What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of altering a website’s content to boost its rank in the results when users search on platforms like google and bing. The higher a site ranks, the closer to the top spot it will land, and the easier that site will be to find for visitors.
SEO is a long term process, and results aren’t always evident for months into the campaign, but organic traffic is the #1 factor in online success, so investing in your company’s search rank is absolutely worth it, and absolutely necessary. So what effects these search ranks?
A website gets ranked higher or lower based on the amount of trust the search engine has in the that particular site, with the most “trusted” sites appearing high on the list, and the less trusted sites appearing further and further down.
The two primary metrics used to build that trust: Relevancy and Backlinks.
A site’s relevancy is determined by how the content on that site lines up with what the user just searched for.
If a user searches for “best fishing lure,” and your site sells dog treats, that’s a pretty low relevancy score. However, if that same user instead searches for “organic dog treats,” your site is much more relevant to what that user is looking for, and is will likely rank higher for that search.
So how does the search engine know what’s relevant and what’s not? Keywords are, wait for it: key!
The search engine combs through any content, descriptions, and tags built into a website in order to look for matches between the phrase being searched for by the user, and the content on that site.
By building the most commonly searched keywords and phrases into your site, you can greatly increase it’s relevance for searches containing those keywords.
For a website selling dog treats, good keywords to target might be “best dog treats,” “organic pet food,” or “dog bone,” because those are all searches that a user looking for dog treats might realistically enter.
Google analytics and google trends are both great tools to get started on finding the best keywords for your strategy.
Keep in mind, though, that there is a huge amount of competition over top keywords. Phrases like “basketball shoes,” “car insurance,” or “online marketing” have so much invested in them by larger companies, that you would be hard pressed to land a spot on the first page without investing millions yourself.
It’s usually better to invest in keywords that are still relevant, but have less direct competition.
The other primary metric used to evaluate search rankings is the number of “backlinks,” a site has. These are links from other sites online (blogs, review sites, articles, etc.), that lead back to your website.
Search engines view these backlinks as individual votes of confidence for your site, with each site that posts a backlink counting as 1 vote.
Sites that are more trusted by search engines carry more weight with their backlinks than less trusted sources, though, and too many links from sites with low credibility can hurt your rank more than help it, so stay away from comment or article spamming.
Of the two metrics, backlinks are absolutely the more time consuming and difficult to establish, but they’re also the most important factor in retaining a high rank in the long term.
Your keyword strategy might change from year to year, and from product to product, but backlinks will continue to provide your website with search engine credibility over time.
Just like anything good, a high search rank takes time and work to achieve, but the results are worth the wait.