Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the process of getting traffic from the “free”, “organic”, “editorial” or “natural” listings on search engines. Nine times out of ten, consumers turn to search engines when making purchasing decisions (Brafton 2012). Even if all your new business comes from referrals and word of mouth, those referrals will seek you out online. To be found online easily by your target audience, SEO needs to be utilized.
Consider these Statistics
- 89% of consumers use search engines for purchase decisions (Brafton 2012).
- 71% of business purchase decisions are started with a search engine (Brafton 2012).
- 70% of users click on organic results (Search Engine Journal 2012).
- 53% of organic search clicks go to the first link (Search Engine Journal 2012).
- 75% of users never click past the first page (Hubspot 2011).
- SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while print or direct mail ads have 1.7% (8.5 times more) (Search Engine Journal 2012).
How SEO Works
There are many factors that contribute to the success of a SEO initiative. At it’s core, SEO is all about keywords. Before implementing SEO tactics on your website, conduct keyword research to determine which keywords drive the most traffic and will be attainable from a competition standpoint.
Basically, SEO can be broken down into two main factors: On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO.
On-Page SEO Factors
On-page SEO search ranking factors are completely within your control. For each web page, identify one keyword phrase and incorporate the keyword into the following:
- Title Tag (after content, the title tag is the most important on-page factor for SEO)
- URL (ex: http://aspireid.com/services/web-design/case-studies)
- High Quality, Unique Content (include the keyword several times throughout the content and use synonyms)
- Heading Tags (H1, H2, etc.)
- Image File Name (ex: website-design-sample.jpg) and Alt Text
- Description Tag (used to provide text in search results and appears under the title tag)
- Links (use internal links and external links)
- Clean & Uncluttered Code (Make sure your web pages are clean and uncluttered with unnecessary code. Doing so makes it easier for search engines to read the pages and makes the pages load faster.)
Off-Page SEO Factors
With billions of web pages to sort through, the search engines need to look at more than the on-page factors to determine the ranking of a page. They use several off-page SEO factors and signals, including:
- Links to Your Web Pages (from high authority websites)
- Substantive Social Presence (posting content and links to your website & lots of interaction with fans, followers, connections is key)
- Reviews from Customers (from Google, Yelp!, Amazon, BBB, etc.)