What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Oct 27, 2021 | Getting Started, SEO, Websites

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process aimed at increasing your search visibility and leads.

SEO is a continuously evolving process. Originally, it was used to focus on putting the right keywords in the right places so your site would be relevant to search queries containing the keywords and show up in search results. That, by itself, doesn’t work anymore.

Holistic SEO focuses not only on visitors to your website but their entire experience. It ensures your target audience finds you, gets the information they need, and also does what you, the website owner, wants them to do – whether that’s to make a purchase, sign up for a newsletter, fill out a lead form, download an article or something else.

Holistic SEO looks at technical aspects of your website like speed, mobile responsiveness, and security. It ensures your content sought after by your search audience, is useful to them.  Then it learns the signals Google uses to assess its quality and relevance.

SEO and Local Search

Local search is a subset of SEO that focuses on earning visibility and influence with searchers closest to your place of business or those who are searching for the goods and/or services you provide along with a geographic qualifier (like “near me”, “Malvern PA’, or “19355”).

Here is an example: If I search for “pizza near me” the pizza shops closest to me will show up in search results because proximity is one of the largest ranking factors for local search. On the other hand if I searched for “pizza in Philadelphia”, Google would show me search results from center city Philadelphia regardless of where I’m searching from because I have used a specific geographic qualifier.

The system isn’t perfect, but it’s close most of the time.

Local search also involves setting up your business in various directories to help tell the search engine where your business is located, when you are open, your contact details and most importantly, what you do.  Google will use this and other data to decide to present your business on the maps – showing the locations closest to the searcher.

Optimizing Copy for SEO

First and foremost, copy must satisfy the searcher’s information intent – the goal of the person visiting your website.

How is that done?

  • Copy must be structured so visitors can quickly scan and get a sense of whether it is relevant, credible and useful.
    • Use a headline and sub-headings to organize the copy on the page to make for easy readability, as website pages are often scanned
    • Use lists where practical
    • Whitespace is your friend for readability
    • Use short paragraphs
    • Enhance understanding with visuals
    • If applicable, employ an introduction at the beginning and a summary at the end
  • Relevance is determined how keywords are used.
    • Keywords are the words and phrases people type into search engines
    • Use the words and phrases that your intended audience also uses and was looking for when they landed on the website
    • Keywords (keyword phrases) should be in the opening paragraph, headings, and wherever it makes sense throughout
  • Highlight the author’s bio to help generate trust and demonstrate subject matter expertise.
  • Use Blogging to add copy frequently, to keep the search engine coming back for more.
  • Think beyond copy for content strategy.
    • Add video, Infographics, etc. to create a richer experience that keeps visitors on the page.
  • Lastly, content should end with a Call-To-Action to either build trust or generate a lead.

 Structuring a website for SEO

Website navigation and the corresponding page structure are also important for optimizing a website. They have to do with the way files are organized on the website.

A good website page structure makes it easy for:

  • Search engines to find, understand, and assign importance to content; and
  • Website visitors to quickly and easily navigate the content to find what they’re looking for

The ideal website structure is pyramid-shaped with the most important information at the top. The home page should be your starting point. It appears at the very top. Below that should be the topics or categories most important to the business and below that, sub-categories (like the table of contents at the beginning of a book), pages and posts.

Don’t shortchange the effort that goes into structuring your site. It’s very important and difficult to change once your website is launched.

Here’s how an Engineering Company’s website might be structured. (Think of a pyramid). First there’s the Home Page. Then there are tabs that represent the categories, in this case they would be:

Category/Tab 1: About   Category/Tab 2: Services   Category/Tab 3: Projects   Category/Tab 4: Contact

Beneath the Categories there are sub-categories providing more extensive information regarding the Categories. In the case of the Engineering Company:

About could be followed by sub-categories:

Executive Team and History; 

Services:

Environmental Compliance, Civil/Municipal, Geospacial/GIS, Stormwater/MS4; 

Projects:

ABC,Llc;  BLT, Inc.;  XYZ, Ltd.

Contact:

Locations, Telephone Numbers, Maps, Contact Us Form.

*Notice how the bulk of pages appear at the lowest level and are grouped according to topic or category giving Google (and site visitors) context.

Navigation considerations

In addition to the above structure, also consider this question: Is it better to have lots of main topic categories for the navigation or is it better to minimize the number of navigation elements?  The answer…it depends!

  • From a user experience perspective the ideal navigation structure is flat, where at a glance you can see every page that is on the website.  For the search engine this is a very inefficient structure because the content is not grouped or logically organized by content type.
  • The opposite is to have a single navigation button with sub-menu structure listing every page.  From a search engine perspective the single button is efficient for the search engine but would create a terrible user experience.
  • When thinking about the navigation structure it is better to put the important content about your services and products under a single navigation button, and to leave the lower level less important content into another umbrella button, e.g., Resources, About, etc.

Also important to SEO are title tags, META descriptions, Alt tags and a site map.

If you still have questions contact Cary Baskin at the Marketing Department. Call 484-318-8160 or email cbaskin@tmdmalvern.com

 

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