In today’s digital jungle, we understand it’s easy to get lost in a maze of irrelevant search engine results or high-tech keyword stuffing techniques. We get it, jargon is jargon and at the end of the day you want results, not just fancy phrases. Still with this in mind, some questions should be obvious. This is why most web design experts say the question “is SEO important?” serves as an oxymoron.
For the newbies reading this, “SEO”, short for “Search Engine Optimization”, is the process of getting traffic from organic search results on search engines. Trust us, as easy as this sounds, there is actually a coded set of rules, a special algorithm that drives this process, instructing the search engines on how to find a website. The goal of anyone who designs, maintains, or owns a website should always be to have that website be easy to find. What does this look like? Your website being in the first page of search engine results, and more impactfully, the first five listings. This is vital because most casual web cruisers are unlikely to click or browse beyond that first page, in fact according to a study conducted by the University of Twente in the Netherlands, up to 91% of searchers don’t go past the first page. A staggering 50% of searchers don’t even go past the first 3 listings. That’s why it’s imperative to be “ahead of the pack”, so to speak.
Search engines are becoming more sophisticated by the day. Out are the days of lacing keywords through a website, despite being irrelevant, in the mere hopes of getting picked up by search engines. This tactic is fading fast, so if this is you, I suggest upping your game. You should also know that you’re risking being penalized by the biggest search engines. This can lower your ranking or even outright block your site, which means the only way to find it is if your customers type in the complete correct URL.
So how should you be optimizing your site? Be aware of the type of customers you’re attracting (build your buyer personas) and optimize it appropriately. For example, your clientele is local, eco conscious young adults; advertise where you’re from, sell your neighbourhood. If you’re designing a website aimed at Americans but written in Swahili, it’ll be a disaster. You should also be using common wording that the general public is accustomed to. While you could certainly refer to a “visual entertainment unit”, most people would simply call it a tv.
One of the best ways to optimize a site is to leverage the strength of incoming links. This refers to outside sites that’ll link to your site. The importance of the quality of your external links cannot be understated. It’s necessary that only trusted sites link to the site as much as possible and sub par links, such as those originating from link farms or link directories be minimized.
The importance of quality content, featuring results and information that search engine users are actually looking for is king in today’s world of SEO marketing and social media referrals. It has often been said that “content is king”. Keywords and the quality of the your content will set you apart, and will garner the attention that it deserves, bringing more traffic to your site.