A Beginners guide to SEO

In the nebulous world of the World Wide Web, there are certain areas that are often shrouded in mystery to the average business owner. When it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization), there seems to be a common misconception about its relative importance in developing a strong online presence.

IMHO the benefits of good SEO practices are infinite and ignoring them can and will cost your business tons of money in lost revenue and traffic to its website.

So first things first, what exactly is SEO?

In its most basic sense, SEO is the practice of making your website easier to find online for the average user/consumer.

Using major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo is the primary way most people find websites related to what they are looking for. For example, a quick search on Google for Volcom skateboards brought up 574,000 results for me. That is a massive amount of websites related to a pretty specific product!

Add to the fact that most people do not look past the first page of their search result, you should be aiming to get your webpage to the top 1–5 results of its intended keyword search.

There are 2 ways that you can achieve this — paid ads and or organic results.

You almost always want to choose to do this through organic results. Why? Well for one, according to Bluehost SEO, 94% of people will click on organic search results over paid. And you will gain more credibility over the websites that had to pay to get to the top of list.

So, lets get into the meat of things. What are the top ways you can achieve this?

  1. Targeted Keywords

Using specific keywords appropriately within relevant content on your website is one of the easiest and basic ways to get more search engine visibility. High quality articles, posts and pages add legitimacy and value to your website, and in return help improve your overall search rank.

2. Backlinks

Backlinks are basically links to your website, posted on other websites. This could include news articles, social media and blog posts.

As a cautionary note, you must always be aware of the quality of your link origins, as not all sources are created equal. Always choose quality over quantity here, as the legitimacy of the link website will have a direct impact on your ranking. Example — A mention on amateurgardeners.com probably won’t garner you the same results as being featured on HuffPost.

3) Social Media

Sites that are relevant and popular on social media are given more credibility and preference for your ranking. Small things like a retweet from a large influencer or a shares from multiple friends go a long way to boost your sites search engine popularity. So get out there and start being social online!

4) Device Responsiveness

Quite simply, your website should be as easy to use on a smart phone as it is on a computer. Why? For starters the amount of users on smartphones just overtook the amount of users on desktops. That’s a big deal! and google knows this. If people can find and navigate your website on phones with ease, that bodes very well for your search engine ranking.

5) Site Security

This might sound like a no brainer, but most people won’t feel comfortable using your website if they don’t feel safe on it; especially if there is some kind of payment involved. Google feels the same way too.

To remedy this, make sure to install a SSL certificate on your site to encrypt any data communicated between the user and the website. Translation — Private information like usernames and credit card information are protected.

Keep in mind, good SEO is an on-going process and can take some time to fully implement. But sticking to the core principles will pay off ten-fold in the long run.

With these basic methods in mind, you can now decide whether you want to hire a SEO specialist for your online business, or tackle them yourself.