The Importance of SEO Basics
Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about increasing website traffic by making the site more visible in search results.
But, if you have a website, you probably know what SEO is.
While you may not have done it, you have almost certainly heard of it.
If you need convincing about the basic importance of SEO, here are some surprising statistics:
- When someone clicks on a link in search results, 67% of the time, it is one of the top five sites on the list.
- More than 71% of searches result in users clicking on a link on the first page of search results.
- HTTP vs. HTTPS — in SEO, the clear winner, 93% of Google-facilitated traffic goes to HTTPS sites.
- Nearly 75% of SEO experts prioritize content marketing.
- Mobile searches account for more than half of all web traffic.
- Nearly 30% of all searches are performed using voice, not screen.
- Google unofficially states that 46% of all Google searches are local.
Statistics like that show that you should follow at least basic SEO best practices.
This article will encourage you to take your first steps by observing that basic SEO practices can result in a huge increase in traffic to your website. In this article, we will explain 3 important basic SEO steps and 5 advanced techniques, one of which can improve the performance of your website.
There’s no reason to delay any longer, let’s get into the three most important things you can do to get more traffic to your website!
SEO Basics Can Have a Big Impact
It is impossible to overstate the importance of taking at least basic SEO steps to increase your website traffic. With minimal effort, you can go from having zero SEO to a strategy that gives you huge benefits.
With two steps involving the layout of your site and one focusing on links to and from your site, this section covers the minimum a site owner should do to improve their SEO.
1. On-Page SEO
On-page optimization involves improving certain elements on your site so that search engines can better understand your content and structure, enabling them to rank your website properly in search results.
Here is a list of the five basic important on-page SEO factors:
- Use the right keywords. To rank highly for a particular search term, your site must include those terms. They’re called keywords, and it’s important to analyze your offerings and your target audience when choosing them. Define a list of customer characteristics, then use that profile, along with one of the many available keyword research tools, to generate relevant keywords for your site. One tool you can use is Ubersuggest, which lets you enter the keyword “seed” and get a list of variations based on real-world searches.
- Security. 93% of the traffic that Google facilitates is to HTTPS sites and they are committed to making it 100% in the near future. Search engines take security very seriously and a secure website will always rank higher in search results than one that doesn’t.
- Let the titles and headings do the work for you. Search engines place greater importance on the keywords you include in your title and title than those placed in the body of your blog post or product description, for example. Be sure to include your highest rated keywords in your title and headings.
- Ensure fast page load times. Search engines penalize slow loading sites by lowering them in search rankings. If your page is loading slowly, it could be because the image is too large, so controlling the file size of your photos is very important.
- Don’t miss SEO standards. It is very important to keep up with changes in how Google analytics ranks websites. At least once every year, Google updates something about how sites will rank in search results. They can change the character limit for meta descriptions, modify how the phone-friendly design affects rankings, or change their algorithms regarding video content, to name just a few examples. Business owners who know the basics of SEO schedule quick searches several times each year to find out about changing SEO standards.
2. Content Marketing
Search engines and humans use something called perceived authority as a key factor when judging a website. Both look for indications that the site offers a high level of knowledge and expertise in a particular area.
If a website has poor content, it will not appear to search engines as having authority in its niche, so the site will be penalized and pushed lower in the rankings. On the other hand, publishing high-value content that helps your site’s visitors will rank you higher in search results.
Visitors to a site care as much about quality content as search engines do, so by making sure your site has great content, you’ll win twice. Keep your content current, detailed, and accurate, and focus on making it highly useful to your target audience.
Some examples of how to improve your site’s content include creating regular blog posts that address your customers’ interests, ensuring your product or service description contains better detail than your competitors, or publishing video tutorials or how-to articles that educate your audience.
This is not a one time task, SEO demands fresh content. Try to publish something useful right away, but be sure to create a content calendar, so you’ll regularly add blog posts or update your product page.
3. Off-Page SEO
For the most part, off-page optimization involves two things: external links, or links from your site to other sites, and backlinks, which are links to your site from other sites. Paying attention to both can help your site rank higher in search results.
The key is to build a link network, where businesses and other information sites link to your website. In reciprocity, your site will include links to sites that link to you. Backlinks and external links add value to your site, but only if they link from and to a reputable source. Low quality links will hurt your rankings.
Creating a link network involves reaching out to other businesses and organizations for guest posts, with agreements to include reciprocal links to each other’s content.
In some ways, the effective use of social media to promote your site can fall under the category of off-page SEO, but we’ll cover that later in this article.
