So you have a great website, right? Either you have spent a lot of time or a lot of money on building it.
This is the first step, but you must continue building roads that lead to your destination.
Your website is the destination you want people to arrive at. The roads are paved with search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and tools.
Before we go any further, remember that this requires you to be patient. This is not an instant-fix like a Snickers when you're hungry.
This is going to take time, but you're creating and building infrastructure.
Keep in mind that it can take six months for a site to start seeing results from SEO.
Not ranking. Results.
We don't mean ranking #1, but just seeing results in your traffic and in your conversions.
Search engine optimization is about creating a strategy for long-term traffic and long-term customers.
Invest time. Invest money.
Traffic from searches on search engines convert 10% higher than traffic from social media.
If you’re paying someone to build and maintain your website, this is a worth-while investment.
We want you to understand what SEO is, and why it's important. We will define some of the common terms and we will give you things to watch for when it comes to setting up your webpages to rank better.
Soon you will have the tools to implement search engine optimization strategies yourself.
Search Engine Optimization definition:
Maximizing the quantity and quality of visitors to a website.
Search engine optimization is the process of improving your site to increase the likelihood of being seen when people search for products or services related to your business.
SEO creates lots of opportunities to drive traffic to your website. This increases the likelihood of your website being seen.
Search Engines: How Do They Work?
Search engines like Google use a robot to comb through web pages and collect data.
Think of it like a library where everything has been categorized and indexed so when you search for something it’s all there for you at your fingertips.
The bots collect words, image names, URLs, and much more information to conclude what that page is about and to present it accordingly when the subject of that web page is searched for by someone like you, or your customer.
Why is SEO Important?
Search is often the primary source of digital traffic.
Social media drives traffic as well, but most of the traffic you get on your website is from searches in search engines, like Google, Bing or Yahoo.
Done properly, search engine optimization increases your website's visibility. Higher visibility means more visitors. More visitors means more customers.
You may be asking, "if I'm driving traffic from social media, isn’t that enough?"
Social media is great for driving traffic, but it’s not enough on its own. Traffic from searches on search engines convert 10% higher than traffic from social media.
If you drive more traffic from searches, you will get more paying customers who are interested in your product.
Your audience is likely scrolling social media to pass some time, but when they are searching in Google or Bing, they are more likely to be in that buying mindset and you want to be able to meet them there. You want them to be able to find you.
Here are some more key terms—
Keywords are words and phrases that prospects use to find online content.
In other words, keywords are the words you or your customers are using when searching for something.
There is data on popular keywords and key phrases, which businesses can use in order to better connect with those who are looking for their products and services.
You need to use relevant keywords and phrases on your website.
Just like when you go to library asking for a specific topic, and the librarian says, “we have a section on that over here,” and directs you to a bunch of resources.
Search engines are doing the same thing and presenting you with the top resources that match your search.
Keywords are indicators and flags that are used to determine the subject of your page and the main content.
One of our favourite resources for keywords is ubersuggest. You can pay for the full version, but you can get some ideas for free.
Your content comes in many forms, and likely on many platforms. Right now we’re just focusing on the content on your website.
We want you to make sure it’s educational, interesting, relevant and shareable.
We know that’s a lot of pressure. It's a lot to ask of one webpage. This is what we’re aiming for. (Remember at the start when we urged patience?)
You want to teach someone something, keep them interested, keep it relevant and, if you’re lucky, it will be so great that people will share it.
This won't happen every time, but it is always the goal. If it is a good webpage, easy to read and navigate, interesting to look at and holds people's attention, that will all help to improve your ranking.
Ultimately, search engine optimization, from the search engine's perspective, is finding the best pages, the most accurate in terms of what was searched and the most engaging.
Your content is very important for SEO. This includes images as well as your copy.
This is all of the activities that you and others do away from your website to raise the ranking of your webpage with search engines.
Examples: social media, backlinks
Links to your site from other places help to build those roads that lead to your website.
When you share a page from your website on Facebook, you are creating another link to that page. You just built another road.
When you use Pinterest to link to your products, that creates new roads to lead customers to your website.
If you're a clothing store and your neighbour, the shoe company down the street, puts a link to your website on their website, saying "Now that you have the shoes, find your outfit here," you have yet another road leading to your website (and don't forget to return the favour!).
When you're ready to learn more about back-linking, check this out.
On-page search engine optimization is all the things you can do on your website to improve your ranking.
You know at the bottom of a page where it says, "if you like this, you might also like these items?" That's on-page SEO or internal linking.
You are linking one page to another one. This is great to do with blogs (you can see it at the bottom here), where you can direct someone to more information on a similar topic.
You can also link a page on your values to a product or service that demonstrates it.
For instance, a restaurant keen on buying local produce might have a page showing off their new Maple Bacon Burger featuring local Lanark County Maple Syrup with a link to "read more about our commitment to sourcing local products for our menu and why it's important."
From that page, you can link to other products featuring local vendors and farmers.*
*Expert-level, you can link externally to the farmers and producers, who will likely link back to you. Is your head spinning yet? Stick with us.
At this point you have so many roads, so many ways to get to your website that even the most directionally-challenged among us (cough, Joy) could get there.
Local search engine optimization is the practice of increasing the online visibility of local businesses.
It’s similar to organic (free) SEO, but with an added geographical component.
If you're selling something and you’re not looking for provincial, national or international sales, local search engine optimization is really important. There are things you can do to improve local rankings.
Google My Business is a great place to start, making sure you have your location added to your profile. You can also mention your location, naturally, in responses to reviews.
Search Engine Marketing:
All of the activities that you and others do away from your website to raise the ranking of a page with search engines.
Examples: Google Ads, Local SEO
Search engine marketing (SEM) can be organic, meaning it's free, but it can also be paid, appearing as sponsored ads on Google and other search engines.
Hopefully you can now confidently answer the question, "what is SEO?" We have more tools for you for your next steps, including a webinar on 6 SEO mistakes you might be making.
Lewis Carroll famously said, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."
But we say, if you don't know where you're going, many SEO roads can get you there.