SEO or search engine optimization is the process designed to improve the positioning of webpages in organic search results. Nearly 93% of all web traffic comes from search engines. If your business lacks an SEO strategy you may be missing out on multitudes of traffic to your site. Through SEO, you can optimize your page to be more relevant for your audience and their search results and find more people interested in your business than ever before.
SEO can be difficult to fully take advantage of. Every effective SEO strategy should start with a basic understanding of SEO principles. Whether you’re discovering SEO for the first time, or just looking for a refresher on these principles, we have you covered. We’ll help you discover the SEO principles you need to create an effective strategy.
What are the Core SEO Principles?
As you start your journey into SEO, it’s important to have a strong fundamental base to build your strategy around. There are 6 total SEO principles you should be aware of as you start planning how to build and optimize pages. The 6 SEO principles are Keyword Research, Internal Links, Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, Backlinks, and Content. Together, these 6 principles act as a base of any successful strategy. No SEO strategy worth its weight will exclude any of these 6 principles. Imagine each of them as a pillar allowing your site to reach the top of the search results and be seen by more people. Let’s dive deeper into each of these SEO principles.
A keyword is the target phrase you want your page to rank for in the search results. For example, if you find the keyword “how to write a blog,” to be useful for your content, then you might write a piece of content that targets that keyword. That way, when users search ”how to write a blog,” your content will be one of the first results they see. Every industry and every piece of content will have a different keyword. When choosing keywords, it’s important to find keywords that add to your content, and not take away from it. Keywords with high traffic and low difficulty are the best ones to go for. However, depending on your business and strategy, there will be times when more difficult keywords will be the ones you go for. After determining your keyword, you can determine how many times it should be added to an existing piece of content or a new piece of content. How many times the keyword exists in the content, and how relevant the content is to the keyword will help your page rank higher in the search results. You can determine the keyword density by reviewing the top 10 search results and seeing how many times they include the keyword. Including relevant keywords in your content will help drive your pages to the top.
Internal links are an important part of the SEO practitioner’s tool bag. An internal link is a link in a piece of content that links to another piece of content on the same website. For example, if you write a piece of content about the best way to fix a bike, but you also have a piece of content discussing the best bike replacement parts, it would make sense to include a link to the second piece of content in the first. Additionally, if you want the piece of content you are linking to, to be ranked for a specific keyword, you can make the anchor text that keyword. For example, maybe that piece about replacement parts for bikes has the keyword “replacement bike parts.” You can make that the anchor text so Google more easily recognizes that the page and keyword are related to each other. Internal links are important because it helps Google and other search engines determine what your site is about, which pages are the most important, and what keywords are most relevant. If you have a piece of major content that is frequently linked to other pieces of relevant content, with the same keyword as the anchor text, algorithms can recognize that page is important to your content and prioritize it for the keyword it’s optimized for.
Optimized Title Tags
Title tags will be among the first things a user sees for your site in the search results. You can see an example in the image below:
The title tag will essentially be the first impression users have of your webpage. Within seconds of seeing it, a user will determine if the page is relevant and if it’s worth clicking on. For this reason, it’s important we do everything we can to tell users our page is relevant to what they’re searching for. A good, optimized title tag should meet a few criteria. First, they should generally be shorter than 60 characters. Google has a tendency to change title tags based on what they think the most optimized version is, however, your title tag is far less likely to be changed if it falls between 40 to 60 characters. This gives you more control over what users will see in search results. Second, the keyword should be included in the title tag. However, this doesn’t mean your title tag should include ONLY the keyword. You want the title tag to be eye-catching and garner interest. Keywords on there are rarely so exciting. Don’t be afraid to get creative with it. Finally, a good title tag will include the name of your company/brand. Including your brand name is important so people know where they are getting the information from without requiring any extra work on their end. Considering all three of these criteria, an optimized title tag for your content targeting the keyword “bike parts,” for your biking company called “Bikes Anonymous,” might look like “Avoid Breakdowns with these Bike Parts | Bikes Anonymous.” This is less than 60 characters, includes the keyword, gives the user an idea of what the content is about, and includes the company name. This is a properly optimized title tag.
Use Meta Descriptions Wisely
The meta description is the block of text immediately under the title tag in the search results. The meta description is your chance to sell users on your service or product. Similar to title tags, there are a couple of key criteria a meta description should follow. First, the keyword should be included in the description in a way that makes sense. Don’t just plug it in without thinking about it. Second, a meta description should be between 150-160 characters. Any longer than that and it will be cut off in the search results. Finally, the meta description must be relevant to the content. Employing these three criteria together creates a strong meta-description that is sure to garner attention from your audience.
Building backlinks is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding aspects of any SEO strategy. A backlink is a link featured on another site that links back to your own. Backlinks are a key part of any strategy thanks to something called “link juice.” Linke juice is essentially the benefits your site gains from the other site through the link. When Google and other search engines crawl sites and notice links back to your site on other sites, that site’s authority and value are transferred to your own. If you are lucky enough to get a backlink in a piece of content from a popular, reputable site, your own site will be boosted significantly in the process. Search engine algorithms recognize when users prefer certain sites over others and prescribe more authority to them as they grow. When these sites link to yours it’s sort of like a vote of confidence in the eyes of the algorithm that your site has value as well. Similar to internal links, it’s also important these links flow naturally in the content they are featured in and the anchor text used is the keyword you are attempting to rank for. By building these high-quality backlinks, your page will see a multitude of benefits, including higher search rankings.
The last SEO principle is arguably one of the most important. The content you are highlighting should be valuable and relevant. The type of content you choose to use on your site is completely up to you, but it’s usually a good idea to diversify the type of content you have on your site. This means including blogs, vlogs, infographics, guides, and ebooks. The content of your site will be the main touchstone for users as they navigate through it. When you create relevant, good content, users remember you. More importantly, algorithms will prefer your content for the chosen keyword you have included in the content. The content you create will be the place where your hard SEO work finally comes to fruition and can start to connect with potential users on a more direct level. A good piece of content will include your target keyword without overstuffing, have relevant information to the keyword and its audience, including natural internal links to other pages on your site, and finally be engaging to readers. Let your creativity and knowledge flow into your content, and watch as new users discover your company.
These 6 SEO principles are enough to get anyone started in SEO, however, any successful strategy will require a lot of work and expertise. If you require the help of SEO experts to optimize your business, we can help. To start your journey with us, contact us here to learn more about how we can optimize your business.