SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.
To understand the true meaning of SEO, let's break that definition down and look at the parts:
-Quality of traffic. You can attract all the visitors in the world, but if they're coming to your site because Google tells them you're a resource for Apple computers when really you're a farmer selling apples, that is not quality traffic. Instead you want to attract visitors who are genuinely interested in products that you offer.
- Quantity of traffic. Once you have the right people clicking through from those search engine results pages (SERPs), more traffic is better.
- Organic results. Ads make up a significant portion of many SERPs. Organic traffic is any traffic that you don't have to pay for.
The foundation of good SEO begins with ensuring crawl accessibility, and moves up from there.
You can follow these seven steps to successful SEO:
1. Crawl accessibility so engines can read your website,
2. Compelling content that answers the searcher’s query,
3. Keyword optimized to attract searchers & engines,
4. Great user experience including a fast load speed and compelling UX,
5. Share-worthy content that earns links, citations, and amplification,
6. Title, URL, & description to draw high CTR in the rankings,
7. Snippet/schema markup to stand out in SERPs.
What is search engine crawling?
Crawling is the discovery process in which search engines send out a team of robots to find new and updated content. Content can vary — it could be a webpage, an image, a video, a PDF, etc. — but regardless of the format, content is discovered by links.
If you're not showing up anywhere in the search results, there are a few possible reasons why:
1. Your site is brand new and hasn't been crawled yet.
2. Your site isn't linked to from any external websites.
3. Your site's navigation makes it hard for a robot to crawl it effectively.
4. Your site contains some basic code called crawler directives that is blocking search engines.
5. Your site has been penalized by Google for spammy tactics.
Common navigation mistakes that can keep crawlers from seeing all of your site:
Having a mobile navigation that shows different results than your desktop navigation.
Personalization, or showing unique navigation to a specific type of visitor versus others, could appear to be cloaking to a search engine crawler.
Forgetting to link to a primary page on your website through your navigation — remember, links are the paths crawlers follow to new pages!
Understand what your audience wants to find.
The power of keyword research lies in better understanding your target market and how they are searching for your content, services, or products. Before you can help a business grow through search engine optimization, you first have to understand who they are, who their customers are, and their goals. In the process of discovering relevant keywords for your content, you will likely notice that the search volume of those keywords varies greatly. While you definitely want to target terms that your audience is searching for, in some cases, it may be more advantageous to target terms with lower search volume because they're far less competitive. Since both high- and low-competition keywords can be advantageous for your website, learning more about search volume can help you prioritize keywords and pick the ones that will give your website the biggest strategic advantage.
How much value would a keyword add to your website?
These tools can help you answer that question:
Moz Keyword Explorer, Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends , AnswerThePublic, SpyFu Keyword Research Tool
Creating your content
On-page SEO allows you to turn your research into content your audience will love. Just make sure to avoid falling into the trap of low-value tactics that could hurt more than help!
Your web content should exist to answer searchers’ questions, to guide them through your site, and to help them understand your site’s purpose. Content should not be created for the purpose of ranking highly in search alone. Ranking is a means to an end, the end being to help searchers. While it’s common for a website to have unique pages on different topics, an older content strategy was to create a page for every single iteration of your keywords in order to rank on page 1 for those highly specific queries. Google is clear that you should have a comprehensive page on a topic instead of multiple, weaker pages for each variation of a keyword.
Like it sounds, “duplicate content” refers to content that is shared between domains or between multiple pages of a single domain. “Scraped” content goes a step further, and entails the blatant and unauthorized use of content from other sites. This can include taking content and republishing as-is, or modifying it slightly before republishing, without adding any original content or value.
A basic tenet of search engine guidelines is to show the same content to the engine's crawlers that you'd show to a human visitor. This means that you should never hide text in the HTML code of your website that a normal visitor can't see. When this guideline is broken, search engines call it "cloaking" and take action to prevent these pages from ranking in search results. Cloaking can be accomplished in any number of ways and for a variety of reasons, both positive and negative.
Other optimizations your pages need:
Header tags are an HTML element used to designate headings on your page. The main header tag, called an H1, is typically reserved for the title of the page. There are also sub-headings that go from H2 to H6 tags, although using all of these on a page is not required. The hierarchy of header tags goes from H1 to H6 in descending order of importance.
Links that require a click (like a navigation drop-down to view) are often hidden from search engine crawlers, so if the only links to internal pages on your website are through these types of links, you may have trouble getting those pages indexed. Opt instead for links that are directly accessible on the page.
Anchor text is the text with which you link to pages. The anchor text sends signals to search engines regarding the content of the destination page. Too many internal links using the same, keyword-stuffed anchor text can appear to search engines that you’re trying to manipulate a page’s ranking. It’s best to make anchor text natural rather than formulaic.
Images are the biggest culprits of slow web pages! The best way to solve for this is to compress your images. While there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to image compression, testing various options like "save for web," image sizing, and compression tools like Optimizilla.
Alt text (alternative text) within images is a principle of web accessibility, and is used to describe images to the visually impaired via screen readers. It’s important to have alt text descriptions so that any visually impaired person can understand what the pictures on your website depict.
Getting excited yet? You should be! Search engine marketing is a fascinating field and can be lots of fun! If you're serious about improving search traffic and are unfamiliar with SEO, we recommend reading the Beginner's Guide to SEO front-to-back.