Improve Your SEO for More Traffic
Seeing that basic SEO involves only three very doable steps, we hope you’ll feel inspired to look for other ways to improve your site’s performance.
For better results, take your SEO efforts extra with these five additional techniques.
4. Optimize for Smartphone
Even if you’re not one of the millions of people who are glued to their smartphones most of the day, your prospects and customers definitely are.
Google knows that and its search engine has loved mobile-friendly sites for a long time. Sites that are easy to use on mobile will rank higher in search results.
You can find out how usable your current site design is on mobile devices. Just check with Google Mobile Friendly Test. You’ll get reports on how easy it is for users to work with the site on their phone or tablet.
To make sure your site is more mobile-friendly, aim for something called responsive design, where there is one version of your content that displays differently depending on the device used to access it. Most website themes have responsive designs built in, but some of it is up to you. Consider how you can make your most valuable content more accessible to mobile users. Think mobile when choosing fonts and applying functional elements, ensuring buttons and menus are easy to click with your finger on a mobile device screen.
5. Found by Voice Search
The search bar is still king, but starting a voice search by shouting, “Hey, Google,” waking up Siri, or asking Amazon for Alexa is becoming more common every day. With a few actions, we have reached the point that 30% of all web browsing and searches are done without touching the screen. This search isn’t just about getting driving directions or looking for trivia — most millennials use voice search as the first step to making an online purchase.
Included in the voice search results is about the authority of your site. Only sites that are considered experts in the niche will be returned.
A large number of voice search responses come from featured snippets, search results that are highlighted in Google listings. They appear near the top of the page, so they get a lot of attention, but they aren’t easy to come by. Your website must be considered a high authority site, and your content needs to directly address the requests that are submitted.
If you can make your site recognized as a leading provider of accurate information on a given subject, there is a good chance that you will enter people’s voice search results.
6. Use Video, Search Engines Love It
Video has become the preferred content format among web users and can have a huge impact on SEO.
A site with videos on its homepage and in its blog posts is 53% more likely to appear on the first page of Google search results!
And then there’s the video-centric section of Google search results. Mixed with organic search results will be relevant image and video results from high authority sites.
Video results will be included in the results for many types of searches, especially those starting with “how to.” Featured videos can gain an important position at the top of search results pages, while thumbnails that appear as part of another list will grab the user’s attention.
It should be noted that every video in Google search results will be a YouTube video. Google owns YouTube and makes full use of it when serving relevant search results.
When you publish video content, be smart about using keywords in video titles, tags and descriptions. That way, the search will return the video even if the searcher is not explicitly looking for the video content.
7. Local Target
Google and other search engines understand very well what we are looking for and provide information that accurately answers our questions. What’s more, they’ve gotten better at presenting information in a useful way, ensuring that their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) include features that improve access to the information we need.
Google’s SERP starts with ads at the top, then shows local results and snippets, and then comes organic results.
Local results account for search locations and, for many businesses, they are the key to getting more website traffic. Users who search for “anything near me” or explicitly include a location they are interested in will get local search results.
An important way to get high-quality listings in local search results is to take advantage of Google My Business (GMB). This is a service that Google provides to business owners so they can manage what appears when users search for their business name. Keeping your GMB information up to date will allow Google to include your listing in local search results when people search for businesses in your niche.
8. Utilizing Social Media
In the world of SEO, social media is a bit of an outlier. While Google can index Tweets in search results, it’s as far as the relationship between true SEO and social media is concerned. In other words, for now, social signals don’t directly affect your ranking in Google search results.
However, while social media is not a ranking factor, it can have a huge impact on the performance of your website. Social media content itself is indexed, so if a user search returns one of your Facebook posts, for example, a click to your site, via a social media post, could happen immediately. In that scenario, it’s not your website that’s listed, so SEO isn’t the right word for it, but if the result is new site visitors, who cares what you call it!
One of the main reasons social media helps websites is because social media users share information with each other. You can encourage followers to share your posts with their friends by taking advantage of what they find interesting. Factor in your ideal customer age, gender, interests, location, and other demographic details.
It’s also important to include social media buttons on your site. When a visitor clicks on the icon and posts about your site, all of their followers will become new potential visitors.
Improve Your Site’s SEO Now!
A few small on-page SEO efforts, publishing stellar content, and getting some high-quality backlinks. That’s really all you need to worry about when it comes to basic SEO and the payoff can be huge, namely a massive increase in new traffic!
With a little effort, like making sure your site is smartphone-friendly and taking action to be found in local searches, you can get bigger results.
We hope this article encouraged you to take the necessary steps to improve your site’s SEO.