If you have a website for your business, chances are you’ve heard your fair share about the importance of SEO — whether you understand what it really means or not. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and as MOZ so eloquently explained, it’s “the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand, through non-paid (also known as ‘organic’) search engine results.” SEO is all about understanding what people are searching for online — what keywords they’re using, what questions they’re asking, what type of content they’re consuming — so that you can position your website to be more easily found and prominently displayed in those search results.
When a user types a query into a search engine, it will scour thousands of pieces of content, evaluating a number of factors such as keywords, meta description, posting frequency and more, to determine which websites best fit the needs of the user. Websites that incorporate good SEO are more likely to show up at the top of the list of results organically (i.e., not via paid ads). There are a ton of components of good SEO and it really does take time to digest all of the best practices in order to do it well, which is why many businesses choose to hire an SEO professional to oversee it for them.
But if you’d like to try to tackle your website’s SEO in-house, it’s important to understand the basics before trying to implement complicated strategies or you risk incorporating bad SEO tactics that can actually harm your ranking. Consider this post the bunny slope for SEO. It’s important to spend time understanding and practicing the basics before climbing higher up the mountain where you could risk injury.
In this post, we’ll walk through the three building blocks of SEO: on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and quality content. When businesses take all three of these components into consideration when building a website, it will help to increase their ROI and digital footprint through organic search results.
1. On-Site SEO: On-site SEO is all about the structure and layout of your site. These are the updates you can make on your site to optimize it for SEO, including title tags, meta description, keywords, site navigation, site speed and security. Let’s break those down in a little more detail:
- Title Tags: Title tags specify the title of a web page and are displayed on search engine results pages as the clickable headline for a given result. They are meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page's content.
- Meta Descriptions: These are short summaries (1-2 sentences) of the webpage and appear below the clickable links in search engine results pages.
- Keywords: Words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines. They are the nuts and bolts of what a webpage is about.
- Site Navigation: It’s important to make sure your site is easy to navigate and broken up into categories and sub-categories.
- Site Speed: Best-in-class webpages should load within 3 seconds. Any slower and visitors will abandon your site.
- Security: SSL certificates protect websites from attacks and give visitors and search engines confidence that your site is authentic and trustworthy.
2. Quality Content: Quality content could be considered an offshoot of on-site SEO. But it is such an important factor of your overall SEO that it warrants its own individual building block listing. Essentially, on-site SEO begins with posting frequent, quality content. Creating content on a regular basis enables you to build out the pages of your website, which is where you’ll incorporate the title tags, keywords, meta descriptions and more. Having more quality pages gives search engines more content to crawl, helping to increase your chances of showing up higher on the results pages. It’s important to note that these pages need to have relevant information on them. You can’t just add pages for each variation of a keyword. This is considered bad SEO and you’ll be penalized for it.
In addition, content is an important part of an inbound marketing campaign, which works symbiotically with SEO to help more people find your content, confirming that you’re an authority in your field. It also gives you a platform for conversions because you can put calls-to-action at the end of your content (such as blogs) in order to track and communicate with your leads. In addition, your content can also provide fuel for social media campaigns.
3. Off-Site SEO: Off-site SEO builds authority for your website, so it’s important to take time to build your relationship with and presence on other websites. The main component of off-site SEO are backlinks, which are inbound links to your site from external sources. The more backlinks you have, the greater chance Google will see that you’re a trusted resource. But it’s important to keep in mind that not all backlinks are created equally: Google and other search engines absolutely take into account the authority of the sites linking back to your website. So just throwing your link up on any old site won’t do — it’s important to find quality sources. Links deemed irrelevant or spammy could earn you a penalty rather than a boost.
Reputable ways to build your inbound links include guest posting, social media syndication, and even influencer marketing. All three of these are a great way to get links to your content in front of new audiences.
So while the well of SEO is deep, mastering these three essential elements of SEO will set you on your way to earning a higher ranking with search engines, which will ultimately drive more leads to your site and result in more conversions for your business.
To find out if you need to update your site’s SEO strategy, schedule a free 30 minute, no-strings-attached marketing consultation with our team.