Search engines like Google use more and more complex algorithms to determine which web pages show up in the results they deliver. Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts will determine whether pages from your business website show up in those results.
Potential customers searching for your products and services won’t find your website if your content is not written and developed to help search engines answer a question.
But search engines do not simply attempt to deliver search results that best match only the search terms. They now try to answer the underlying question.
Once you become aware of this difference, you’ll understand how important it is to have ongoing SEO plans in place. And if your marketing staff have not kept up with the changes in this industry, then you’re probably missing out on valuable traffic to your website.
Search Engine Marketing, sometimes referred to as Inbound Marketing, is the process of gaining traffic and visibility for your website from search engines using two types of methods. One is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the other is Search Engine Advertising (SEA), which we’ll discuss in a future article.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is an ongoing process, implemented over the long term, to gain higher visibility and rankings for your website from the “free”, “organic” or “natural” search results page of a search engine.
It is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics implemented by your website marketing staff, or a talented marketing agency, to optimize, or make the best use of, your website’s content. There are two types of SEO activities – On-Page and Off-Page.
Your efforts to maximize, or optimize, the use of content on your website are what will determine whether or not your business shows up in someone’s search results. It starts with the process of writing page copy and blog posts with high quality content.
Anything you do to the different parts of these web pages that affect your search engine rankings are On-Page SEO activities. Every search result on a page has three parts:
- Title: The first blue line of any search result is the title of the webpage, where you click the title to go to the site.
- URL: In green, you’ll see the web address of the site.
- Snippet: Below the URL is a description of the webpage, which may include actual words from the your web page. The words someone searched for will show in bold to make it easier for them to decide if the page has what they’re looking for.
In addition to using clean and formatted URLS, you need to incorporate selective keywords or search terms into the web page’s title tags, page (or meta) descriptions and heading tags. SEO-friendly code is also critical in getting search engines to deliver results that include your website.
Also, did you know search engines can’t “see” images? Not yet anyway. You need to do something to tell search engines what a picture is by including “alt text” on images. Alt text (alternative text) is a word or phrase that can be inserted as an attribute on your web page. The copy should be sufficiently descriptive. By doing so, search engines can consider the nature or content of your image when delivering search results. Also images need to be optimized to load fast on a web page.
Another important factor used in search engine algorithms is the freshness or relevance of your web page content. So it’s important that you continue to produce quality content and then optimize this content using the process we’ve just explained. If search engines determine that your website is stale, or has not been updated in a long time, it can result in lower rankings for your website in search engine results.
There are now many local Online Directories that have become a huge part of the searching process. So optimization of these directory websites that already list your company is an important part of Off-Page SEO. If you search for local services (restaurants, plumbers, salons, etc.) you will notice how local results are coming up first (with an address and map) in Google, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo!, Angie’s List and many others. Specific actions and tactics are required to improve your rankings by claiming and optimizing these online directory listings.
Creating a strong Backlink Profile is the process of getting other high-quality and authoritative sites to link to your site. This helps to build your website’s authority on search engines, which can help increase your rankings. Creating compelling content for your website will definitely help increase the likelihood of others linking to it or sharing it with others online. But to make even better use of your new content, make it easy for people to share your pages, and try and seek out opportunities earn important backlinks.
Writing an article for someone else’s blog or contributing to a blog that welcomes multiple authors, can help build and improve your backlink profile. Developing and distributing news releases can also help build a diverse backlink profile, as long as your press release is newsworthy.
To ensure newsworthiness, you might want to seek the guidance of reporters at local newspapers or news websites. With their declining budgets for content creation, they are always looking for ideas that might be of interest to their audiences.
Social Media Marketing (SSM) activities on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, YouTube and all the others that can link to your website, create what are called social signals. This can definitely impact your search engine rankings.
SSM is a game-changing opportunity for businesses and next week we’ll write more about the powerful role it can play in getting your website found by potential customers.