Can you believe that nearly 50 percent of small businesses have no idea what SEO means? If you're not shocked it's probably because you're one of the small business owners in the dark.
However, the lack of understanding of what SEO actually means is not because they don't think a high ranking on search engines matters. In fact, an astonishing 98 percent of those surveyed believe their company website's ranking on Google is really important.
If you're one of the small businesses who want to know the answer to the questions - what does SEO stand for? And, what is SEO used for? - you've come to the right place. Let's discover together with this beginner's guide to all things SEO below!
To start with the simple question. Nowadays, we're all too busy to say the complete name for anything out loud. That's why we always want to use abbreviations or acronyms.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. But what's that?
It's all about improving your ranking on search engines, such as Google. It's totally focused on organic traffic. In other words, you don't have to pay to get a boost up the rankings.
However, that doesn't mean it's easy to improve your search engine results page (or SERPs) rankings. There are dozens of tips and tricks to get to the top from the content on your web pages to the convincing other websites to link to your site.
What's important understand from the off is that it's about improving your website experience for people. By making your website better for the user, the consequence will always be that you'll boost your rankings on search engines.
Furthermore, web traffic is also driven by social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. However, these represent significantly less than search engines.
That's why if you're not visible on the top search engines, you're going to miss out on an endless number of opportunities to drive traffic to your website.
That's why it's so important to know what people are searching for on search engines. Your website's findability is crucial to the success of your company.
Still skeptical about the importance of ranking high?
Over 90 percent of web traffic goes to websites on the first page of the search engine Not many people are searching beyond page 1 of the results pages.
According to research, nearly 33 percent of web traffic goes to the top spot. Whereas, spot 2 and 3 get 18 and 11 percent respectively. Few users can be bothered to check below the top few results.
Aren't search engines really clever? Well, yes, they are clever. Nonetheless, they need your help to find your website sometimes.
Search engines have algorithms. These are sophisticated ways of searching the internet for the best websites for users. This is known as 'crawling' in the tech-savvy speak.
However, you need to help search engines along the way so they can identify your website as one of the websites that need to be boosted.
If you make a mistake you bury your website deep inside Google's search engine results. Whereas, if you do the right things, you can be flying high on the first page of Google's results.
Now let's check out the different things you need to do if you want to improve your SEO ranking. Let's go!
Once upon a time in a land far, far away, you could get away with a really slow website. Maybe people were more patient.
Google has introduced changes to its algorithm which means it punishes slower websites. However, even if Google overlooks the slow loading speed of your website, users won't forgive you either.
According to research, nearly 50 percent of users expect your web page to load in under 2 seconds. For every second you leave people waiting you can expect to lose around 7 percent of conversions.
That's pretty stark research. If you leave people waiting, they will leave and go elsewhere.
So, how can you improve the speed of your website?
You can remove anything which slows it down. That includes deactivating plug-ins, not over-loading your website with images and videos, and also, decluttering the side-bar.
You may be wondering why you should be linking to other websites. Wouldn't this take web traffic away from your website toward your competition?
It probably appears especially strange when you discover that you need to be linking to blogs that relevant to your niche.
By linking to other websites, you positively associate yourself with other big hitters in the game. Outbound linking to other website blogs shows you're willing to play the link-building game. It's important to exclusively link to websites that provide your visitors with value.
Hopefully, as your cement your place as an authority and influencer within your niche, others link back to you. Don't be reluctant to send a message on social media or reach out via e-mail to let the website owner you've linked to their website.
And remember, it's the quality of your inbound link-building rather than the quantity. It's always better to gain a handful of exceptional credible websites linking to your website, rather than hundreds of low-quality sites.
Now you already know that SEO is all about improving your results on search engines. But this shouldn't come at a cost to your audience.
Previously, it was possible to get away with producing poor quality content while still raising your search engine ranking. However, since then, Google has confirmed that high-quality content will boost your website, while those with poor quality content will be penalized.
