Taking the Mystery Out of SEO
You’ve probably heard of SEO, but today we’re going to unpack not only what it is, but how you can use it to drive more (and better!) traffic to your business’s website. What is this mysterious SEO and why does it matter for you? SEO companies feel a little like the great and powerful Wizard of Oz — the Wizard claims he can somehow get your website to show up first on Google, but everything he does happens behind the curtain. And just like the Wizard of Oz, when you pull back the curtain, you’ll find the Wizard isn’t who you thought he was.
Many companies and organizations are (rightfully) hesitant when it comes to SEO, after shady companies happily took their monthly checks without sharing what SEO was or what efforts they were actually making each month.
But here’s the thing–optimizing for SEO does not have to be a mystery!
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” Basically, SEO is the process of getting traffic to your website from the “free” search results on search engines like Google and Bing. Obviously, every business or organization wants to be found easily on search, or even be the top result. But there is a lot of competition, so search engines like Google have to figure out which websites show up at the top. Google’s reputation is based on their reliable and trustworthy search results, so their algorithm, which defines who shows up in what order, is all about quality. But if everyone wants their website to show up first, how do you get yours to the top?
Why does SEO matter?
- Businesses often rely on organic searches for the bulk of their website traffic
- It’s important to make sure companies are driving traffic (and the right traffic) to their site
- Businesses need to make it easy for search engines like Google to crawl their sites and find the right keywords
- Meta Descriptions should be written in a way that includes the right keywords BUT also gets the audience to click on the link to your website.
How websites are ranked:
You’ve probably heard the term “algorithm” when talking about Google. Basically, Google figures out rankings based on a complex mathematical model which is called an Algorithm. This algorithm takes into account hundreds of factors when determining the ranking for any keyword. Google does not share what goes into the algorithm, but the practice of SEO has helped us make an educated guess on what many of those factors are, including:
- Content that matches a search (keywords)
- Content that is optimized on the site (keywords and meta descriptions created for each page) – keywords should be in the page name and headlines as well as within the content itself.
- A site that generates content on a regular basis (blogging)
- Secure site (does your site have an SSL?)
- A fast loading website (check your page speed, including mobile)
- Mobile-first site
- Domain age and domain authority
- User experience
- Click through rate on Google
- Bounce rate – if people are leaving your site at a high rate, it could affect your rankings
- How long people stay on your site
- Links (particularly on other sites that link to yours but also on your site)
- Business listings on search engines (Google business page, Bing, Yahoo, etc.)
- Social signals – shares on social media
Steps to Improve Your SEO Right Now
That’s a lot of information to take in, and it could feel overwhelming, but there are a few super simple steps you can take to improve your SEO efforts right now.
- YOAST – First of all, if you have a WordPress website, download the Yoast plugin. There is a free version and a paid version.
- MOZ – If you have it in your budget, we’d recommend tracking your rankings in Moz. Your report also gives you insights each week for improving your site’s performance, which will positively affect your ranking. Make sure to check out Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO.
- Check your site speed!
- Make sure all of your pages have designated keywords, and more importantly well-written meta descriptions. You really need to understand how your audience is looking for you.
Make sure your H1s, H2s, H3s etc are set up based on hierarchy of content, not just for design purposes!
- Here’s a good one: the “alt tags” in your images should include keywords (but still needs to be authentic).
- Create relevant content on an ongoing basis (especially using keywords) – think blog posts and resources here!
SEO is vital to the success of your website, but with time and commitment to ongoing attention, your organization can find its own way into getting more organic traffic from SEO efforts. If you’d like to learn more about how Tiny Blue Sky can help you with your SEO, email firstname.lastname@example.org.