Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the practice of optimizing your website to improve its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
The SEO process is a combination of technical and creative strategies to improve your website ranking. On a well-optimized website, it takes good onpage, offpage and technical SEO working together to attract more organic traffic and potential customers.
SEO is a long-term process that requires continuous effort
When we publish new content, search engines send out bots to index our content. Make it easy for these bots by assigning H1 and H2 tags to your headings and subheads and identify alt tags for your images. Develop an inner-linking strategy among your content pages where there is a relationship among topics. These links help keep visitors on your site longer, lowering your bounce rate. Also link to pages off your site that are good resource pages, related to your industry niche.
The importance of SEO for your website
We’re a lazy bunch, and when we do a search, we tend to click on the top listings on a search results page, neglecting the lower-ranked websites. If your website doesn’t appear on the first page or even the next few pages, it’s unlikely to receive significant organic traffic. By optimizing content, structure and performance, you are making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your pages. This, in turn, improves your website’s chances of ranking higher in search results.
The role of search engines in website visibility
When a user keys a query into a search engine, it scans all of the content on the internet to find the most relevant and authoritative websites to display in the SERPs. The search engine’s algorithm takes into a website’s content relevance, backlink quality and overall user experience.
Key elements of search page optimization
Search engine optimization involves optimizing your website to make it more search-engine friendly. Here are some key elements on which to focus:
- Metadescription. This is the description of your website that shows up in the SERP. It’s a character-limited promotion that should include your focus keyword.
- Headings and content structure. Assign H1, H2 and H3 tags to your headings and subheads. Include your focus keyword. Search engines look for these when they’re indexing content.
- URL structure. A clean and descriptive URL structure makes it easier for search engines and users to understand the content of a page. Think about what will show up in the search field. It should include a keyword.
- Content optimization. According to Google’s Helpful Content update, good content is nonnegotiable. Creating high-quality, relevant, and engaging content is crucial for SEO. Include your focus keyword in your headings and subheads. Avoid keyword stuffing. Off-page optimization: Building quality backlinks
- Off-page optimization is the activity off your website that has a significant impact on SEO. It includes building quality backlinks and getting guest posting opportunities. It also includes PR, networking and using your social media sites to further distribute your branded messaging.
- Technical SEO. Optimizing your website for technical SEO is another critical factor. Structure and performance make sure that bots can crawl and index your site. Technical SEO includes load time and making sure your site is mobile-friendly.
The art of keyword research
It all starts with keyword research—it’s the foundation of SEO. By understanding what keywords your target audience is using, you can optimize your website to show up in relevant search results. You can subscribe to tools like Semrush or Ahrefs or use a free application like Google Keyword Planner. Learn to use these; they’ll help you identify keyword trends, competition and traffic volume. They’ll also help you analyze and compete with your competitors.
Once you’ve identified your target keywords, it’s important to incorporate them strategically throughout your website. This includes optimizing metatags, headings, URLs, and content. Use keywords naturally and avoid keyword stuffing; search engines can penalize websites that engage in such practices.