Your website is an invaluable tool for reaching customers, especially since most people begin their purchase journey with extensive research online. But all the work you’ve put into creating a streamlined site and effective landing page will get you nowhere if search engines can’t find your website. In this post, we’ll take a look at how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works, and how you can use it to boost traffic on your site.
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What is SEO?
Most customers will start their purchase journey through a search engine – a customer looking for a bargain microfiber jacket might type “winter coat” or “skiing gear” into Google, and then use results to start looking for brand options and comparing prices. Search Engine Optimization uses these keyword searches to establish search parameters. These can be used to develop a search engine targeting strategy for your website. Over time, this strategy will boost your site on search engines, which will drive traffic to you and create customers for your business.
Next, we’ll look at some of the ways that you can create a Search Engine Optimized site.
Search engines “see” differently from humans –anything other than HTML text is often ignored. You can use Google’s “text cache” feature to get a sense of how search engines “see” your site. This is no reason to give up the design and graphics cues that will catch customer interest, but it’s important to make sure that your site is “readable” as HTML. Your important text content should be in HTML format. Other forms of content can be made “HTML friendly” with an alt-text description. Provide text captions for video and other visual content, and short blurbs including any key information. Captions and short text posts are a good general strategy – these make your site seem more organized, and they give visitors extra incentive to click through on visual content.
Keyword Usage and Targeting
Keywords are an elemental part of SEO. Search engines will look for words – “jacket” – but they’ll also look for word order – “microfiber jacket” – and punctuation – “jackets: microfiber.” The key is to integrate search terms naturally. Look for ways to use specific terms – “microfiber parka” – instead of general terms that will drown your site in competitors. Make sure that your content is labeled with specific headings. Create content tags for blog posts and other updates, and make sure to use them regularly.
Strategic Keyword Placement
Littering a page with keywords will confuse search engines and annoy customers. This basic strategy will help you maximize keyword effectiveness. Use keywords:
- At least once in the title tag
- Two or three times in the body of the text on the page
- At least once in alt attribute for any image
- At least once in any blurb and caption
- Once in the URL for the page
- At least once in the meta description text
This checklist should ensure that you cover all your bases. Remember, it’s always best to integrate keywords naturally, and you can increase opportunities for keyword incorporation with headings, subheadings, teaser text, and captions. These are a good way to polish up and organize text on your web page, too.
Outstanding Title Tags
Page titles are your MVPs for Strategic SEO – they’ll lead search engines to your page, and they’ll also be the first thing customers see in search result pages. For best results, keep them brief – most search engines display only 60-75 characters. Include keywords up front, and make sure to incorporate brand names. You’ll want to be as descriptive as possible to entice customers to click through.
Crawlable Link Structures
Search engines look for text, but they also find relevant links. These are important for making sure that search engines find and report multiple pages on your site. You can achieve this with a “crawlable link structure,” which allows search engines to “crawl” from page to page on a website – sort of like a caterpillar moving from the main stem to each leaf. You can solve this problem by including internal links on each page. If you can make these links sequential, to lead customers from page to page using a menu or button at the bottom of a text post, even better. Remember, search engines are less likely to “see” these links if they’re not in HTML.
URLs might not seem as important as title tags and content, but they do display prominently in search results and browsers, so they deserve some attention and planning. The best way to think about URLS is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers – ideally, you want every URL on your page to give your customers a sense of what they’ll find when they click through. You can also incorporate keywords into URLs, but don’t go overboard – too many repetitions and you might trip spam filters.
Professional SEO Services
As we’ve seen in this quick guide, the building blocks of Search Engine Optimization are straightforward. Organize content using clear headings and standardized URLs; use HTML text to guide search engines to diverse forms of content; incorporate keywords organically and consistently. These tactics will go a long way towards creating a Search Engine Optimized site. However, strategic SEO can and does operate at a much deeper level, incorporating techniques like meta tags, long-tail keywords, and canonicalization to send your page to the top of every search result. Professional SEO services are a cost-effective investment – the right digital marketing firm can also provide you with up-to-date blogs and other content, responsive site design, and customized advertising campaigns.
Search Engine Optimization may seem intimidating – and it’s true that a lot of factors go into successful SEO. But if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be on your way to the top!
Are you interested in learning more about SEO and other strategies to drive traffic to your site? We recommend working with a digital marketing firm that can help you find the best SEO solution for your business. The Square 1 Group team prides itself on providing expert advice to every client. Call for a consultation today!