What is SEO?

Search engines, namely Google, use algorithms to rank what comes up when you put in a search. We try to optimize our content to appeal to these algorithms with SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

SEO is simply the act of attempting to improve search engine rankings by showing relativity and their authority. Higher ranking can mean more web traffic, and more web traffic means a better shot at creating conversions.

Relativity is what Google deems what you would most likely want to see in regards to a given search term. Authority has to do with the number and quality of links from other pages. It’s kind of like an Internet recommendation—the sites with more and better links have more credibility than ones that have fewer links.

 

Mobile-friendly

However, relativity and authority are not the only factors Google’s algorithm cares about. The developers at Google are always working to update the algorithm so Google becomes an even better tool to us. Since everyone started using smartphones, Google decided a couple of years ago to add “mobile-friendliness” into their algorithm.

That means sites will be ranked lower on Google if their site doesn’t have a readable and easily usable layout on a smaller screen.

So, how do you optimize your rankings on Google?

  1. By creating content that uses words and phrases people use when searching for products and services related to your industry
  2. By having your content linked and shared

In simple terms, you’re trying to establish relevance and authority within your industry on the search engine.

 

Keyword Research

When you create content that really offers something useful to the market of interest, you’re doing a great service to your target market. They’re getting good advice from you—for FREE! People love getting valuable information for free.

To make this valuable and free information more accessible, we do research to find out which keywords and key phrases are most optimal to be used in your content so that people who are interested will have an easier time finding it. Hence, more traffic!

You might be thinking “well, hey I know what words and phrases my target market is using. I’ll just load my content up with these words!” Not a good idea. This is called keyword stuffing, and Google will penalize your site in the search rankings if too many of the same words or phrases end up on the page together, or too close to each other.

Google isn’t stupid. The algorithm helps it read your content so it can rank it for user experience. Ultimately, search engine ranking all comes down to user experience.

Keywords are just one on-page factor that contributes to SEO. Other things to consider include:

  • Slug (this is the part of the URL that comes after the site name.)
  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • Header tags
  • Alt tags (tags on images)
  • Internal links

 

Create Authority by Creating Value

When you get more traffic, more people will want to share the valuable information you have to offer. Google will take note of this and say “Hey, this site must have something of value to people, we better put it up higher in the rankings so it’s easier to find!”

And just like that, you’ll have more authority on Google. But you can’t just be shared or linked to by any old website. You could have 10 really poor quality websites linking to your content and that wouldn’t mean as much to Google as one really high-quality website linking to your content.

 

Linking Structure

In fact, if you do have poor quality websites linking to your content, Google might actually penalize you! Why you might ask? Because years ago before Google ranked sites on quality, everyone was trying to get as many links to their website as they could to manipulate search results.

Google caught on to this and put a stop to it. Now you can’t have any old spammy site linking to you. You have to have sites with good authority linking to you. Just like with people, in the search engine ranking world, you are only as good as the company you keep.

This is called backlinking. In addition to backlinking, other off-site ranking factors can include:

  • Citations
  • Reviews
  • Social traffic
  • Paid search results

(Yes, your paid ads will affect your organic rankings!)

 

Conclusion

Don’t get on Google’s naughty list, do SEO the right way. (Also known as white hat SEO.) Create valuable and useful content with researched keywords and phrases, strong links, and thoroughly optimized on-page elements—content so good that people have to share!

9 Tools for Optimizing your Website

When it comes to marketing in 2017, you want your website in tip-top shape for your users. Your website is your digital storefront. A slow-functioning site, poor user experience, or less than stellar content might as well be a dingy, unkempt shop that has your name and reputation on it.

But let’s be real— when you’re busy running a business, it’s difficult to stay on top of your website. Even if you outsource your web management to save yourself time, you can run into snags. Not every freelancer or agency can be trusted to produce the quality work you deserve. Going back to improve outsourced work is a waste of your time and money.

So how do you manage to optimize your website when you’re busy with clients and the thousands of other things you do to keep your business growing?

Luckily for you, there are some tools out there to help make the task of managing your website easier. Here are nine tools you should know about:

1. Copyscape
Whether you outsource your content or have it written in-house, it’s important that your content is not plagiarized. But you can hardly take the time to double-check by Googling chunks of your content line by line.

Enter Copyscape.

It’s a cloud-based content scanner that tells you how unique your content is, and whether or not it’s duplicated from some other content out there on the web. While the free version of Copyscape won’t scan unpublished content, the paid version allows you to scan content in draft form.

2. SEO for Chrome
If you’re a Chrome user, you know how useful toolbar extensions can be. SEO for Chrome allows you to instantly check up on your search engine ranking compared to your competitors. You can also analyze SEO to analyze PageRank.

SEO is available for the Firefox toolbar as well.

3. Google Webmaster Tools
This is an incredible free tool that sets you up for success when it comes to SEO. It includes very helpful features such as HTML improvements, a structured data testing tool, removes URLs, and a data highlighter. This is an especially helpful tool because it’s made by Google, the number one authority on search engine rankings.

4. Open Site Explorer (formerly SEOMoz)
This tool created by Moz offers a wide selection of optimization tools.
Some notable features include:
● Quickly finding backlinks
● Link analyzation with data demonstrating how those links can influence your ranking
● Competitor site comparison
● Free for a limited number of queries per day

5. Google Adwords Keyword Planner
This tool is the one-stop shop for figuring out what keywords you want to use. The Keyword Planner is perceptive and user-friendly, providing a rough estimate of traffic for each keyword, a mix and match keyword planning feature, and the ability to save multiple keyword lists.

6. KISSMetrics
Google Analytics is great for giving you insight into your website, but KISSMetrics takes it up a level. KISSMetrics gives you data on who specifically is visiting your website and taking action. This information is far more valuable and takes your insights deeper.

7. CrazyEgg
Have you ever wondered how a visitor’s eyes move across your web page? CrazyEgg gives you heat maps of your website that gives you insight into where your visitors click and how far down the page they scroll. This is especially helpful for determining where to place calls to action on your page.

8. Test my Site by think with Google
Did you know that most sites lose half their visitors while the site is loading? You can retain visitors simply by speeding up the load time of your site. Test my Site allows you to plug in your URL for free and gives you feedback on how fast your site is compared to others, and suggestions on how you can speed up your load time.

9. Sumo
Sumo is software as a services (SaaS) that helps you grow website traffic and conversions. This software works effectively to build lists of leads by placing unique pop-ups and share buttons in optimal locations on your pages. Sumo also features heat maps and real-time visitor analytics.

Conclusion
Don’t get caught with a less-than-optimized website. Take advantage of these tools, especially the free ones. If the ones listed above don’t fit your fancy, there are a plethora of other tools out there to improve your website.