Being Freed
Being Freed
Being Freed

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tailors your content so browsers like Google & Safari understand the purpose of your page or post.
SEO - Search Engine Optimization

What is SEO?

Search engine:
An online index such as Google, Safari, or Firefox, which directs you to websites

Optimization:
Making the best use of a resource

Simply put, SEO employs a variety of tools to make sure search engines notice your website.  Once they understand your purpose, they can suggest their users check you out.

SEO increases organic leads

Organic leads are hits on your website that come from unpaid sources like search engine results.  The viewer doesn’t know about the page before they happened upon it: hence the “organic” label.

SEO tools for everyone

Answering which SEO tool is best is difficult.  All you have to do is search for “best SEO tools” to see how many there are.  Most articles will lead with the same 5 or so plugins and any of these big names will do a good job for you. 

WordPress sites use plugins for SEO.  A plugin is a piece of software that adds functionality to a site: it gives you features that WordPress doesn’t offer on its own.  You may choose one over another because you like features it has or because you like the interface better (the way it looks).  If you’re building your own site, you’ll need to choose one based on features and interface. 

I use the Yoast plugin

Yoast has a comprehensive toolkit for analyzing design and copy.  It adds structured data and allows me to choose how my posts look when linked to social media sites. It updates its analysis as I edit, giving real-time feedback. Together, my clients and I can tweak content to achieve the best possible SEO.

Screenshot of a Yoast Dashboard with no problems and no notifications
Make your Yoast dashboard look like this: no problems, no notifications

Basic tools

Here is a rundown of just a few tools that are important for your website.

Properly structuring your content with HTML tags allows search engines and page readers to scan and understand your site quickly and properly.  It does these things via structured data, an immensely helpful feature.

Making sure your content addresses the user’s needs might seem obvious, but it’s less common than you might think.  You see sites that get it backwards, presenting information from the provider’s point of view.  You want to make sure you’re presenting what the user needs.  How is that done?  So many ways, which are topics for posts to come.

Image optimization includes sizing and formatting images so they’ll load quickly and look good. Also important is labeling images with Alt text, Descriptions, and Captions.

Keywords are word-based signifiers, strategically chosen and assigned to pages and posts. They categorize content so search engines can guide users accurately.  See my post on keywords here, and my more in-depth post on keyphrases here.

Both outbound and internal, links help search engines and site visitors add context to your content.  When they know who you relate to, they can better understand who you are.  Internal links also help search engines understand which pages and posts on your site are most important.

A meta description, or snippet, is a synopsis of a page or post’s content, similar to a movie blurb.  They appear in social media shares and in rich results.

Half the people who look at your website will do it on their phones.  Making sure pages and posts look good across platforms (desktop, tablet, and mobile) is hugely important, and is called “responsiveness”.  In Elementor (my page builder) I can be very specific about how things paginate, making sure they’re pretty no matter the device.

How quickly your page loads is imperative to keeping visitors on your site.  If it takes more than a few seconds to appear, viewers will leave no matter how interested they are in your content.

Concisely naming your page or post at the top of the page and in the URL helps visitors and search engines understand your content at a glance.

Are SEO services worth it?

If you rely on organic traffic for your website, they absolutely are.  Should you pay someone to help you?  Maybe – how complicated is your site?  How much competition do you have?  If you have built your own site and have a good idea of what you need, go with one of the big plugins and do your homework.  Learn all of its tools, implement as many as you can, and measure the results.  I build basic, solid SEO into all of my sites, but if you have a lot of competition or need a specific reach, talk to me about my premium services.

Vocabulary

Organic traffic is website traffic that comes to your site from non-paid sources. 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of tailoring your website content and metadata to drive organic traffic to your site.

A keyword is a clue your website gives search engines so they can point viewers to your site.  Keywords work by telling search engines a page’s focus.

Plugin – a piece of software that you use with WordPress to add a specific function such as SEO guidance and/or tracking, integration with Mailchimp, FareHarbor, Airbnb, Google reviews, etc.

A search engine is an internet search tool such as Google, Firefox, Safari, Ecosia, etc.

An SEO service is a company you hire to improve your website’s SEO.

A plugin is a piece of software that adds functionality to a site.  It gives you features that WordPress doesn’t offer on its own.

Website responsiveness is how well a web page adjusts its appearance on different screen shapes and sizes like desktops, tablets, and phones.

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