• An Introduction to SEO Practices

Increasing the visibility of your business is essential to its growth because it helps you to stand out above your competition and get in front of more potential customers. There are many ways to increase the visibility of your business, both online and off. One such online method is through the process of search engine optimization (SEO). SEO consists of various practices employed to improve the ranking of a website or web page in organic search results. SEO is complex, but there are many simple steps you can take to improve the organic search ranking of your business website. This post will provide a basic overview of how SEO works, as well as some SEO practices you can start with for your business.

Related: 6 Ways to Google’s First Page

An Introduction to SEO Practices

How does a Search Engine Work?

The first step to understanding SEO is understanding how search engines work. Search engines such as Google and Bing use formulas (known as algorithms) to take a search request and determine what results best answer that query. Though it takes only a fraction of a second, search engines are doing a lot of work, both behind the scenes and during that fraction of a second, to deliver results.

Search engines work by constantly scouring the web, gathering information on new and existing web pages. When you type in a search, the search engine passes that information through its algorithm, which is designed to deliver the best results for any particular search. For example, if you type “interior painting cost calculator” into Google, you will see a variety of results: ads for local painters, online cost calculators, and blog posts on costs associated with painting. Algorithms take several factors into account when identifying the results for a search, and search engines are constantly updating and changing their algorithms to give users a better experience.

How does SEO Work?

SEO is the practice of optimizing a website to align with search engine algorithms. The purpose of SEO isn’t to “beat” a search engine or get on every results page. It is to tell the search engine that your website or web page is relevant to specific search queries; that it will provide the information particular users are seeking.

The goal of SEO practices is to get your business website or a particular page on it to be among the top results for search queries. Ideally, you want your website to be on the first page of the search results, but as a general term, SEO focuses on increasing a site’s rank no matter which results page it shows up on.

Why Practice SEO?

SEO helps your website rank higher in search results, which then improves the visibility of your website online. Improved visibility enables your business website to generate more traffic, get more leads, and ultimately grow your business. Businesses use SEO because it helps to turn their business website into an effective marketing tool that works around the clock to get more potential customers for your business.

Also, SEO is free! Yes, it does require an investment of time and effort but you can do these practices without spending a dime.

Types of SEO Practices

To get search engines to work for your business, there are a number of SEO practices that you can employ. Some are visible to your website visitors, others are not. Some are longer term activities, others quick tasks. The section below is a brief overview of some SEO practices that can increase your online presence.

On Page SEO Practices

Use Keywords

Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engine search boxes. Search engines use keywords to provide relevant results to its users. It is a crucial SEO practice to include keywords on your website that are related to your business and location. This enables search engines to find and show your website to the people who are searching for your products or services.

Diversify Your Content

You do not want to have the same content across multiple pages of your website. Not only will you create a poor user experience, but also the pages will compete with one another for search engine rankings. Instead, create a separate page for each major product or service you offer. For example, a florist should have separate pages for wedding flowers and funeral arrangements. This way, people in search of specific types of flowers will be more likely to click on a specific page. This SEO practice allows you to write unique content for each page to answer specific questions users have (using keywords of course!) Using separate pages for content tells search engines to show different pages of your website to people based on what they’re searching for online.

Update Your Content

Search engines strive to provide the most accurate and up to date content for its users. SEO practices involve consistently adding out fresh content to your website as well as updating old content.

Use Meta Descriptions and Title Tags

When setting up your website pages and blog posts, be sure to fill in the meta data descriptions and title tags. This practice is important because these are the snippets of information that briefly describe your page in the list of search results.

Optimize Your Images

When uploading images to your website or pages, be sure to include alt tags, titles, and captions. This will help search engines to further understand the content and relevancy of the page. It will also help to rank your images in image search results pages.

Off Page SEO Practices

Off page SEO practices still involve your website, but don’t involve direct manipulation to the page you are trying to optimize. Here are some off page SEO practices for your business.

Get Backlinks

Backlinks are links to your website that appear on other websites, such as online customer review sites. Getting backlinks is an effective SEO practice because search engines see them as endorsements to your business.

Make Your Website Responsive

Search engines prefer pages that provide their users with the best experience. If you don’t have a responsive website, it may be difficult for users on certain devices to navigate to and around your site. It is for this reason that search engines prefer responsive pages, so this SEO practice is very important.

Get an SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate changes the http:// on your website to https:// and is a way of ensuring that your website is protected and trusted. Google and other search engines like sites that are trusted, and have made some recent changes to give priority to websites that use an SSL. This is especially important for businesses that have an e-commerce aspect on their website.

Be Patient

As mentioned above, search engines prefer sites that are trustworthy. The longer your site has been around and providing useful information, the more search engines will favor it. SEO is a long term process. Be patient, consistently put out high quality content, and over time, you will see the results.

A carefully executed SEO strategy can mean the difference between having a brightly lit sign next to a busy highway, and having an unlit sign along a dark back road. SEO is challenging, but important. Start with these practices so you can get your business in front of more people searching for it.

Kristen McCormick
Kristen McCormick
Kristen is the Content Marketing Manager for ThriveHive, where she geeks out daily over SEO, organic traffic, and A/B testing. When she's not equipping business owners and marketers to get their name out there through effective content, she's out pedaling the streets of Boston on her beloved bike.

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