Do you ever see an acronym that you somewhat know, but can't quite place? especially for small businesses, SEO is probably the perfect example. Chances are you've heard of it: short for search engine optimization, it's a term that describes the process of making sure that your website and its content can be found easily on search engines.
But beyond that, the picture gets more murky. Why do you even need to worry about SEO, and what determines how search engines like Google rank your website? That's what this post will explain. Consider it your beginner's guide to search engine optimization.
The Need for SEO
Marketing experts across industries agree: in 2016, SEO is no longer optional. If you have a digital presence, you better make sure that it's optimized to be found by users on Google, Bing, and other search engines.
A variety of statistics back up that need. 93% of all internet experiences begin with a search engine, meaning that before they go anywhere else, internet users visit Google or Bing. That, in turn, explains why Google alone hosts more than 100 billion searches every month.
As a result, and not surprisingly, building a website that is optimized for search engines has become a crucial digital marketing tactic. 57% of marketers consider it their most important factor for generating sales leads. The impact increases even further for local businesses, which see a significant store visit boost when optimizing their web presence for search engines.
5 SEO Rankings Factors Your Business Needs to Know
The above makes it clear: SEO should be a core part of your marketing and business growth strategy. But just as important as the why is the how. Simply put, you need to know just what makes your website rise up the search results rankings for keywords and phrases related to your brand. Here are 5 of the most important ranking factors:
1. Title and Meta Tags
These tags are part of the code of your website, and help search engines determine whether the page in question is relevant to a specific keyword. Including the targeted keywords in your title and meta tags, as a result, is crucial to SEO success.
2. Inbound Links
The more external pages link to your website and its individual pages, the more credible search engines determine your content to be. Building inbound links, both from your social media accounts and by creating content that is good enough for others to link to, should therefore be a core part of your SEO efforts.
3. Outbound Links
Similarly, outbound links let search engines know that your content is not an end point, and that your visitors and readers can use it as a jumping-off point for other, relevant information. Linking to relevant, high-profile pages is especially successful.
4. Original Content
Each of your individual pages and blog posts need to be original in order to help your SEO. Duplicate content can significantly hurt your search rankings, while relevant, original, and high-quality content is the main driver behind SEO success.
5. Technical Variables
Search engines like Google and Bing also take into consideration your site's technical structure in determining where to rank it. For example, mobile-optimized pages now rank significantly higher than their desktop-only counterparts. Similarly, websites that load slowly may be punished in search results.
This guide, of course, only scratches the surface of successful SEO. Inbound links, for example, are only successful ranking factors if search engines determine them to be authentic. If your links seem to exist for the sole purpose of increasing your search ranking, your website might actually be punished by Google.
At the same time, it serves as a valuable guide into the general concept on SEO. If you keep the above factors in mind, you can begin to build a website that will reach your potential audience on search engines. At that point, we recommend getting a more in-depth look into the vast world of search engine optimization.