Search engine optimization—SEO—is a must for any business that wants clients and prospects to be able to find its website on the Internet. That encompasses most businesses. The objective of SEO is to improve visibility when someone conducts a search for your business via Google (or other commercial search engine)—so your business ranks higher in organic search results.
Whether you sell a product, offer a service, write a blog, or provide information, you want visitors to your website to be those who are the most interested in what you have to offer, because these visitors can turn into qualified leads, and hopefully, paying customers. For that reason, when a user performs a Google search—a query—the words or phrases they type in the search box are important in that you want their search to lead them to you. Behind the scenes, for search engines to crawl and return the results you want, they need to understand your website, and SEO is the way to make that happen. Contrary to what some might believe, SEO does not involve cramming your site full of words and terms related to your offerings. Creative expertise and skill is required to have high quality, fully optimized content on your website.
Best Practices for Search Engine Optimization
- Each page of your website should be accurately named and coded with a title tag, as these appear in search results.
- Your site should be easy to navigate by using a logical page hierarchy, and include a site map to ensure Google can find the pages on your site.
- Content on your website should be unique (new), quality (well written, organized, easy to read), and compelling—to keep the visitor reading and to influence them to take your desired action, including sharing your content with others.
- Optimize images and use image-related names (image descriptors) in case an image does not display.
- Make your site mobile-ready—Google needs to recognize your site so that users searching for it will be able to find it.
- Depending on how a user accesses your website (mobile vs. desktop), make sure they are directed to the correct site when you run both versions of your site, as format may vary slightly and present itself differently to the user.
It is important to note that web developers should adhere to Google’s guidelines for search engine optimization if they expect their website to rank as a result of a user’s natural/organic search. Google will, in fact, penalize websites that don’t follow the rules, for example if your content is identical to that of another site.
Once you understand the value in optimizing your website for positive search engine ranking, setting up your website in terms of its content and navigation, then getting the word out about your site through effective marketing, you should start to see results both in terms of traffic to your site and the quality of that traffic as it relates to your product or service offerings.