Understanding SEO and Why Your Website Needs It

What is SEO?

For beginners – SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization.” To better understand what SEO is, I’m going to break that phrase into two parts; the first part is about search engines, and the second part is about what exactly optimizing for them means.

Search engines, like Google or Bing, use complicated mathematical algorithms to determine which website will best match a user’s search terms. When a parent is curious about their child’s allergies, they’ll often search Google for “sinus infections” or “seasonal allergies.” Search engines are so sophisticated that will return results including doctors in nearby areas, possible over-the-counter treatments, and causes of allergies. You can obviously see the value that search engines can bring to the table for businesses, no matter how big or small they are. Being on the first page of Google’s search results should be a top-level priority for every business.

In layman’s terms, that’s exactly what optimizing is – doing things to your website in order to be right in front of your customers at a time when they need you. If Google is the almighty decider of whether your website is shown to people, wouldn’t you want it to be as friendly as possible to Google’s algorithms? Yes, but first you have to understand what search engines care about. The most important question on Bing and Google’s checklist is, “Does this website have quality content that will give this person an exceptionally satisfactory experience?” Other equally important questions on this checklist are, “Does this website have spam? Is the website slow? Has it ever been hacked?” Optimizing is an attempt to address concerns that Google or Bing has about your website.

What Makes for Good SEO?

Let’s just get right down to brass tacks, here.

1. Dwell Time

This term refers to how a user is spending their time on your web page (not to be confused with the metric “Time on Site” in your analytics account). Dwell time can measure how long someone stayed in one spot while scrolling, if they surfed other pages on your site, if they made it to the bottom of these pages, etc.

How can I increase Dwell Time?

Write or produce GOOD, QUALITY content that people care about. Find the pain points of your customers and anticipate what will satisfy those pain points. Tip: make the first thing they see (above-the-fold content) very intriguing to avoid high bounce rates.

Authoritative Backlinks

Simply put, a backlink is when another website links to yours. This can be good OR bad. Let’s say some website links to an article that you wrote on your website. It might look like this, “To learn more about fracking, click here.” The word “here” would be your backlink. Let’s say the website that linked to you was TIME magazine! That would be an authoritative website because they are trustworthy, produce good content that millions of people want to read, and are never spammed or hacked. Let’s say that website that linked to you was a spam site like www.EasyCashNeverWork.com. You would probably want to disavow that link from your website. Good links are relative to your website.

How Do I Get Quality Backlinks?

This is the hard part. To get a great backlink, you may have to target the websites that you want them from and ask the administrator if you can write a guest post or just flat out ask them for a backlink. Some people buy backlinks—I would highly recommend against this, as Google can detect which links are good and which ones aren’t.

Responsive Websites

A responsive website is one that can change shape, resize, and adapt to another device with ease. Going from desktop to mobile is a good example. A responsive website will adapt to the browser that is requesting to access it. Google loves these, as opposed to purely a desktop or dedicated mobile site.

How Do I Make My Website Responsive?

Responsive sites are made by using HTML5 and CSS. You might want to consult a web designer if you aren’t familiar these languages. If you really want to go the DIY route, there are online classes available; however, they may be expensive or very time-consuming.

Keyword Positioning

A long time ago, having the keyword “sinus infection” scattered throughout your article 900 times would have bumped you up to the #1 spot. Google caught on almost immediately, and therefore, keyword density has little importance now. Meta tags as well, because the web designer has the ability to tweak them in the direction that he or she wants. All of this aside, a web designer can boost a website’s SEO by strategically placing these keywords in the important parts of the site.

Where Do I Put My Keywords?

Place your targeted key phrase, like “sinus infection,” in the title tag, first 50 words of the article, H2 and H3 tags, the meta tag, and the URL if possible.

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