SEO (shorthand for Search Engine Optimization) can be mistaken as something reserved for the experts. The acronyms, the measurement, the minutiae that goes into every page - we get how it can be intimidating.
While it would take the classic 10,000 hours to understand and master every aspect of SEO, we believe that you can receive an outsized portion of the benefits with just a brief understanding of the basics. Take the next few minutes and let us help demystify the world of search engine optimization for you:
SEO is made up of different keywords and phrases throughout a website-- both on public facing pages and in different backend locations. These keywords help search engines such as Google and Bing understand what your site pages are about so they can serve your content to the appropriate audiences. In short - if you pay attention to optimizing your site, there is a greater chance of getting web traffic for free.
Answers differ widely here, but we encourage you to think about it like this: good SEO will give you for free, what you have to pay for through ad services like Google AdWords. Paying to show up in searches is a short term solution, but building your SEO is for the long term. It takes search engines a while to index your content in the beginning, so getting the SEO basics down quickly, and then supplementing with paid search is a good approach that provides both immediate and long term solutions.
We will keep it to the four things that will take you just a couple of hours to do.
Make sure search engines can “crawl” your site. Imagine search engines read just like us. If you want to make sure that they read your site, you need to give them the book. This comes in the form of submitting your sitemap. This is a quick blueprint for Google and Bing to understand your site layout and content. Doing this will take 5 minutes and will improve your ability to be seen by 10x vs. sites that haven’t done this. Submit your map to Bing here and Google here. They will walk you through it!
Write content to answer the questions customers may have. Think about the way that you search for answers online in your everyday life. Often you pose questions to search engines looking for a response. The best way to do this-- look at your own history on Google and you’ll see a definite trend. Now put your business or site in this context and imagine the questions your most qualified customers would have. If your company sells flowers arrangements, someone searching for “what is the best gift to bring to a party” is a perfect customer for you. A short but sweet article on “Why flowers are the ultimate party gift” would put you right in line for conversion.
Get your page links and keywords on point. The more outside sites that link to your site, the higher search engines think of you. This means the more pieces of press, listing sites, and blogs that mention you the better. This can be made even better by having the appropriate keywords in your articles and in your URLs. Write down the 10 words that best describe your business, and then plug them all into Google’s keyword planner here. It will give you recommendations of other keywords to use. Get a list of the top 25 words and phrases together and make sure these are all over your URLs, article titles, and in text.
Know your H1’s and H2’s. These aren’t just fun formatting changes that your site allows you to make. Marking text as H1 or H2 in a blog post (you can see this option in formatting where you also find bold or italic) notes to search engines what is the most and second most important thing on the page. H1 and H2 is really that literal. Think back to point two here: the title “Why flowers are the ultimate party gift” would be your H1 text as it is what is most important. Something like “buying flowers can be quick and easy”, can be H2 as it could answer a secondary question about speed or ease of a product. Take care of this across all pages and blog posts and you’ll be in a great spot.
The first pass of a site that is already made will take a couple of hours, but once you keep the basics in mind - SEO will actually help save you time in the ideation and planning for your site. Think like a searcher and answer the questions you know you’re most qualified customers will have. It’s that easy!