SEO (Search Engine Optimization), when executed well, carries websites to the top of Google’s SERPs. With a solid SEO strategy, you can increase traffic to your site, thereby building the success of your business. But SEO can be a bit of a mystery. Here we outline our 10 principles of SEO so you can better understand and implement your digital marketing strategy.
1. Provide User-Focused Content
When users type a question or topic into Google, they have a problem or question and are searching for the best solution. Your goal is to provide the content that they’re looking for—content that Google will notice and place at the top of their SERPs.
Content drives your SEO. It’s in and through your content that you meet user needs and catch the attention of Google’s spiders. And even though you want Google to rank your pages, you should create content with the end user in mind.
Before you create content, you must know your target audience. What do they want, and—a question of equal importance—what do they need? Your copywriting and other content on your page should address your customer’s pain points. Show them how what you offer provides what they’re looking for. And do it in an organic, natural-sounding way. Google doesn’t want to rank content that sounds like a robot put it together.
2. Optimize Keywords
Knowing and optimizing the right keywords will do wonders for your SEO and your rankings. What words are your users searching for? When you know this, you can shape your content so that it includes these keywords and phrases. As Google crawls your site, it will rank you according to your keyword usage. So when a user’s search includes the keywords you’ve optimized for, your site will show up in the SERPs.
Utilizing keyword research tools will help you understand what users want. A good research tool does the hard work of collecting the data and putting it in your hands, so you can pull users to your site by giving them exactly what they’re looking for.
3. Format Your Page for Readability
If you want Google to rank your pages at the top, you’ve got to format your content so it’s both easy to read and engaging. Google takes note of how long a user spends on your page. If a user leaves shortly after they arrive, Google determines that you aren’t meeting needs and your page doesn’t have the value or authority needed to rank high.
But by formatting your pages for readability—and with the knowledge that most readers will simply skim content until they find the topic or answers they’re looking for—you can boost your SEO and your rankings.
Internal linking benefits your site’s SEO in multiple ways. Firstly, by linking to different pages within your domain, you’re passing link equity from one page to the next. If you’ve got an article that’s doing especially well in the rankings, you can capitalize on that success and link other pages to and from that one.
Secondly, internal linking establishes your site’s architecture. Internal linking enables Google’s spiders to crawl your site more efficiently and index your pages, giving you a greater chance of improving your rankings.
Backlinks remain one of the top ranking factors for a site’s SEO. When an authoritative and trustworthy site links back to yours, you in turn gain their link equity. A backlink signals to Google that your page is worth ranking on the SERPs because other sites have determined that it’s worth linking in their content.
You can earn backlinks in a variety of ways: earning social shares that get you noticed, sending emails asking for a back link, and guest posting, to name a few.
SEO is all about the clicks. When every interaction counts, you can’t afford to neglect your meta descriptions and titles tags. Creating lines that engage users—and that users will want to click—is a crucial aspect of SEO that many often overlook.
As a user scrolls through Google’s top results, they want to know exactly what they’re about to click on. By writing accurate, concise, and informative meta descriptions, you give them a picture of the most important things you’ve included in your content. And if your meta description gives them helpful solutions, users will click through to your page.
7. Generate a Fast Loading Time for Your Pages
A slow-loading site will virtually destroy all of the effort you’ve put into building your SEO. More than half of all consumers expect a page to load in two seconds or less, and forty percent of users will abandon a page altogether if it takes more than three seconds to load.
What do you do with this information? Whatever it takes to make your load time shorter. First, determine your load speed. Then you can make alterations to your site to help it load faster and keep visitors engaged.
8. Make Images SEO Friendly
When evaluating your content for SEO optimization, don’t let your images slip through the cracks. After all, images make up about 19 percent of all search results on Google. With this much at stake, making your images SEO friendly should be a central focus of your SEO campaign. Changing image size, resolution, description, and adding alt text are just four of many ways to format your visuals to boost your SEO.
9. Take Advantage of Analytics Tools
The landscape and protocols of SEO are constantly changing. Google rolls out updates that affect search and SEO, and metrics and best practices change depending on what Google and the users want in content.
Luckily, there are a plethora of SEO analytic tools out there to help you keep up with the changes. Utilizing tools and software to analyze your SEO gives you a more complete and accurate picture of what’s working and what you need to improve on or change.
10. Trust Your SEO with A Digital Marketing Agency
The SEO world can feel overwhelming and confusing, and for good reason. Everyone is doing whatever it takes to optimize their SEO strategies in order to gain top spots on Google’s pages. In fact, some marketing firms dedicate all of their efforts to optimizing SEO for their clients.
For many sites, putting your SEO in the hands of a digital marketing agency is the very best thing you can do for the success of your business. Finding a digital marketing agency that offers bespoke SEO services will increase rankings, traffic, and conversions with zero stress on your part.
The world of SEO is wide and wild, always evolving. Just because SEO can seem daunting, that doesn’t mean it has to be. By understanding our top ten SEO principles, you’ll have a firmer grasp on how these different elements of SEO can add up to real, measurable success for your site and your business.