Search Engine Optimization word graphic
SHANNON SMITH -  SAGE CONTENT MARKETING

SHANNON SMITH - SAGE CONTENT MARKETING

What is SEO and Why It Matters to Your Business

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

Put simply, SEO is the process of making a website visible to search engines such as Google and Bing. A website that is optimized contains keywords and phrases in various places that match keywords and phrases people use in online searches.

How does this work? Read on…

Internal SEO

Keywords, Phrases, and Where They Go

Internal SEO is my term for adding elements to the backend of a website that improves its chances of appearing in online searches.

A keyword or phrase search is done using Moz Keyword Finder, Google Keyword Search, even Pinterest and Reddit to see what words and phrases in relation to the subject of a website are used. Then variations of those words and phrases are created and tested.

Good SEO strategy is to find those keywords and phrases that provide rank without a lot of competition. Keyword finders such as Moz show the usage of a keyword or phrase and the amount of competition for it.

These keywords and phrases are then added to a website primarily in the headings and the first few paragraphs of the copy. It’s important to get these words and phrases in the headings because when a website is submitted to a search engine for “crawling,” the search engine algorithm “reads” the headings to learn what the site (or article or blog post) is about.

More about submitting a site for crawling later…

A website for a business has images. These images – photos, logos, artwork, and videos – can and should be optimized for search as well.

The media library of WordPress is where images are kept. The library has fields for each image where a developer can add content. The alt text field is for a brief description of the image for the sight-impaired. Adding a brief descriptive sentence in this field not only is courteous to people with impaired vision, it tells the search engines you care about reaching a wider audience and gives a website some “juice” in ranking.

In the Image Title is a good place to add words and phrases that aid search. Captions will show up on a site, so this field should stay blank unless needed.

The description field is a great place to pack keywords and phrases. In an image search using any of the words in this description field will bring the image up as well as the URL of the website.

Videos use a lot of space on a host server. I recommend keeping videos on Rumble, optimizing them for search there, then linking them to a video field on a website. A video title is a good place for keywords.

Add a Blog to a Website

Fresh content that is helpful, informative, even delightful that is generated regularly is a great way to not only make a company an even greater asset to its customers, but also boosts SEO.

When search engines see fresh content on a website, it knows the site owner is actively working. It sees good content as establishing expertise and authority as it builds trust with customers and search engines alike.

Adding a subscription form to a blog gathers email addresses from readers that can be used for email marketing. When someone gives a business their email address, they want to hear from your business.

This is golden. I’ll write about email marketing in a future article.

External SEO

Submitting Websites for Crawling

Creating a website with all the right keywords and phrases isn’t enough.

Once a website is complete, it needs to be submitted to search engines for crawling.

Crawling means the search engine algorithm “reads” a website to determine what it’s about so it can know whether or not to display it, and if so, where on a search engine results page (SERP). It not only looks for content, but sources of content to determine the content creator’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

The two most common search engines for submission are Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster.** Amazon’s Alexa uses Bing for voice search, so it’s important to submit a site to Bing.

Google My Business

Google My Business gives small businesses a competitive edge in showing up on SERPs.

A Google My Business profile allows Google to verify a business giving it authority and trustworthiness which boosts SEO. This article explains all about Google My Business and how it works.

Yellow Pages, Chamber of Commerce, Yelp, etc.

It’s good to claim listings and create profiles on external sites where people search for businesses. 

Restaurants and local small businesses should be on Yelp. Landscapers, interior designers, construction companies – any business related to home building and repair – should be on Houzz and Angie’s List.

These sites have their own algorithms that read profiles to determine website ranking. Keywords and phrases are just as important in helping a business show up on these sites as they are on internet search engines.

Yellowpages.com

In my experience in using yellowpages.com, the listings for the businesses I do SEO for are almost always incorrect. Every effort should be made to make sure a business’s name, address, phone number, and website URL is correct across the internet.

Since the phone number in a business’s yellowpages.com listing is usually incorrect, I click the “Submit an Edit” link and make the changes there. Yellowpages.com reviews these suggestions and will correct the information. Once the phone number is correct, then it’s possible to “claim” the listing (because they verify by phone call only) and personally manage what appears on this site.

Chamberofcommerce.com

This website boasts 25 million visitors a year. It’s a good place to see what businesses are in what towns all across the United States. Their listings are usually correct, but I’ve encountered some incorrect information in listings. Fortunately, claiming and correcting a listing on this site is very easy.

Just click the “Claim this Listing” button and click to have a verification email sent to your email address. Open that email, click “Yes” to verify, and you’re on your way.

Yelp.com

Yelp.com is heavily used by people searching for a business – especially restaurants and salons and barbershops –  and to check out its reviews. Reviews on Yelp weigh heavily on a potential customer’s decision to visit or call a business. 

Businesses depending on tourism MUST be on Yelp. It is an essential app for travelers to find places to eat and visit while in an unfamiliar location.

Like the previous websites, a business is likely listed but not claimed. Claiming a business listing is easy and important for managing what shows on a Yelp listing. 

If a business is not listed, it can be added by creating a Yelp profile and adding it.

Negative reviews are going to happen on Yelp. How a business handles these negative reviews can still bring people to the door because everyone knows mistakes happen. How a business handles these mistakes can be a big boost on a Yelp listing because the person posting the negative review will often go back and list a positive review if the issue is resolved to their satisfaction.

Social Media SEO

Did you know Pinterest is not a social media platform but a visual search engine?

A business promoting itself on Pinterest needs to add keywords, phrases, and hashtags to a pin’s description. Code needs to be added to a site to generate Rich Pins that are boosted ahead of regular pins.

Managing Pinterest is time-consuming. Many businesses that heavily promote on Pinterest hire Pinterest Managers who understand Pinterest SEO and good pinning strategies.

Each social media platform has its own best practices for gaining visibility. And they change constantly.

I recommend a business choose one or two social media platforms where its clients are most likely to be and learn to use it well implementing the SEO practices for content that work best. Social media posts should not only engage a profile’s visitors, it should direct them to a company’s website. That’s ultimately where a business wants people to go.

Sage Content Marketing manages social media accounts and can be of services to business owners who have neither the time nor knowledge to do this.

Good SEO Gets Your Business Seen in Online Searches

A website is your online business card.

Good SEO ensures a business’s website is present and in front of potential customers. It lends expertise, authority, and trustworthiness to a business.

And those two things bring in customers.

**Other website browsers are growing in popularity because people are tired of the censorship and suppression of information by the Big Tech search engines. I’m keeping an eye on this and looking for opportunities to include my client’s websites on these up-and-coming browsers. One browser I’ve been using on my iPhone is Yandex – a Ukrainian browser with a built-in VPN. So far I’m happy with it. I’ve found things on Yandex that Google has obviously suppressed for political reasons. Other browsers growing in popularity are Brave, Pale Moon, and Dissenter.

I have a Duck Duck Go extension on my Google Chrome browser to limit them from gathering my data, and have added Dissenter as my default browser on my laptop.

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