SEO: Search Engine Optimization Photo by Shel Rogers Photography | Clovis, NM

Five Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Questions Answered

As part of an ongoing conversation about websites and web design, I was asked some questions about search engine optimization (SEO) and have done my best to give some straightforward answers. Here we go!

What is SEO?

SEO is the process of working on web pages and websites in such a way so that without paid ads, they come up in search engines, like Google and Bing. SEO is also referred to as organic or natural optimization because it’s seen as a natural way to increase visibility in search engines by using the content that’s on web pages throughout a website.

How does it help?

Generally speaking, SEO helps websites get seen by coming up in search engine results. Sometimes, people I work with want their websites built and then kind of stop there. Often, they wonder why they’re not getting leads from their website. In order to get leads from your website, it has to come up in search engine results, like Google. The thing of it is that SEO is an ongoing process; it’s more than putting a few words on a page. SEO work is just as important as adding new content. Whenever new content is added, SEO should be part of the page or post work. SEO incorporates quality content and page optimization to help websites appear in search engine results.

What is a keyword?

Keywords, or keyword terms, are an essential part of the SEO process. Keywords are terms that people might google to find your website. In fact, SEO work should focus on keyword terms that describes the content on each page. For example, if you’re a building contractor that specializes in metal building construction and you just created a page featuring your most recently completed project, you may want to include content that details or expands on “metal building construction” in addition to the location of the construction project in your content.

What makes a good keyword?

Effective keywords are often a combination of commonly used words used to search for something along with additional context to narrow down the results.

From a search perspective, let’s say you’re looking to find a manual for your computer. You wouldn’t just search for computers. You’d probably include your computer’s model and the year you purchased it. This would give you more accurate results. So, you’d probably search using a keyword term something like “MacBook Pro 2017 manual”.

Similarly, when you’re implementing keywords or keyword terms on your website, you want to include as much additional context as possible. For example, if you’re a photographer based in a specific location and focus on documentary photography, you may want to consider a keyword term like “Clovis documentary photography”.

How do I optimize my site to rank higher in Google searches?

There’s so much to consider with this question.

The first step is keyword term research

The first step is to do keyword term research to determine what keywords will be the most productive for your website. Keyword terms should not be too broad and too competitive; they need to have context. Also, depending on your target audience, keyword terms should be easy enough for people to google keeping in mind they may not be as knowledgeable as you are in what you do. I’ve known folks who use industry-specific terms that people in their target market would not know or understand.

Once you have your keyword terms sorted out for each page, then it’s time to include them in your pages’ content.

A word of caution here: the content needs to be quality content, not just stuffed with a lot of keyword terms, or your website may be dinged by search engines like Google. Quality content doesn’t employ “SEO tricks” to trick site visitors just to increase ranking. Google doesn’t like this. And if Google doesn’t like it, you’re less likely to come up in Google’s results. Quality content is informational with a clear understanding of what the page is about, what it offers, and how it can help site visitors.

One thing that’s often overlooked when it comes to ranking in Google searches is page loading or page speed optimization.

This is really very important, especially to Google, because the majority of access on the web is with mobile devices. Google even created it’s own code AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to highlight how important it is. If a page takes to long to load, it can mean that the page’s images may be too large, there are too many scripts on a page, or there’s a lot of code to process. You can test your website’s page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This will give you a breakdown of what you need to address on your web pages to ensure the pages are optimized.

Web pages should be mobile friendly and optimized for mobile devices in order to rank well. WordPress is great on mobile devices, just make sure the theme used on your website works well on mobile devices.

Finally, SEO work should be considered for the site as a whole, as well as each page. Pages and posts should always point to the website’s overall focus and message. A website’s overall message should be given additional context throughout pages and posts.

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