The company website is one of the most important awareness sources for any entrepreneur who is just starting out. It's the first place potential clients and partners visit in order to learn more about a business and find out if it is a trustworthy company they want to engage with. Google and other search engines like it follow the same basic principle.
They evaluate a website and then decide on the product's relevance for a specific group of consumers. However, they do so by implementing a rather complex evaluation system. In order to gain the trust of search engines, websites need to comply to a set of rules currently known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices.
What is SEO or Search engine optimization?
Search engine optimization is a process through which a website is optimized in order to comply as effectively as possible to the set of criteria search engines like Google and Bing use to establish its relevance for different keywords. Relevance then determines where the website is displayed when a user searches for a particular word. It can be amongst the first results on the first page or it can get lost amongst hundreds of other results on one of the last pages.
Why is implementing SEO best practices important?
These last few years, the phrase "content is king" has become common place in the digital world, so entrepreneurs have naturally started to wonder whether implementing SEO still matters if your company has already invested in developing custom appealing content for your target audience.
Well, the answer is definitely yes. That is if the company wants to benefit from all the organic traffic search engines provide. And what company doesn't want search engines like Google, who own 75% of the market, to guide users directly to their doorstep without investing in paid ad campaigns?
High quality content can help companies instantly connect with website users, but this can't happen if said user can't easily find the website. So, implementing SEO still matters and, as the digital world is becoming more and more cluttered, it's safe to safe that good SEO is more important than ever.
SEO implementation means more than just keywords
Today, search engine optimization is a complex process that does not place the importance it once did on including certain keywords in your website content or html tags. Modern search engines look for websites that implement a series of best practices both on-page and off-page.
Given the complexity of implementing these SEO practices, in this article we will try to present succinctly the most important steps a website should follow in order to perform well from a SEO perspective.
Off-page SEO implementation
Although lesser known than the on-page SEO rules we will be discussing in the next section, the recommendations for off-page optimization currently have a more significant impact on any given website's ranking. The most important aspect of implementing off-page SEO is generating as many inbound links as possible. Here's how you can start generating inbound links and climbing rankings in search engines:
Create educational, captivating content that users will want to share with friends.
Make sure to include the company's website in online website or blog directories. You can also try to get noticed on platforms that allow consumers to evaluate and rate services or products.
Establish lasting partnerships with blogs that are relevant for your industry and publish articles and other types of branded content on these platforms. Through these partnerships blogs will receive quality content from industry experts and your company will reap the benefits of that all-important inbound link and rank higher in search engine results.
Develop partnerships with other websites relevant in your chosen field in order to generate more links. One way of identifying potential partners is to look for companies that provide complementary products and services, so that both parties can benefit from this relationship.
On-page SEO implementation
On-page optimization allows search engines to evaluate the relevance of certain website pages for specific keywords. Of course, topping the list for the most important keywords for their business is any entrepreneur's dream, but there is a risk of going overboard by including too many keywords in the website's copy and make the content less appealing to users.
This type of approach can have a negative impact on the website's ranking, as search engines have become apt at recognizing any fraud attempt. That's why, although there are numerous measures that can be implemented in order to improve a website's performance in terms of SEO, the most important rule is to apply these best practices without hindering content quality and user-experience. Content should always be written for consumers, not search engines.
So, with this idea in mind, we can dive a little deeper into the world of website on-page SEO optimization. Here are several best SEO best practices you can implement on your company's website:
Choose a main keyword for each page and optimize that page to incorporate it as naturally as possible. Avoid over-saturating the page with too many keywords because the page will have a lower relevance score, due to the fact that search engines won't be able to decide on what the most important topic truly is.
Use the right keywords in your website's titles and subtitles, in order to maximize their impact on search rankings.
Include keywords in your website's copy when appropriate but avoid unnecessary clutter.
Make sure your website's URL also includes the most important keyword in your SEO strategy.
Prioritize creating content for consumers and don't let your SEO optimization strategy distract you from creating content that is attractive and relevant.
Aside from these recommendations about how one can effectively include keywords in website copy in order to maximize their impact, we must also consider a series of SEO good practices that can be implemented directly through the website's html code.
Meta tags are html tags that are not displayed by the browser, but that contain valuable information that search engines use and sometimes even display. Thus, it's important to make sure meta tags contain the right keywords. Meta and Description tags, for instance, are important for both search engines and users, so customizing them and adding keywords can really make a difference. Search engines use these tags in order to establish the main topic of the page, while also displaying this information so that the end user can decide whether to click the suggested link or not.
Don't forget to also add keywords to your images' ALT tags.
Additionally, aside from optimizing certain tags, it's advised to create an XML sitemap. This file, usually named sitemap.xml, contains a list of all the website's pages as well as information about the most recent updates.
Use a 301 protocol when you want to redirect users to a page or a website that's been moved to another address. Unlike the 302 redirect, the 301 redirect tells search engines that the page they are redirecting users to has previously had a different address. Consequently, your website or page will not lose its hard-earned inbound links and can maintain its original ranking.
Implementing a SEO strategy that can help attract more users and potential clients who are specifically interested in your company's selected keywords is a crucial first step in creating a strong online presence. However, in order to make sure that most consumers have a positive user experience, your website optimization process needs to include other aspects such as design and content.