Search engine optimization (SEO) affects the online visibility of a website or web page on search engines. SEO can target specific information or changes reflected in the relevancy rankings in search results for targeted keywords.
Content providers and webmasters began optimizing websites for search engines in the mid-1990s, as the first search engines were cataloging the early Web. Initially, all webmasters needed only to submit their site’s URL (address) to a major directory such as Yahoo! and let it be crawled. Optimization means having many good features on your site. It would be rated highly by those sites providing directory listings or those sites conducting link popularity contests that were popular during this time. When major search engines such as Google and Yahoo! started using crawlers for web indexing, optimized web pages changed dramatically. Webmasters now needed to post content on their site with many essential keywords and relevant/recent information so that the page could attract organic (unpaid) visitors from all over the globe. The much anticipated “SEO Wars” had begun in full force—but who won?
Having a higher ranking in search results when consumers use specific keywords is key to attaining a more significant online presence. Pages that are ranked highly get more traffic, leading not only to a boost of awareness but also potentially an increase in revenue if it’s a commercial website. SEO can be split into two categories: techniques that search engines recommend as part of good practice or design and those techniques of which search engines do not approve. Some SEO techniques include using keywords strategically in page titles, headlines, and throughout a web page’s content. While many search engine companies say that they do not endorse particular tactics or strategies, including some that may be characterized as “black hat,” a great deal of formal advice about search engine optimization is indisputably helpful for any website.
SEO can be an expensive proposition; it’s frequently the case that professional SEO services have a monthly retainer fee or require large one-time payments upfront. However, depending upon how much time and money you are willing to invest in SEO (some digital marketing agencies say millions), there are several ways to get an affordable or even free SEO strategy:
1) Hire a digital marketing agency that will work with you to create your SEO strategy. Depending upon the company and its services, they will often offer an initial consultation for free or at little cost. That way, you can determine what type of campaign would be appropriate before starting down the road of investing either time or money. If you decide to proceed, agencies usually offer month-to-month retainer fees, which give them the flexibility to help maintain your site and make changes on an ongoing basis.
2) Make sure all of your site’s content is well researched and is free of spelling and grammatical mistakes. No one wants to spend their hard-earned money on a product or service only to be met with poor quality. If nothing else, your website should be aesthetically appealing to the eye of the consumer.
3) Ensure that all legal disclaimers are prominently displayed within either your site’s footer, sidebar, or on its contact page. Legally required disclaimers will not only protect you, but consumers can feel at ease knowing they aren’t being deceived by missing information.
4) Make sure your company’s social media profiles are up-to-date and active. Most people now look to social media before purchasing products or services online—as such, having an active presence on sites like YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn is essential to the success of your business.
5) Make sure all websites are mobile-friendly, meaning they can be easily viewed on smartphones in portrait view and landscape mode. As more users are using mobile devices, having a website that functions properly when being accessed on these smaller screens will set you apart from competitors that have not optimized their sites for these mobile users. This is another way to receive free SEO benefits while also driving new visitors towards your site.