Even in 2019, we regularly meet business owners and website managers who don’t know what SEO stands for. Sure, they know that it’s an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, but they aren’t sure what optimizing for search engines means or what that looks like.
If you are one of these folks who are trying to understand what SEO stands for, then this post if for you!
For over ten years we’ve taught people what SEO is and helped them grow their online presence by using it, sometimes combining it with other channels like social media. We understand what it’s like to not know about internet optimization and our hope is that this post will give your business the foundation you need to start your own SEO journey and improve your digital presence.
Some Deeper Reading On SEO:
- What is SEO
- What Does SEO Stand For
- The Ultimate Guide To Organic SEO
- The Top Local Search Ranking Factors
- Technical SEO and How it Affects Your Website’s Rank
- How Does SEO Work for Your Business?
- SEM vs. SEO: Tapping Your Business Potential
- White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO: Are You Doing SEO Right?
- Easy Guide to Getting Local SEO to Work for Your Small Businesses
- The On-page SEO Checklist
- Keyword Research Mastery: The Beginners Guide
- The Ultimate Google Algorithmic Penalty Recovery Guide
- Questions you SHOULD Ask Before Hiring an SEO Expert
- The 5 Step Beginner Guide to SEO Writing That Ranks
- BONUS: B2B Sales and Marketing Playbook
What Does SEO Stand For?
Basically, SEO is the process of helping search engines understand your website.
Believe it or not, search engines actually “read” your website! The programs they use to do this are called “crawlers.” These programs click through your links, read image alt text, check your social buttons, and do their best to make sense of the message you’re communicating. This ensures that they can connect your website with people that are looking for what you’re selling.
If Google’s crawlers start to think that your website is a good match for people, then they will rank your business higher. Alternatively, if the crawlers feel that you don’t answer the questions or offer the products your audience is looking for, then they will place you lower.
Unfortunately for people trying to rank on Google, it can be really tricky to figure out how crawlers grade websites. Fortunately, though, there are people, like our team here at Fannit, who have dedicated decades of their lives to learning how crawlers think. This is where SEO basics come into play!
What Does SEO Look Like?
Like a coin, SEO has two sides:
- Crawlers: This side focuses on the science of determining how crawlers think and optimizing a website for their little robotic brains.
- People: This side is all about improving your site for its human audience. After all, you’re trying to sell your human readers and social media users, not Google’s robots.
By optimizing your website for search engines and people, you will give your rankings a boost. If you do it right you may even start getting listed on the first page of Google — the golden place to be, as the first page of Google, captures 71% of search traffic clicks!
SEO is a Never-Ending Journey
One of the most important things you need to remember is that SEO is a never-ending journey. There is a direct link between technology, consumer behavior, and SEO, so you always have to be on top of the newest trends to prepare your website.
Technology, in particular, has proven to be a key factor. The development of mobile devices, which are now the most popular way to access the internet, completely changed the way search engines rank websites. Today, new practices like voice search are gaining traction, so optimizing a site for this type of search may become a major part of your strategy in the future.
Moreover, Google and other search platforms constantly create new methods and improve the way they index and rank websites. You have to be aware of new updates as they roll out. Sure, some of these may be minor. But, every now and again, there is a major update that can seriously affect your ranking, especially if you’re unprepared.
Key SEO Tactics
Landing your website on the front page involves a combination of SEO tactics and strategies. Among other SEO basics, here are three of the most important parts of your website that need to be optimized in order to reach the front page of Google.
1. Organizing Your Site’s Architecture
It’s important that the menus and organization of your site flow in a logical and intentional way. A disorganized website will motivate readers to exit (damaging your rankings) and will confuse crawlers (also damaging your rank), so make sure you optimize your site in advance.
An easy tip for improving your site’s architecture is to have relevant internal links placed in your content. This way readers are led to click through multiple pages of your site and, if you do it right, are funneled to the product or service that your business is selling.
One of the big ways that Google determines the rank of your website is by reading the links pointing to your website from other websites. These are called “backlinks,” and Google considers the quality of these links a clue towards determining the quality of your own website.
