In this lesson we will go through the definition of SEO and it's importance for any website. Every business benefits from a good SEO strategy and the optimization should start from the website representing that business. This is a large field to explore but you should always start from the basics.
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization which refers to the work done to make a website appealing to a search engine so that it will rank more highly on search results pages. The reason SEO is important is that most people who do an internet search select from the top 5 results on the page. The more searches a website ranks highly for, the more visitors that come free of charge (except for the initial investment in SEO).
SEO is typically broken up in to two main categories.
- On-Site SEO: The things done on a website and on web pages on the website
- Off-Site SEO: The things done on other websites or on social media that refer to a website
There are people who literally spend all day learning about and implementing SEO, whom we would call SEO-Experts. To help you figure out what makes sense for your website we've boiled it all down to four SEO general practices:
- Websites should have a simple look and feel
- Websites should have very useful content
- Other websites should link to the website (called "Back Links")
- At least one Top-Tier social media account should be active
If you are able to say "Yes" to each of these four practices then you are in a good starting place. If one or more of them are still gaps, that is where you should focus first.
Simple Look And Feel Recommendations
- The look and feel of the website should work well on Mobile and Desktop resolutions
- All pages on the website should have a unique and descriptive title
- All pages should use one Heading 1 and multiple Heading 2 headings in the content
- The main menu should help visitors find what they want with just 1 or 2 clicks
- The footer menu should provide links to important but less used pages (terms, contact, etc)
- Every page should include at least one image
Now that the usability and basic form of the website is in good order, let's cover some recommended content practices.
Useful Content Recommendations
- The content on the website should be clear, edited, and understandable on all pages
- Pages that are mostly text should have at least 300 words and be broken in to sections
- Someone visiting the page should feel that they have exactly what they were looking for
- Videos should be used on some pages
- Social media should be referenced on some pages
- There should be links to other valuable content on some pages
With a simple look and feel and useful content it is time to focus on perhaps the most important indicator to search engines that a website has value: the number of Back Links that exist to a website. Back Links are links from other websites or social media accounts to the website you are working with.
Back Link Recommendations
- If the website is for a business with a specific location, directory listings are critical and should be brought up to date with images, hours, address, website, and social media links.
- Specifically ask partners and peers to provide a link to your website, these people, businesses, and organizations already know of you and are more likely to agree.
- Find places online where a genuine contribution can be made to secure a link. Quara is one of the biggest online public Q&A websites in the world and is a great place to have a link placed from time to time.
- Contribute to other social media accounts or topics a couple times per month. If you don't want to go with mainstream social media then look in to contributing to Reddit from time to time.
- Seek out opportunities to work with reporters and content creators with tools like Help A Reporter
With links starting to come in to a website it is time to create "social signals" for search engines and create an audience on social media. Search engines an look at social media profiles just like people can and this is a newly important area for Off-Site SEO.
Social Media Recommendations
- Choose a small number (one is fine) of social media platforms where you think people interested in your brand, product, or service participate regularly and create a profile.
- Make a contribution at least a couple times per month with genuinely useful media or information
- Participate with others in the same general topic area so that you can mention your profile from time to time
- It is less important that you post links to the website and more important that you are active and that a website link is present on the homepage.
You now have a list of specific tactics you can use to move a website forward on all four SEO General Practice areas. As you make progress on these you will see the website begin to move up in search results. It will start with infrequent search phrases and eventually the website will move for popular phrases as well.