Search engine optimization, or SEO, refers to the process of making your website easier to find via search engines, particularly Google. In this blog post, we’ll cover some SEO basics, including strategies and best practices, and share resources to help you get started on your journey to SEO success.
To start with, let’s consider how search engines work. Google and other search engines use web crawler software that builds searchable indexes of websites and their content. Then, when an internet user searches for a given word or set of words, called keywords, Google uses an algorithm to choose which websites will show up in search results. If your website has been indexed by Google’s crawlers and fulfills the criteria of Google’s algorithm, it’s more likely to appear on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Your website’s structure and design are at the heart of your SEO strategy. While there’s a lot you can do to target your website’s content to your desired audience—which we’ll discuss later in this guide—the structure and design of your website are the only element of SEO that’s completely under your own control.
First and foremost, be sure that your website performance is up to par. The speed with which your website loads when a user clicks on it can have a huge impact on your search engine rankings. You can use Google’s PageSpeed tool to check that your website is loading promptly. The tool will check your website’s load speed and identify potential strategies to improve it.
Structure your website in an intuitive way. Visitors to your home page should be able to easily find the rest of the content on your site, whether that’s a blog, social media links, product pages, or other kinds of resources. Similarly, it should be straightforward for visitors to a given page within your website to be able to navigate back to the home page, using a breadcrumb list, or set of links that appear at the top or bottom of the page to guide users back through sections and topic pages.
Use mobile-friendly best practices! The time when it was possible to maintain a website optimized for browsers only is long gone. As of July 2019, mobile-first indexing became standard practice at Google, in recognition of the fact that a majority of searchers now use smartphones. Check that the mobile version of your website has the same content, structure, and metadata as the browser version.
Using SEO Keywords
In the introduction to this post, we mentioned keywords, which are crucial to understand when you’re beginning to dive into the basics of SEO. Keywords are the words or string of words that searchers enter into Google (or other search engines).
If your website is useful to searchers using a given keyword, it’ll start showing up higher in SERPs for that keyword, so you’ll want to pay regular attention to the keywords that are currently drawing searchers to your website, as well as the keywords you’d like to see drawing searchers to your website. You’ll then work to target those keywords in your SEO strategy.
Because so many websites are out there competing for clicks and user attention, you’ll want to target the keywords that have the best chance of success for your specific brand and your specific desired audience. Start by looking at search intent, or the reasons that your target audience is searching for those specific keywords.
Are they trying to expand their knowledge base? Do they already know what website they’re searching for? Do they want to learn more about, or purchase, a product that you offer? If you know what your target audience hopes to accomplish, you’ll be able to target the keywords that align with those goals.
What does it mean to “target” a keyword? Basically, it means that you’ll include that keyword in important parts of your page, which might include the headline, subheadings, meta description, tags, URLs, and, of course, the text on the page. However, the content you produce is much more than just the keywords. Keywords will help searchers find your page, but an equally crucial SEO strategy is keeping them on your page—and you’ll accomplish that by creating great content.
Creating SEO Content
Good website design and effective identification of keywords are important, but it’s your content that will bring users back to your website time and again. Content should draw searchers to your page and keep them there, and it should inspire them to share it with others online, whether linking to you from other websites in your field or sharing on social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
When you’re creating content, be sure that you’re using best practices for accessibility, such as alt-text captions on images or closed-captioning on video. Not only do these measures make your content available to a wider audience, including disabled people, but they also influence the Google algorithm’s decisions on how to rank your page.
Remember that your content should include keywords—so that search engines can easily find the content—but should not depend on keywords. Search engines are looking for content that displays expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T), so be sure that you’re creating content that can really fill the needs of your target audience. Check out our “Good Content” tag for more tips and tricks on creating solid content that is search-engine optimized and serves your readers well. For professional help, a dedicated team of experts is standing by. Contact Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing today for help with your SEO and content needs.