Welcome back to the Entrepreneur Zone - our new series that covers the basics of Digital Marketing to aid new business owners in starting their marketing journey. Last month, we discussed website design and development. This month, we will follow the next logical step, optimizing your site for search engine ranking, or SEO for short.
Today, we will explore the terms you need to know, SEO basics, factors that affect your ranking, and the knowledge you need to move your company forward in the wide world of Digital Marketing.
What is SEO?
SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is a set of strategies used to ensure that all aspects of your website are optimized for search engines to enable you to rank organically. Unless you constantly want to be pouring money into ads, it is important to improve your rankings as much as possible.
Why is your search engine ranking so important? People lack patience and hate to have to go looking for things. Basically, if you’re not on the first page of Google search results you might as well not exist for many of your potential customers.
Search Engine Optimization strategies look at all aspects of your website, from content to page speed and so much more, to see where issues may lay that would prevent you from ranking on the first page for important keywords vital to your business. While SEO strategies take time, they are key to ensuring the best return on your website investment.
Alt-text: This HTML code describes your web page's images. Alt-text is important for accessibility.
Anchor Text: This is the text that you turn into a link to another page.
Black Hat: SEO tactics that violate Google's guidelines
Back Link: These are links that other websites use to link to your page; consider them inbound links.
Bot: Search engines use bots to review all content on the internet. They are also known as crawlers or spiders.
Crawling: It is the process the search engines use to explore and index sites; the bots do this.
Featured Snippets: Organically ranking answer boxes that appear at the top of the SERPs that display for some types of queries. Not sure what a SERP is? Check out last month’s entrepreneur article, Entrepreneur Zone: Website Design, Development and Vocabulary.
GA4: This is the latest version of Google Analytics, the free tool you should use to gain insights into how your visitors use your web page.
Header Tags: The HTML code used to designate headings on your site.
Image Compression: It is the process of making the file size for images smaller without losing their quality. You compress images to speed up your website load time.
Internal Links: These are links between different pages of your website.
Keyword Stuffing: This is the overuse of important keywords in your content.
Link Building: An SEO strategy that improves your site's authority by earning backlinks.
Local pack: The local business listings, usually three, that appear in the SERP for local search intent queries.
Longtail Keywords: These are a more specific query than simple, short keyword searches. Longtail keywords are three or more words in length.
Organic: The search engine ranking your website earns via SEO rather than purchasing ads.
Mobile Only Indexing: Google now has the ability to only index your mobile site.
Page Speed: This is the speed at which the first paint of your website loads.
Query: The question or set of words you use to search for a topic via a search engine. This includes any terms typed into the search bar.
Ranking: The order in which the search engine places organic results to queries.
Rendering: This is how the browser turns your website code into a usable page.
Site Map: Here, you can find the map, which is a list of URLs, that bots use to crawl and index your website.
Search Volume: This indicates the popularity of a keyword.
Title Tag: This is the HTML code that indicates the title of a webpage.
What Factors Affect my Ranking?
In total, it is said that there are roughly 200 factors that Google takes into consideration to determine rank. Some elements are more essential for determining rank than others, including Core Web Vitals (https://lionzone.com/blog/seo-what-to-really-expect), backlinking Schema Markup, and the list goes on.
The most important factors for ranking revolve around your content. Google's primary focus is to ensure that websites that rank for keywords provide high-quality, engaging content that meets users' needs. Beyond meeting content needs, Google requires that high ranking sites load quickly and provide a safe environment for users.
Beginning your SEO journey, first and foremost, you need to be creating consistent, engaging content that addresses users' questions and matches their search intent. This means providing new content regularly. Google favors sites that prioritize thought leadership content. Consider creating content hubs, a variety of material focused on all aspects of your most important topic/ keyword that links to the main topic page via internal links. Your content should avoid keyword stuffing but allow for the word/ words to be highlighted as much as possible, naturally. Focus on unique content that is well researched to draw backlinks from other sites.
Be sure to highlight your keywords in your meta, title, and header tags, as well as your page URLs. Properly set up your structured data, ensure that your page speed is less than 3 seconds, and make sure that your site is mobile-friendly.
Picking a company to assist with your SEO
SEO, I think, is sometimes the hardest technology service to understand. While it seems simple on the surface, it is a set of strategies that are constantly changing at the whims of search engines. In my opinion, it is often the most over-promised and overpriced service offered. This is not to say, that SEO is not of extreme importance. I have seen companies that take advantage of users misunderstanding the process to overcharge and make promises that no one can guarantee. To understand what to expect when dealing with SEO providers, please read our article SEO What to Expect. (https://lionzone.com/blog/seo-what-to-really-expect)
SEO is indispensable for obtaining and maintaining search engine ranking. While this can be a complicated process, it includes easy aspects for business owners, including content production and keyword utilization.
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