Getting Started With Search Engine Optimization
As a writer, and especially a new writer, do you need to know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Quite likely, you have heard about search engine optimisation (SEO) before. But do you know what it is, and do you know why it is essential to you as a writer? Search Engine Optimization is a rather complex topic that can be difficult to grasp if you’re not a web developer, for instance. For that reason, many website owners leave it up to SEO professionals to get the job done.
But having some basic knowledge of SEO can be helpful in not only saving money but also helping you to create more SEO-friendly content. If you are new to writing or just setting up your website (or both), it’s a good idea to get familiar with SEO. Read on to get up to speed with the basics of SEO and how you can use it to improve the content you create and your general online presence.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is a set of activities that are used to organically increase traffic to a web destination. The search engine part of that definition is vital because it’s the bridge between your content/website and the people you want to find you (your readers).
What’s the point?
The whole point of SEO is to help your web pages reach as high a position as possible on the search engines. Ideally, you want your content to reach the first page of the Google index. That’s because approximately 92% of people conducting Google searches tend to only click on the results that show up on the first page, especially those at the top.
With statistics showing that over 67,000 searches are conducted on Google every second, it is hands down, the number one search engine. However, there are other search engines to keep in the back of your mind. These include Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com, DuckDuckGo, and Baidu. But with Google being responsible for over 71% of all search traffic globally, most SEO practices and trends revolve around Google’s algorithms.
Why Search Engine Optimization so important
There are a multitude of reasons why paying attention to SEO is essential. But let’s look at three SEO statistics for answers.
- Search engines account for 93% of all web traffic! That’s right, and most people will use a search engine to find information, products, and services which interests them.
- Search engine optimisation has a higher conversion rate (how often someone takes action after finding your content) than other means of driving traffic. The conversion rate for SEO stands at 14.6% while it’s just about 1.7% for other outbound methods such as sending direct mail or creating print ads.
- After searching online, 88% of consumers are likely to call or visit a local business they found, within 24 hours.
Blog or e-Commerce
By looking at these three statistics alone, it’s easy to see why you should spend some time on SEO. Whether you run a blog or own an e-commerce store, SEO will make it easier for people to find you, which is the whole point of you having your business online in the first place. Another reason why you want to pay attention to SEO is that your competitors are doing it. If their web pages are optimised for search engines, then they are the ones who will be found by your target consumers.
How to use SEO
Search algorithms look for the most relevant content that matches a term that somebody types into the search bar. This content can be text, video, image, or even a file on the web. Whatever the case, you need to use SEO to ensure all search engine’s web crawlers discover your page content as well as indexing and ranking. That way, it ends up on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
How do you use SEO to accomplish this?
- Find out what your potential customers will be searching for (the actual item or content).
- Determine what keywords they are likely to use (requires keyword research) and target those keywords.
- From your keyword research, select those that carry the most weight in terms of search volume and relevance.
- Look for or create content around topics that your target audience will find highly appealing.
- Write content in a natural, engaging way and find opportunities to use your keywords.
- Optimise your webpages for search. There are several ways to do this, but you can start with a plugin called Yoast SEO.
- Pay attention to the ease of navigation and the use of good/relevant information on your website.
SEO best practices
Search engine optimisation trends keep changing, in line with Google’s constant updates to its search algorithm. As a result, you need to stay abreast with current SEO news to make sure you can apply necessary tweaks to your web content and keep it SEO-friendly. With that said, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:
- Create catchy, keyword-friendly titles for content such as blog posts.
- Use headers and subheaders to structure your content logically.
- Label images using ALT text so that web crawlers can identify what they are.
- Create suitable meta titles and descriptions for each of your webpages.
- Avoid overusing keywords; Google will penalise you if its web crawlers think your content has unnecessary words/phrases.
- Ensure your page URLs are descriptive and straightforward.
- Make your website mobile-friendly; more than half of website searches come from mobile devices.
- Add a robots.txt file to your website to tell Google how to index pages on your site.
- Create a sitemap.
- Ensure you link to other pages and websites to increase your visibility.
SEO is an ongoing practice that requires time and patience, but if you do it right, the rewards will be well worth it. By learning the basics of search engine optimisation, you will get an understanding of how the web works, as well as how to make your content more easily discovered by your potential readers.
I’ve included a few books on SEO if you need further clarification – If you buy any of them, I will receive a small amount of money.