SEO: HOW TO INCREASE YOUR VISIBILITY IN SEARCH RANKINGS IN 3 STEPS If you’re in any way involved in modern business practices, you’ve probably heard of search engine optimization, also known as SEO. Companies use search engine optimization techniques to boost visibility in search engines, to get traffic to their websites, and to achieve their business goals. But what exactly is search engine optimization? How can you actually rank higher in the search engines? Why do some websites appear at the top of search engine’s results, and some don’t appear at all? The thing is, SEO isn’t some kind of incomprehensible stuff only the chosen gurus know. It’s a system that can be learned and applied to any website to boost traffic by ranking high in the search engine results. Why would you want to rank high in search engines? Well, to start with, 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, and the first 5 results in Google get 67% of clicks. Speaking of search engines, Google accounts for more than 90% of global organic search traffic. Obviously, you need good visibility on Google’s results page. In 2014, Conductor found out that 64% of all web traffic comes from organic search, compared to 2% from social, 6% from paid search, 12% direct and 15% from other referral sources. If this still hasn’t convicted you that you need SEO, read on and you’ll be convinced. In this article I’ll explain what search engine optimization is and how can you implement SEO techniques to grow your traffic and increase your sales. What is SEO? Let’s start by taking a look what search engine optimization actually is. Search engine optimization (SEO), according to Wikipedia is: the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results. Let’s translate that to everyday language: SEO is the process of optimizing your online content, so that search engines show it at the top of the search engine page results (SERP). What does that mean? It means that if, for example, you have a website that sells handmade jewelry, you can use SEO methods to optimize your website, making sure that when someone searches for handmade jewelry your site appears at the top of search results. Depending on the keyword, the first 3-4 top spots will be usually taken by paid search ads, and below that you will see un-paid (“organic”) search results. Every time you search for something, search engines like Google, Yahoo! or Bing will show you relevant results based on a number of criteria: your search query, location and so on. But SEO is not simply a tool for getting free traffic to your website. Sure, that’s one of the main advantages, but the whole idea behind it is (or should be) is to optimize your website for search intent. On-page and off-page SEO There are two broad categories of SEO: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO refers to all Google’s ranking factors that are determined by directly looking at the page you’re trying to optimize, such as: headlines, HTML tags, content, keywords etc. Off-page SEO refers to all the variables Google looks at, which are not exclusively in your hands, such as: number of links to your page, social media mentions, guest blogging etc. Both these elements are important in SEO strategy. 3 steps you need to take to improve your website’s visibility 1.Research your keywords The first in creating a good SEO strategy is keyword research. What exactly is a keyword in SEO? Keyword is a phrase you’re trying to rank for. For example it can be: “cat food”, “PPC software”, “fishing gear” or “used cars”, depending on what business you’re in. You start your research by jotting down keywords ideas related to your business. Then you can expand that list by using keyword suggestion tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner (to use it, you need to have Google AdWords account). You can also use other free or paid keyword research tools, but the important thing to remember is that you’re looking for keywords that have: - High search volume (people are looking for the keywords) - Low difficulty ranking (less competition for the same keyword) - Relevant to your site Keyword research can sometimes be a bit boring and tedious work, but it’s necessary to do it right. The better you research your keywords, the better your overall SEO efforts will be. 2.Create your content Content and SEO are closely linked – obviously, if you have no content you don’t have anything to rank for in the search engines. After you’re done with keyword research, you have to create content about targeted keywords. Content can include things like blog posts, images, infographics, videos, eBooks and so on. By doing that, bots which crawl your website will understand what keywords you should rank for. A word of advice, though – don’t write for search engines, write for people. Google is getting better and better in creating algorithms that interpret data on your website and match it to search intent – in other words, Googlebots “understand” what your webpage is about and concentrate on user experience. If you simply stuff your texts with keywords without offering any real value, like some people used to do years ago, Google may penalize your website. Concentrate on helping your visitors solve their problems, and you’ll be alright. 3.Optimize your website Search engines don’t just read your website’s text – they also read your code. Optimizing your code is a crucial part of on-page SEO. There are eight elements of code you need to need make sure are optimized. These are: - Title tags - Meta tags - Headings - Sitemaps - Domain name - URL structure - Site structure - Alt tags All these elements of code contribute to overall ranking. The better they’re optimized, the more “points” you get with Google when it crawls your page. Conclusion SEO is an important factor in any digital marketing strategy. If you have an online business, or an offline business with a website, you should invest your time and effort in doing at least some basic search engine optimization. I hope this guide has cleared up some things for you regarding SEO, and if you have any questions about how to implement SEO methods on your website, contact us and we’ll help you out.