What is SEO and Does It Really Matter?
SEO | A Brief Introduction
You’ve likely found your way to this article because you are curious about SEO, aka search engine optimization. Perhaps you’re wondering if SEO, the buzzword in online marketing, is worth the investment. This is a dynamic, continuously growing field of interest for digital marketing, even necessary for successful online marketing campaigns. To some, it is an arena that one dare not enter, knowing they’ll find themselves overrun with confusion and stress. Yet, to others, it’s a game of competition and strategy on the way to the top of the SERPs.
For us, it’s the latter. It’s the beast to beat. We are here to help you in your SEO and marketing endeavors because when we win, you win. If you’re new to SEO and wondering what exactly it is, this article should help. We created this guide with an explanatory approach, rather than a technical one. It is based off of general SEO information, but it will give you an idea of all the bases we will cover to up your SEO game if you choose to team up with us.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of generating or editing content and building and/or coding websites in a way that is helpful, clear, and easily understood by users and online search engines (i.e. Google, Bing, etc.).
For the purpose of this article, we are going to use the analogy of searching for a banana bread recipe.
User: Wants to bake a loaf of banana bread.
User’s Problem: User is a millennial and doesn’t own a cookbook.
User’s Objective: Find the most delicious recipe on the internet using Google’s search engine.
Google’s Objective: Help the poor millennial achieve their goal of baking the best banana bread by providing access to a top-notch recipe.
When you want to search for a banana bread recipe online, you’ll go to a search engine and type in “banana bread recipe”. You probably want to find one that is easy to read, and clearly organized into sections (Prep Time, Ingredient List, and enumerated Steps) so that you know exactly what you’re looking at. You may even want a nice photo of the banana bread that comes up next to the recipe. In addition, you likely won’t want to wait 12 seconds for the recipe to load on the webpage (time is money- that oven is already preheating). Otherwise, you might assume the webpage is full of ads or doesn’t work correctly, and you may find yourself clicking away to another recipe. You want to be able to trust what you find and clearly recognize the legitimacy of whatever you click on.
The point of this analogy is that when you want a banana bread recipe, you want the best, highest-rated, most accurate version of that recipe to come up when you type it in. You don’t want to scroll through results of pumpkin bread recipes, vegan or gluten free banana bread recipes, deals on bananas at your local grocery stores, or the link to buy Banana Gaming Chairs. You don’t want to be taken to a virus-ridden website, nor one that is full of grammatical mistakes that makes you ask, “Who wrote this? Is this a real recipe?”
Here’s where SEO comes in, and becomes very important.
Why does SEO matter?
For search engines, it is of the utmost importance to organize and rank every bit of content and every webpage according to quality. In fact, Google’s mission statement is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” in one click. In that way, if someone publishes a banana bread recipe and follows SEO principles, they will likely have made the recipe amazing. Once others decide this recipe is indeed delicious, the search engines will see this, and continue mimicking this vote of approval. Thus, your recipe will show up higher and higher, and be clicked on more and more.
Google wants you use their search engine.
Essentially, if you find that the first result is an incredibly delicious, clearly-written banana bread recipe (exactly what you were looking for), then you will probably use Google again the next time you want to search something. It’s a win-win.
The process of SEO means that your website, your content, and the site’s back-end coding is being optimized to rank higher in relevant search results. It means that all the aspects of your website as mentioned above are purely great. It makes the user experience purely great, in turn. If a search engine can understand your content and easily navigate your site, finds it safe and legitimized by other websites (i.e. all the aspects that you are knowingly or unknowingly looking for) then it deems it worthy of high rankings.
The higher up it is, the more likely people will click to it. You’re starting to see why you might want to invest in SEO for your website or business, right? The better the content you write about specific topics, phrases, and keywords related to what you’re selling or promoting, the higher up you will appear in the rankings. According to Webspand.com, nearly 96% of users click the top 4 results that show up in a search query.
This leads to the next important question.
Does SEO guarantee me a spot in the top rankings?
Indeed, SEO rankings are all about competition. The top four spots are hard to snag when there are potentially hundreds of banana bread recipes on the internet that all want the top spots.
Search engine optimization is a very dynamic process. For example, Google and other search engines are frequently updating their search algorithms, the things that process and interpret all of the content on the web. You may find that the strategy you use one month may not fly with an updated algorithm the next month.
