How to Make Search Engine Optimization Work for You

Written by Jeff Cole on November 10, 2016

If you don’t know what search engine optimization is, don’t worry—you’re not alone. But you should think about how to use it to help your business. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is basically the process of structuring or modifying your website in order to achieve greater visibility in non-paid search engine results. SEO can be a great tool to improve your digital presence and create a better website.

Why SEO?

While there are many techniques for increasing web traffic and attaining a more robust digital presence, SEO is among the most effective and low cost ways to do so. SEO allows your website to gain much greater visibility with a minimal amount of work.

As an added bonus, most of the changes that SEO requires will also improve the functionality and navigability of your website for visitors. So now that you’ve heard about the benefits of SEO, how do you get started?

Know your search engines

To begin, it is important to know how search engines operate and what they look for. While most search engines use complicated algorithms dependent on dozens of factors, there are simple steps you can take to rank higher in that algorithm. Google, the most used search engine on the web by a wide margin, recommends a few things to improve website rankings.

First, design the website primarily for your users. “Cloaking”, or presenting different content to search engines than users, is likely to hurt your ranking. Another step is to make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.

Watch your words

When titling your pages, use titles and tags that are both unique and descriptive. For each new page, create a separate title tag. This will increase the likelihood of your website coming up in a search engine. It will also allow your website to have a greater presence in more specific areas. For instance, a small travel blog probably won’t come up in a search for “travel”.

However, if someone searches for something specific, like budget eats in Guatemala, then a page from that blog that talks about that subject will be much more likely to come up. Creating specific titles and title tags will allow people to find your website much more easily.

URLs are important

Simple and easy to understand URLs, as opposed to random automated ones, can both help convey information about content and lead to better crawling of your pages by search engines. URLs with relevant words provides both users and search engines with valuable information about the page.

URLs also appear in search results, so having a simple one appears more attractive. Another thing to keep in mind when thinking about URLs is using a directory structure that is streamlined and uses descriptive directory names.

Learn to navigate

Creating an easy to navigate website not only provides your customers with a better experience, but also helps search engines determine the importance of the content on your website. Plan out your website navigation based on your homepage, and create navigational links from there.

Choose your content carefully

Content is also incredibly important for achieving a higher search engine ranking. First of all, provide original, concise, and easy-to-read content. Rehashed text, with grammatical errors or disorganized, is unlikely to be picked up by search engines or perused by users.

Instead, try to split text into logical chunks to help visitors and search engines find specific content faster. Another major thing to think about is the type of content you are providing. Rich media content like videos and photos are more likely to rank higher on search engines.

Be social

Having a social media presence can help create more channels through which customers can find your site through search engines. A forum feature, while not suitable for every website, can not only provide a place for user discussion, but also create more keywords for search engines to discover. User discussion usually centers around specific issues that will be picked up when people search for things related to that issue.

Remember, when it comes to SEO, design your website for users, not search engines. The more user-friendly a website, the more popularity and visibility it achieves.