How to SEO (How to What?)
First off, let’s get started by answering a couple of other questions that tend to be unknown territory for the average Joe, which nonetheless, are fundamental towards having a successful online presence and good visibility from our audience of interest.
The questions we’ll be answering are:
- What is SEO?
- Why do Websites Require SEO?
So, What is SEO?
SEO, search engine optimization, is one of several branches related to having proper online presence. In this particular case, it is related to successfully having a website appear in organic results based on the search queries that are typed into the different search engines that exist out there.
Google is the main player in most countries, yet there are other countries (representing huge audiences) in which the main search engines are others; such is the case of Russia where the majority of people use Yandex1 or China where most people tend to use Baidu.2
Being able to rank high in search engines such as Google and Yahoo generally means that you will be able to reach an audience that is actively engaging (through their search queries) with the service, product, message, or idea that you are attempting to promote.
Make Sure to Know Your Audience!
Since we are living in an era where most of us have access to all of the commonly available information to mankind at the reach of our fingertips (e.g. social media and search engines), we usually rely heavily on our peers’ opinions when it comes to rating everything and anything. Whether it is a restaurant, a video-game, a pair of sneakers, a movie, a college program, or even an ideology or belief system. Pretty much, name it and if it exists it’s certainly been searched for online before.
The search queries that we use on the different devices that we have at our disposition to try to find information on the web, such as our computers, our phones, or our tablets are direct indicators of our interests. This, of course, also applies to products or services in which we may have a commercial interest. Although it’s important to state that it does not generally begin with a commercial intent. On the contrary, the process usually begins with us doing informational queries, trying to obtain general information, which eventually turn into transactional queries.
A simple example of this might be User A looking at reviews on basketball shoes (i.e. how comfortable or durable other people consider the shoes to be) and User B looking for opinions regarding make-up products. These queries could for instance later evolve into transactional queries such as:
“XYZ Model Shoe on sale”
“XYZ Model Shoe stores near me”
“Order Generic Brand Make-Up online”
It’s very important for us to have a very good understanding of who our audience is and what type of informational queries they might be doing, along with great and in depth product and/or service knowledge in order to give them a high quality response with the content that we create
within our websites.
Knowing who our audience is, and being able to address their needs and demands with our content at the different stages of their search queries (from informational to transactional) is only a fraction of the work that needs to be done and content is without a doubt the most important aspect of our SEO strategy; however, it’s not the only aspect, and not complementing our content strategy with the implementation of the right technical approach, including the site’s architecture and crawl-ability, server configurations, code (minification), resource (multimedia compression) optimization, and SEO On-Page Optimization will mean that no matter how good the content strategy that we’ve come up with is, the efforts will probably be in vain.
Search Engines Have a Tough Job. Let’s Help Them Out!
Search engines have a heavy load on their shoulders as they carry the responsibility of providing instant and highly relevant results to answer the questions we ask them. Not only does the content have to be relevant, enticing and engaging for the audience we are trying to reach, but also, from a technical SEO perspective, we have to make sure we are communicating properly with the bots (algorithms or spiders are other names that you will commonly run into) and also be careful to follow standard SEO best practices, otherwise, we may run the risk of only reaching a fragment (if we are lucky) of our targeted audience due to the lack of visibility our website will have.
Finally, How to SEO.
Let’s delve right into it. Some of the more common things to optimize are:
robots.txt – The robots.txt file is used primarily to manage crawler traffic to your site, it tells search engine crawlers which pages or files the crawler can or can’t request from your site.3
sitemap – A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. Search engines read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.4
broken links (including 4XX error codes) – Broken links lead users from one website to non-existent web pages. Multiple broken links negatively affect user experience and may worsen search engine rankings because crawlers may think that your website is poorly maintained or coded.5
On-Page SEO – There are a bunch of factors in which you need to work on for your On-Page optimization, though the following are the more relevant ones: meta-descriptions, title-tags, header tags (H1, H2, H3 and making proper use of their hierarchy), images (both by compression and making use of its attributes – Alt Text).
If this is starting to feel a little too technical, then your web master should be able to help you sort all of these things out. Nevertheless, if you have the time and are interested there is a lot of valuable material out there that can help you achieve optimum level knowledge and be able to successfully position your website against your competition.
If none of the solutions above are applicable to you, then you should consider reaching out to an agency that specializes in SEO in order to make sure you’re not staying behind because the worse approach you could take towards your SEO is having a non-existing one!