Search engine optimization is far from dead. Almost 60% of all global web traffic comes from Google, the world’s leading search engine. When done right, SEO can deliver consistent traffic to your website, free of cost. And it all starts with the basics. Here is everything you need to know to start ranking on Google and other popular search engines.
SEO 101: The Basics of SEO Every Business Owner Should Know
Search engines are answer finders. You ask them a question. In response, they give you several options - links to websites - where you might find the answer. But how do they know which options to spit out? Simply put, they ‘crawl’ websites for semantics and rank them based on several factors. We will get to the factors in a bit. But first, how do search engines know that websites exist? Short answer: they don’t. You need to tell them that your website exists so they can crawl it for information. That brings us to the first basic lesson of SEO:
Informing Google About Your Website
Google (and other search engines) have bots that crawl the web for information. These snippets of code “index” the found information. Think of indexing as storing information for future use. You need to submit your sitemap for Google to index your web pages.
You can find your website’s sitemap at “yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml”. If nothing shows up, it means you do not have a sitemap. Follow this guide to create a sitemap for your website. Once you have a sitemap, submit it to Google search console. You will need to sign in with your Google account to submit your sitemap.
Once you have submitted your website to Google, you are in the reckoning. There are many ways to optimize sitemaps. For example, you can use Robot.txt to divert crawlers away from certain pages on your website. You might want to do that for old URLs, for instance.
Three Steps to Great SEO
Crawling is the technical part of SEO. You can use this platform to schedule consistent crawling of your web pages. It also flags technical issues in your SEO strategy and improves your chances of ranking higher on search engines. The technical bit is essential. But the creative bit is what makes all the difference. You can divide SEO strategy into three parts:
1. Keyword research
It all starts here. Keyword research is the cornerstone of any content and SEO strategy. It tells you how and what your audience is searching for online. Start with common sense. Figure out words or phrases that are relevant to your business and industry. For example, if you run an online travel agency, relevant phrases could be:
Feed these relevant words to a keyword planner tool. It will suggest relevant keyword phrases. Each phrase will have average search volume, ranking difficulty, and traffic potential. The keywords you choose will depend on your SEO strategy. But they will inform your content strategy, which brings us to the next step of search engine optimization.
2. On-page SEO
This is where the magic happens. By creating relevant content consistently, you exponentially increase your chances of ranking on the first page of Google; and, more importantly, staying there. There are several ways to optimize your on-page SEO strategy, such as:
Creating SEO-friendly URL slugs - Use descriptive URLs that contain your keywords. For example, a blog post on top holiday destinations could be “yourdomain.com/blog/top-holiday-destinations”
Write powerful title tags - These are the clickable taglines that appear on search results. Write title tags that are compelling and that have your keywords. For example, a good tagline for “Top holiday destinations” could be “Best Holiday Destinations: Our Top 25 (2022)”. By including the year in the tagline, you are informing visitors that the content is fresh.
Optimize your images - Compress your images to improve page load speed. Use alt text with relevant keywords, so search engines know what the image is about.
3. Link building
When other high-ranking websites endorse your business, it builds your stature in the world of search engines. How do you get these endorsements? Creating quality content is the first order of the business. Write original, authority-building content that others can reference in their articles. Guest blogging is another link-building tactic. Reach out to high-ranking platforms in your industry that accept guest authors. You can also sign-up on platforms such as MuckRack and HARO. Journalists use these platforms to reach out to authority figures to quote as sources in their articles.
Bonus Tips for a Great SEO Strategy
Use competitor research to figure out the kind of content your audience is resonating with. Use keywords to find high-ranking content in your industry. Figure out related content ideas to give people more of what they are looking for.
Don't focus on only external backlinks. Internal linking can boost your SEO score. Figure out pages that are very important to your business. For example, your product page. Write blog posts around your product and link them to your product page. When a page has a high number of backlinks, it tells Google bots that the content is useful. You then improve your chances of ranking high on search results.
Pepper your blog posts with strong headlines that have your primary keyword. Use H2 tag for these subheads. And don't forget to add relevant meta tags and meta descriptions to every article you post on your business blog.
UX matters, too, when it comes to SEO. Performance metrics are a factor for your ranking on Google. Keep your page load speeds under 3 seconds. Optimizing images is one way to ensure your pages load faster. Stick to a logical site structure so visitors can quickly find what they are looking for. A high bounce rate does not bode well for your SEO goals.
Turbocharge Your SEO Strategy
SEO is about consistency and patience. But with so many moving parts, it can get overwhelming. Lack of transparency on search engine algorithms does not help matters. At Fifth and Cor, we live and breathe digital marketing. We can help you get to the first page of Google quickly, neutralizing your competitors in the process. Eliminate the guesswork.
Reach out to us for help with a content strategy that will boost your organic website traffic.