If you have a website or are looking at having one designed you have likely read about the importance of “Search Engine Optimization”, AKA SEO. However if the term is still be somewhat nebulous to you, we are here to ensure you have a full understanding of what SEO is and what it means for your website.
What Is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is defined as “a methodology of strategies, and tactics used to increase visitors to a website by continually improving the factors that most strongly influence website ranking on the search results page of a search engine, including Google, Bing, Yahoo and others.” So that’s not very clear – let’s expand on that. There are over 200 factors search engines use to decide how to rank your page in search results when someone performs a query that is relevant to your product or service, we will share the six most important ones.
Our Top SEO Success Factors.
- Back-links – These are links from other websites that link to your website (IE A chamber of Commerce has a link to your website on their website) and the quality and quantity of these links. Better quality and greater quanitity of back-links than competitors makes it more likely you will rank higher than them. The combination of quantity and quality is important when it comes to back-links, if you have one without the other, beating your competitors in terms of back-links will be difficult. How do you get both quality and quantity back-links? The easiest way is to continually generate useful and relevant content (blog, video, etc.) that people want to share and link to from their website.
- Keywords – There was a time (when we first started over 20 years ago) you could just fill your website with the keywords you wanted to rank for and in a short time you would be on page one. Those days are long gone, today keywords are still extremely important to have in your website copy but just repeating them over and over will do you more harm than good. Search engines today rely heavily on the back end information you provide (Meta, Titles, URL Architecture, Headers, etc.) to discover the context of your page, its relevance, and its usefulness to users. This means a deep understanding of your users and their relation to your product/service category is extremely important. You need to understand how they search for you, who they are, and what keywords and phrases they use. Then your keywords must be naturally placed within your pages content, and back-end information must be added to support the keywords in your copy. Today you have to write for both search engines and users at the same time.
- Page Load Time – This factor continues to grow in importance and is closely intertwined with mobile ranking factors, google sees mobile search as extremely important and fast load times are important to mobile users. This is largely something you will need a developers help to improve. You will want to ensure pages leverage “browser caching”; this tells users devices to store previously viewed content for a specified period and pull it from a user’s device rather than your server each time a page is viewed. Compress images to decrease load times, minify coding (Java, CSS, HTML), and monitor and improve server bottlenecks.
- Mobile Friendly – As mobile search overtakes desktop and google sees it as becoming increasingly important to its bottom line, mobiles effect on SEO and your page rank continues to increase. It is becoming more and more difficult to rank well in mobile search without a mobile friendly site. What this means for your SEO efforts is that if your site is not mobile friendly you will be losing mobile traffic to those competitors who are. Today’s website must be mobile friendly, that means you will need a separate mobile site or a responsive website, if you want to remain competitive.
- Reviews – Since most SMEs are largely focused on local search, we have included this as one of our primary SEO factors. Online reviews on google, yelp, and other platforms are extremely important to your page rank in local search. This again involves both quality and quantity, a website/business that has 25 four star reviews will receive more of a boost in local search than one with three, five star reviews. Never pay for reviews or make fake ones, if you know someone had a great experience simply ask for one, or add social widgets to review platforms on your website.
- Social Media – Social shares of the content you generate and your website is an important direct ranking factor, but it’s indirect aid in back-link generation is even more important. Social media allows you to build a community of satisfied customers, and interested users, engage them and share your content with them. These aspects make social media the perfect platform to publicize the content you generate and build more back-links than you would without it, due to the increased reach it provides. Social media is an important stand-alone web marketing platform, but it also plays an important supporting role in SEO by getting your content in front of more eyes.
Content Is Still King.
For the 6 primary SEO factors discussed to be successful they must be built upon a quality website and content foundation, if you have a website users don’t like and content on it users don’t find useful, no amount of SEO will help you make more sales or get more leads. For SEO to be successful you need sites designed for users, that are filled with useful content. Content is still king, back-links are grown from it, keywords are added to it, and social is used to share it. Strong content leads to strong SEO results.
By Benjamin Henniges
Faster Solutions Web-marketing Coordinator