In this Beginner’s Guide, learn all about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) from the basics of what is SEO to professional tips from Your Marketing People’s SEO Manager. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We always here to help!
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is the practice of optimizing your website’s exposure for search engines like Google, in order to drive more qualified web traffic your way.
While the acronym focuses on search engines, SEO is really about optimizing your website for people. If you understand what your audience needs, prepare content that answers those needs, and write it using the same language your audience uses when searching online, your website will perform well in the search engines.
A comprehensive SEO strategy leverages a mix of techniques, including: creating keyword-focused content, getting other websites to link back to your content, and improving technical elements of your website like site speed and navigation.
All of these tactics help demonstrate to Google that your site is an authority on your particular product or industry, and that web users find your content helpful. As a result, Google will be more inclined to display your website whenever someone searches for something you offer.
Why Your Business Needs SEO
Optimize your website to rank well in Google, and you’re going to have a much easier time introducing your brand to new customers.
If you’re paying for Google PPC ads, you already know you need Google’s help to reach more people. But only about 3% of people click on those paid ads. The rest are clicking on the organic results. That’s why SEO performs nearly 6 times better than paid search campaigns.
With paid advertising, you have to pay for every click your ad generates. You can optimize that number to get a low cost-per-click, but you’ll still have to continue to invest to keep getting those clicks.
With SEO, on the other hand, you can optimize your site content to rank well, and your traffic will exponentially improve over time. As long as your content stays competitive, your traffic will continue to grow, bringing you new visits and new leads for years to come.
How to Get Started with SEO
Follow these steps to get started with SEO for your business.
Before you start strategizing, it’s a good idea to take a snapshot of your business’s current organic performance. Set up your Google Analytics profile, and establish a baseline for your average organic monthly visits, bounce rate, and conversions.
Keyword research helps you understand what phrases your audience are using to find products or services like yours. Use keyword research software like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Ahrefs, Moz, and Answer The Public to discover these keywords.
How well would you say your current site is optimized for the your target keywords? Find opportunities to optimize your page titles, meta descriptions, images, and content to better answer what searchers are looking for.
After you’ve optimized your content, review your site for technical SEO opportunities. Can you improve the page load time? Have you submitted a sitemap to Google? Does your site navigation make sense to users?
Now you can focus on developing more content to help you rank even better. Do you need to create FAQ pages or resource pages that cover particular topics in-depth? Use your SEO software to identify your competitors’ most popular pages. Then, figure out how you can make a better version to outrank them.
Schedule time to review your performance in Google Analytics and your SEO software. Ideally, things should start ticking upwards. Pay attention to the pages that are performing particularly well—what insights can you take away and apply to other pages?
SEO can get hairy quickly. Different tactics move the needle to varying extents, and it’s difficult to know what to prioritize first. At Your Marketing People, we’ll pinpoint key areas to make your business stand out—and zoom to the top of the search results for the keywords that matter. Contact us now to learn more.
Pro SEO Tips from Your Marketing People
Chris, Your Marketing People’s in-house SEO Manager, shares his top tips for brands getting started with SEO:
- Show up to local searchers. If you run a local business, you have to have a robust Google My Business page. That includes adding at least 10 photos and 2 videos, posting a new Google Post each week, and completely filling out your profile. Without Google My Business, you won’t appear in the search results for local desktop and mobile searchers.
- Optimize your images. Did you know you can apply the same keyword optimization techniques you use in your content to images, too? Whenever you add a photo to your website, save the image first using a keyword-rich title (such as “gluten-free flour” vs. “IMG1234”). Then, upload it to your website and add keyword variations in the “alt text” and “description” fields.
- Pick low-hanging link fruit. Link-building is hard, but some techniques are definitely easier than others. Set up a Google alert to monitor your brand name. Whenever a blogger or website mentions you by name, Google will let you know. Then you can reach out, thank them for the mention, and see if they wouldn’t mind linking back to you so their readers can learn more.
- Speed up your website. How fast your website loads for visitors actually affects how Google ranks your site. They want to rank websites that provide a good user experience. Often, that means a website that loads quickly—on both desktop and mobile devices. Work with your developer to clean up your website code, reduce the file size of your images, and eliminate any old third-party plugins that could be slowing down your site.
- Don’t forget the basics. One of the easiest things you can do is optimize your meta descriptions and title tags for keywords. These make up your Google search result, and most website content management systems make it easy for you to edit them. In addition to including target keywords, take a look at what your competitors are doing. Is there anything you can copy from their approach to encourage searchers to click on your website instead?
Learn More About SEO
Perhaps more than any other marketing channel, SEO is constantly evolving. Google makes an algorithmic change, and what was a best practice yesterday no longer applies.
Fundamentally, SEO stays the same. It’s always about providing the best content and site experience for users. But, the individual tactics businesses use to do that change as Google changes.
That’s why you need to follow SEO news to stay in the know. Subscribe to the Your Marketing People blog, and you’ll be never be out of the loop. We share the latest industry trends, along with expert strategies we’ve found work for our own clients.