The Basics of SEO

As a business owner, you may hear a lot about how important Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to help your business get found online. You've seen books written on, and websites devoted to SEO. The amount of information that seems available can make the entire subject seem overwhelming. The great news is that SEO does not have to be complicated to be beneficial. Here are some basic tips to get you started on the path to greater search engine visibility.

Keywords & Phrases Used To Search

Keywords are at the very base of search engine optimization. We are not talking about the old metadata keyword tag that people would stuff with 400 keywords back in the early 2000s. If you do that nowadays you may get blacklisted from Google (also known as being put in the sandbox).

We are talking about keywords as in phrases that people use to search on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and any other web search engine. Ask yourself what words or phrases people will type in while looking for your product or service. Once you have the main terms and phrases, putting that knowledge into practice comes next. Make sure the main keywords appear in places like website titles and URLs. Don't overdo the use of keywords, you want to choose the right seo keywords. Try to aim for somewhere between one and two percent of the total content on a page. Any more and you may actually look bad to search engines.

How Do Links Help SEO?

Search engines like links. Try to aim for adding 3-5 links on each page that link to other pages of your website. Some rules to consider are:

  • Link to the oldest related pages.
  • Choose pages that are optimized for the same keywords.
  • Avoid linking to your home and contact pages because they are static and not high-ranking.

Linking out doesn't directly help SEO, but helpful links to other sites increase your dependability with visitors. This translates into more traffic, which does help SEO.

Don’t use services that will get you 5,000 backlinks as those are normally spam backlinks and will hurt your website.

How Does A Site Map Help SEO?

Providing a sitemap puts the links to all your pages in one place, which makes search engines happy. Search engines can then find information on your site easier by seeing what the site contains. Make sure the sitemap is kept current. Most Content Management Systems (CMS) have a plugin or module to do this automatically every time you add a new page. Make sure you ask your web company if they added this feature. And if you happen to be a client of ours, yes, we do this with every website.

Does Contact Information Help SEO?

Search engines want to know you are a person and that your business is a legitimate one. The more contact information you include on your website, the greater your reliability. If possible, include a contact phone number. This number should be correctly formatted and the format should remain the same throughout your site. For example, the two accepted telephone formats are (123) 456-7890 and 123-456-7890. Targeting international customers may require different formats. If you have a brick and mortar location, including the physical address can get you ranking points. Finally, if you have a physical location, embed a Google map showing the location and include an actual photo of your storefront. Both look great on search engines.

Can Photos Help Your SEO?

Search engines read words, not pictures. Don’t worry, you can still use your photos to increase SEO. Include captions on all photos and try to include at least one of your main keywords in the captions. Use alt text and include your keywords there also. Make sure every photo is completely relevant to your content. Actually, most ADA compliance tasks that improve assistive technology support are likely to benefit your SEO. See our post on Website Accessibility compliance for more information.

Should You Enable Comments?

Many people disable comments on their website because they believe any negative comments will harm them. Search engines don't see it this way. By enabling and encouraging comments, you show the search engines that your site revolves around a thriving community of people who consider it important. This makes the search engine think more highly of your site, upping your credibility, and improving search results. Just be sure a moderation workflow and spam prevention are in place… hundreds of comments with links to Russian spam definitely won’t increase your search rank. Spammy links will actually hurt your website.

Things to Avoid That Will Hurt Your SEO

People have been attempting to "trick" search engines since they first appeared. Warning, search engines are not as dumb as people think, and they are very aware of the tricks, and hidden methods to get you to the top of search results. Things like keyword stuffing, linkbait, link schemessneaky redirects, and buying links (from websites like Fiver) are all things that can cause you to lose credibility. Even if they work temporarily, once the search engine catches you, your rank will plummet and getting back to where you started is more difficult than ever. Avoid trying to fool the search engines and concentrate on providing great content that people love and want to share.

Final Words About SEO

Every step you make to optimize your website for search engines helps you gain visibility. The more of these simple tips you put into practice, the better your chances are of being seen by potential customers. Pick one of the tips above and make a point of adding a new SEO tactic at least once a week. Soon enough you will have updated your website to the place you want it to be.


Other Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Resources

Here are a few other blog posts that we have written on Search Engine Optimization.