How do you put an invisible business on the map? That’s the hurdle every business owner faces after creating a website.

A website doesn’t have much value or presence until it attracts visitors. You can design a beautiful site and update it every day, but none of that matters if you can’t answer “yes” to these two questions.

  1. Is your website set up to attract the right people?
  2. Do people find what they’re looking for once they visit your site?

Search engines are the key to making your site more than a fading mirage in the desert. To truly exist, a site needs steady traffic and a track record of providing good information. If you structure your site to rank well on search engines, you can compete with businesses targeting the same customers.

What is SEO marketing?

What’s the first thing you do when you have a question? Chances are, your research begins online, whether you’re looking for answers or products. Users conduct an estimated 62,000 Google searches per second, according to Internet Live Stats.

As a business owner, you want your site to show up in results when it’s highly relevant to the user. If visitors get what they need from your site, they’re more likely to come back or link to your pages. In the best case scenario, a site visitor turns into a paying customer.

A 2016 WordStream survey found that 72 percent of people who searched online for something local visited a store within five miles. Google reported similar findings in 2016, noting that 28 percent of local searches lead to a purchase.

But how do you get strangers to visit your site before they know anything about your business? Use SEO strategies to build online visibility.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of structuring your site to rank high in on-target search results and boost visits. From a marketing standpoint, you can refine a website to target a niche audience. By studying the needs and buying behavior of your customers, you get better at providing content that fits their most common search terms.

What is SEO keyword research?

Phrases like “keyword research” and “organic search” are bound to come up when you start talking about SEO. An organic search is the process of using loose search terms to get precise search results.

Remember the last time you wanted to find a place to eat or solve a problem at home? You probably entered a phrase or question in a search engine. Take a look at these examples.

  • Location-based query (ex. Cheap restaurants that deliver near me)
  • Question-based query (ex. How do you season a cast iron pan?)
  • Phrase-based query (ex. Halloween outdoor decoration ideas)
  • Structured query (ex. Best shaving kits for sensitive skin)

The information you give the search engine is known as a search query. And the major definitive terms in your query are keywords. An SEO keyword is a popular search term your core audience looks for on a regular basis. But even when the wording is vague (“near me”), the search engine’s complex algorithms interpret the meaning.

Keywords aren’t the only factor in a site’s ranking, but they help search engines find you faster. Search engines constantly scan and index millions of web pages. To speed up the process, they browse common areas, such as page headlines and image tags, for keywords that fit the context of a search query. By adding keywords in the right places, you make it easier for search engines to judge the value of each page.

Why is web ranking important?

Being at the top of your game really pays in SEO marketing. Listings at the top of a search engine results page (SERP) are usually a close match for the search query. Most users want fast answers, and they only look beyond the first page when they don’t find good results right away. That means a high web ranking leads to more clicks and conversions.

In a 2015 survey, Advanced Web Ranking found that search results in the first spot on Google have a 34.36 percent click-through rate. In mobile searches, the first position has a 31.35 percent click-through rate. Imagine all the Web traffic you’re missing if you aren’t optimizing your site to attract visitors.

Besides keywords, what determines how well your pages rank in search results? Search engine algorithms are continually updated to produce better results. However, here are a few factors that can affect your ranking.

Content quality

Creating content that serves a need is the best way to improve web ranking. Search engines pay attention to how long a user stays on your website and the pages they view. If users consistently ditch your site, it’s a sign the content doesn’t match up to their expectations. For this reason, it’s unwise to try and trick search engines with black-hat SEO tactics.

Context and relevance

Search engines do a good job of choosing results that fit conditional parameters. Let’s say you sell winter snow boots in Colorado. Assuming your site is optimized, search engines would avoid showing it in local results for boot sellers in Vermont. Your site would also be a poor fit for people looking for casual fashion boots that aren’t weatherproof.

Search engines keep track of how well your site served people looking for relevant searches. They compare the performance and context of your content to the strength of your keywords. That way, your site gets shown to the people most likely to benefit from it.

Internal linking and backlinking

Links are a strong indicator of the value of a website’s content, especially when multiple pages target popular keywords. Users stay on your site longer when you include internal links guiding them to more info suited to their interests. Search engines reward you for offering a thorough experience that’s likely to benefit other users.

Backlinking has a similar effect on ranking. Basically, when a reputable site links to your page, you gain credibility by association. The search engine views your site as more trustworthy.

Keyword-rich subdomains

Naming your pages with strong keywords provides an easy-to-follow map of your site. Search engines can quickly scan for pages that are likely to match a search query. Consider our blog subdomain name — FreeLogoServices.com/blog. Search engines have no trouble finding the homepage for the blog. Each blog post also contains a keyword-rich subdomain with the date and title.

User experience

Search engines penalize sites with poor navigation and slow speed. If pages take too long to load or users click through quickly without stopping, search engines think your site is difficult to use. Don’t forget the importance of optimizing mobile sites as well. Users get frustrated and leave when mobile sites have visibility and functionality issues.

Staying up to date on SEO best practices

Millions of websites clutter the Internet waiting for visitors. Too often, business owners create a decent site, and then forget about it. Search behavior is always changing, so search engine companies keep improving their algorithms. Search engines favor sites that follow SEO best practices and deliver consistent quality. Develop a winning SEO strategy to stay ahead of competitors who let their sites fade away.

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