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An intro to SEO: the basics every business owner should know

Ever feel like you’ve heard a term used so often, you should know what it means by now, but for some reason you still just can’t grasp the concept? It seems like everyone’s talking about ways to leverage your SEO strategy these days, so today I’m here to break it down for you.

It takes a team effort to drive impact with SEO. A combination of expertise from the web developer and the copywriter for the content on your website is best when looking at your strategy.

If you’re new to SEO, let me walk you through a scenario to explain what it is. Say you’re a business owner looking to hire a specialist in digital media buying. You pull up Google and type in “Omaha digital media expert.” Google searches many thousands of pages that answer your query and ranks them on various factors. The results that appear are the ranked listings of the pages most likely to answer your question. It may surprise you to find the first search result doesn’t always contain your exact search phrase. More on that:

How Google ranks search results:

  • The exact ranking details are secret, but most experts agree that the basic ranking factors are great content and site authority. Good content answers questions in natural language, and it’s presented on a site using semantic markup. Great content does all that and appears on a domain with lots of backlinks.
  • Backlinks are the links out there on the web that point back to your site. A high number of these can be a huge help, but they need two things to move your ranking up toward the top: relevance and authority. Backlinks on irrelevant or low-authority sites can actually hurt your rankings.
  • Useful content to the user is very important as well. Longer content isn’t better content. Cover what is important and useful to the searcher, and be clear and thorough.
  • Technical issues can affect ranking, too. The speed at which the page loads is important, as well as if the page is mobile-friendly. Make sure that your site has a security certificate installed so that information is being encrypted back and forth.
  • Make the user experience pleasant. Disorganized sites with hard-to-read content and intrusive ads are unpleasant. Even with the perfect answer to a search query, you’ll find that a page with poor UX will have low dwell time and a high bounce rate. Keep it simple – organize your content logically and write for readability.

Search engine optimization is simply fine-tuning content to outrank your competitors. High-ranking content drives more leads to your website, especially if those search results contain rich information. Semantic code, structured data and earned backlinks can lead to enhanced search results like these:

Google search results page for best brownie recipes
Recipes marked up semantically show up as rich search results instead of just links to pages.
Google search results page for how to change oil on a Volvo 240
Google features YouTube content more prominently when relevant to your search.
Google search results page for Omaha marketing jobs
Job listings are another example of rich search results, provided the content is properly marked up.

How SEO increases trust:

Good SEO can help build trust with your potential customers, which is more important than ever. High-ranking gives credence to your business and reassures users that you are an authority on a specific service or topic. The obvious psychology here is that if your site ranks at or near the top of a search, then you must be among the best. Google said so, and with good reason.

SEO, paired with other strategies like social media marketing and keeping your website accessible for all, can help improve your business. If your organization could use guidance on SEO or digital consulting in general, we would love to hear from you.