SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The purpose of SEO is to tweak your website so that search engines like Google will give it a favorable ranking and show it high in the list of search results for people that are looking for your goods or services. Having your website rank high on the list of search results is a very effective method of attracting clients and getting leads.
Organic vs. Paid Search Results
When talking about SEO and search results, we often refer to ‘organic’ and ‘paid’ search results. When you search for something in Google, you are shown two different kinds of results: there are advertisements at the top and on the sides, and then there are the ‘real’ search results below that. The advertisements are referred to as ‘paid’ results, and the real results below that are called the ‘organic’ search results. SEO works to improve your webpage’s ranking in the organic search results as opposed to the traditional method of paying for advertising.
If you are like most people, you tend to skip right past the ads and scroll down to the ‘real’ results, and that is one of the reasons SEO can be an effective way of marketing. Most people trust, and click on, the real search results and avoid the ads so the traffic that goes to your site is higher quality, meaning they are more likely to contact you for your goods and services.
How Google Ranks Your Webpage
There are several variables that Google accounts for when it decides to rank your website in the search results, and it is constantly changing. Below is a brief summary, in no particular order:
- Relativity: Google scans your websites text in order to determine what it is about. If your website is about light bulbs, you’ll probably mention light bulbs a few times in your website copy. Google notices that, and knows that your website is helpful for people searching for light bulbs.
- Content: In line with relativity, content is also important. Content (words, images, etc.) should be engaging enough so that people find you website useful and want to interact with it.
- Links: Having other websites link to your website, and vice versa, tells Google that your website has a relationship with other websites out there, and that gives your website more credibility. Make sure that the other websites are also related to light bulbs, or whatever the topic of your site is.
- History: Google respects its elders; the longer your website is around, the more Google trusts it.
- Freshness: Keeping your website fresh is important because it shows Google that there is movement. Blogs are a great way to keep your website fresh and up to date.
- Speed: Speed is good. If your site is too slow, people won’t stick around for it to load. Google doesn’t want to send people to sites that don’t load, so having a fast website is essential.
- Location: Yes, Google knows where you live. Google also knows where it’s customers live. Google likes to show results that are close to where the person searching is located.
What you can do to improve your search rankings
There are several things that you can do in order to improve your search rankings. The most important thing to remember is that Google wants to show the best results possible. If you maintain a quality website that focuses on your goods or services, Google wants to show your website to people looking for you. So just do your thing, and let Google do the rest. But be patient; it takes a while to build up your reputation.
- Be real: Write useful content that is relevant to what your customers are looking for. If your potential customers would like what they find on your website, Google will like it.
- Write blog posts: Blog posts are a great way to keep your website fresh and show movement. Individual blog posts can also attract traffic in and of themselves, and help establish your authority on a topic. Case in point: this blog post. Chances are anyone searching for ‘WordPress SEO’ will stumble upon this blog post and come visit my site. Maybe they’ll need a website one day.
- Network: Linking to your site from other sites, and linking to other sites your customer’s might find useful is great for rankings, but make sure their relevant to your topic. Peruse the internet every now and then and comment on other people’s blogs, articles, or whatever, with a link to your website in your signature. Maintaining social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, are great ways to network.
- Use a plugin: One of the best things about using WordPress, is that there are a lot of powerful plugins to help you boost your SEO. If your website doesn’t already have an SEO plugin, I recommend using WordPress SEO by Yoast. It is an easy to use plugin that does many things on auto pilot, and can also help you optimize your copy for keywords. It rates each page on your website and gives you tips on how to improve it.
The SEO Industry
SEO has become very popular and very complex, and it has created an entire industry of SEO professionals. Some of them are very good, and some of them are not. The good ones know the ins-and-outs of search engine algorithms and spend several months building your website’s reputation in the eyes of Google using ethical practices. If you have a marketing budget and advertise online, you may want to consider SEO services instead of traditional online marketing, as it can be very effective. While Made Right Media can optimize your website copy, integrate keywords, and adjust settings for your website to perform well (we call this ‘fundamental SEO’), we do not specialize in SEO as an on going service. For that, we recommend our neighbor, friend, and SEO guru, Josh at JTree.net. He does great work, and is as reliable as they come.