Google has become an integral part of our lives, so much that it’s even used as a verb in day-to-day conversation. (How many times have you heard, “Let me Google that for you?”) With over 11 billion searches per month, it’s clear that optimizing your website for Google presents a lucrative marketing opportunity for your business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complex and ever-changing field, so we’ll only concern ourselves with the basics for now. Even the most fundamental SEO changes can have a major impact on search engine rankings for your website.
Race to the top
The straightforward goal of SEO is getting your website to appear at the top of search engine rankings. Anything listed after the first page of results is rarely noticed. Since Google takes an overwhelming percentage of the search engine market share, don’t worry about others like Yahoo! or Bing just yet. There are certain SEO basics necessary for Google ‘bots’ to crawl a website, index each individual webpage and display that page whenever a user types in a relevant search query.
1. Onsite SEO
What you do onsite affects about 50 percent of your website’s rankings. This includes:
- Keyword research
- Website structure
- and more
Any SEO strategy begins by conducting keyword research. Choose keywords that have high enough search volume, but be wary of competition. If you choose a very broad keyword, such as ‘California health insurance,’ you’ll have less chance of actually ranking on the first page due to extremely high competition. By narrowing or localizing your keyword to a more specific niche, say ‘Laguna Beach health insurance,’ you will have a better chance of ranking highly.
Each page on your website should be assigned a certain keyword, which will reflect in every piece of content on that page. Using keywords in this way helps Google determine what each page is about and how it should rank. Of course, you want to come off as an authority on that subject or keyword. Use the selected keyword for that page in the “meta tag” or title tag of that webpage, and also somewhere inside that content to tell search engines what that page is about. Do not overstuff keywords; these will get you spam points.
Content should be highly informative and relevant. It’s extremely important that you do not simply copy and paste the same verbiage on every page. This will get you banned on Google. Duplicate content makes it more difficult for search engines to decide which version is more relevant to a certain search query, resulting in traffic losses and lower rankings.
2. Offsite SEO