Search Engine Optimization Basics

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a process, not a thing. It is the process of continuing to improve your website (aka optimize) to improve your position in the search engines.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is an ongoing process, not a one time thing. Yes, you need to start with a strong website foundation, get the right things in the right place, and continue to keep it updated with information your audiences look for in search.

Your Website’s SEO Foundation

This includes a few main on-page SEO elements. These should be outlined and defined before you ever talk about the website design. Plan the site structure, pages and content needs before you talk about what it will look like.

  1. URL extension. These are your links. Anything after the websiteaddress.com/_____. These should include some keywords to set the tone for what the page or section of the site is about.
  2. Page Title. This is the blue line that shows up in the search engine results. It should be about 8-10 words, and resemble a sentence, not just keywords. Let people (and the search engines know what the page is about).
  3. Meta Description. This is your “text ad” or the short paragraph that shows up under the blue text line (page title) in the search engine results. This tells visitors what they might find on this page, and should include some sort of call to action – to read more, learn more, contact you, etc. It should be about 156 characters too. Keep it short, simple and concise.
  4. H Tags – These are your headings on the website pages. Your H1 tag – you should have 1 main headline (H1), and you can have other sub-headings to break out the text as H2s or H3s.
  5. Body Content. These are the words on your website. Critical to connect with your prospect, incorporate a mix of keywords and still make sense. Each page should include about 300 words. These can be paragraphs or lists – keep it easy to scan and read the page. Also, use some version of your keyword phrases a few times for every 100 words. If it seems too wordy to you, then it will be for your readers. Always focus on your prospects!
  6. Image Alt Tags. When you include images on your pages, it should be relevant to the content. And, you can add image alt tags, that are related to what the page is about. Search engines don’t “see” images – but they can see the alt tag, so that’s why we use these.

It isn’t that SEO is a tricky thing, or snake oil. Still, many web design & development firms aren’t well versed in SEO or the foundation needed for your site. It’s always about the content, about your audiences, and create pages and descriptions of your products or services based on how your target audiences might search for them.

It’s important to also have a plan to keep your website fresh with new content, new images, stories, articles or products to keep customers engaged, keep them coming back. And, you can also encourage the search engines to come back too.  SEO doesn’t work alone any more either. You build your foundation, then also create other channels to bring prospects to your site. These channels include social media, email marketing, radio advertising, events, paid search and more. The website is one part of your marketing communications plan. Start with the foundation and then continue to optimize it regularly.

If you have any questions about your current website, or are considering redoing your website, we’d be happy to chat and give you some pointers along the way. Contact us today!