Search Engine Optimization Demystified

I recently had the opportunity to speak to female small business owners and entrepreneurs at a monthly meetup hosted by Anjali Varma. The goal of the talk was to demystify Search Engine Optimization(SEO) – the process of getting organic, natural or free website traffic from a search engine—by arming attendees with five steps to start optimizations on their own websites immediately. My hope is that I can share with you my go-to steps to pave the way for you to accomplish this on your own as well!

To begin, there are many factors that affect how your site ranks, which include the on- and off-site elements depicted below. To holistically optimize your site, it is important to make an impact on each of those factors to give search engines no other choice but to show your website to the most relevant audience in search results.

SEO chart

All-in-all, the idea behind SEO is to simply be there when customers are looking for you. The way that you can accomplish this is by influencing both your audience and search engines with compelling keyword-rich content. Below you will find the way to get started on a path to make this concept standard operating procedure for you and your website administrators.

SEO 5 steps

1.) Keyword Research

Your website should feature keywords that:

  • People are actually searching for
  • Have low competition (with both the actual search results page and other businesses)
  • Are relevant to your business

Keyword Research will reveal these keywords for you. Below are a few tools that can help uncover priority keywords:

  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • SpyFu
  • SEMrush
  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Many, many more!

2.) Update On-Page Elements

In order to communicate these keywords to search engines, back-end elements need to be featured within the code. Use keywords from step 1 to optimize each of these elements:

  • Title Tags: an HTML element that denotes the title of a page. This is shown on both SERPs and browsers.
  • Meta Descriptions: Another HTML element that gives a short descriptive summary of the content housed on that page. You will find this on SERPs below the Title Tag.
  • Headings: These are HTML elements that are used on the page to separate content, just as any word document may use headings. These show content hierarchy to both humans and search engines.
  • Image Alt Tags/File Names: These tags describe what is featured in the image helping to improve accessibility and the message received by search engines.
  • URL Structure: The basic web address of the pages on your site – it is important to assure that as you get deeper in the site the URL structure can orient the users and feature important keywords naturally.

The tools that can help you analyze and adjust on-page factors include

  • Yoast SEO Plugin
  • SEO Quake

3.) Create New Content

The more content available to search engines, the better. Content should always be informed by keywords and posted frequently. Example of dynamic content types:

  • Blog Posts
  • Industry Articles
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Tutorials
  • How-To-Guides

4.) Link Building

Before even entering a store, a customer most likely has an already formed opinion of the business based on reviews, suggestions from friends, info online and bgeneral daily influences. Search engines act in the same way, so building this network and impacting it to benefit you will help your authority improve.

5.) Monitor & Optimize

Once you put this effort in, you will see notable changes over time in your organic search channel’s traffic. Make it a priority to understand the level of engagement on your site so that you can optimize and update your site strategically. Google Analytics is a great tool to take a dive deep into what the users are doing once they get to your website from this channel and others. Google Analytics tracks many helpful metrics that will help you to analyze your website performance. Some basic metrics to begin with are:

  • Website Sessions
  • Traffic by Channel
  • Session Duration
  • Bounce Rate
  • Pages per Session
  • Goals/Events
  • Many, many more

You now have your next steps to make your website findable and searchable, assuring that your website is being delivered to your audience and you are reaching your business goals.

With that, I will leave you with a few tips, tricks and things to keep in mind as you tackle optimizing your website for SEO:

  • SEO is less about getting more traffic and instead about getting quality traffic.
  • Don’t overdo it with keyword stuffing.
  • Search engines include more than just Google!
  • Write for BOTH search engines and humans.
  • Be patient, it takes time – you got this!

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