Understanding SEO is Your Ticket to Long-Term Success

Guest post from Tonbo Digital

The goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. Since competition is often high, a long-term, steady effort is often required to improve your website’s visibility.

Evaluate your website based on who you’re trying to reach and your competition. If you’re primarily focused on a city or regional level, perhaps it’s not realistic to try and outrank a national food company. Your visibility in the search results is relative to the competitive niche you occupy, and you’ll want to adapt your SEO strategy accordingly. Also, take a realistic look at your skill level and decide if you need an expert to help you with SEO. Remember to consider the value of your time. It’s often worth it to hire someone to make sure you get the results you need.

This post will outline the elements important to SEO success.

Site Architecture & Technology

Search engines typically crawl websites and save your site’s content within their index. The vast majority of modern content management systems are search-friendly and follow many accepted best practices. However, there are technical factors that can cause problems, such as JavaScript or Flash hiding links from the search engine crawlers. You’ll want to make sure your site has:

  • Mobile-friendly design

  • HTTPS (secure on all pages)

  • Pages that load within 3-5 seconds (the faster the better!)

  • Ensure the site is "crawlable"

It Gets A Bit More Complicated

SEO is about more than the words you and readers see on the page. It’s broken down by those of us who work with this daily into “on page” and “off page” factors. And we can’t forget keywords, the basis for much of your SEO plan. We’ll try to explain.

Keyword Research & Targeting

Keywords are really critical to SEO today. If you’ve chosen correctly for your business, it will make the rest of the process run most smoothly. Keyword research is the process of collecting and evaluating the most common and relevant keywords used by search engine users pertaining to your topic. You can, and should, conduct keyword research when revising existing or creating new content.

Choose the keyword targets most relevant to your users by thinking about how they will search for your site. Reviewing the keyword phrases and questions people ask the search engines is also a great way to find content creation ideas for your site. The information, problems and questions people want answered are often right there, ranked by search volume.

On Page Considerations

Your web pages should contain the keywords your customers are searching for. In the early days of SEO, this often meant a lot of repetition or targeting a percentage of mentions. Search engines have become very good at understanding the context of language so it’s no longer necessary (or advisable) to latch onto a set of keywords and repeat them “X” number of times on the page.

Write for the people who will read your web pages, not the search engines.

  • SEO includes hidden HTML elements on your page seen by the search engine, but not seen by your reader.

  • HTML title tags are seen in the search engine results pages and are critical to differentiate each of your web pages.

  • The meta description is one of the oldest SEO elements, and while it’s not a direct ranking factor, it often serves as the snippet of text that is shown to search engine users.

Each page on your website should have a unique HTML page title and meta description. These represent suggestions for the search engines and may be slightly modified or not used in the search results.

Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. Updating your HTML with structured data can designate a particular page as a recipe, the physical address for a business or as the answer to a question. Structured data may require the use of free or paid tools to generate the proper formatting to your HTML code.

Critical factors for on page SEO include:

  • Keyword research & relevancy

  • HTML coding

  • Unique, valuable content

  • Structured data

Off Page Factors:

Off page factors are often referred as measures of authority and trust. Is your website relatively young without links, mentions or social media shares? If so, then it will likely be more difficult to rank highly in search. Building awareness for your brand and website is important to establish trust and authority. Think of mentions, links and social media shares as endorsements for your site. Know that this will take months and even years of hard, consistent work.

If your new restaurant begins receiving rave reviews from bloggers and happy customers on various sites and social platforms, these are signals that search engines can interpret. The source of links, shares and mentions are important, as each of these entities will have some hidden measure of trust and authority.

Be sure to consider:

  • Social reputation & shares

  • Links

  • Mentions

Finally, and very importantly, think about your user’s experience

Think about your site’s users.

  • Does the site load quickly on a mobile device?

  • When your users arrive from a search engine, do they find what they need?

If you rank #1 for a search query, but the search engines can see that vast majority of people bounce back to the search results in a few seconds, you won’t be #1 for long (we call this behavior pogo-sticking).

Ranking highly isn’t enough – providing the information or the answer the search user is seeking is key. Key factors:

  • Speed

  • Usefulness to the user

  • Engagement

At Thrively Digital, we often tell our clients SEO is a marathon and not a sprint. It requires steady, consistent effort & adaptability. While some success can happen rapidly, it’s most often the result of constantly working to improve your content, updates to your site architecture and technology, user experience, and reputation. Here are some resources if you’d like to learn more and take on SEO:

If you want some help making sure SEO is working correctly for your business, contact us.

About Tonbo Digital

Tonbo Digital is a full-service interactive agency based in Anchorage, Alaska. They offer website design, search engine optimization and inbound marketing strategies, paid search marketing and social media campaign management. They align digital marketing efforts with a company’s business goals. Finally, they feel strongly that non-technical, solution-based communication is critical to any web project and presents web solutions in a way that any organization can understand and take action with confidence.

The Barber Group

Gig Harbor, Washington


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