In this tutorial:
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of getting your site ranking as high as possible for relevant content within search engines such as Google or Bing. There are other search engines out there, but for the purpose of this article, we will focus on Google as it is the most widely used search engine in the world. While there are some general rules, SEO is something that is constantly changing. What does it change so much? Because search engines like Google are constantly changing their code to provide more and more relevant searches to their users. This is good for your site because Google wants to show information that is relevant to the individual’s search and eliminate spammy tactics. As long as you produce high-quality content, your site should rank nicely and naturally rise through the rankings.
Why is SEO important?
Almost every user on the internet now uses some sort of search engine to locate new websites and information. Without proper search engine traffic to your site, you are not tapping into the full potential of your site. Sure, you may have come to InMotion Hosting through a friend of maybe a link on your favorite website who may use us, but chances are you searched for something like “best web hosting” or maybe “wordpress hosting”. Without search engines, you may have never found us.
What does Google look for when considering your site?
While this will change over time, there are a few things that Google considers when judging your site’s “worthiness” of being on the top of their rankings, r even being listed at all.
The relevancy of your domain
One of the things considered is how relevant your domain is. If you’re a landscaping company in Regular Old City, USA and want to target people looking for landscaping in your local area, a domain like regularoldcitylandscaping.com or something similar would give you a bit of an edge over someone else. While a site that has been around for 10 years and has solid SEO on their site may outrank you, an exact match domain will increase your ranking potential. Even a partial match in the domain is helpful such as jeffmlandscaping.com or something similar will help your rankings a bit
The relevancy of your content
The old saying in the SEO community is “content is king”. This cannot be any truer over the years as Google has made more and more efforts to update their algorithms to include more relevant search results. Even if you have exact match keywords within your domain, if you don’t have anything useful on your site, it is of no use to search engines to provide people with relevant information on your site. We will continue with our landscaping example to give a bit more light on the subject.
If for example, you had several pages on your site for things like services that are offered, locations, a little bit about your company, instead of just placing basic information there, provide some in-depth information that will not only help your customers choose the right services, but search engines will have plenty of data on your site to pull from. As a rule of thumb, lots of relevant content to what you offer is a very good thing and will typically improve your search engine statistics. In addition to the pages that you would typically have, add a blog to your site. Here, you can provide updated information about any new services you may offer, or just write helpful posts that your customers will enjoy. As search engines such as Google want to see lots of fresh new content, your SEO rankings will increase and your customers will have a reason to keep coming back to your site to check for new updates.
Sites linking to you
This particular SEO ranking factor is one to be cautious of. When a website places a link to your site, it shows search engines like Google that people are aware of its existence and that it may have useful information on it. This is good for your rankings and over time, you will naturally acquire links to your site. Too many links, from non-relevant sites can, however, bring your ranking down or even punish you. You will want to encourage people to link to your site if they find it useful, but there are many link-building services out there that will actually bring your ranking down more than it will increase it. As long as people naturally link to your content, and you are not using tactics such as purchasing links that could potentially hurt your rankings.
The current trend on the internet is social media and it shows no signs of slowing down. Now, search engines such as Google are paying attention to what its users share and are using that information to locate trends. If you share a to your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, and they all share it to their friends, your website will gain some pretty large traction quite fast. Google realizes this as will use it in consideration for your rankings. If a lot of people like a page on your site, there is a good chance that they will also like your website when searching as well.
How to track your progress
There are tools available for SEO that will allow you to track how your site is ranking, and give you more insight into how you can improve it. The most widely used and highly recommended by us would be both Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. Google Webmaster Tools will allow you to view your ranking over time to see the number of impressions versus the number of clicks that are coming into your site. From there, you can also see how many pages on your site are indexed, if Google has a problem with accessing your site, or if there may be other factors that adversely affect your ranking. Google Analytics does a good job of analyzing the individual visitors that are coming into your site. From within Google Analytics, you can see information such as where the users are coming from, what they do when they visit your site, and what keyword they searched for to get there. In the SEO world, the more data that you have about your customers, the better.
Where do you go from here?
Now that you have a solid domain, excellent content, a good social media following, and plenty of data to show, where do you go from here? Well, as the SEO world is changing every day, your next steps can vary. You will want to continue to work and tweak your site for optimal results. If you have a business, learn how to create a Google My Business page. SEO is largely a numbers game that you will need to dig in deep to find true success, but with a good solid foundation under your feet, you should now be able to hit the ground running.