For many of us, SEO seems like a mysterious and confusing formula that determines the success or failure of our business. In a way, it’s true. SEO is THAT important – it’s the most practical way to drive traffic to your website. As we know, website traffic directly translates to sales and success.
The good news is that SEO is not the black box it appears to be. If you understand how your website is indexed by search engines then optimizing content for search algorithms becomes easy to understand.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In its essence, this is what you are doing; you are optimizing your content to:
1) Make your content discoverable and understandable by search engines like Google.
2) Prove your authority and credibility.
How do we do this? There are three primary ways – keywords, linking strategies, and visitor activity. In part 1 of this series, we will take a look at keywords.
Keywords are words and phrases that accurately describe what people are searching for. For a search engine to catalog, rank, and serve your pages to real people, the keywords you place in your content must match what those people are typing (or speaking) into their search.
These days, keywords tend more towards full length phrases and question and less towards single words. Phrases used to search the web are called long-tail keywords. Before you write anything for your website, think about what questions people are asking and create a list of long-tail keywords that people might use to find information on the topic you are writing about. A good practice is to jot down ten to thirty long-tail keywords for each article then select three to five to focus your article on.
Once you have your set, select one to be your primary keyword. This phrase or word should be strategically placed so in appears in the title, meta-description, sub-titles, first paragraph, and a few times in the body with the correct destiny and proximity. You should also utilize the primary keyword in your image titles and alts as well.
Pepper your content with the keywords you have selected, but make sure you don’t trade readability and quality for keyword quantity. Write for people not for computers. Creating content full of keywords simply to trick search engines is called keyword stuffing and it doesn’t work. Search algorithms are very sophisticated and recognize natural language. The priority of search engines is to deliver the best, most informative, and most enjoyable experience to readers.
When selecting keywords, be mindful of the competition for your chosen keyword. For example, the word “hotels” gets over 30 million searches per month. You heard right, 30 million! You aren’t going to rank if you’re shooting for the keyword “hotels”. Instead, think about how to drill down into the needs of your readers to find the least competitive and most relevant query. To return to our example, perhaps your reimagined long-tail keyword is, “boutique hotels with claw-foot tubs”. You have to think in SEO.