SEO can be a complicated web. You know that search engine optimization is necessary for your website’s survival, but you’re just not sure where to start. This beginner-friendly guide is for you. We’re tackling how to improve your site for search engine visibility. By doing so, you’ll increase organic traffic to your website and get more customers. If that sounds good, let’s get started.
Think Like the Search Engine
First, take a moment and ponder this question:
What is the search engine’s goal?
Search companies like Google and Bing aren’t providing a charitable service– they’re in business, and their customers are their users.
From the search engine’s perspective, it’s important to provide a quick, accurate, and complete answer to the user’s query. Otherwise, if the search engine fails to provide satisfactory service, the user will move on to a different search engine. That’s why there’s a graveyard of now-defunct search engines that exist between this world and the next. R.I.P. AltaVista.
Search engines stay in business because they anticipate the user’s needs and deliver an awesome user experience. A great search experience will keep the user returning again and again.
Imagine how you feel when you search for a topic but the search engine returns something completely off base. If that happens too often, then you’ll eventually lose trust in that search engine, and then start looking for alternatives.
It’s in the search engine company’s best interest to produce the right results every time.
Search engine companies like Google and Bing invest into creating the best user experience possible, and that starts with ensuring that every result is optimised for a user’s query. Of course, search engines crawlers aren’t human, so they rely on certain elements to figure out if and when to promote a page. This is where SEO comes in.
Google relies on over 200 factors to determine page rank. While we aren’t privy to all of these factors, we do know quite a few. What follows is a list of factors to consider when optimizing your website for search engines.
Check Your Page Load Speed
Your website needs to load at lightning fast speed. According to the good folks at Hubspot, your website needs to load within 1.5 seconds.
Not sure of your website load speed? Test your speed with the Pingdom Website Speed Test here.
Does your website pass the test? If the answer is “no,” here’s a brief rundown on how to increase your load speed:
- Reduce image sizes (make your images as small as possible using TinyJPG or TinyPNG)
- Enable browser cache to reduce server requests
- Reduce HTTP requests
- Choose a good host and don’t just go with the cheapest option
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to improve your load time.
- Get rid of plugins that you no longer use
Invest in Content Marketing
One of the most important areas to focus on is content. Search engines are thirsty for fresh content. This means you need to up your content marketing game.
I know that when you think content, you immediately think blogging. However, remember that content doesn’t just mean that you should blog. Content also extends to all areas of your site, including your static pages and your knowledge bases. Unless you instruct search engines not to index these pages, you can draw traffic and prospective leads through any page of your website. For this reason, the more content you create, the more opportunities you’ll have to reach prospective customers. I like those odds.
So how do you create a solid content marketing strategy that positively impacts your SEO? Here are four things that you need to do:
1. Select Content Ideas that Connect Users to Your Products
When creating a content marketing strategy, start by making a list of topics related to the products or services that you sell. Choose topics that reflect what your target customers are likely to search for. Anticipate which questions your target customers will ask about those topics. Then, create content that fully answers their questions.
2. Focus on Long Tail Keywords that Match Users’ Queries
Targeting keywords is a crucial part of any SEO strategy, but how do you find the right keywords for your content?
Once you have a list of the topics you’d like to discuss, head to Google Keyword Planner or a similar tool to find out if people are actually searching for that topic. Google Keyword Planner shows you the number of queries each topic has received, and also gives you alternative long tail keywords to target.
3. Focus Meta Descriptions
You may already know to add long tail keywords in your title description, but don’t forget to place them in your meta descriptions. Meta descriptions display on the search engine results page and give prospective site visitors a little more information about your page. In your meta description, you’re limited to 160 characters. Pack them with strong calls to action, such as “understand,” “learn,” or “try.”
4. Optimize Your Static Pages
Last, but not least, be sure to optimize your static, evergreen content, too. For example, your “About Us” or “Services” pages should be optimized for search engines. Focus on a long tail keyword for each static page, and end with a call to action that compels the visitor into a deeper relationship with your brand.
Improve Your Internal Links
Internal links aren’t just about keeping visitors on your website longer. Although that’s a big bonus, internal links are also important for SEO purposes. Internal links help you explain what your site is about to search engines. The more you link, the more the search engine crawlers will understand the structure of your site. This will increase your chances of landing on the first page of search engines.
While internal linking is a complicated subject that could actually be its own post topic, the most important things to note about internal linking for beginners is thus:
Use anchor text to describe the link. For example, use the page title or the main idea as the link instead of a non-descriptive “click here” text.
Link to related posts. This is especially useful in blog posts and knowledge bases, too. Remember that your main target is the audience, and not the search engine crawler. Think of how you can assist that user in learning more about a topic that obviously interests them. If you have related content, it makes sense to link to it, whether you do it within the body of your post or at the end of your post.
Use YouTube to Your Advantage
Have you considered adding video to your organic marketing strategy? Video marketing is already popular but it’s become huge for both SEO and SaaS. Video marketing is great for every part of the funnel, from lead generation to lead nurturing to customer onboarding and more. So, why is video so important for SEO?
Think about this: YouTube isn’t just the world’s second largest search engine (second only to Google), it’s also owned by Google. This is why YouTube videos often pop up on a Google search.
If you’d like to capture search engine traffic, don’t overlook the power of YouTube video. You can get found by targeting the same keywords, but video will give you an edge.
Add video to everything you can, from blog posts to product descriptions and demos. Make sure that your YouTube video is set to searchable (not private or unlisted) so that it will pull up in a Google search. Be sure to include your long tail keywords in your video title and description to capture double traffic (from Google and YouTube).
Remember that SEO is a long-term strategy and doesn’t produce fruit overnight. Be patient and keep investing in your SEO strategy. Eventually, you’ll be repaid with lead-producing traffic. Hang in there!
Before you go, check out these related posts:
- Optimizing Your Site for Organic Search Engine Traffic: A Beginner’s Guide
- Increase Traffic to Your Website With These Hacks
- How to Create Better Product Videos