If spammy or low-quality websites are linking to your site, then the search engines will assume that your business site is spammy as well. Alternatively, if your website has incoming links from reputable sites, then Google will think that you are a high-quality site too.
So, a crucial step in SEO is disavowing bad backlinks to create better ones.
3. Focus on Content Marketing
Two more things Google considers when ranking your website are:
- How long people stay on your website (i.e. retention rate).
- How many people visit your site each day (i.e. traffic rate).
Content marketing improves both of these things by creating well-written content that keeps people reading (improving your retention rate).
Regularly releasing content such as blog posts that answer the questions your ideal customers are asking and distributing them through social media (driving more traffic to your site) can have a huge impact on your business.
4. Optimize the Site’s Loading Speed
Although all aspects of user experience are essential, your website’s loading speed will determine if visitors actually see your content or if they simply leave your site. In an ideal world, your website should load in less than 5 seconds. As more time passes, more users will hit the back button, return to the search engine, and find a website with faster loading speed.
There are many elements that affect your site’s loading speed. The website’s architecture, media formats, social feeds within your site, and amount of information on the pages will all influence how fast it loads. Additionally, the hosting provider has a big impact on loading speed, which is one of Google’s most well-known ranking factors.
Make sure to take your time before choosing a hosting provider. In addition to speed, look at their average downtime (the less, the better), customer support quality, backup features, and security capacities.
5. Ensure that Your Business Has a Mobile Website or Responsive Site
Research conducted in 2018 estimated that more than 52% of all internet traffic was generated via mobile devices. As a matter of fact, Google has been conducting mobile performance tests before indexing and ranking each website since 2016.
In simple terms, this means that having a mobile or responsive website is critical to reel in more traffic through SEO. Consumers are using mobile devices to search for information more than computers, so your website should be visible on smartphones and similar gadgets as well.
Unfortunately, many companies and website managers haven’t optimized their platform for mobile traffic, which hurts their chances of appearing on the first page. Creating a mobile website may be a challenging mission, especially for companies on a tight budget.
Responsive website designs are a great alternative that allows your website to resize and rearrange the information on your site according to users’ screen size. Not only does this optimize readability, but loading speed and increases and it helps users navigate your site easily.
6. Pay Attention to Meta Data and Other Details
When optimizing or building a website for SEO, you need to keep dozens of small factors that affect the overall performance of your site. For instance, meta titles, meta descriptions, page URL, the use of headings, creating a sitemap, and other elements will all help determine your ranking as well as speed and other areas.
Meta titles and meta descriptions are particularly important because they also entice users to click on your website. Your title should have the right number of characters, including the keyword, and be relevant to the content of the page. Likewise, meta descriptions should meet the length requirements, include the main search term, and describe what the page is about.
7. Master Keyword Research
Despite the fact that this practice falls under the mantle of content marketing, familiarizing yourself with effective keyword research techniques can also make a world of difference. There is much more to keyword research than finding relevant terms. You also need to identify what competitors are doing, locate variants that apply to your niche, and find the keywords your business can realistically compete for.
Having the right tools at your disposal will also influence the success of your term search. Instead of opting for any keyword research tool, make sure you select a known platform that provides accurate results. Some marketers even use multiple tools and cross-reference the results to get the most accurate data. With this in mind, regardless of the tool you pick, you have to get familiar with the interface and learn how to use its features to your advantage.
What Does SEO Mean In Your Marketing?
SEO will look slightly different for each website. Some companies may need to create a roster of high-quality backlinks, while others are better off working on their site’s content.
How do you know which SEO strategies are best for your business?
The trick is to invest in solid competitor and audience research so that you can tailor your SEO strategy to the niche of the internet that you hope to rank in. You could try to do this research yourself via email and other means, but we would recommend partnering with an experienced SEO agency that has access to the tools and knowledge required to build a dependable SEO strategy. If you have any questions contact us and we can help your business through your site’s SEO.