The ABCs of SEO

Making sure your site is at the top of search results is the best way to ensure a steady stream of visitors. Follow the ABCs of SEO, and your website will start its rise to the top of the rankings.

Making sure your site is at the top of search results is the best way to ensure a steady stream of visitors. Follow the ABCs of SEO, and your website will start its rise to the top of the rankings.

The ABCs of SEO

Did you know that 64% of website traffic comes from organic search results? That means if you want to guarantee a steady stream of site visitors, you should optimize your website so it is highly ranked in search engines. Search engine optimization (SEO) for B2C, B2B, nonprofit, and higher education websites continues to evolve as search engines change how they analyze websites, getting better at distinguishing between truly valuable websites and junk.

Since 2011, there have been more than 83 major updates to Google alone. Through these updates, search engines aim to improve their ability to determine what distinguishes a good web page, understand the content on pages, and improve search results.

The goal of search engines like Google, Bing, YouTube, and Yahoo  is to connect people searching online with great results: the most relevant, fast, comprehensive, fresh information available. Google uses 200 factors to rank the websites it crawls. Bing rates content based on three criteria: Authority (Can we trust this content?), Utility (Is the content useful and sufficiently detailed?), and Presentation (Is the content well-presented and easy to find?)

And, there is a correlation between high site ranking and high quality content, strong page architecture, backlinks, and social connection, and how and how long users engage with your site.

The best way to create a site with high search rankings is to follow the ABCs of SEO.

A is for Authority

A is for Authority

Authority is a measure of how valuable a search engine thinks your site and its content is. Authority of your website is one of the most important factors in search ranking, as search engines think that authority sites provide the best answers to a search query.

Your site can gain authority online the same way that you would in the real world, by becoming a trusted expert and resource for others. Your years of experience shown by the age of your website, your expertise shown by the amount of quality content you’ve created, and recommendations in the form of links to your content all contribute to your online authority.

Since one of the factors of authority is age of your domain and a history of quality content, increasing your authority takes time. The best long-term strategy is to consistently share great ideas and fill your website with engaging, relevant, meaningful, and valuable content that shows your expertise. Make sure your content adds genuine value to readers, figuring out what makes your organization and your website stand out from your competition. Create in-depth content that people want to share. Show your thought leadership, share your knowledge.

Optimize your content to include content that ranks high in local, news, product, image, video, blog, and mobile searches. Include keywords, internal and external links to related content, images, video, and embedded maps, and create robust articles that deliver more value than your reader expects. And, do it often and consistently to make sure you grow your authority over time.

B is for Build

B is for Build

Search engines care not only what you have on your website, but how you build your site and pages. Technical optimization of your website is an important factor in search engine ranking. Sites with a clear architecture, straightforward linking structure, fast load times, meta tags, and that are mobile-friendly rank higher in search results.

To help search engines easily understand and index what is on your page, optimize your URLs to include keywords, create interesting page titles and descriptions for each page, use H1 and H2 tags to help search engines figure out what your pages are about, and include media such as images and video to show search engines that there’s substantive content on the page. For images and video, include alt text, descriptive names, and whenever possible optimize them for social networks. Include links between your pages, and include links to external sites that have related content, which can help you site be associated with the high-quality sites it links to.

Make sure your code is squeaky clean, not bloated, as search engines reward pages with a higher content-to-code ratio that load quickly. Minimize inline HTML coding by using CSS and JavaScript outside of the page, so each page is as slim as possible. Many technical optimizations that you do to reduce code will also help load times for your readers.

Earn Google’s “mobile-friendly” label by using responsive design, and you’ll benefit in three main ways. First, your readers will have an optimized experience no matter where they are looking at your site. Secondly, you need only one version of each page on your site, consolidating all links to one single page that may otherwise have been split between movie and desktop versions of your page. Finally, search engines punish sites with duplicate content (which you might have with two versions of your site). If you do have duplicate content on the site, use canonical to tell search engines which page you would like to show in search results.

Some final, important, technical tweaks include having a dynamic XML site map giving information to search engines on every page on your website, and a robots.txt file to tell search engines which pages they should ignore (backend pages, admin pages, etc.). And be sure to check that you have built everything correctly by tracking analytics and using webmaster tools to track down and fix site errors.

C is for Connect

C is for Connect

How well your site is linked to other sites on the web is another important factor in site ranking. Having quality backlinks from other sites with authority increases your own site’s authority. More links from social media sites correlates to higher search rankings, though to a lesser degree.

The best way to get backlinks to your site is to connect with others online. Find online communities where your customers and colleagues talk. Share links to your website content online and in emails, but more importantly, join in conversations, share your knowledge, help others seeking answers to questions in your field. If the content on your website would add to the conversation, share a link to it.

Make it easy for readers to share your content by including social buttons on every page, post, press release, and email. And be sure your organization has a presence on all the major online social networks in your industry. Build relationships with your followers, clients, readers, and prospects, leveraging online tools, email, and social media to connect with colleagues or prospects. Connect with influencers and high-authority sites that might mention/link to your content.

Writing a guest post on a site with authority and including a link back to your site is a great way to get exposure and a valuable backlink. Online and real-world speaking opportunities are a great way to reach more readers and make connections, plus social mentions during your talk or webinar and links back to your content are positive signals to search engines. Mentions in the press and online media can help create additional connections.

Results

Making sure your site is at the top of search results is the best way to ensure a steady stream of visitors. Follow the ABCs of SEO, and your website will start its rise to the top of the rankings.

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