You’ve heard the term and you’ve nodded along with the people in your meeting. But the truth is, you don’t really know what SEO is.

That’s okay. Most people don’t. This post is here to help.

SEO Basics

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a method applied to websites to help them perform better on search engines like Google and Bing.

What does it mean to “perform better on search engines?”

Let’s take a search as an example. You and your spouse want to go out to dinner and you want to find a restaurant in Hartford, CT that has a patio. You might enter “Hartford ct restaurant outdoor dining” into Google.

The best performing websites will be listed at the top of the search engine results page. If you own a restaurant in Hartford that has a large patio, you want to rank in at least the top 3 in the organic search results for that phrase.

What are organic search results?

The results page for a query in Google presents several different types of results. At the top you’ll see paid ads. Businesses can pay Google and Bing to have text ads displayed for relevant search terms. Depending on the type of search, you may see paid ads on the right hand side or at the very bottom of the page as well.

Below the paid ads, you often will see Google Map results. It’s also very important to get your business to rank well on these maps. The best way to see your business listed near the top here (in the top 3) is to make sure your have a Google My Business page and that you have positive Google Reviews.

Finally, below the map results you’ll see the organic search results. Google determines these ranking of websites for organic search results on a number of factors that I explain below.

What can I do to improve the SEO of my website?

The best way to improve your SEO is to have a well-designed website that helps people looking for the product or service that you offer answer their questions. You might have the best restaurant patio in Hartford County, but if your website makes no mention of your patio, how is anyone visiting your website going to know that? It then follows that Google won’t know that either.

Mission No. 1 for good SEO is to make sure your website content completely represents your business – that means it highlights all the basic services you offer and the ways that you differentiate from the competition.

What if I have strong website content, but my Google rankings are still bad?

There are some basic structural issues that all websites need in order to please the Google algorithm:

  1. Page Titles – You want to make sure the most common search terms that your customers use on Google are in your page titles. Page titles are the text that shows up at the top of your web browser. The page title that displays on the homepage for my website is: Marketing Agency CT | Advertising Agency CT | Hall Davis Marketing. Have you ever looked at your competitors’ page titles? You might get insights into what type of customers they are targeting. Or you might learn that they have not bothered to optimize their site, which might be an opportunity for your business.
  2. Meta-description – This is text buried in the HTML for each webpage that gives Google a brief description of a page’s content. You want to make sure that the most important search terms relevant to your business are in the meta-description.
  3. Image file names and Alt Text – Again, you want relevant keywords in every image on your website. For example, you will have better SEO if you upload a photo with the filename Hartford_restaurant.jpg than if you upload a photo with the filename IMG123.jpg. Alt Text is also a place where you want to make sure your keywords are included. Most content management systems allow you to edit the Alt Text very easily.
  4. Internal links – You want to try to include links to relevant pages within your site. For example, if your website for a Hartford restaurant mentions the outdoor patio on the homepage, be sure to link the phrase “outdoor patio” to another page on the site with details about the patio.

SEO sounds like a lot of work!

Yeah, SEO does take resources. That’s why a lot of businesses contract with consultants like Hall Davis Marketing (shameless plug) to handle SEO. It can be a lot for a business owner to manage on their own.

Is there a way to make SEO easier?

Be wary of people who claim that they can fix your SEO in a short time frame. Good SEO takes time. I’ve rarely seen a big change in SEO performance in less than 6 months. Sometimes it can take a couple of years for a website to improve its rankings, especially if they’ve engaged in any quick fixes. Things like “black hat SEO” or link exchanges are a no-no. If you engage in black hat SEO, Google will penalize your site and it will take years for your SEO to recover.

What’s the most important thing for achieving good SEO?

Strong web content always wins the day. It doesn’t have to be fancy content. It just has to be useful content. And content includes text, images, graphics and videos.

What if I still have questions about SEO?

Contact Hall Davis Marketing Strategies and we’ll try to help!