What is SEO and why does it matter?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short, SEO is a way to make your website rank higher on search engines like Google. This helps drive organic leads to your website and provides invaluable information about what and how your customers search online. Understanding these behaviors allows you to tailor your content to their needs.

How do I optimize my website?

The first step in optimizing your website for better search ranking and visibility is checking its health. So you’re going to need to go to Google and download a website feelings report to make sure it’s okay.

Of course we’re joking, but in all seriousness, if you’re trying to optimize a website lacking in critical technical SEO factors, such as fast page load speeds or an XML Sitemap, then no matter what your intent is, the effort will produce nothing.

To get a better understanding of your website’s current health levels, check out our Free SEO Audit Tool.

What is technical SEO?

You wouldn’t add a supercharger to your engine if the engine is already misfiring. In the same sense, you wouldn’t try to optimize your website if there were already significant technical SEO issues.

We’ll skip the dramatics. Your website won’t implode if you start optimizing before fixing the technical SEO problems, but it will drain your wallet, resources and time.

The good news is that most technical SEO issues usually only have to be fixed once. Luckily, identifying technical SEO issues is a straightforward process and can be done by running a technical SEO audit on your website. We recommend using our Free SEO Audit Tool to get a baseline idea of what improvements you need to make.

Our free report will produce a technical SEO report that checks many factors such as:

Page Speed

There is a big difference between a page that takes 2 seconds to load and a page that takes 10 seconds to load, especially on mobile. The average human attention span for reading online articles has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000, all the way down to 8.25 in 2013. Which is now lower than a goldfish. Let that sink in. 

In addition to boring and frustrating users, a slow website gives the illusion that your website is broken. This not only directly impacts conversion rates and SEO performance, but can also damage the integrity of your brand, products, and services.

While several elements contribute to how long it takes your page to load, the network speed or server response time of your hosting company is a big factor. The faster the server responds, the quicker your site will load. If you’re looking for better website hosting, reach out.  We offer website hosting packages that are fast, secure, and reliable.

Other important page speed factors include image size, compression of your website files, use of a CDN (content delivery network), and plugins if your website is managed on WordPress. Making sure these elements are optimized can make a significant difference in the overall performance of your site.

Title tags

The most important on-page SEO element of your webpage is its title tag, as it’s the first thing Google will see and display in its search engine results. In other words, if you only worked to improve one thing on your page for better search rankings, start with your title tags. 

A technical SEO audit doesn’t check the keywords of your title tag but will check if your webpage has a title tag and if it’s too long. Ideally, you want your title tag to use all its characters and be between 50-60 characters. If it’s too long, your page may not show properly on social media and mobile phones.

Meta description

While meta descriptions don’t directly affect your on-page SEO, they do affect your CTR (click-through rate, we’ll cover this more in a few seconds). Like title tags, your page’s meta description shows on Google’s search result pages (these are commonly referred to as SERPs or search engine result pages), which plays into a user’s decision to click on your page.

If you have a webpage that is getting a lot of impressions (how many times a user saw a link to your site in search results) but has a low CTR (the number of times a user clicked through to your website from a SERP) then you need to adjust your title tag and meta description.

Meta description tags should be no more than 150 characters. Refrain from having a single keyword repeated too many times. If you add too many keywords, Google will flag your page and prevent it from ranking in any search queries.

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Alt tags

Google can’t see images or videos. Having descriptive alt text for your images helps Google understand if the image is relevant to the content on your page and useful to users who visit your page. Alt tags are also very important for website accessibility and screen readers, which is another ranking factor for Google.

SSL Certificate installed

This is very straightforward, does your website have an SSL certificate installed to make it secure.

XML Sitemap Exists

A sitemap allows Google’s robots to scan your page more easily and helps them understand the structure of your website. It’s essentially a map that helps Google navigate your website.

To see if you have a sitemap, go to yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. If the page returns a 404, then this means your website needs a sitemap.

In addition to having a sitemap, you should also ensure that your sitemap is submitted to Google Search Console. This will allow for better indexing of your site and give you in-depth data for SEO strategy. If you’re not sure how to create and submit your sitemap to Google Search Console, feel free to reach out, we would love to help.

Mobile-Friendly Website

Google has been emphasizing the importance of mobile responsive websites for several years now. That being said, Google has recently confirmed that they’ll be increasing the importance of mobile-friendly websites as a ranking factor.

If your site has a poor mobile user interface or experience (UI/UX) and/ or it’s not responsive on mobile devices, we highly recommend that you consider redesigning your website. If you’re unsure where to start, send us a message and we’ll help you out.

Favicon

A favicon, short for “favorite icon”, is the small icon that appears beside your site’s URL. In addition to improving branding, your website’s favicon will show up in search bars and bookmarks.

If you don’t already have a favicon, don’t panic, they are easy to create and add. Again, reach out and we can help get you set up.

Word count

Written content is crucial for improving SEO. The more pages you have with relevant, high-quality content, the higher your site will rank on search engines. We aim to have at least 500 words per page. Anything less and Google will deem the page unbeneficial to users.

One of the best ways to create more pages with high-quality content is to create a blog. If you don’t currently have a blog, reach out and we can help you implement one on your site. Once you have your blog set up and running consider creating at least 1-2 posts per week.

Along with its inherent SEO benefits, blog posts position you as a thought leader in your industry and play a critical role in your content, social media, and email marketing strategies. 

What else is my website missing?

In addition to running an SEO audit, it is also crucial that you install Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your website. These free tools allow you to view your website traffic data and generate reports, which provide insights on how to improve your site. Check out our Google Analytics Installation Guide and Google Search Console Installation guide for more information.

