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A Beginner’s Guide to SEO

It doesn’t matter how big or small your business is, what you sell, or how you sell it (online or in a physical location) search engine optimization is a digital marketing tool that you can’t ignore. SEO is what sends internet traffic to your website through organic, non-paid sources like search engines such as Google or Bing.

How SEO Works

To understand the basics of how SEO works, consider how you use search engines. You enter a keyword or phrase, and you get results in the form of a list of websites that are relevant to your search terms. Search engines — and especially Google — offer up these results based on algorithms and rank results on the level of relevance. These algorithms factor in a handful of elements, like the popularity of websites according to visitor traffic, exact and close keyword matches, and the overall quality of the content on the website.

The Importance of SEO

More of your customers than ever are online now, and they’re becoming accustomed to getting the answers they want quickly and with ease. Leveraging SEO strategies means you will drastically improve the odds that your website shows up early on in search results and edges out the competition. SEO also helps you build and maintain a site that visitors want to keep looking at, with content that answers questions and lets them know how you can solve their myriad problems.

Understanding the Different Types of SEO

SEO is many things, but what it’s not is static — you need to work hard on a consistent basis to keep up with trends and algorithm changes. On-page SEO is what you do to build relevancy on your website pages with content that searchers connect with. Off-page SEO is how you promote your website on other areas of the internet, like guest blogs, link building, podcasting, and social media posts. Technical SEO is a complex process that you should outsource to pros and includes strategies like creating separate pages for keywords and optimizing image tags to help search engines better “crawl” or assess the structure.

Improving Your SEO

What makes SEO a great digital marketing strategy is that there are several approaches you can take without overspending. The list below is just a snapshot of what can be done to increase your online reach and improve your business website visibility. If these are tasks that you’re not comfortable with, it’s a smart idea to outsource the work to a team of pros — like our marketing experts here at Cole Dalton.

On-Page SEO Techniques

Content optimization is the best and most effective way to optimize your website. It begins with keyword research — make a list of the words and phrases that closely correspond with the products, services, and location information for your business. This is all highly relevant and creates connections within search results by potential customers. Use these keywords and phrases in copy like blog posts, FAQ pages, product listings, and service descriptions. Other on-page strategies include a quickly loading website, fully functioning internal links, mobile-friendly and responsive layouts, and easy navigability.

Off-Page SEO Techniques

Search engines love to see that other trusted, reputable sites are linking to yours; it translates directly to a boost in rankings. This is commonly referred to as link building, and can happen through guest blog posts, thought leadership copy, and podcast transcripts that include information about (and a link to) your business. When search engines like Google see that you’re building these online relationships, they reward that effort. Conversely, link farms and spammy directory sites aren’t well-liked by search engines and appearing on these sites will result in a penalty.

Technical SEO Techniques

As briefly mentioned before, crawling is how search engines assess your website during a search and decide whether or not to feed it to internet users in results. Taking steps to index your website pages, marking up your schema, performing canonicalization, and more are all including under the technical SEO umbrella. This is definitely something you want to leave up to a team of marketing pros that have extensive experience with web design. Think of technical SEO as the bridge that connects the human user experience and the search engine crawling process.

However you decide to tackle SEO for your website, ensure that the approach is meant for humans and not for search engines; Google is not your target demographic. If visitors to your site like what they see, search engines will pay close attention and you’ll show up higher in rankings; the more visitors you have, the odds will increase for that traffic to turn into loyal, paying customers.