In addition, the types of sought-after content can change quickly, or over the span of years. Thus, you must create new, fresh content that is relevant in topic and format to what people are searching for. For example, if someone clicks your article about the Top 10 Toothbrushes for Plaque Removal, but the last time you updated that list was 2007, then those toothbrushes might not even exist anymore. Consequently, this will not be a helpful article and likely will not show up in any first-page results.
Perhaps you do write consistent, new blog posts, but your website is visually out of date and runs slowly. As enticing as your article may be, users will not stick around for a slow website, nor will they find your made-in-the-90’s website credible. Even in this situation, you will not be as capable of achieving high rankings.
What should I focus on if I want to implement SEO tactics to my website?
Debug the Code:
From the beginning, make sure that your code is well-written and efficient. Your interactions with a website happen as the code steps through various lines, and tells the computer what to do in response to your action. If there are mistakes or unnecessary actions that your code tells the computer to do for a given command, the functionality of your website decreases, and can run very slowly. The faster the website and more adapted it is to all users and various screen types, the better.
Create a Site Map:
This is essentially a blueprint or skeleton for all of the webpages on your website. You can submit this to Google so that it can clearly understand the hierarchy of the pages in your website and accordingly deem things of more or less importance.
Design with Visual Appeal:
Make sure as soon as someone lands on your page, they like the way it looks. It should be easy to navigate, easy to look at, and easy to enjoy.
Devise a Keyword Strategy:
Before you write all your content, figure out what it is that you want each article or each page on your site to rank for. Be prepared to implement the words appropriately throughout each page, so that search bots can clearly see what each page is talking about. In the beginning, choose niche phrases or long-tail key phrases (longer phrases with higher specificity) as opposed to short-tail, broad keywords or phrases. The more unique you can make it, the more likely you can find the “alternative route” to the top of the rankings when there is a lot of competition for broad, highly-searched phrases. (I.e.- Instead of trying to rank high on “Banana bread recipe”, try “Best Moist Banana Bread Recipe”).
Pay Attention to Media Files:
Large, clunky photos, videos and the like can really slow down a website. Yoast.com recommends that your site loads within 3 seconds. Most webpages have large cover photos and other About pages with plenty of pictures. Make sure that your media’s file sizes are within the realm of high-speed without forsaking too much quality. In order to help with your keyword strategy, name your media relevant titles. For example, name a picture of your recipe’s banana bread something like “banana-bread-loaf.jpg” instead of “IMG 40793.jpg”. Doing so means that your photos show up in search results as well. (No one will ever search “IMG 40793.jpg”, so don’t expect it to appear in results).
Establish Internal and External Linking:
Establishing links within your web pages keep people clicking through relevant content on your site. Similarly, link all your subpages upwards to your main pages or “Cornerstone Content” – the content you most want to be ranked for. Your main articles will then rank easier. For example, you may have multiple pages about different aspects of banana bread. Perhaps there’s one about the Health Benefits, one about the Best Banana Bread in Every State, and one about the Best Way to Pair Banana Bread. If you have internally linked them to be of equal importance, you will tell the search engines that they all are competing for the ranking on banana bread (aka you are competing with yourself, and none will win out). If you link all of those subpages to your main Banana Bread Recipe, your Recipe will have a lot more authority to rank.
External links, or “inbound links”, are links that bring people from other websites to your own. Getting links featured on other websites also demonstrates your site’s authority and trustworthiness, and will increase your ranking chances.
Stay Up to Date:
As mentioned before, be sure to update your content regularly. When you update your content, search bots will visit your site to index your content and update your rankings more frequently. In addition, users want up-to-date content when searching the web for new information.
The Good News
Website optimization can be a long and tricky process. Some SEO work can take months to show any results.
Thankfully, there are experienced SEO-ers out there (like us!). Figuring out the missing puzzle pieces and the right strategy to get you to the top tiers is what they do best.
There are plenty of resources online to help you on your way to understanding and successfully implementing SEO. However, it can take a long time when you’re starting fresh, and it may be time that you don’t have.
GoDev as Your Partner
At GoDev Technologies, we sincerely care about the success of your business. Sometimes, it even keeps us up at night as we generate new ideas to boost your rankings. If you are interested in optimizing your website to bring in more traffic, SEO and marketing is your best bet. Most businesses need an online presence in today’s economy.
We want to be your partner! A partner to the novices, the confused, the exhausted, and the apathetic- who all know they want a high-performing website for their business but just can’t… quite… get there.
Contact us now so we can do all of this work for you. Let’s chat and find out what works best to suit your needs.