Taking aim at a moving target isn’t easy, and that’s exactly what you’re doing when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In the digital marketing quest to organically reach the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), you’re up against ever-evolving practices, algorithms, and consumer behaviors.
Undergoing some SEO training in 2022 is essential to getting yourself discovered by your prospects and even your current customers. It’s nearly impossible to completely master, but if you know the SEO basics, you’re off to a good start!
I recently presented a webinar designed to demystify SEO and get you started with actionable tips. Here, we’ll touch on a few of those points and direct you to where you can find the full recording. Let’s dive in!.
SEO is the practice of developing and optimizing your content in ways that will put it toward the top of the list of search results when an internet user searches for a topic related to your content.
For example, an independent book store in Appleton, Wisconsin, will want to appear toward the top of the search results for a user who googles “Book stores in Appleton WI.”
This is not the same as Search Engine Marketing (SEM), also known as paid search. With SEO, you’re aiming to be found organically without paying to be the top result for a specific keyword. In essence, an organic search result for a keyword is earned by demonstrating that you’re a relevant result for that topic.
How Does SEO Work?
When someone types a keyword into a search engine, that search engine aims to return the best results, even taking searcher intent into consideration. Google is always scouring the web to find and “crawl” new webpages for indexing. These crawlers read pages’ content and will index them for later — when an inquiry hits enough related words that it deems it a relevant search result.
The desire for websites is to rank as high as possible in those search results! This is where keywords play a huge role.
But don’t stuff keywords into your content, a common practice in the early 2000s, to try to game the system. Instead, the copy should include natural placement of the keywords and related words and phrases.
Pro tip: Any images on the page must be relevant to the topic and optimized with alt text to describe what is displayed in the image.
Here’s a bad example of SEO for the previously mentioned hypothetical book store in Appleton, Wisconsin that’s trying to rank for keywords such as “paperback books and hardcover novels in Appleton, WI”:
“You can find all the books, novels, stories, hardcovers, and paperbacks you want at the Appleton Bookstore in Appleton, WI. Here at Appleton Bookstore in Appleton, WI, all the novels, books, hardcovers, and paperbacks written by your favorite authors are available. Appleton Bookstore is located in Appleton, WI and stocks the books, novels, stories, hardcovers, and paperbacks you need!”
Painful to read, huh? Here’s a better example of SEO for the same fictional company and the same keyword:
“Looking for the latest mystery novel? How about that horror story you’ve been hearing about? Visit Appleton Bookstore to find the latest crop of hardcovers and paperbacks from your favorite authors! Our selection is so vast, you may even discover new writers to read! Visit us here in Appleton, WI and let us help you find the perfect book to accompany you by the glow of your lamp.”
That’s easier to read, right? All copy on a webpage should have a natural flow using keywords and related phrases in an unforced manner. The search engines have gotten savvy and intelligent, and can even punish pages if they practice keyword stuffing.
Learn More: 8 Must-Do Activities for Ongoing SEO Success
Other Factors that Affect SEO
It isn’t just the copy and images that need attention — the overall website itself needs to be performing at a high quality, too.
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, since many modern internet users are accessing websites on their phones. When accessed, does your site load quickly?
Pages that take more than a few seconds to load can aggravate users and cause them to drop off and go elsewhere. The search engines notice this when it comes time to rank search results.
Are your pages clean and easy to read? A good page layout free of clutter and with a single goal can help the page load faster in addition to providing a good user experience, giving you a chance at repeat visitors and a higher ranking.
Something else you’ll need to consider is where you and your competitors stand in search rankings. Use available tools, such as Semrush, to find which keywords your competition is using successfully and where you can find ground to gain.
Who Handles SEO in Your Company?
Is SEO something you can just hand off to your web developers to implement during the design and development process?
That doesn’t sound right, does it? In this clip from our webinar, I explain why your entire team truly holds the keys to building website authority through SEO:
Actionable Tips to Begin Your SEO Strategy — Watch Our Webinar!
We’re just scratching the surface of the massive intricacies and complexities of the SEO world! In our webinar, I touch on even more points, including why it’s so valuable in 2022, and offer actionable tips so your team can begin to plan and execute right away. Please visit the link below and access the full 47-minute SEO webinar for free today!