If you don't already have a blog, you need to get one right away. And you also need to start generating top-quality content which people actually want to read.
By putting your audience first, you'll find that your SEO strategy also falls into place.
Of course, keywords which reflect search enquires definitely need to feature in your content. However, the keywords need to be naturally integrated into the content.
You need to switch to long-tail keywords too. People are increasingly using voice searches via digital assistants, such as Siri and Alexa. By 2020, voice searches are expected to account for up to 30 percent of total searches.
You can use Google Adwords to discover the keywords to use to optimize your website. You need to include your keywords in the headlines and sub-headings of your content. This gives it an extra boost on Google whenever a user searches for the keyword.
Now you know what you need to do to improve your search engine ranking. But how do you know if you're achieving your goals?
There are many pay-to-use SEO analytics tools out there to use. However, many people simply download Google Analytics.
If you have the reports and metrics about your website, you can experiment with new ideas and determine what works and what doesn't.
The meta description is the section of up to 155 characters which is displayed on the SERPs. It serves to summarize the content of the web page.
And most importantly, search engines crawl meta descriptions to determine where your website ranks on the results pages.
You need to make sure you avoid any duplicate content. Make sure your meta description is unique and relevant for each web page.
But again, it's not only about playing into the search engine algorithms. By providing comprehensive meta descriptions, you provide your users with a better understanding of the content on each web page.
Whenever you write "www." you're searching for a website. You need to make sure your domain names and URLs are easy to read and unique.
An example of a poor URL name is the following:
By contrast, a good example of a URL is the below:
You definitely don't want any random numbers or characters which confuse the audience. Keep it simple for the search engines to recognize.
Many people assume that social media is totally separate to SEO. However, this is a misunderstanding.
Even though search engines don't factor social media into the algorithm, that doesn't mean it can't help improve your ranking.
You can take advantage of social media to increase web traffic to your website.
Remember to take into account the demographics and other factors related to your target audience. For example, if you're targeting millennials you need to go with Snapchat. Whereas, if you want to reach the business-types, LinkedIn is the best social media platform to make connections.
All you need to do is create interesting and informative content which people actually want to read. Then, you can share and promote links to the content on social media platforms.
And when you share a link to your blog on Twitter, don't forget to include a friendly encouragement to your audience to share it with their followers.
Check out our website for more information on how to improve your social media marketing strategy.
Since 2016, over 60 percent of searches on Google have come from mobile devices. The days when people only accessed the internet on desktop computers are over. Your website has to reflect this.
Nowadays, nearly 80 percent of Americans have a smartphone. You have to reach out this market if you want to be successful.
That's why it's important to ensure your website is mobile friendly. Google's algorithm also boosts mobile-friendly websites while penalizing those which don't cater to smartphones and tablets. You simply can't afford to miss out on the opportunities which mobile device searches bring your business.
What you need to do is make sure the dimensions of your website adapt according to the size of the screen. Plus, you need to make sure your website works smoothly on mobile devices.
You can learn a lot from your rivals in SEO. Every player in your niche is competing for the same no.1 spot on Google's results pages.
You may need to go undercover to research your competitors. That means "incognito" on Chrome or "private browsing". This way they won't suspect you're spying on them.
Are they doing anything you're not doing? What could they improve?
Hopefully, you pick up some tips and tricks about how to target your audience from other businesses in your market niche.
You might discover it's easier to criticize someone else's SEO strategy than it is your own.
Now you've got an understanding of the basics of SEO, you can answer the question, what does SEO stand for and much more. You need to give optimizing your website a go to improve your search engine results.
You can't take it for granted that people will simply find your website. You have to reach out to people through the top search engines out there.
However, although some things stay the same, SEO is always changing and adapting to trends and algorithms. It's nearly impossible for the average business owner to keep up with the constant changes in the industry.
That's why you need to hire SEO specialists to handle your SEO, content marketing, web design, and any other digital marketing needs. Get in touch with us today and we're happy to help!