Getting Off to a Good Start With SEO
A few years ago, one needed only to have an appealing, well-designed website to attract and keep online visitors. Today? Not so much. With millions of websites competing for Internet users’ time and money, the truly successful site is one that takes advantage of online strategies like search engine optimization, or SEO. This article offers ideas and insight into making SEO work for your personal or professional website or blog.
Search engine optimization is the process of making your website more visible to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! As your site becomes more prominent on these search engines’ results pages, prospective customers are more likely to click on a link and view your online offering. If your company can afford to hire an SEO expert, it may be money well-spent–especially if your business operates in a highly competitive industry. If you are working with limited financial resources, it may be best to take on some of the responsibility yourself.
Before you enlist the services of an SEO expert, you should attempt to gain at least a basic understanding of the principles behind search engine optimization. The more you know about SEO, the better prepared you will be to determine whether or not a self-titled ‘expert’ is making reasonable promises. For example, there is no way to guarantee that your site will immediately rocket to the top of the results page. The science behind SEO is just that–scientific–and any company that claims to have a magical solution to your search engine woes is probably incapable of delivering the results you need. As you compare different SEO companies, look for examples of work for previous clients, including specific long-term strategies and short-term techniques. If possible, speak with past clients or ask for recommendations from others.
If you opt to tackle your website’s SEO strategy on your own, the same basic rule applies: Learn as much as possible before implementing any major changes. When you are confident in your ability to make informed decisions, you can begin by doing some basic keyword research. What specific words and phrases will your potential customers use when they search for your products and services? Keywords play a critical role in the SEO process; include them in the image tags and content of each page on your website. For best results, keywords should appear frequently within the first 200 words of the main body text; distribute them consistently throughout the remainder of the text.
While nearly any tech-savvy businessperson can perform basic SEO functions, the process is highly complicated nonetheless. Many find that online website analytics tools, many of which are free or relatively cheap, are invaluable for providing additional insight into keyword usage and other key metrics. These programs can provide useful information about keyword density for your site (and your competitors’), keyword trends and current search engine algorithms.
Whether you choose to hire an expert or undertake the entire process on your own, understanding the fundamentals of search engine optimization will help you to make more responsible, effective decisions. When executed properly, SEO can make your site more visible to search engines, boost its relevance on rankings pages and drive customers toward your products and services. More than anything, the best thing you can do to ensure your website’s continued success is to continue learning about the ever-evolving algorithms and science behind search engine optimization.