What you (still) need to know about Search Engine Optimization

If you’re a business owner you’ve probably already heard of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short. Maybe you’ve been doing SEO for years, or maybe you’re new to this. Either way, I thought a back-to-basics article would be a good refresher for everyone and a useful introduction for some. Here are the basics of SEO, spelled out. 

What is it?

SEO is the art and science of bringing people to a website from search engines. When someone searches for plumbers in your area, if you’re a plumber then you want to show up in the search. Google is the search engine we are talking about and what they do generally becomes the industry standard. This is simply because Google has about a 75 percent market share in the search world.

How do I do SEO?

Google says that there are 200-plus criteria that affect search rankings. But when it really comes down to it, there are only five that truly matter. If you want to excel at SEO and dominate search in your market niche, then this is what you have to pay attention to.

Inbound Links. Inbound links are an indication of how popular or useful your website is. When other websites (especially popular and relevant ones) link to your site, that’s a proof point, in Google eyes, that your site is valuable. It is a reflection of your community engagement and your content provision. Building links is a science to itself, but the best way to do it is to produce great, useful content on your website. Then use this to build community — linking to others and asking them to link to you.

Copy. Copy is the marketing lingo for text on the page. It’s the topical, inner pages that need all those words. Aim for at least 500 words for each topical page. And remember, Google is a linguist. That is: they rely on text, not visuals. They’re language-based. If you don’t write text on the page, then Google won’t know that you are an expert in the field, and people won’t find you.

Tags. It’s the only geeky thing we talk about and that is because it’s crucial to being found by the giant search engine. The Title Tag and the Description Tag should be written by you, or your copywriter — not your programmer. The Title Tag is the main heading and the Description Tag is the blurb below the URL on the search results page. This is what people read when they are deciding to visit your site or move to the next search result.

Constantly Updated Content. You show Google you are rank-worthy by ‘touching’ your website regularly. Not doing so is like owning a shop and never changing the window dressing, leaving the mannequins undressed and with cobwebs in the window. The store is effectively not open for business. Use blogs, specials, and new products to keep the content fresh.

Site Speed and Site Security. Come mid-2018, if your website is not secure (as signified by the https:// in front of the URL) there will be a scary warning sign on your search result, advising searchers not to visit. Yikes! Likewise, Google has no patience for slow sites. You have to load quickly — that means less than 3 seconds — on both mobile and desktop.

There you have it: five ways to Google’s heart, and five ways to bring new, great traffic to your site.

Laurie Macomber is owner of Fort Collins-based Blue Skies Marketing. Reach her at 970-689-3000.