Let’s say you’re going to throw a party and are putting together the invitation. Along with date and time, what MUST be included? The location, right? I mean, you do want people to show up. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is like the address on an invitation. It allows those searching for you online to find your website. You could have the most beautiful website in the world, but if it can’t be found, it won’t do you much good. It’s kind of like putting a billboard in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

The searches take place on, of course, search engines, such as industry juggernaut Google, Yahoo, MSN, or Bing. If your website design hasn’t been optimized to perform well in search engines, prospective clients and customers won’t be able to find you. If you don’t have visitors, you won’t have much of a party.

How SEO Works

Search engines, like any business, face competition. They must provide relevant search results or searchers might leave and use another search engine. That’s their fear. If enough users stop using them, their advertising revenue could take a hit. In Google’s case, that advertising revenue will be around $150 million in 2020. That’s how they’re making their money, and, well, lots of it.

As the Internet has grown, and more and more pages have been added, search engines have refined their search processes by adjusting the algorithms (mathematical forumulas) they use that enable them to deliver the best possible search results. If you are continually dissatisfied by search results in, say, Yahoo, you’re probably going to eventually try another one. If that happens enough, the advertising bids made by advertisers will begin to shrink. Shrinking bids means shrinking revenue.

Search engine algorithms use a variety of factors to determine rankings for searches, whether you’re looking for a lawnmower repair shop or a place to buy scones. We know, or can successfully surmise, what many of these factors are, but here’s what we don’t know–how the search engines are weighting these, and other items, in their algorithms, which can change daily, sometimes more often.

The factors that go into search engine algorithms are broadly classified into three primary categories—site architecture (how it’s designed and built from a technical, functional, and visual standpoint), content, and links that are point to your site.

In order to have your website perform well in searches, focus on these 3 areas and you’ll be in good shape. Or, at least, in better shape than probably over 95% of the websites out there.

Site Architecture

Good site architecture has well organized information that is easily navigated by both human users and search engines. Its pages are organized and labeled in a way that makes sense. Code, images, and CSS need go be streamlined so that pages will load quickly. The design needs to be easy to use and intuitive, allowing users to find what they want and to be able to perform desired functions easily.

Quality Content

It’s been about 2 decades since Bill Gates famously stated that content is king. Guess what? It still is. One way to help remain relevant in light of algorithm changes is by creating high quality, unique content. Copying content from another website won’t get it done. Blogging, white papers, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) are all good examples of quality content that will help search engines know exactly what your website is all about.

Be sure your pages use the right keywords, which are the words that users will, or may, enter when searching for a product or service. You can do the research yourself. Start simple, with one or two keywords, then build to long tail keywords that are more specific to your specialty. A long tail keyword example might be “Physical Therapist who speak Spanish in Dallas.” Are the keywords you’ve identified and typed in to get search results producing the correct results? If your competitors are showing up, you’re on to something. Now, make sure those keywords appear in page titles, header tags, and links.

Links that point to (not from) your website

Links are a third important factor in search engine rankings. The links that point at your site from other sites send signals to the search engines that your content is valuable. They are votes of confidence from other sites that see your site is an authority figure or a great resource for information on a particular subject. Good quality content, as mentioned above, is very important to getting external links. Internal links (links on your website that direct users to another site) are important, too, so be sure your site has a good internal link structure, as well.

SEO isn’t a one-time endeavor

A successful SEO program isn’t a set it and forget it proposition. It requires steady monitoring. Keywords that once worked may no longer produce the desired results. And content needs be fresh and relevant. The success of your SEO efforts will correlate with the amount of time you’re willing to give it. Again, why have a website if customers, either current or prospective, can’t find you?

Questions about SEO, or any of the other elements required in a solid, sound digital marketing strategy?

Talk to the tenured, highly experienced professionals at d2 Designs, Dallas/Ft. Worth’s most innovative digital marketing agency. d2 creates, executes, and manages multi-marketing solutions for customers with a focus on brand engagement that optimizes the digital experience through traditional media, social media, lead gen and key analytics, e-commerce, and experiential events. Check us out at d2.designs, or email us at info@d2.design. And please follow us via social media for more great, informative digital marketing tips and suggestions.