9/27/15 • What You Need To Know For Winning SEO

As published by The Gaston Gazette:

(9/27/15) BELMONT, N.C. –  Over the summer, we talked about creating an eye-catching website. Now we’ll address how your website can catch the eye of search engines for maximum SEO (search engine optimization) success.

According to SEO experts at Moz.com, search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing have “two major functions: crawling and building an index, and providing search users with a ranked list of the websites they’ve determined are the most relevant.” Search engines rapidly “crawl” through millions of web pages and save information in what’s essentially a massive index. When you type your query into Google, it scans its index to find relevant pages to match your search words and then delivers those pages to you based on popularity. Search engines are constantly adapting to the way people search the web and adjusting their search ranking algorithms accordingly. This algorithm is the complex matrix of computer formulas and processes that determines the very best answers to whatever your query may be.

Here are five SEO tips to land your web page in a coveted top spot on the search engine results page:

  • Content, content, content. The term “quality content” is used so often, it almost sounds cliché. But its importance can’t be underestimated in the world of SEO. This is the primary pillar on which all others rely. Knowing your user and the intricate nuances of what they’re searching for will separate high-ranking pages from those listed somewhere deep within the search engine results. Be useful, provide real value, and be hard to duplicate. If your website gives your user information they may not find elsewhere, you become an authority in your niche. And Google loves a reputable authority.
  • Know your keywords. According to SearchEngineLand.com, “the most important SEO factor after creating good content is good keyword research.” You need to know the search terms people are using in your field or industry, and then incorporate those words (or phrases) into your web page content. There are several free keyword research tools available, such as Google AdWords and Wordtracker, to give you an idea of keyword popularity or relevance. Also, keep in mind users are changing how they search. Mobile has surpassed desktop as the main means of searching with the average voice search being five or six words long instead of just one or two. Today’s search queries are getting longer and more specific. To compete, you must know what your user wants, how they search for you and what search terms they’re using to find you.
  • Build it better. Smart site architecture can directly impact your SEO results. When “crawling” websites, search engines rely on links to move from page to page. While most websites are easy to crawl, some architectural choices like the use of JavaScript or Flash can inadvertently hide links, blocking the search engine from seeing those pages. Other architectural roadblocks include slow site speed, lack of mobile-friendliness (a big no-no) and the ever-so-frustrating duplicate content. For example, offering a regular version of a page and also a print-optimized version creates a big problem because search engines don’t know which version to show searchers.
  • Know the language. Or at least know someone who does. HTML is the code used to create websites, and it contains important elements that affect a web page’s ranking. HTML title tags are like neon signs on web pages that attract search engines and explain what the page is about. Meta description tags are the short descriptions of the page we see in the search results (often with the search words in bold). A vague or non-descriptive tag on your web page will lead to low placement in the search results.
  • Leverage your links. They’re the popularity contests in SEO, but search engines know not all links are created equally. While we don’t know exactly how search engines rate links, we do know there’s an intricate algorithm to making this determination. How many trustworthy domains link to a page, whether or not the linked page has content authority (and is spam-free), and how often it’s shared and followed are all SEO-success factors. You can’t control how others describe your page as they link to it, but with effective branding and marketing, you can influence the “anchor texts” used as the descriptor. It’s like pointing at Publix and saying “groceries”; you wouldn’t go there looking for a car. In essence, this brings us back to content. Make sure it’s top-notch to get noticed.

Having a beautiful website is a great start, but it doesn’t do much for your business if search engines ignore it. To move ahead in the rankings, create your website in an SEO-friendly manner and then steadily hone your content. Remember, search engines determine rankings by what people look for and respond to. When users linger on your website, link to it and share pages, you’ve achieved SEO success.

Lyerly Agency’s President and CEO Elaine Lyerly and Executive Vice President and COO Melia Lyerly share their 35+ years of marketing, advertising, public relations and brand strategy experience with readers each month in a column published by The Gaston Gazette.