Every website serves a purpose, but the question always arises, How do I get people to my website? The simple answer is Search Engine Optimization, but the real answer lies much deeper than that. SEO is a complex matrix of factors that helps search engines, like Google, direct people to your website. SEO by definition is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. Quality traffic means you are getting people to your website for the purpose of making an interaction, and the Quantity of traffic is, just like it sounds, you want more people coming to your site. Everyone wants to be the top search result on Google, but how do you get there?
How Does SEO Help People Find Me?
People are referred to your site in 3 ways with SEO: Search Terms, Paid Advertisements, or Organic Leads. Search terms are any time that someone goes to a preferred search engine and types in a search (often referred to as a query) and then they click on your link from the results on the page. A paid advertisement is any time someone clicks on a link that you pay to have at the top of a page to entice a potential customer to come to your website. Organic leads are any leads that you get by not having to pay or be found directly from search engine queries.
Where Does SEO Go?
SEO falls into two main categories: On-page SEO and Off-Page SEO. On-Page means that your headlines and titles match the keyword that was searched and they are repeated in the body text, search engines will rank this more relevant and move you up the rankings for that search term. Off-Page SEO refers to actions taken off your website that impact your rankings with search engines. Let's dive into each of these to help you understand these better for you.
This is the most critical part of your SEO plan as it encompasses your title, main meta information (for robots to scroll), and the content on your page. Simplified- these are the things that you can control. Your title tag and meta tags are found in your header section of your website. Your title tag tells the tuser the name of your site and this is directly displayed as a result of a search engine query. Having this accurate is of utmost importance because search engines do not like bad content sites, or sites that have misleading information. Right after your title tag, you should have 3 meta tags: description, keywords and robots. The Description tag has a brief description of the page (keep this below 150 characters), the keyword tag has the main 5 keywords that are most relevant to that specific page, and robots is an indication to search engines that you want this page indexed what they should do with the page. An example header for this blog post would be as follows:
The last part of your On-page SEO is the content on the page (the body of your website). You want to make sure that all your search terms that are in your meta keywords are used in the first 1000 words on the page and most importantly are found in all your H1, H2, H3 headers. Each page should only contain one H1 heading and 3-5 H2 headings. This tells Google that these are the most important concepts on the page and should be ranked following the priority of your headers. After your headings, it’s considered good practice to have longer keywords in paragraphs because it helps search engines see the extra additional content is rich and relevant to the search terms that are in your headers. While this isn’t necessary, it is widely considered a great way to boost your rankings because of the secondary content.
Now that we have covered the main things that you can control and update on your website, let’s shift to the Off-Page items that help drive your rankings. These items are all link related and it tells the search engine things about your site that only robots see and users are not affected by. A link of a website is defined by using the anchor tag to give the site the URL of the intended destination and the words that you want to user to see. Here is an example
Off-Page SEO is driven by internal link structure, external links, and backlinks. Internal links are links that point within your domain. These are mostly used in your navigation to give a hierarchy to your website. External links are links that point a user to anywhere outside of your domain. These are important because many search engines consider these to be third party votes to the relevance of a search term. Lastly, you have backlinks, these are all the links that are outside of your domain that point to your domain. These are crucial as earning high-quality backlinks from trusted sources is considered one of the highest priorities of a search engine. If multiple sites say yours has the best content then your site will move up the rankings.
I know this is all confusing and there are a lot of technical terms used in this post, but understanding how these components fit together can drastically improve how search engines rank your website. SEO is always an ongoing process and can always be improved, but the critical thing to remember is that you want your site to be trustworthy in the eyes of both the user and robots. Take a few minutes to look at your website and make sure you have covered all the items we discussed in this post. Please understand that results are not immediate and can take a month or so to really show. Thank you for taking the time to read this.