Alright, we promise that’s it. Once you complete your SEO audit, install Google Analytics and Google Search Console on your website, it’s finally time to focus on optimizing your on-page SEO.

What is on-page SEO?

There’s an endless sea of information related to SEO out there, which tends to make the process a little convoluted. Here at Bit Wave Labs, we are dedicated to simplicity, which is why we created the simple SEO cycle… thingy (we’re still in the lab working on a cool and trendy SEO process name).

The best way to optimize your website is to view the SEO process as a five-step continuous cycle with the following steps –

Set Goals

The first step in any SEO strategy is to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based. Otherwise known as SMART goals. Without having clear goals in place, you won’t know where to focus your SEO efforts and could end up wasting a lot of time, money, and energy.

When formulating your SEO SMART goals, consider your organization’s ultimate objectives. For example, setting a goal of “Improve the SEO of your landing page” is too vague. Ask yourself, what is the ‘why’ behind wanting to improve SEO for that page? Do you want to increase organic traffic to grow brand awareness? Or maybe you want to generate new leads off of your intake form. Instead, try setting your goal as “Get 20 new form fills on my landing page within the next four months”.

The more specific you can be with your goals, the better SEO strategy you can create.

Research

SEO doesn’t really work without Keyword Research. Keyword research is –  wait for it – the process of researching the best keywords to use for your page titles, meta descriptions, title tags, and content. Pretty exciting, right?

Though it seems pretty straightforward, Keyword Research is without a doubt the most important aspect of SEO. This is because it can make or break your SEO strategy. Okay, so what is the best way to research keywords?

Google Ad’s Keyword Planner is a fantastic free tool to research top keywords in your industry as well as providing new keyword ideas. You can see the average monthly searches, the competition level (which is based on the number of advertisers bidding on the keyword), and the CPC (cost-per-click) if you were to run an ad using that keyword.

The best keyword strategy is to search for keywords with high traffic volume and low competition. It is also important to note the rise of long-tail keywords with the rollout of more voice-to-text searches. This brings a more human element to keyword research instead of just focusing on single phrases.

Example:

Single-word phrase – “SEO”

Long Tail Keyword – “How can SEO help my business?”

Optimize Current

Unfortunately, any SEO strategy is an ongoing, dynamic process that requires consistent updates and tweaks to be effective. The good news is that you can see what’s working and what needs to be updated by looking at your website’s traffic with Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

Important note:

Here are some helpful terms to know when looking at your Google Search Console data.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – The page that a search engine returns after a user searches something.

Impression – How many times users saw your webpage link on a SERP.

Click-Through Rate (CTR) – The number of users who clicked through to your website from a SERP divided by the total number of impressions.

Below are some common examples of SEO issues and how they can be solved.

High impressions, but a low click-through rate

This means a lot of users are seeing your page link on the SERP, but aren’t clicking through to your site. The solution for this issue would be to improve your page title and meta description. This is because the page title and meta description are the only pieces of information that are displayed on SERPs.

Important Note:

As we said before, don’t spam your meta description with too many keywords. Instead, you should have a compelling description that includes only the most important keywords.

High impressions and CTR, but low conversions

Maybe you have a page on your website that has high impressions and CTR, but you’re not generating any leads. This means that there is probably an issue with the layout or design of the page. An example would be adding a CTA (call to action) button in the header, or adding a contact page.

Low impressions and click-through rate

Start panicking. All of your hard work was for nothing. Kidding, if you’ve recently optimized a page and you’re not gaining traction it could mean that Google hasn’t fully indexed it yet. The hardest, and most frustrating, part of SEO is that there’s no instant gratification. It takes time for Google to notice your changes and rank you accordingly.

Add new

Adding new content is the most basic part of an SEO strategy. Google loves fresh relevant content, so creating new high-quality content regularly greatly improves your search engine rankings.

However, generating quality content that piques the interest of your customers and Google alike can be a daunting task. The easiest way to create high-quality content is by answering the most common questions that your customers are asking. For example, “Why is it taking my dad so long to get milk?” Or, “Milk near me?”

Anyways… Regardless of your content, we recommend having at least 500 words per new page/ post that you create. And if you’re not the greatest writer, don’t worry. We know some professional copywriters with experience in creating content that doesn’t just please the Google Gods, but keeps your audiences coming back for more. If you’re interested in copywriting services to help you build new pages and generate more leads, Bit Wave Labs can help. 

Track

Once you have your pages optimized, it is important to monitor those optimizations and track how they affect your traffic levels. This is where tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console come in. These tools will allow you to track the performance of your optimized pages over time, which will give you insight into what factors are helping or hurting.

All you have to do is keep repeating the process, rank for new keywords, and continue to reach more customers and generate more leads.

An SEO analogy you didn’t ask for, but you got anyway.

SEO is a lot like working out. First, you get a gym membership and an exercise tracking device to keep you motivated and monitor your progress (setting up Google Analytics and Google Search Console).

Then you would get your weight and baseline fitness levels (SEO audit).  

Now you’re ready to set your goals, research what workouts would be the best to reach those goals, work on improving those workouts, add new workouts to your library, track your progress to know that you’re on track/ see what you need to improve, and then repeat.

And just like working out, if you don’t dedicate any time to your SEO strategy, you won’t make any progress.

Have SEO-related questions?

Feel free to reach out! Seriously. We’re not ashamed to admit that we’re SEO nerds.Talking to you about SEO and how it can transform your business excites us. So go ahead. What’re you waiting for?

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