Search engine optimization is the process of maximizing your website traffic through techniques that ensure your website appears high in organic search results.
Want to know something interesting? When you begin a search on Google, you’re not actually searching the entire Internet for your answer. You’re searching Google’s index of the Internet. As a business, this means you need Google to find your website and content.
Understanding How Search Engine Optimization Works
Frank is a man who wants a loan at a low-interest rate for his first house.
Before he searches “low-interest loan first home” on Google, the search engine has already been working to meet Frank’s needs. The search engine “crawled” your website with “spiders,” a software program looking for content and code on your website. When you linked to other pages, these spiders crawled those sites, too, building a nice web of the Internet.
Google then indexed your site by storing and organizing its content. It put your mortgage webpage in a folder titled “home loan” to pull out at the right time. When Frank entered his query, Google scoured its index to find related content.
But how did Google decide which content to show Frank first? This is where the process gets stickier. Google ranked each webpage using an algorithm that focused on keywords used in content, whether the website is considered a high-quality or low-quality source, whether it's mobile-friendly and more. It also factored in Frank’s location, language and the device he used.
Once it determined your website’s ranking, it ordered search results by the content that’s most likely to answer Frank’s query.
That’s a lot to take in, so let’s look deeper into each factor.
- 1. Having a Mobile-Friendly Website and Fast Load Speed
If people have a negative experience on your mobile website, Google says they’re 62 percent less likely to purchase from you in the future. That means your website must be mobile-friendly.
It should have a responsive web design. What your users do on a desktop they should also be able to do on their mobile device, including buying products and scheduling appointments.
You’ll want your website to load quickly. Most users expect your website to load on their mobile device in just three seconds. That’s three seconds to make a good first impression. Falling short could make users frustrated and make them leave, which leads to your site being demoted in Google’s rankings.
2. Creating a clear site structure
No user wants to visit a website looking for answers and become completely lost in its structure. Create a clear site structure that users can navigate easily and it will also assist Google as it works to index each page.
Think of your website as a filing cabinet. The filing cabinet is made up of multiple drawers, which act as the major sections of your website. Each drawer holds multiple folders or subsections. Each folder might contain multiple documents or pages.
Be sure your major sections, subsections and pages have short, descriptive titles, so the consumer knows exactly what they’re getting before clicking.
3. Using keywords
When determining keywords, look at your analytics to see how users are getting to your website and identify the keywords that drive traffic.
Don’t just include them in relevant spots in the title, URL and body of your blogs. Be sure to include a relevant keyword in filenames for images and videos and in their alternate attribute descriptions. These make it easier for Google’s Image or Video Search to find.
As you include these keywords in your content, do so with balance. You are not writing content to please a search engine. You’re writing to please people like Frank. So if you fill your content with keywords at irrelevant times and in a way that’s hard to read, Google will pick up on the spam and the fact that it isn’t user-friendly. Keep in mind, keywords are just one factor Google uses to determine a website’s ranking.
4. Having effective HTML code
Behind a good website is good code. HTML is the code used to create web pages, and you might be surprised how much you can optimize it for SEO. It’s another way you can tell Google and other search engines what your page is about. You can start by optimizing your title tag, meta description and heading tags.
When Frank makes a search on Google, he’s greeted with hundreds of websites looking to get his clicks with their enticing previews. Your title tag is usually what he sees first when scrolling through search results. Your title tag should be a short, accurate description, usually containing a keyword at the front of the page’s content that tells him exactly what he’s going to get when he clicks.
The meta description is usually what Frank will see right under the title tag and website url on the search results page. This is copy space you can use to draw him to click your article. It’s important to use keywords here as well because Google highlights keywords in the description that are related to a query.
Make sure you have good heading tags on your blog post as well. Heading tags start with h1 (the most important and usually the biggest) and go all the way to h6 (the smallest). The h1 will likely be the title of your blog post and will be similar to your title tag. It immediately gives the consumer a strong understanding of what your post is about. You’d then use the h2 tag as a subheading to break up your content underneath h1 and maybe even h3 to break up your content under an h2 tag. As mentioned before, you can go all the way down to h6, but you certainly don’t have to.
5. Optimizing your Google My Business page
As mentioned before, Google will identify Frank’s location, preferred language and device to determine which results he’s shown.
Since Frank is an English-speaking man who lives in Arkansas and is putting in his query on his mobile device, he isn’t going to see results for banks in foreign countries or likely in other states. He’ll most likely see results for banks in Arkansas that are open at the time of his query.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to claim your business on Google and optimize Google My Business features that fit your business best. Google is your business card. It’s where, in an instant, Frank can see your online reviews, how you addressed criticism, call your number, visit your website and get directions to your address. In a few minutes, Google allows him to develop a level of trust or distrust with your business before interacting with an employee. This is why you need to make sure all your information on Google My Business is correct and that you keep an active presence on it.
6. Being a trusted source
Another way Google decides where to rank your website is by determining whether or not you’re a useful and reputable source.
You can do this by hyperlinking to other content on your website or to trusted sources on the web. This assists Google when it crawls your site and the hyperlinks act as word-of-mouth referrals.
Consider taking a rabbit-hole approach to your content. Use each page to answer a specific question and create another page to answer a follow-up question. This will likely keep Frank on your website longer and he’ll see you as a one-stop-shop for his banking questions. Google will take note.
7. Studying your analytics and adjusting your strategy to fit users’ behavior
Maintaining good SEO practices is not just a one-and-done deal. Technology is always evolving to better fit the user’s experience, and it’s a lot to keep up with at times.
Let us help you identify your goals, determine your strategy and track your results.
Learn more about our search engine optimization services by getting in touch with us.