SEO 101: What it is, how it works and why it’s important for your small business
It might sound like just another boring techie acronym, but the reality is that SEO is an essential marketing tool and a crucial part of your small business’ digital marketing strategy. If you think about the fact that 90% of online experiences begin with a search engine like Google or Bing, then you know it’s important that your business is at the top of those pages. If your website isn’t ranking on those search pages, then you’re losing out on reaching hundreds, if not thousands, of potential clients or customers. That’s why a good SEO strategy can help drive traffic to your website, improve your online visibility and get you ranking higher on search engine results pages.
But what is SEO exactly?
SEO, also known as Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing your website to get organic, unpaid, or natural traffic from the search engine results page and aims to improve your website’s position on those pages. By optimizing your website, you are increasing your visibility, increasing your search engine ranking, and helping those people in your target audience reach you. Remember: the higher the website is listed, the more people will see it.
SEO involves making specific changes to the design and content of your website to make your site more attractive to a search engine. This is done in the hopes that your website will be displayed as the top result on the search engine page.
To have a good SEO strategy, you need to:
- Identify keywords relevant to your business with great search traffic potential
- Create high quality, useful content and optimize it for search engines and users
- Include relevant links from high quality sites
- Measure your results
How does it work?
The ultimate goal of a search engine like Google or Bing is to deliver fast, accurate and relevant results to the user. When someone types in a word or sentence in a search engine box they are hoping to find a website with content as closely related to their search as possible. To do this, search engines will scan or crawl different websites to better understand what the site is about. The search engines also scan the site for usability, looking at how easy it is to navigate and read. This is why user-friendly sites tend to have a higher ranking on search engine results pages.
The 3 Pillars of SEO
Companies that offer SEO services in Vancouver know that getting your brand, website or company ranking high on search engine results pages is a skill that involves continued work over the course of several months or even years. There are three core components of SEO that you need to be familiar with – and take action on regularly:
- Technical Optimization: Technical optimization is the process of completing tasks on your site that are designed to improve SEO but that are not related to content. This can include optimizing page speed and image size.
- On-Page Optimization: On-Page optimization is the process of ensuring the content on your site is relevant and provides a great user experience. This includes targeting specific keywords with your content. Examples include product descriptions, service descriptions or blog posts.
- Off-Page Optimization: Off-Page optimization is the process of enhancing your site’s search engine ranking through activities off your site. This is mainly through backlinks, which can include social media, Google My Business (and Google Reviews) and links from another reputable sites to yours.
Factors that impact On-Page and Off-Page SEO
SEO is not an easy or quick fix and can take a lot of action and time. It requires daily actions with the goal of long-term success. And knowing what those actions are and the factors that can impact your search engine rankings will help take your SEO strategy from good to great.
1. Content Marketing
In the world of digital marketing, content is key! It can be effective in attracting search engines and can also make your organization more relatable to its audience. The more quality, relevant content pieces you have on your site, the more likely it is search engines will rank your pages higher on the search engine results page. And the more engaging and effective your content is, the more likely visitors will be to spend time on your website.
The content on your website should be well-written and on topics that are most relevant to your target audience. There should also be variety in your content pieces. This can include:
- Blog posts and articles
- Social media content
- Ebooks and papers
- How-to guides and tutorials
- Videos and audio recordings
- Infographics and other visual content
When creating content for your website, it’s important to include specific keywords and phrases. These are relevant words and phrases that a search engine user might type in when looking for answers to their questions, or relevant products/services. By creating content around these keywords, you’re essentially improving your chances of ranking higher for these keywords on search engine results pages. Some examples of these key words are: “SEO services Vancouver”, “ Vancouver SEO agency”, or “Vancouver SEO company.”
2. On-Page Optimization
On-page optimization strategies are those that take place directly on your website. While content is considered one piece of on-page optimization, there are many factors that can help improve your SEO.
- Title-tags: the title tag on each page tells the search engine what the page is about. The tag should be no more than 70 characters and should include both the keyword your content focuses on and your business name.
- Meta-description: the meta-description on your site tells search engines a little bit more about what each page is about. This should also include your keyword and provide enough details to tell the reader what the content is about.
- Sub-headings: sub-headings make your content easier to read and help search engines better understand what your content is about.
- Internal links: building internal links or hyperlinks to other content on your site can help search engines learn more about your site.
- Image name and ALT-tags: if you are using images on your website or within your blog content, you will also want to include your keyword in the image name and tag. This will help search engines better index your images, which may appear when users perform an image search for a certain keyword or phrase.
3. Off-Page Optimization
While On-Page optimization looks at the factors you can control and change, Off-Page optimization are the factors that you don’t have direct control over but that can also impact your ranking.
- Trust: trust is becoming more and more important in a site’s ranking on Google as this is how Google determines whether you have a legitimate site that users will want to visit. One of the best ways to improve trust is to build quality backlinks from sites that have a good domain authority.
- Links: backlinks are one way to build off-page SEO. Reaching out to influencers, or other businesses within your niche that can link back to your site in their own content can be a valuable tool to build your backlinking strategy.
- Social: another important off-page optimization strategy is social signals, such as likes and shares. The more quality content you publish, the more likely you’ll be to get people who will share your content on their own sites or social media accounts.
Now that you understand the basics of search engine optimization, it’s time to plan your SEO strategy and get started on increasing your search engine ranking! It’s important to be patient when it comes to SEO and know that even the smallest results can bring long-term success. But if the idea of starting to build your SEO strategy seems too big a task, then leave it to the professionals. There are a number of digital marketing agencies, like Trilogy Solutions, that can provide professional SEO services so you can reach your target audience and increase your online visibility.