The Basics of SEO

One of the most important techniques of inbound marketing is SEO, which stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s easy to be intimidated by all the jargon and algorithms associated with SEO. Understanding the basics of SEO before you dive head first into this sea of information will make the learning curve much easier to handle.

What is SEO?

Basics of SEOSEO refers to the steps someone can take to improve their website’s visibility on a search engine’s results page (SERP). Ideally, the better your website’s optimization, the higher up on a SERP you are. Most companies optimize their website for Google (as opposed to Bing, Yahoo, etc.) because it has almost 80% of the market share and therefore is the most popular.

Why does SEO matter?

When people use Google to search for something specific it often means that they are in the market to buy that type of product. In contrast, if you were to put an advertisement in a magazine, there is no guarantee that anyone viewing that ad is already in the market for that type of product.

Further, the higher up on Google’s SERP a website appears, the more likely it is that someone will click on it (the number of clicks a search result receives is known as its CTR, or its clickthrough rate). In other words, SEO matters because it increases traffic to a website and therefore helps increase sales. Therefore, knowing the basics of SEO is a great way to take your business to the next level. 

How to Improve Your Website’s SERP (And start wrapping your head around SEO)

The short answer is that Google’s (or any search engine’s) algorithm looks for websites with information that is both relevant and high-quality.

Relevance

While Google takes many factors into account when determining a website’s relevance to a search, it is relatively simple to understand. It’s about using keywords that tells Google’s algorithm who your website is for.  For example, the keyword (or keyphrase) for this post is  “SEO basics.”

For example, if your website sells computer science books and the search was for “the best Valentines Day gifts,” then your website probably will not show up in Google’s SERP. However, if the search is for “the best Valentines Day gifts for computer science students,” then the website is much more likely to show up, especially if something on your website says that a certain book is “a great gift for computer science students!”

Choosing the right keywords involves understanding both your product and your target market. What keywords would someone looking for a product like yours use to Google describe it in a Google search? Google has its own (paid) keyword planner, but there are free options like Ubersuggest and WordStream that can help you find the best keywords.

High-Quality

Quality is a far less straightforward concept than relevance when it comes to SEO. Here are a few of the primary ways that quality is determined by Google:

Prevalence elsewhere on the internet: Do other highly trafficked websites link to or mention your product? Furthermore, a mention from the New York Times’s website will earn you more credit than a mention or two from a small blog run by a “Nigerian Prince”-type.  

Duplicate vs. Unique Content: While Google does not “punish” your website’s SERP ranking for plagiarism (or “appreciably similar” content), if one website has the exact same wording as another website, only the page that the algorithm deems to be the most relevant overall appears on the SERP. So don’t plagiarize.

Engagement: When people do click on your website’s link in a SERP, how often do they go back to the SERP to check out other links? If they do stay on your website, how long are they there for?

Hiring a PR team to work with your content marketing team can help you create relevant and high-quality content that boosts your SERP ranking by having people in the room who understand the current attitudes and trends of your target market.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Now that you have the SEO basics down, you can get started on reaching out to your prospects more effectively.

About Weslie Oeftering: Weslie is a student at The University of Texas at Austin and Swyft’s resident PR and marketing intern. She supports clients with social media, blogging, and tech PR activities. Swyft is a tech marketing firm in Austin with offices in Denver, Houston and Antwerp that provides digital marketing services and trade show marketing support for tech companies around the world. Some of their services include media relations, content and inbound marketing, CPC campaigns, and marketing automation consulting.

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