SEO (Search engine optimization) has been around for a while now. Most people know the acronym (SEO), but not everyone understands exactly what it is.
No shame, if you’re not a marketing professional or building websites for a living it doesn’t necessarily fall in your area of expertise. BUT if you or your business has a website, you should know how it affects your ability to be discovered online.
So let’s dive into SEO, why it matters, and why it’s worth your time and (maybe) some marketing dollars.
Let’s start with search engines.
Google can either be your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on how your website ranks within its algorithm. When you search for anything on Google, that algorithm is hard at work determining what sites will show up on the first page.
This is key. Second, third, and God forbid, fourth page Google search results are where sites go to die. You want to buddy-up with that Google algorithm, bat your eyelashes and laugh at all its jokes in order to get your site on the first page. The best way to do that? SEO, baby.
With SEO there are two things to consider: on- and off-page factors.
On-page factors include things that are, well, on your page. How your site is built, how quickly it loads, and the content you fill it with crucial to getting that ranking.
Let’s break these down.
The great news here, if you’re working with pros like the folks at Artillery, we know this like the back of their hand. The way your site is structured and the strategic order of your content is square one when it comes to SEO. Build the skeleton first, then flesh it out with keywords and content (more on that in a bit).
Exactly what you think. The faster your page loads, the more Google likes you. Think of all the times you’ve gone to a website and stared at a blank white screen for approximately 3 seconds before clicking off or angrily refreshing the page a thousand times. That’s what you don’t want for your site. Your site should load fast as lightning, and the folks building your site know how to make this happen – while still prioritizing powerful, eye-catching design. Get those visits, watch those conversions pour in, and relish that first page Google ranking.
Research is king when it comes to pimping out your website’s content for SEO purposes. You want to show people looking for your goods or services that you know your stuff. Keyword research is huge for this. In order to fill your site with all the juicy information people want, you have to know what your customers are searching in order to find you (or your competitors). A great place to start with keyword research is to look at your business from 30,000 feet. What do you offer? What’s your mission? Why are you different from companies X, Y and Z? Understanding why customers pick you over anyone else will inform your keyword strategy and lay the groundwork for an awesome Google ranking.
Start out by spying on your competition. Search terms you’d like to appear under and see how your competitors are structuring their sites and what kind of content they’re providing that you aren’t – or are, but aren’t using the right keywords. There are tons of resources out there about how to conduct keyword research and apply it to your site, so read up! You don’t have to hire a marketing agency or consultant to get the most out of your site, but maybe leave the building and designing to the pros 😉
Off-page factors are a little different. Some of the bigger off-page factors that carry weight on your Google ranking include the quantity and quality of links to your site that exist and the intensity of competition within your industry or niche. These are harder to control, but important to understand.
External links back to your site are HUGE. Creating quality content is step one, but step two is getting industry-related and relevant sites to point to your content as a resource. Think of it like references on a resume. You know you’re great at what you do, but having others in the industry vouch for you and confirm that you do in fact know what you’re doing gives you credibility – and Google loves credibility. Focus first on creating beneficial content, and then work on getting your content linked outside of your site.
Competition within your industry is a factor you don’t really have any control over, but you can set yourself up for good positioning. Just like link-building, creating valuable and reliable content for your industry will naturally help you rise in the rankings. Gathering solid customer reviews and focusing on local SEO are some more great ways to gain some ground, but ensuring that you’re providing value is #1.
Having a beautifully built site is all well and good – it ensures customers remember you, come back, and recommend you to all their friends, but loading that beautiful, lightning-fast site up with quality content and keywords galore is what will get you discovered.
But don’t be mistaken – optimizing your site isn’t a one and done, check off list kind of thing. You’ll need to stay on top of your analytics, check back in regularly to ensure that you’re providing relevant and interesting content and keep an eye on those competitors.
Getting started is the hardest part, so invest your time – and money – wisely upfront and then focus on maintaining and improving once you’ve gotten the lay of the land.
Everything works in conjunction, so make sure that you’re prioritising both design and content. Get to know the Google algorithm, dive deep with research, or just hire an SEO wizard (we can hook you up there – just ask nicely). Doesn’t matter which path you choose, just be sure you’re making time for SEO. After all, what good is a show-stopping website if it’s buried in the third page of a Google search?
Need help with SEO. Reach out to us and lets see how we can collaborate