Where do people go to when they want to learn about anything these days? They go online. How exactly do they find out about whatever it is they’re looking for? They use search engines.

Those answers should tell you everything as to why your business’ website needs SEO. SEO or search engine optimization essentially helps a website rank higher in search engines.

Why is it important that a website ranks high? Because people want their results fast, they usually click on the first couple of links they see on the search engine results page (SERP) and don’t bother going past the third page.

The job of search engines then is to provide their users the web pages with the best content relevant to search queries. They do this by crawling websites all over the Internet to check their structure, links, and content. Next, they store all this data on their indices. Afterwards, they determine which web pages have the best content based on complex algorithms. They are then ranked by the value they offer according to the search queries in descending order.

This is where SEO comes in.

There are many methods underneath the umbrella of SEO both simple and complex, but they can be categorized below general strategies.

Keyword Research

Keywords are basically the words people use to search with, and having those words show up in your website helps those people find you in search engines.

Of course, you can’t just stuff the most popular keywords all over your website and expect to rank high. That’s a classic example of unethical or black hat SEO that gets websites penalized. And besides, you won’t have much of a shot when going up against industry leaders who dominate the popular keywords.

Here are a couple of things to consider when conducting keyword research:

  • You need to know which keywords will get your site relevant traffic that you can still compete in. It starts with understanding what your target audience is looking for.  Knowing what keywords your competitors are doing good in is also part of necessary research so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. You should also be looking for gaps in the competition, meaning potentially good keywords that you and your direct competitors are neglecting.
  • It also pays to utilize the various tools both free and paid online to study the shifting trends in popular keywords so you know the right time to introduce a new product and create content with the proper keywords around it.

On-Page Optimization

This general strategy deals with optimizing the things that make up your website. You want it to be easily crawled and indexed by search engines. Unfortunately, having all sorts of neat Flash animations and Javascript on your website would be a waste since search engines have a hard time indexing those.

Tags are some of the more important things you need to optimize, especially the title tags, since search engines pay special attention to those in determining the content on your web pages. Plug in relevant keywords there and it’ll help boost that page’s SERP ranking.

Meta tags don’t really help much in increasing rankings (if at all), but they help by providing crucial information in SERPs, such as a short description of the web page to entice searchers to click on the link and contact details for easy reference.

Another key detail in on-page optimization is making your navigation as easy as possible which also falls under site accessibility. You want your visitors to get through all your websites pages without ever getting lost or frustrated with the layout, regardless of the device they’re using and how fast their connection speeds are.

The content you have on your web pages also matter, and optimizing those requires using the right keywords to help search engines understand what they’re all about. Again, you shouldn’t be stuffing the same ones over and over. Write with other words related to the main keyword you’re using.

Link Building

If there’s on-page optimization, there’s off-page optimization as well, and that’s what link building is. Besides having great content and a crawl-able website, search engines also factor in the quantity and the quality of the websites that link to yours. Quantity is good, but quality is better.

As a start-up, you can’t expect to get links from highly-influential websites. So here’s what you need to do:

  • Begin with your own network of families, friends, colleagues and mentors that have their own websites.
  • Get your business evaluated by review websites and their communities. Look for websites that aren’t directly related to the industry you’re in but still have some connection to it, and then partner up.
  • Guest posting in relevant blogs is one good way of building links while also building your online reputation.

Social Media Marketing

The rise of social media has been fully accounted for by search engines. The greater the social activity a piece of content has, the higher ranking it will gain.

Social media is all about connecting people, so you need to approach it with the mindset of delivering content that caters to your target audience’s interests and building genuine relationships with them. Once you’ve established that connection, you can expect to grow a loyal following that will help promote your business through its own networks.

There are plenty of platforms you can utilize, but Facebook and Twitter are the biggest ones that you should definitely capitalize on. Depending on your business, you can also try other social websites like YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and others.

Content Marketing

As its name suggests, this method is all about providing great relevant content to your target audience to turn them into buying customers.

It manifests the underlying philosophy of why people go online in the first place – to find valuable content. They don’t want to be bombarded with sales pitches the moment they click on a link. They want information that will help them solve a problem, like finding out which smartphone to buy or where they can find the best deals for used cars. Once they’ve been given answers, it’s only then that they should be directed towards buying products or services.

Content marketing transforms a website into a precious resource that people will consistently check out. After seeing how much that website is worth, they’ll be more trusting in finding out about the products and/or services it’s company is selling.

Analytics

With all the methods at hand, there’s not much point in applying them if you have no idea how well they’re actually helping or hurting your website. Analytics lets you pinpoint the problems and successes of every strategy you implement. Knowing exactly what these are allows you to make informed decisions when you need to change techniques or continue with your current campaign strategy.

Google Analytics is one such analytics tool that will help you understand where your business stands in the realm of the World Wide Web. It provides data about the traffic your website is getting, the number of page views specific pages have, which sites and social media platforms are linking back to yours, how many people leave your site after landing on it without clicking on any link (bounce rate), and so much more.

This primer is merely just scratching the surface of SEO, but I hope this has given you enough insight to start applying this crucial process and to explore the more complex strategies. There are billions of people constantly searching for information about products and services online. Make it so that they find you.