If there was ever an overused word used to over complicate what it actually does it would be Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Search Engine Optimization
Everyone thinks they know what it is but few people actually understand how it works and how to really optimize your page for search engine results. There are two parts to Search engine Optimization. There is on-site SEO and off site SEO. On-page SEO is the easiest to affect as you can directly edit the content on your website although it only makes up about 25% of your actual overall SEO ranking. Off-page SEO is a little more tricky and is a more long term proposition.
How Search Engines Work
Search engines use web crawlers to scour the internet on a regular basis looking at every website, indexing them based on how relevant the content they find is compared to other sites that talk about the same thing. It used to be you could just dump a bunch of keywords in the meta section of your websites HTML but the search engines are way too sophisticated for that now. Google is constantly revising their algorithms to more accurately index all the different sites out there so that people get the best results possible when searching for a specific keyword. Because of this it is important that your Search Engine Optimization efforts are handled by someone who understands how they work and how to effectively affect your websites results over time.
What are Keywords
Keywords are what you type in to a search engine when trying to look for something specific online. The search engine then takes those keywords and matches them against sites they have indexed in order to return pages for you to review that match what you are looking for. It is important to focus your website pages around specific keywords. Take whatever the main topic for that page is and determine what someone would type in to find that page and make sure you include those keywords throughout the page. The web crawlers are smart though so you want to make sure the content you write is written for humans and not for them or you could actually hurt your search rankings. They take it personal when you try and trick them.
Content and Link Building
I hate to be repetitive but it all comes down to content. From the way your pages are written to the way you describe your images and videos. Search engine crawlers can’t see videos or pictures so you need to be sure that you are describing them accurately with the use of alt tags and descriptions. Search engines also like to see fresh content on a regular basis so be sure that you are updating your site with new blog articles, web pages and other interesting content that will let the search engines know that your site is relevant and should rank higher.
Speaking of creating content, link building is also a big part of search engine optimization. Your website is ranked based on web authority and getting more links means more authority. Where the links are coming from is also important because the more authority the site that is linking to you has the more authority the web crawlers pass on to you. Its like the who you know of the internet. Imagine that you are a big shot in your industry, the people around you are automatically considerd to be at a higher level because of the fact that they are hanging out with you. Search engines use a similar theory when indexing and ranking your pages based on the links you generate. Because of this it is important to create content that people want to link to. Videos, infographics, blog posts and press releases are all important areas to focus on for higher search engine rankings.
Tying it all together
On-page SEO makes up 25% of your overall search rankings and is entirely focused on how your website is structured, relevant keyword density, and the type of content on your site. When structuring your web pages it is important to identify 2-3 keywords per page and write your content around those keywords. Be sure to use Alt tags for all of your images and videos since the search engines cant see pictures or videos. You also dont want to write your content too keyword heavy. The web crawlers are smart enough to know what your page is about so a 2-5% keyword density is all you really need. As we mentioned before if you try to flood the article with keywords you run the risk of damaging your actual rankings.
You want to create content to entice people to link to your site. This builds your web authority and increases your search ranking. Social media is a great place to spread your content in order to generate links back to your site. In addition to creating the content it is important to analyze where your traffic is coming from, what content is generating links and then focus your eforts on doing more of that. You can also use paid advertising such as Google AdWords and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns to direct traffic to your site but organic Search Engine Results are more important and more effective for increasing your Search Engine Ranking.
Should I Hire a Professional?
Increasing your Search rankings is not something that is going to happen overnight and no blog article could ever fully explain all of the nuances involved in generating quantifiable results. There are companies out there that offer Search Engine Optimization services but you might be better served hiring a content creation company focused on all aspects of inbound marketing. It would be foolish to hire someone for the purpose of increasing your search rankings and not hire a well rounded full service inbound marketing professional who will not onlly increase your web traffic but handle all of your internet marketing efforts in one unified front.