In a nutshell, SEO refers to a strategic process that’s intended to increase a website or web page’s rankings within search engine results. For example, if you run a painting company in New York City and have your own website, of course you want potential customers searching for a local painter to stumble across your site first. When using a search engine to find a local painter, a prospective customer is likely to type in a query along the lines of “painting company New York City.” Upon doing this, they’ll instantly get thousands of results returned to them, but the companies they’re most likely to work with will be the results that show up on the first page.
SEO refers to the strategies used by business owners and their marketing teams to ensure the highest search engine ranking possible. There are a few basic principles that come into play when it comes to a website’s search engine ranking.
A backlink refers to a link on another website that directs people to your website. Backlinks establish credibility because they indicate that somebody found the information you posted on your website to be valuable and helpful. In turn, they’re great for boosting your search engine results and your site traffic. However, it’s important that the backlinks you receive are legitimate and genuine, as today’s search engine algorithms will be able to determine if they’re not.
Furthermore, when you post content to your website (whether it be a blog post or even some basic web page content), you’re encouraged to backlink to other reputable sites and resources where appropriate.
In addition to backlinks, the strategic use of keywords can also come in handy when it comes to boosting your SEO. Specifically, incorporating keywords or phrases that your prospective visitors are most likely to search for can help to increase your rankings for those terms. Going back to the painting company example cited above, naturally incorporating common search terms such as “painting company New York City” into your web content would be a wise decision from an SEO keyword standpoint.
However, it’s important to be careful with your use of keywords. They should be incorporated as naturally as possible into your content and should never appear spammy. Otherwise, this can actually hurt your SEO more than anything else. There are some helpful tools out there, such as Google AdWords, that can help you conduct research on popular search terms and find out what your prospective customers are searching for when they come to sites like yours.
Another important component of any SEO strategy is your web page’s meta description. Ideally, each page on your site should have its own meta description, which essentially provides a short summary of the page itself. Meta descriptions are shown immediately underneath your website’s link on the search engine, so a well-written meta will encourage readers to click on the link and visit your site. For this reason, using engaging and actionable language in these descriptions is helpful.
Another commonly overlooked component of SEO is the image tag. For every image you have uploaded to your website, it should have its own HTML tag that identifies what it is. This way, the image can be indexed for search engine inquiries. All too often, website owners don’t think to tag their images and, as a result, they never get indexed and thus never show up in the search engine results.
These are just a few of the key components of search engine strategy, though this is by no means a comprehensive list.