If you’re a business owner, chances are, the term “SEO” has been thrown around so much that it might seem like some trendy jargon. But hear us out; it’s much more than that. So, what does it really mean, and why is it a big deal?
Now, we know jumping headfirst into the vast ocean of SEO can seem daunting, especially for beginners. But, hey, we’re here to help you swim! This guide is designed to unpack the mystery, providing you with practical, easy-to-understand, and actionable steps to revamp your website’s SEO.
What, How & Why You Need SEO
Breaking it down, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is like a magic wand that enhances your website to improve its visibility when people hunt for products or services related to your business on search engines like Google. The higher your website ranks in search engine results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business.
But how does it work?
Think of search engines as the ultimate librarians of the Internet. When someone punches in a search term, the librarian (search engine) sifts through the giant web library to find the most fitting page based on the user’s query. Search engines consider thousands of factors to decide which one to showcase first.
These factors range from the relevance of your content to how user-friendly your site is. SEO is the invisible crew working behind the scenes to ensure your site shines in as many factors as possible, boosting your rank in search results.
Now, the big question: Why should you care about SEO?
Even if your brand has the most loyal customer base, you still need new customers. And it turns out it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to attract quality traffic to your website.
Instead of pushing your brand in front of people who may not be interested (we’re looking at you, traditional advertising), you can pull in those actively seeking out information relevant to your brand — yes, you attract an audience who already want what you offer.
01. On-Page SEO: The Things You Can Control
You can see and control these things – it’s all about optimizing different parts of your website to earn better visibility in search results. Optimizing most of these things will give your website a much-needed SEO health boost, which could translate into higher (and better) rankings.
What exactly needs optimization, you ask? Here’s where to start:
- Content: The heart of on-page SEO lies in your content—what your visitors read, engage with, and share. It must be relevant to your target audience and packed with the keywords your potential customers might use when searching for your product or service.
- Images: Images bring life to your content but can be a hidden source of SEO power. Ensure each image has an appropriate alt text—this is what search engines use to ‘see’ your image.
- Meta Tags: Meta tags are the titles and descriptions in search results. Make them inviting, keyword-optimized, and within the character limit (60 characters for title tags and 160 for meta descriptions) to encourage clicks from search results.
- Page Structure: Break up your content into readable and digestible chunks using headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.) that form a hierarchical structure. Use your keywords in these headers, but keep them user-friendly—remember, people will be reading these, not just search engines.
- URLs: Your URLs should be SEO-friendly, meaning they should be clear, concise, and descriptive. Incorporate your main keyword and avoid unnecessary characters or words.
- Internal Links: Your internal links guide your visitors to other relevant pages on your site, keeping them engaged longer. It also helps search engines understand the structure and content of your website, boosting your SEO.
- User Experience (UX): Ensure your website is easy to navigate, mobile-friendly, and loads fast. The better the UX, the longer visitors will stay, improving your site’s dwell time—an important ranking factor for search engines.
02. Off-Page SEO: The Things You Can't Control (Fully)
While on-page SEO is crucial, off-page SEO holds equal weight in your journey to the top of search engine rankings. These actions outside your website impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs).
If you can’t control these actions, how can you improve them? Here’s where to start:
- Link Building: Consider link-building the referral program for SEO. This strategy is about securing high-quality, relevant links from other websites to yours—a digital vote of confidence boosting your credibility in search engines’ eyes.
- Reviews: Online reviews play a pivotal role in off-page SEO. They build your brand’s credibility and influence purchasing decisions. Also, in recent years, search engines gave reviews a heavier weight, perceiving them as signals of trustworthiness and authority.
- Local SEO: It’s about making your business visible for geographically related searches. Local SEO involves optimizing your website with local keywords (think ‘coffee shop in Miami’), embedding a map, and ensuring your site is mobile-friendly (most local searches are done on mobile).
03. Technical SEO: The Things You Can't See But Power Your Website
Technical SEO might sound daunting, especially if you’re not tech-savvy. But it’s an essential piece of the puzzle! Not to scare you or drive you away, but technical SEO is what most business owners struggle with, and we’ve seen one too many times how this scares people away.
Here are some things you can do today:
- Site Structure: Start with a clear hierarchy – typically a home page, followed by main category pages, and then individual pages under each category. Ensure each page is no more than three clicks away from the home page.
- Sitemap: Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to help these search engines crawl your site more effectively. Tools like Yoast SEO can generate a sitemap for you if you’re using a platform like WordPress.
- Page Speed: Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to test your site’s speed and get suggestions for improvements. Consider reducing image sizes, minimizing the number of plugins, and leveraging browser caching to boost your site’s speed. If none of this works, consider hiring a web developer who can help you optimize your website–believe us, it’s 100% worth the investment.
- Mobile-Friendly: Check your site’s mobile-friendliness using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. A responsive design that adjusts to different screen sizes, easy navigation, and fast load times on mobile are all critical for a mobile-friendly website.
- Schema: For example, if you run a recipe blog, structured data can tell search engines what each part of your recipe means, like ingredients, cooking time, temperature, etc. If you have an e-commerce site, you will use it for specific product categories, reviews, etc. This can help your content appear in rich search results, boosting visibility and clicks.
Ready to Get Started?
By now, you should have a better idea of what SEO entails. Remember, it’s not a one-time job but an ongoing effort. Stay consistent, be patient, and watch your website climb the search engine ranks! 🌟