SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a term thrown around a lot, especially by those who don’t really understand it. At the simplest level, you want to get as much targeted organic search traffic as possible to your website, whether you’re promoting a service, a book, or just trying to get a blog out there.
The rules of Google change often, and you have to adjust accordingly if you want to keep getting the same levels of traffic.
Why SEO benefits you
It’s an investment, whether you hire this out, or do it yourself (even the basics). At the very least, there’s no reason any knowledgable website administrator shouldn’t be doing the bare minimum here. It’ll put you ahead of the vast majority of those who don’t.
Once you are up and running correctly, you can get larger and larger amounts of organic search traffic for certain keywords. Do you sell fitness software? Then write a bunch of fitness articles on commonly searched terms to attract your audience. I’m sure anyone can think of common questions that they search for that are applicable to your website or business.
Entire businesses have been built off of search traffic. Think about how often you Google search pretty much everything. Anyone who is a customer, whether it is for artisanal soap or wind turbines, does the same thing.
Let’s get started.
When you search in a search engine for something like “best taco stands in NYC”, it will go through its index of websites and find the most relevant ones. But how does the search engine actually know what is most relevant?
The answer is a bit complicated, but you largely have to be very clear about the content on your site, and how you are using certain keywords. To begin, you have to ensure that your meta description contains the keywords you are targeting in a concise manner (less than 160 characters). Here’s a great article on meta descriptions.
This is how things will look once you search:
After this, you should focus on making sure that all of your images have alt tags. Here’s also a great article on alt tags. This will help significantly with the search engine knowing what’s actually on your site.
Finally, your headings and main content need to be relevant to the targeted keywords. The search engines will deem things in larger headings (h1) as more important than body text or smaller headings. This is a good chance to practice proper hierarchy — which you should be doing anyway. Finally, ensure that your body content is also relevant to what kind of users you are targeting. Naturally, websites that are about coffee beans will have a lot of mentions of “coffee”, “coffee bean”, “coffee grinder”, etc. that are relevant to interested users.
Make sure that you submit your website and sitemap to Google Search Console. This takes pretty much no time at all and can really help out with not only your rankings, but also with data on the searches that are driving the most clicks to your site. You can also make sure that everything is healthy link-wise, that there are no major crawl errors, and so on. This tool is a no brainer.
Finally, you need to know what searches are driving traffic to you. For this, you need to make sure that you have Google Search Console set up, and preferably linked to Google Analytics. In general, data is king with any kind of digital marketing, so it’s good habit to be keeping track of which landing pages are being hit the most with search traffic.
In general, Squarespace makes it quite easy to submit sitemaps, check search traffic, add alt tags & meta descriptions, and do most of what is in this section.
Another huge factor in how you rank and how much search traffic you’ll get is by being linked from other sites. The more backlinks, the better. And the larger / more authoritative the website linking to you, the better. Not only will you get traffic normally from these links, but they’ll also help greatly in your search rankings.
Naturally, this part has no real formula. If you get featured in blogs, or put your links on social media (YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.), then everything helps.
Content marketing is also a huge factor in how much search traffic you’ll be seeing. First off, you’ll have a greater amount of pages, images, or videos for users to interact with. This helps with your brand greatly. Secondly, the searches for terms used in your content will drive more traffic to your site.
For instance, blogging is huge, and has built entire businesses from the ground up. Let’s say you’re a personal finance mobile app. You start making blog posts about all matters in personal finance, such as mortgages, credit cards, and so on. People search for all of that, and they’re probably going to be the kinds of people you’d want on your site and to ultimately be users of your app.
Videos and podcasts are also great, because while they don’t necessarily help with direct search traffic as much as blogging might, they help build your brand dramatically, give personality to your business, and can have their own fanbases entirely. Back to the personal finance app, if you had a video series of commonly asked questions, you’ll likely get a lot of traffic just on YouTube for them. Ultimately, they’ll go to your site as well.
In terms of next steps, you just need to get started and see what is working in your particular instance. Data will be your friend here, so check on what searches are driving traffic to landing pages, what terms are giving impressions (but not clicks) to your site, and everything in between. Good luck!