By Stacey Marler, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager
Search engine optimization or what is commonly called “SEO” is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results. This is often referred to as receiving a "natural" or "organic" search result. SEO may also include different kinds of searches, including web content, videos, news, and images.
Think of SEO as being in a library and you want to find a book to learn Calculus. The librarian brings back a hundred books for you to pick from but how do you know which one is what you need. The librarian might mention that a certain book is checked out more than others or that this book is backed by the local college.
With this extra information, it may sway your decision on which book to pick. This is what the web search engines such as Google are checking for you. They rank pages based on many aspects, including webpage content, keywords, a mobile friendly platform, backlinks from other sites, webpage speed, etc.
Most businesses desire to be on the first page of Google, but they often are not aware of how to get their information to land on that first Google result page. The higher your page ranks with Google is how Google determines the order of web results when you search for a subject. The exact methods that Google uses to determine your ranking is a secret but there are common known methods to drive your website to the top of searches above your competitors. Below are some areas to check to verify you are getting the most from your website:
Did you create a website five years ago, but never created any additional content for it? This is a common issue for most business sites as it requires additional resources to continually update website content. Webpage content most likely is and will always be on the top of the list for strong SEO. Webpage content areas may include:
- Webpage text
- White pages
- E-commerce Product descriptions
- Discussion Boards
Is your website responsive or commonly called “mobile friendly”? On November 4, 2016, Google announced mobile-first indexing. With the large number of individuals accessing webpages via a mobile device; search engines see this as an important user experience and rank pages higher if they display pleasantly on mobile devices.
Does your website take a long time to load? Today you want to create the best user experience possible and speed is an important factor. Webpage speed can be affected by many factors. Areas to investigate are:
- Image optimization
- Server response time
- Browser caching
- Review unnecessary webpage code
Does your website have URLs that help search engines find you? Look at the examples below of some common URL naming structures for a services page:
Which website URL is easier to read and more descriptive? You may think that the bottom two look the same but the correct structure is to add a hyphen between your words on the URLs. It is hard to read when all the words are together and search engines also have a hard time reading them.
So, who is linking back to your content? In the previous example of being in a library; the librarian recommends a book because it was checked out more than others and another because it was supported by the local college. Think of this as backlinking. When another website sees your content and links back to it, this makes search engines realize your content is worth looking at.
Not all backlinks are rated with the same weight. Would you trust a stranger with a website recommendation or well-known company promoting a websites content? The same follows with search engines as they will value a backlink from a higher authority showing that there is a high-quality to the backlink.
Successful SEO will always be a set of parameters based on quality content, high ranking backlinks and satisfying user experiences. But with a little work to create and implement an action plan to improve your website, you will eventually see the benefits of customer conversions and higher webpage ranking. Remember, results aren’t instantaneous. SEO is a process, and it takes time for your changes and updates to produce results in Google. So be diligent in your updating and patient as you monitor analytics for positive results, and you’ll reap the benefits of a higher quantity and quality of visits to your website.