Search Engine Optimization helps customers who ‘Google’ your site
When you decide to start marketing your business, you should first take care of the basics. In today’s world, that means making sure your SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, makes it easy for potential customers to find your website.
Because most people begin the process of answering their questions online by typing a word or phrase into a search engine like Google, SEO is important if you want to be found when a prospect is starting their initial exploration for a solution. Google itself drives this process. The company continuously surveys and catalogs every page of every website in the world and then ranks them on keyword or phrase importance. By setting up your site to match — or optimize — the parameters that Google measures, you can improve your ranking when people search for products and services you offer.
There are three types of SEO: On-page, Off-page and Local, and although each addresses a different function, all are equally important.
On-page SEO refers to how Google reads the information – discussions, blogs, facts about your business — that is actually on your website. Each topic should have a clear section; ideally for best ranking each individual page on the site should address only one specific topic. Google does not want to have the searcher to have to scan a page to find the information they were searching for, so a web page that identifies the topic clearly and easily is preferred to a long page that addresses several topics.
For improved SEO – A web page that focuses on only one topic will rank higher than a page with 10 related topics.
And the information should be unique; if it’s copied from another site, Google will not know who to credit – that site or yours. Google may be able to determine which page published the content first, and apply ranking from there. Even if your site gets a better ranking due to the other 3,000+ criteria that Google uses, your duplicate content will give Google authority to the original page, resulting in a potential conflict of ranking in the future.
Google also scans for readability and gives the highest score to copy written at the high school level. (If you sell or service something complicated, like medical technology, Google will give you a break and allow your copy to be more complex.) In the past, people wrote to attract the Google spiders, but now Google can identify if the writing is genuine and of a conversational tone. Those pages that were written for the spiders and repeated a keyword phrase over and over were affected by Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates in 2015 and lost ranking. Pages that were written for human visitors, readable at a high-school level and were focuses on a single tipic were not affected.
Lastly, the title or headline of the page also contributes to SEO. It is the first thing that Google sees, and it should be direct and clear. Search engines don’t understand tongue-in-cheek. Fortunately, once you optimize a page correctly, you don’t have to optimize it again – unless Google makes a massive change in the way it ranks pages. You should, however, continue to look for ways to increase your SEO by blogging and otherwise making news that will be picked up by other sites.
Off-Page Search Engine Optimization refers to the number of people that credit your site as an authority. To improve your Off-page SEO, you need to increase the number of “back-links,” or references from other websites back to your site. When you write a press release that is posted on another site, or provide a guest blog to someone else, or otherwise create news that other sites link to and drives Internet readers to your site, Google increases your ranking. Note that not all back-links are created equal. A mention (and link) from The New York Times will count much, much higher than a link from your local weekly. There are many companies that promise a certain number of backlinks to your site every month for a fee. These are not acceptable by Google, and often result in lowering your search ranking. If you have blackhat sites linking to your site, it also can lower your authority in Google’s eyes. Google will allow you to request that those bad links are not considered in your ranking, but it can be complicated to request properly and should be tried after all other efforts have been exhausted.
Local Search Engine Optimization refers to methods to get your site recognized as a local expert. This includes business directories published by the Chamber of Commerce, industry groups and town websites as well as the many sites that – unsolicited – list your business. You must check all these directories regularly to make sure they list you correctly. If one adds “Inc.” to your name while another lists you as an “LLC,” Google may decide they belong to two different businesses, and not give you the proper credit for ranking purposes. Also having local content on your site, such as testimonials and case studies that mention a location will help boast your local relevance.
Recently there was a major change to Google algorithm that affected web design. With more Web users getting information off their phones and tablets (as opposed to a desktop or laptop computer) Google is now giving a lot of weight to websites that are “responsive” to these mobile devices, meaning it adjusts so that content is readable on mobile phones without having to pinch-and-zoom. If your site was originally designed without responsiveness, your designer needs to update it.