At Vervocity, we want to help businesses achieve their online business goals. This guide is a great introduction to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The world of SEO is very complex and is always changing but you can easily learn the basics and with a small amount of understanding, you can make a difference with your website. We will cover some need-to-know basics of SEO to help make it easier to understand.

The Basics of Search Engine Optimization

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the practice of increasing traffic to your website from non-paid or organic search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Search engines have designed algorithms to determine what websites to show in their search results. They use a process called crawling and indexing to find matches to your search query in a process of ranking websites into the list of search results you see. SEO is all about understanding what people are searching for online, what words they are using to search and the type of information they are seeking.

Which Search Results are Organic?

Organic search results are non-paid listings found on search engine result pages (SERPs). When you search for something online, you’ll typically find paid listings at the top that are marked as ads followed by organic search results. Search engines are always changing and adding new features like featured snippets, image carousels, boxes with popular questions people ask, map listings for local businesses, and much more. Some SERP features on Google can be influenced by SEO while others are pulled from websites like Wikipedia, IMDb, and WebMD.

Why is SEO Important?

Generally, search engines drive the majority of online visitors to your website. While paid advertising, social media, and other platforms can generate traffic to your website, organic search results appear more credible to searchers and typically get more clicks than paid advertisements. When SEO is set up correctly, you can continue to see results over time without paying for the traffic to your site like advertising. Search engines need your help by providing better information in order to properly index and display your website in search results.

Keyword Research

Understanding what your target audience wants to find is the key to keyword research. Optimize your website for how your customers are searching for content, services, and products you offer. What are they searching for? What are the most popular terms they use? What format do they want the content? These are all important questions to ask when building your targeted keyword strategy. It’s best to target highly specific, lower competitive search terms, referred to as long-tail keywords.

On-Site Optimization

Now it’s time to create quality content based on your keyword research. Optimizing existing pages on your website and adding new blog content will help maximize your website visibility to search engines. Some content tactics to avoid include keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and thin content. Structuring your content with unique titles, descriptions, a hierarchy of headings, internal links, and optimized images will help search engines crawl your website. Organizing your website page structure and URL (Uniform Resource Locator) naming helps search engines evaluate and rank your pages on the SERPs.

Technical SEO

Making sure your website is readable by search engine robots is crucial to see results. A good website audit can guide you to technical issues that may be hurting your website SERPs. Search engines need a fast, reliable, responsive website design to crawl and index your site. Schema is a way to label or organize your website content so that search engines can understand your website. This code provides structure to your data, which is why schema is often called structured data. Google recommends responsive web design for the best user experience to view your site on all types of devices.

Authority & Link Building

Once your site is optimized and ready to go, it’s time to increase your authority by earning links from other sites. Create a Google My Business page for your business. Add your business to local listings sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages, MapQuest, Bing, etc. Reach out to organizations like your local chamber and partners to have them link to your website. Start social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Link building is all about having trustworthy sites link to other trustworthy sites to help build your online credibility.

Measuring Results

How do you know what’s working? Reviewing reports is an essential part of any SEO strategy. You will need to adjust your approach as you go. SEO is an ever-changing process and takes time to see the impact of your work. Be sure to track everything from rankings, conversions, and more to help increase your SEO efforts. Use Google Analytics to uncover traffic insights and Google Search Console to detect errors and opportunities. These are just a few of the great tools available with tons of data to help guide you on your SEO adventure.

Should I Hire an SEO Company?

With the time and willingness to learn and depending on the complexity of your website, you could perform some basic SEO yourself. Or, you might just discover that you would prefer the help of an expert. It’s important to know that many agencies and consultants offer SEO services that can vary tremendously. The wrong SEO techniques can actually hurt your website more than they can help. Be sure to do your research and choose an SEO agency in Quincy, IL like Vervocity! We can help you develop an SEO strategy that will see results. Contact us today to get started.