We’ve gotten to the point where SEO (search engine optimization) is almost a household term. It’s no longer the trendy new kid on the block or the wild wild west of marketing. SEO has become an industry standard. It has gone from something you have to go out of your way to do to get a leg up on the competition, to being something that if you don’t do, you’re going get penalized. For a lot of large businesses, they have more than a decade of experience building their backlink profile and fine tuning their metadata. This can make people who are starting their own business or getting their first website up feel a little behind the eightball. If that sounds like you, don’t worry. We are here to get you started on the right foot!
There was once a time where SEO was all about talking to the spider bots that came to crawl your site. With their limited AI, it was simple to make them happy, but making them happy came at its own cost. Sites that were heavily optimized for them became confusing for users. So the search engine engineers made those spiders smarter. Today, they can tell if you are catering to them at the cost of your human users and don’t like it. Instead, the search engines number one priority is making sure it’s easy for humans to use your site. So your number one tactic for getting a jumpstart on your SEO is to make it human friendly first and foremost.
That is not to say that you don’t have to do anything for SEO. You still need to give them something to work with so they can find the right humans to bring to you. Part of that is being thoughtful in your use of words. Ideally, there are people out there looking for what you are selling. What are they looking for? Before you answer with your product name and stop there, think a second time. If you didn’t know your product existed, what problem would you be trying to solve?
You may know you sell sprockets for broken gadgets, but your customer might not know sprockets exist. They are going to be searching for something like “broken gadget” or “fix my broken gadget”. Those are going to be your best keywords. You want to make a list of them.
So now that you have keywords, what do you do with them? You create content. Some of those keywords are going to be easy to assign. They are going to be directly related to your product or brand. Others, like the problems we identified in the section above, are not going to tie in so nicely. For those, you are going to create blog content that answers the inherit question. In fact, you are going to title it with a question where you can. The best way to break onto the first page is by providing well structured answers to your customer questions so you can show up in the instant answer boxes. Each page or piece of content on your site should be at least 250 words. Read more about how creating content can boost your SEO efforts.
On the more technical side of things, you should have three types of meta tags minimum covered on your site. Your title tag, which becomes the blue title link on search results, meta description tag, which is the little blurb of text that shows up under the title link (in most cases), and the alt tag. Your title and description tags should contain your keyword or a close variation. Your title tag should be simple and contain a simplified title of your page and your company name. If you are local, you should also put location information in your title so people know how far away from you they are. You don’t want to get too long, your title will get cut off around 60 characters and a … added to the end. Your description should also be relatively short (between 50 and 150 characters) and should concentrate on accurately summarizing your page. You want to use this to entice customers to click on your link. Which brings us to alt tags.
ALT tags are small snippets of text that get added invisibly to image. Remember when I said that the search engines care about people being able to navigate your site? That includes people with disabilities who are relying on a screen reader. Alt tags are used to describe the images on a page. Best practice here is to use them for that purpose, but if you can include your keyword without making it sound weird, even better. There are other tags we could go into, but this will give you a good foundation. If you want to dig into the meta tags deeper, check out this article. It gets really nerdy.
When you are writing your content, you are going to want to break it down into section. Each of those sections should have a heading. In your blogging platform you will most likely see options for h1 (or heading 1) through h6. These are hierarchical and should be used as such. Much like a bulleted list. Your h1 should be the title and there should be only 1, your h2s are your main points, your h3s are subsections, and so on. These should be primarily used as guidance for your users reading your content, but much like alt tags, if you can include your keywords in your headings you should.
The last thing we are going to talk about is links. Any page or content you have on your site should link to other pages both on your site and on other people’s. When you set up those links, if your blog gives you an option to add a title to the link, you should. This is mostly for screen readers as well as the search engines so the title should be something like “additional resources about fixing your gadgets” which includes your keywords. Links are a great way to pass keyword information as well as show that you are more interested in your customers getting great information than keeping them on your site.
And that is really what you need to know to get started. If you only take away one lesson from this article though, please remember that people are more important than spiders. If you are making your customers happy and giving them the content and information they are looking for, the search engine gods will smile upon you. If you would like help getting your SEO off the ground, let us know! We love to help small companies grow and look forward to hearing from you.