The Basics of Search Engine Optimization

SEO website optimization

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The most basic gist of SEO is this: the job of your website should be to fully understand what your targeted customers are searching for online, what answers they’re looking for, and the type of articles or content they want to read.

You’ve likely heard all about the unlimited benefits of SEO and why every company should be using it. But you might still be confused by what exactly SEO is and how it can help your business.

Don’t fret. Digital marketing can be incredibly complex, and those well-versed in SEO often discuss it as if everyone has the exact same level of knowledge. (It would be similar to chatting about the ins and outs of American football with someone who had never seen a game!

So let’s start with the basics.

SEO Basics

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

At its most basic level, it is a digital practice aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of website traffic. SEO also helps increase exposure to your company, brand, or service via something digital marketers call organic, non-paid search results. This basically means that when a search engine — like Google—crawls through your site, it identifies specific keywords and groups of phrasing that it then delivers to users. Think of it a bit like a digitized version of the yellow pages.

It’s also vital to understand that SEO hinges on users as much as it does on search engines. The most basic gist of SEO is this: the job of your website should be to fully understand what your targeted customers are searching for online, what answers they’re looking for, and the type of articles or content they want to read. (For example, are you a pool supply company targeting potential clients or an accountant specializing in corporate tax? Maybe you run a local veterinarian office that caters to exotic pets. Whatever your business, spend some time thinking about what your prospective clients are likely searching for online).

After developing a clear understanding of who your client is, delivering the information they crave in a manner that search engines recognize is step number two. 

Understanding Search Engines and Traffic

Think of a search engine as a digital answer machine. Sites like Google or Bing search through millions of websites and bits of content in just minutes. As they do this, they’re simply looking for content that is the most likely to answer a searcher’s query. This process is called ‘ranking’ and it determines where your site will show up in search results. To earn more eyeballs — and potential customers—you want to be as high in these results as possible.

A major boost in overall web traffic is the primary goal of SEO. Consider this stat for a second: almost 33 percent of clicks target the first ranking page. And the initial five listings typically garner about 75 percent of all clicks. (And remember those clicks are customers!)

SEO relies heavily on keywords and other relevant phrases to help ensure your business website ranks well. For example, let’s use one of the instances from above again: pretend you own a pool supply store and you’re trying out SEO to increase your client base.

In order to get the word out about your business, and get your content in front of searching customers, you will want to optimize — or digitally bump– your posts so they show up at the top for anyone searching the phrase “pool supply store.” But it doesn’t end there.

Think of other search terms your targeted users might be apt to use as well. For example, chlorine, liner, skimmer, etc. are likely common search terms. You’ll certainly want to make sure those appear in your web content as well. And if you offer other related goods or services — like installation, cleaning, or spas, you won’t skimp on those descriptions either. 

Maximizing SEO Value

It may seem slightly daunting, but there are some easy ways to make sure your website shows up in prominent search queries and SEO rankings. Our main tip: keep your content simple. Everything from product descriptions to your ‘about us’ section should be clear, engaging, and easy to read. When you write, do so in a conversational manner. Write the way you speak. (If you have trouble with this, try pretending you’re describing what your business does the same way you would to a good friend over coffee). A few more simple suggestions are below:

  • The same goes for page titles. Keep these relevant and clear. 
  • Avoid jargon at all costs.
  • Use links sparingly, but add them in when necessary. (Adding in too many links is called “link stuffing” and search engines will rank you lower for this practice).
  • Page speed and user experience are important. If your page load is super sluggish or you have links that are broken, it’s best to go back to the drawing board. 
  • Use brief descriptions below all images on your site. This helps search engines more easily identify the content — and it helps your site rank higher in search
  • A ton of ads and large, garish images will only distract your readers. Opt for a few crisp, well-placed images. (And don’t forget those brief descriptions!)
  • Avoid duplicate content at all costs. Search rankings will ding you for this and, as a result, rank you lower in search. 

Keep in mind that search engine optimization is a bit of an art rather than a strict science, especially because user’s needs tend to change throughout time and algorithms sometimes change. You must evolve with this—and so should your SEO. Make sure you’re updating your website regularly so you keep up. Try new descriptions, search terms, and keywords out. Don’t be afraid to tweak things and see what sticks. But always remember, a great SEO strategy often means a big boost in revenue. Contact BRANDefenders BRANDefenders provides the services you need to optimize your website for high search performance. The best decision you can make for your brand is just a click away.

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