SEO. Those three letters seem to pop up in every online marketing discussion. What is SEO you ask? Thank you for asking! We seriously love talking about this stuff. It stands for Search Engine Optimization but, aside from the acronym, what actually is SEO? Why does it matter? How does it relate to my business? Let’s dive into that!
First things first, let’s explain what a Search Engine (SE) is and how it works. Simply put, a Search Engine is an online program that recommends websites based on a question you ask it. Google is the kingpin of Search Engines, but you’ve likely heard of others like Bing, Yahoo, or Ecosia. But how does Google know what website will answer your question? Before you say it. No, magic is not the answer. Here’s how it works: Google has digital robots called crawlers. These crawlers look through the internet gathering information and content from websites and bring that info back to Google. Google then plugs the info into an algorithm that will spit out, and list (or Ranks) sites that are most likely to answer your question.
Let’s say you’re a dentist. People are searching Google for “How to relieve tooth pain” or “What’s the cost of braces”. Wouldn’t it be amazing for Google to recommend your website as a solution to their question? It would bring that person one step closer to being a paying client in your dental chair.
That’s why you should care about SEO.
SEO is optimizing your website so that when someone asks a question relating to your business, Google is more likely to recommend your website.
How the hell do you get your website to be first on Google!?
As you’ve probably guessed, there are a bunch of things you can do to optimize your website for Google’s criteria. Let’s start off by saying that the fine details of Google’s criteria are always changing, but stick with us. We are going to dive into the basics for you to rank higher, and go from there.
Google wants the user asking the question to have the best experience possible and will recommend the best sites for any question asked. So what are the first things Google considers when ranking sites?
#1) Load Speed: Waiting for a website to load is awful! Who wants to wait for what seems like an eternity to get an answer to their question? We’ll give you a hint: the answer is no one.
Keep an eye out for future articles from us on how to improve your load speed. Until then, here’s a site that can show you where you are at for load speed: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
#2) Mobile Friendliness: Did you know that close to 65% of people in Southern Alberta are using their cellphones daily for basic searches? Because of this, everyone loves a good mobile-friendly site. Now, believe it or not, even Google prefers mobile-friendly sites over non-mobile friendly. When your site is mobile-friendly it is much easier to rank higher on Google.
Wondering if your site is currently mobile friendly? Check out this site, https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
#3) Metadata/Schema: These two very similar terms often get easily confused. They are the aspects that help communicate vital points of your site to Google’s crawlers hopefully making it so that users can easily find what they are looking for the first time.
Metadata is the information behind the website that is written in a language that Google can easily understand. It is used to tell Google what is specifically being talked about on your page. Take, for example, an image. This isn’t typically something that Google understands so you need to be able to tell Google what the image is of. Google also has a hard time distinguishing between two items that might have the same name. For example, a Jaguar as in the vehicle or a jaguar as in the animal. Because of this, you need to make sure that you are telling Google specifically what is being represented on your page.
Schema, on the other hand, is much more general than metadata. It is the information that ties the search to your site and is the first thing that Google’s web crawlers will look for on a site. You need to constantly be sending information to schema letting them know what needs to be connected to your site. For example, if you have multiple social media sites where you are sharing the same information you want Google to understand that those are all sites where your content is your content so that Google doesn’t think you are taking other people’s content as your own. You might also want those social media platforms to pop up when someone searches for your business. Making sure that Google understands these connections will help show Google that your content is original and organic and in the long run help in ranking you higher. However, if Google sees that you are just taking information from other people’s sites and not creating your own Google will automatically rank you lower. All in all, schema allows Google to search for information more accurately and efficiently.
This is all just a small piece of the larger picture that is starting to slowly phase out. Although this is still talked about often, Google is getting a lot smarter at understanding and distinguishing what is on websites. Until Google can completely do this on its own you have to make sure you are providing it with all the information that it might need.
#4) User interaction: So, you went to Google to get the answer to a question. How much does it suck when you can’t find that answer right away? Google Analytics feels the same way! When a user gets onto your website Google Analytics will track what pages the user visited and how long the user stayed on that webpage for. Google Analytics is looking for information on whether or not the user is finding what they are looking for. It will mostly watch for if the user closed the window they were looking at or see if the user went back to the Google search page to look through a different website. If the user didn’t find what they were looking for on your site, your Google score will go down slightly making your site possibly rank lower in the future against a site that had the answer the user was looking for.
Now, you’re wondering how you can fix this, aren’t you?
The answer is simple! You need to create solid content that is able to answer any questions that people have when they are visiting your site.
#5) Solid content: Show users valuable info that they will be able to share and use with others. Once you’ve started making solid content that people are sharing on their social media pages or even their own blogs and pages backlinking to your page Google will see you as an influencer. To Google, you will be someone who has a solid knowledge base on a certain industry topic. Backlinks are created from other sources referencing your material and sending traffic to your site from theirs. It’s like they’re sending you people saying, “Hey, these are the people I got the information from, you should go check them out for more.”
Once you have a great amount of traffic coming back to you from other sites that share the same aspects that yours does, Google sees you as an influencer in the industry. In the long run, this will get you a higher Google ranking.
Google also cares about whether or not your content is original and organic. If Google does a search and notices that this content has already been done before they might give you a lower ranking. Long story short. The quality of your content, the higher the quality of your backlinks, and the overall quality of your site matter in your ranking.
Make sure to keep an eye out for future articles that will dig deeper on how to create solid content.
How did we do? Do you feel that you understand SEO better? Have more questions? Let us know in the comments below! Also, feel free to share with a friend who could use this info.
Best of luck!
All In One Lethbridge Team