optimize a web page for a keyword that’s not relevant to the actual copy of the page. Make sure you’re delivering what your search engine result promises by putting the keyword in the following places.
    • This is basically your page’s title. Search engines use the different headings – H1, H2, H3, etc. – to determine the hierarchical importance of the verbiage on your web page. When you put your keyword in your Heading 1, you’re showing that it’s a key part of that page.
    • Alt text. Put the keyword in the alt text of any photos you load onto your page. This is a simple but extremely effective way to optimize for a certain keyword.
    • Keyword density. Before Google released Panda, we all made sure the keyword to make up as much as 4% of the text on a web page. Basically, the thought was that the more frequently you could squeeze in a certain word or phrase, the easier it would be for web crawlers to pick it out and rank your web page for it. The problem was people shoehorned keywords into phrases unnaturally, so while their web pages were ranking high, visitors weren’t getting a good experience. Google shut this practice down with the release of Panda. Now, keyword density isn’t an actual ranking factor. But user experience is, so if people are visiting your site to learn about a certain topic, you better believe it’s a good idea to actually cover that topic (and include that keyword) in your page’s verbiage.

A note on user experience.

The internet is getting more sophisticated. While you used to be able to check a bunch of boxes by putting your keywords certain places on your site, today’s SEO is more complex. You should always prioritize user experience over creating a page that meets certain optimization parameters.

What does that mean? If you can’t naturally work the keyword into a certain section, don’t. Write at a level people can read easily. Don’t load huge images onto your site that will slow down the load time for your visitors. Optimize your site for mobile usage so people can access your info from anywhere. In short, do what you can to make your site better not for search engines, but for real humans. When all is said and done, this will be better for your SEO than awkward optimization techniques.

What this means for your business.

You shouldn’t over-optimize your site to try to target search bots but ruin it for the actual people visiting it. But you also shouldn’t ignore SEO. When you properly optimize your site, you help move it up search engine ranking pages. Just think about how much more likely you are to get clicked on the second page of Google than the twelfth!

As we said at the beginning, SEO isn’t straightforward or easy. It’s well worth the effort, though. If you want your business to be competitive in 2016 and beyond, you need to think about making sure it’s easy for people to find online. Optimizing your site for search engines is the way to do exactly that. Don’t miss your chance to start working your way up the rankings by jumping in with SEO today!

Need help?

Want to learn more about SEO? Or, better yet, have the experts handle it for you? Help your business get found online by contacting Stratosphere Marketing Solutions in Westlake Village, California. We’re keeping our finger on the pulse of the web so we can help move you to the top of search engine ranking pages. Call us today!

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