What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) decides the order that websites appear in a search result for any given term. The higher up your website ranks, the more likely people are to click it. (The first result on Google receives around 30% of the traffic!)
To simplify SEO, say you and your competitors each have a jar of marbles. The jar with the most marbles has the best SEO and will appear first on relevant searches. What factors determine the marbles that each jar will get? Search engines are ever-evolving, so there is no exact formula to guarantee you the top spot. But, there are some loose guidelines to follow to improve your website. Quality content, keywords, links, mobile-friendliness, and fast load time are some of the key factors of SEO. SEO is intimidating, but some easy tweaks can put your brand on top of the competition without having to pay the search engine’s expensive advertising fees.
Content is one of the most important factors in SEO, and it has evolved over the years. In the past, you could just plug in a bunch of keywords into your webpages and rank high. (For example, using the word “sneaker” in every sentence if you wanted to rank high for the search term “sneaker.”) Today, your ranking would go down for that. Modern search engines value quality content that’s easy for the user to read. Content that is relevant and understandable will rank higher. Also, be sure to consider mobile users when creating content. Large, bulky paragraphs are not ideal on mobile and images may display differently.
One great tool for checking your content is Yoast SEO. This free WordPress plugin measures your writing’s readability and keyword strength.
Keywords are the terms that people type into the search bar. To appear high on the results, you want to include those words in your content. Pay attention to the keywords you use on your website. Keep in mind the words your audience would use. One tweak to a product’s description can be the difference between appearing in a few hundred searches or thousands. We use Google’s Keyword Planner to help study the strength of keywords compared to others.
Links are a huge factor in scoring well with modern SEO. This means including links to pages on your own site as well as linking to other websites. Anytime you reference another page on your website, link to that page! And if your content is informational, remember to cite your sources. Linking to credible sources gives credibility to your page. For more information on linking, take a look at How Google Evaluates Links for SEO.
SEO algorithms look at how easy a website is for users, so page speed and mobile-friendliness are very important. Your website should load fast and appear correctly on mobile devices. Start with a page speed test — we recommend GTmetrix. Most online speed tools will give you a grade on how fast your page loads plus suggestions on how to improve. One of the easiest solutions is to optimize your images. Images with large file sizes take longer to load. If you have dozens of images on a page, that load time quickly adds up.
Next, make sure your site is responsive. Many themes and site builders are responsive by design, so you might already be mobile-friendly! A responsive website rearranges elements and adjusts text depending on the browser size. Take a look at your website on a desktop and on your phone. Does it look correct? Is the content organized and easy to read? Depending on how you built your website, you will need to tweak certain areas and pages for mobile users.
These SEO factors are ultimately trying to see if your site has the best user experience. At the end of the day, you should consider your audience first. It’s a lot of work, but don’t get discouraged! SEO is ever-changing and optimizing is an ongoing process. If you’re looking for specific help with your website, get in touch!