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No-Panic Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Every few months, we celebrate a birthday here at Esultants, which means, of course, we ate cake. While we enjoy our vanilla chocolate swirl, we think about the second most important cake in our lives: the OMM cake.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is what we call the sugar in an online marketing strategy. Search engine optimization (SEO) is how you rank and get found on search engines. It's what attracts people to the cake—um … I mean, website.

Which businesses need SEO?

If you have a website, you should have some kind of SEO program in place. The only question is what level of program is needed, and this will vary depending on your industrycompetition, and business goals.

At the very least, you should have manually crafted page titles and meta descriptions that tell users what your pages are about.

Writing page titles and meta descriptions that are informative and sales-considerate without feeling gimmicky is tough. Entrust someone who understands SEO and has an eagle-eye for errors to write them for you.

Why is SEO important?

The purpose of search engines is to provide results that fit the user's query, or search term.

For example, when I search "cheap pizza near me" and get a link to Groupon deals in St. Paul, Google did a pretty good job.

From a business perspective, you want your business to be the perfect result to fit your customer's request and be at the top of search results.

Easier said than done.

Search engine algorithms are incredibly complex, but when you break it all down, it's really just a relationship between your website, search engine bots, and search engine users. The bots help the user find your site. Then you provide phenomenal design and content that users love. Bots mix that positive response into the algorithm for next time.

To improve your ranking, your site needs to serve two main audiences: Search engine bots and search engine users.

Here's how:

Help the Bot: Even in 2018, technology has its limits (no eyes, ears, or any other human senses). You need to take a tell-don't-show approach here. If you have a picture of a dog, write alt text that says "black lab running through a dog park" to tell the search engine what a user could see.

Help the User: Users do have human senses, plus emotions and personal experience. Write content that is personable and helpful, sprinkled with pictures, lists, headings, and short paragraphs to keep the visitors interested. Show your personality, but always put the user first.

A Note on Voice Search:

Instead of pulling out their phone or desktop keyboard, over 35 million Americans are using their voice to search online. Voice search tools like Alexa, Google Home, and Amazon Echo are growing in popularity and providing a more human relationship with technology. In fact, 41% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say it feels like talking to a friend or another person.

We're definitely living in the future, but don’t panic! Voice search tools are still bots, and they aren’t nearly as smart as a person.

Voice search tools still need humans to interpret and optimize content for them. 

Voice Search Tips

Some SEO companies will recommend black-hat SEO that attempts to trick search engines and work around the rules. These tactics may work for a little while, but search engine technology catches up eventually, often with unfortunate consequences.

Great SEO is helping bots and users navigate and read your site, and doing so honestly.

The concepts are simple, but the implementation is a little harder. Algorithms change 500–600 times per year, and keeping up with all the changes is a full-time job. Hiring a professional SEO agency is one of the best ways to stay up-to-date with the best search engine strategies, without taking the time to become and SEO guru yourself.

The pros and cons of different social media management options apply here too.

If you want to attract more new customers, you may want to upgrade to a more advanced SEO program.

How can you get started with SEO?

full SEO audit will show you where your site is performing well and where it can be improved.

Need a copy of your website’s most recent SEO report? If you are already an SEO client, email our SEO team and let them know. For security purposes, we will send the report to the email address we have on file.

Don’t have an SEO report? Contact us today to set up a free consultation!

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