Understanding Search Engine Marketing
In digital marketing, buzzwords are always being thrown around. From SERP, to hashtags, to the ever popular SEO. Currently, my official employment title is "SEO Specialist." While this means one thing to my employer, it means another to my co-workers, and it means something entirely different- but much the same, to myself.
SEO, in short, stands for Search Engine Optimization. How can you make your website nice for those little site spiders that do the crawling around and report their findings to google? Over time this has evolved from simply making sure you fit a target keyword into your copy as much as possible, to things such as meta description optimization, H1 tags, Page titles, alt-text, backlinks and much more. If you do a google search (or bing, or *shudders* yahoo), you're sure to come up with various results for "SEO Best Practices" or something of the sort, and while there's a plethora of good information out there...there is also a lot of fluff.
SEO Check Lisit
One thing we do know is SEO is here to stay. So, how do you make sure you're doing the best you can to stay on the front page of Google, and staying in your audiences mind? Well, I can't answer that, but I can try to help.
- Don't be that annoying kid. Remember that your audience is made up of people. Write your content for humans. Would you like to read paragraph after paragraph that's repeating the same thing in a different way? You aren't writing your college term paper anymore trying to reach a word count. Your professor figured you out, and so will your readers. Make sure your content is written in a voice that your readers understand. This will improve the probability that your content will be shared, thus improving your domain authority.
- Headings Headings Headings. Just as every book has a title so should your pages. And each page should only have one heading. That means only one H1 heading, everything else should either be H2 or H3, respectively. Your H1 heading should be the most important part of your page and ideally it should include your keyword.
- Page length is important. The longer your content is the more opportunity you have to fit in your keyword or long-tail keywords, which will probably increase your page ranking.
- Meta Descriptions. Do everyone a favor and manually enter your meta description, don't let search engines pick it for you. When you do, you run the risk of them just choosing an unrelated snippet, or your description getting cut off which could harm your click-through-rate.
- Data is king for me when it comes to SEO. I want to see how everything works and why it's working the way it is. And if it's not working, how do I fix it? Set up a google analytics account and set it up on your site (it's free). Social media tools such as Twitter, and Facebook also offer helpful analytics that can tell you useful information about your audience such as when they are most active online, what their interests are and which of your posts they prefer. Try it out, if you make a change to your posting type check the analytics to view the results. Wash and repeat.
- Along with data research you want to take a look at your competition. Look at the websites of others in the same market as you, check out their social media feeds. How do they interact with their customers? Are they getting backlinks from resources that you could also benefit from? Your company is not just you, it's everyone around you, take advantage of it.
- Keywords are important. If you're optimizing your page for the wrong keyword you'll never show up on the front page of search results. There are a few tools out there to find keyword statistic one being Google Keyword Planner, within Google Analytics, another being Google Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools lets you see what users have searched which lead to impressions of your page on SERPs, it also tells you data on clicks and click through rates.
Arguably the most important aspect of SEO is your website. In most cases no matter how good your business is, if your website is bad, you're not going to be bring in the online traffic.
- Responsiveness- Google favors mobile friendly websites over those that aren't. So it is in your best interest to either have a mobile site or a responsive one.
- Speed. Preform a speed test, get the results, make the changes. Test again. Not all things can be fixed, that's understandable but try to compress images as much as possible which still keeping quality in mind. Make sure text is easy to read and buttons are accessible.
- Run a site crawl, check for duplicate pages, pages that aren't properly redirected. The whole shabang.
This is by no means a fully comprehensive list, and the world of search engine optimization is forever changing, but it's a good starting point if you're looking to do a site audit or dip your toes into SEO.