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Our Beginner's Guide to SEO: Keyword Research and More

There’s much to learn about how business websites can reach their target customers. Below, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to SEO that briefly explains each step of the optimization process.

What Exactly Is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing quality traffic to your website through the organic search engine results. Optimizing your website for search purposes is very important—according to Moz, “the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines.”
Search engines’ crawlers (or spiders) sift through websites across the Internet, taking note of the code and content for each URL. Then, the search engines compile and organize the information they find into an index. This index houses possible URLs that match specific queries from users. Search engines then rank websites’ content based on how accurately it answers a user’s query. Results that are the best matches appear at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Keyword Research

People generally stumble across websites by searching with keywords. Logical Position, an award-winning digital marketing agency, states that keyword research is the first step toward a successful SEO campaign. First, you’ll need to think of keywords you’d like to rank for. If you’re optimizing your website yourself, you can use a tool such as Google Keyword Planner to help you decide on a few. Don’t be afraid to experiment; however, you should aim to choose realistic keywords. For example, if large corporations are ranking for the keywords that your small local business wants to target, choosing lower-competition keywords selected by your direct competitors may be best. If you don’t feel comfortable optimizing your own site, you can always enlist help from a reputable company.

On-Site SEO

After you perform your keyword research, it’s time to incorporate your findings into unique content that includes your preferred keywords. Just be careful not to stuff too many keywords into content wherever you can—include the phrases as naturally as possible. Additionally, make sure you optimize meta data (meta titles and descriptions) and header tags. This information assists search engines in examining your site and properly ranking it.
Other factors that can improve on-page SEO include proper HTTPS protocol, submitted sitemaps, and clear URL structure. This way, crawlers can easily discover every image and piece of content on your website.

Off-Site SEO

While you need to primarily optimize your site for humans, you should also make sure your website is technically sound. Technical issues can negatively impact your rankings, so contact a web developer if necessary. Here are just a few items you should prioritize as you build a positive experience for crawlers and visitors:

  • Optimize Images: Unoptimized images can really slow down your website—use the correct image format. Also, create alt text descriptions for each image, which will help crawlers better understand the images across your site. 
  • Page Speed: Fast page speed reduces bounce rate.
  • Responsive Design: A website that fits any device screen will save users a headache, as they won’t have to pinch or zoom into their screens.

Link Building 

When it comes to determining a webpage’s quality, search engines also examine how many people link to that page. Therefore, to build authority and increase search traffic, your site’s webpages should contain links from relevant, trustworthy sources. Unnatural internal and external links do more harm than good; in fact, Google can penalize your site if you use bad links. Therefore, when it comes to link building, you shouldn’t engage in sketchy practices. Your hard work will pay off!