SEO for Beginners
One of the topics we are most frequently asked about is how is to improve SEO.
Many of our clients understand the importance of ranking high on Google, but they don't know what SEO is, or how it relates to their business. In other cases, they are familiar with SEO but feel intimidated as to how to use it effectively. I'll just say this — if your business has a website, SEO is an extremely important strategy to address. The higher you rank on search engines like Google, the more free traffic will be sent from searches to your website, increasing your opportunities for brand awareness, list growth, engagement and sales.
Unfortunately, many people expect SEO to be a quick fix to their website's traffic problems. The truth is, SEO is a long-term strategy, and it's always going to be most effective when it's practised consistently. You don't have to waste time or money on SEO experts if you understand how Google works and what practices you can implement to improve your ranking.
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, a collection of strategies that are used to improve your site's ranking on search engines like Google.
Anytime anyone searches a topic on Google, Google "crawls and indexes" (analyzes) pages, based on the chosen keywords, displaying a list of results based on what is most relevant.
The closer you rank to the top, the better, and here's why:
Some interesting facts about Click-Through Rates
Ignite Visibility, an award-winning SEO company, released a case study in 2017 on click-through rates. They analyzed over 5,000 searches to discover more about how often the page 1 links (top 10 search results) are clicked in comparison to one another.
Nearly 50% of clicks go the top 3 search results.
20.5% of the total clicks go the #1 search result.
If half of all clicks are going to the top 3 results, and you aren't ranked in those top 3 results, your business is missing out on a ton of traffic. Thankfully, we have the perfect solution:
The secret to SEO is Content.
In fact, we would argue that content is the most important component of your website. Content not only aligns you with your audience and ideal client, it affects your ranking too.
You can load up your website with all the right keywords, but if you aren't providing the right experience, and offering the right value with your content, your keywords won't convert.
Which is why we believe the best way to improve your SEO is to focus on creating and sharing content that's relevant and of high-value to your readers. And Google themselves agree:
Google SEO starter guide excerpt: Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website [...] Even though this guide's title contains the words "search engine", we'd like to say that you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what's best for the visitors of your site. They're the main consumers of your content and are using search engines to find your work. Focusing too hard on specific tweaks to gain ranking in the organic results of search engines may not deliver the desired results.
They also share the following in their Webmaster Guidelines: Give visitors the information they're looking for. Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. this is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. [Create] a helpful, information-rich site [with] pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic.
Content is key because you're writing for people, not search engines.
If you provide value, traffic and rank growth will follow.
The SEO Foundation You Need
While content is the most important ongoing strategy to implement to increase your growth, there are some important foundational steps that you should implement first.
Step 1 — Submit your website to Google
Google offers a number of ways to submit your content and increase your visibility. One of the first ways you can ensure that your website is visible is by submitting your URL.
Visit the link above and click Add your URL to submit your website.
Step 2 — Add Your Sitemap in Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools helps you monitor your website's health and standing. It's not required to rank on Google, but does offer opportunities to improve your ranking.
Before you can access these resources, you need to verify your website.
Click Add a Site and enter your website URL. Now let's submit your sitemap. This will provide Google with a virtual map, allowing them to more accurately rank your website.
Click on your domain name to access your Site Dashboard. You should see a panel of options on the left, click Crawl, then Sitemaps. You should see a big red button that reads Add/Test Sitemap. Squarespace users can type in sitemap.xml and then click Submit to finalize.
Step 3 — Check Your Status with Fetch as Google
If you have any concerns, or would just like to check how your website is being analyzed, you can use the tool Fetch as Google under the Crawl section of the dashboard.
Click Fetch for a quick check or use Fetch and Render for a more detailed one.
You can learn more about Google and SEO with their free SEO Starter Guide.
Now that you've established a foundation for your website's SEO, it's time to switch your focus to creating SEO-friendly content of high-value to lure in more of your ideal audience.
Want to learn more about SEO? We'll be back with more posts soon, on topics like SEO for Squarespace, and How to Create SEO-Rich Content that actually Converts.