You’ve heard that Search Engine Optimization is important but what does SEO really do for you? The short answer is that SEO allows you to modify your online presence so that you are discovered in organic searches. You are basically convincing the search engines, such as Google and Bing, that your page is actually what you say it’s about. Then when people search for terms related to your field you show up in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO and SEM- What’s the difference?
Now that we’ve laid out what SEO is, let’s talk about SEM. SEM refers to Search Engine Marketing and it’s a broader term that means everything you would do to convince the search engines to send traffic to your site, including paid and organic strategies. In most cases what people really mean when they say SEM is search engine advertising. They are talking about buying ads on Google Search, Google Display, or possibly even social media platforms such as Facebook.
Where do I start?
If your goal is web traffic and being found through organic search is important to you then SEO is going to be something you want to explore. Some easy steps to get you started include making sure your site is secure with an SSL, having a version of your site optimized for mobile, and making sure your site loads quickly. These all require minimal effort and produce a big result.
You also want to make sure you have keywords identified for each page of your site. Broad terms are a good starting point but you really want to get specific to have quality keywords you can rank for. Not everyone searches for something in the same way so think of the variations that could be used. All of your search terms should relate back to your industry. Searches are questions. Figure out the questions your audience is asking and build content around those keywords. Answer your audience’s questions for the best search terms.
Remember that keywords alone won’t bring you traffic. Years ago you could just stuff your website full of the words relating to your industry and get found. Now the search engines are more sophisticated and don’t fall for that. You have to build quality content.
For more help finding effective keywords, you can check out free tools such as keyword.io. You can also create a free Google Ads account and use the Google Keyword Search Tool. You don’t actually have to run ads. It’s a phenomenal tool that will look at your website and recommend keywords based on the content you already have on your website. Bing has a similar tool as well.
Some things that really make a difference when working with keywords include having your keywords within the first 100 words on your page, including keywords in bold print, and using them on the backend of your website that your end-user doesn’t even see, such as in your meta tags. Also, keep in mind search terms do change. Make sure you look at your keywords regularly, maybe once per quarter, to see if you need to update.
How long does it take before I see results?
SEO is not an overnight process. You can’t update your page today and see results tomorrow. Expect to wait at least 90 days to see a noticeable change. It may happen faster than that but don’t give up if it’s a slower process. The more optimized content you produce, the faster you will see results. A daily blog will rise faster than a monthly one, for instance.
The Importance of Blogging
One of the best ways to increase your SEO is with a consistent blog. Consider in the beginning really pushing out the content. 30 blogs in 30 days may seem crazy but it will get you results. Google will see you as an authority on those search terms and begin recommending you to answer the questions your audience has. Content is the key because it’s what generates traffic. The more traffic your site gets, the higher it will show up in the rankings.
What website platform should I use?
WordPress is a great platform because so many features are built right in such as blogging. It was actually created for blogging but is now being used to build websites of all kinds. WordPress is more user-friendly than many of the other platforms which makes it a great choice for those less familiar with the technical aspects of creating a website. For those who are tech-savvy, WordPress gives you much more control over your site.
If you don’t already have Google Analytics, you need to do that immediately. Google Search Console is a great tool as well. Analytics gives you numbers and data. It tells you how much traffic you have and where it’s coming from. Search Console gives you insight about your keywords, page speed, and how Google is indexing your site. It will also alert you to indexing errors and broken links. You can link them together and have a wealth of information about your SEO performance.
External Links, and Internal Links
We all know what a link is- you click on something and you go somewhere. Internal linking, where you’re linking your pages together, is a big SEO metric. Basically, when Google is crawling your site, it should never come to a page and stop there with nowhere to go. Internal linking links all your pages together so the bot continues to move and crawl through your site. This is most effective when done not just in the menu but in the content itself.
External links are those links that take people away from your site. When you create the link be sure to have the site open in a new tab instead of taking over your site. External links to authority sites show that you are genuinely trying to help people and is another way to boost your SEO.
Most Important Takeaway
The most important thing to do is to remember the basics and do the easy things first. Good hosting is going to include an SSL, optimize page speed, and more technical aspects you won’t have to worry about. Above that, it’s all about content. Quality blogs, videos, and articles are going to drive traffic and increase your SEO. Find the problem and solve it then produce content around it.