Having a Website is Step One: How to Get Noticed Online

having-a-website-is-step-one-how-to-get-noticed-onlineIn the vast expanse of the web, carving out a digital space for your business is easier than it's ever been. But here's a brutal truth too often overlooked: hitting 'publish' on your website doesn't guarantee that potential customers are going to flood your virtual doorstep. Just because you have a website does NOT mean it is automatically showing up in search results. If customers can't find you on Google, your corner of the internet might as well not exist—at least in terms of driving sales.

Current data from an Ahrefs study indicate that more than 96% of all websites receive zero organic traffic. This lack of visibility is particularly concerning for small business owners. Perhaps you've invested in an online store or established a digital presence for your service-based business, but now, your website data is telling a scary story—one with eerily low traffic numbers. In this comprehensive guide, we'll unpack the strategies that could fashion a much more fruitful narrative for your online enterprise. The answer lies in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) done both at your website's launch AND as part of an ongoing marketing strategy. 

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Understanding SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the digital compass that helps search engine crawlers read, understand, and rank your website with organic searchers. SEO is the mechanism through which you can catch Google's attention, and ultimately, a customer's. SEO is the strategy that drives organic traffic to your website. Organic traffic is simply that traffic that finds your website through a search query with a search engine. Paid advertising and direct traffic, those who type your website URL directly into their search bar, are not included in organic traffic. Organic traffic is only the people who are looking for information about certain topics and find your page listed among the results, ideally on page one, and click on a link to your website. 

Because of its technical and constantly changing nature, SEO can be daunting, especially if you're launching headfirst into the digital marketing realm. However, breaking it down unveils a series of logical steps that, when combined, create the scaffolding for a robust online presence.

Definition and Key Concepts

Start with the basics. SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and its content to increase visibility in non-paid search engine results. The key concepts that underpin everything SEO are relevance, authority, and user experience (UX).

  • Relevance: Ensuring that your content aligns with what users are searching for. The more relevant your content is, the more likely it is to rank for the queries.
  • Authority: This is largely determined by the quality and quantity of inbound links pointing to your site, as well as your content's engagement levels. It's about building a reputation online.
  • User Experience: This involves technical aspects like site speed as well as the quality of the content—the easier your site is to use and the better the content, the more it favors your ranking.

Now, let's delve into the strategies that stem from these concepts.


The Use of Keywords in an SEO Strategy

Before you can optimize, you need to understand what you're optimizing for. This is where keyword research enters center stage. 

Importance of Relevant Keywords

Keywords are the terms and phrases web users enter into search engines to find what they're looking for. The right keywords will bring you traffic, the wrong ones will waste your time, and non-optimized website content (a website that is written without considering keywords) can leave you invisible.

Tools and Techniques for Keyword Research

There are a host of tools available to help you identify the right keywords for your business. Google's Keyword Planner is a great starting point. It provides insights into the volume and competitiveness of keywords. Additionally, consider third-party keyword tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs for a deeper dive into your keyword research.

Start by brainstorming a list of topics relevant to your business. What search terms do you want to be listed under? Then, use your chosen tool to see what related queries are popular and attainable for your site. Aim for a mix of high and low-competition keywords that cover a wide variety of user intents. 

Now that you have our keywords, what do you do with them?

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How to Use Keywords in an SEO Strategy

Once you have your keywords, you need to strategically place them throughout your website. Below are a list of the different elements on the backend of your website where your keywords should appear:

Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, and Headers

Your site's title tags (the title that appears on search engine results pages) and meta descriptions (the summary below the title) need to include your keywords. These are what your potential customers will see in the search results, so make them enticing and informative.

Within your website, headers are where you'll structure your content. Each page should have a single H1 (the main title of the page), followed by H2s and H3s as necessary. These headers help both users and search engine spiders understand the content.

URL Structure and Internal Linking

Your page URLs should be clean and contain your targeted keywords. Use hyphens to separate words, and keep them concise—nobody likes a long URL.

Internal linking is a way to connect one page of your website to another. This not only helps users navigate but also spreads the "SEO juice" across your site, helping it rank as a whole.

Content Creation and Optimization

Content is where SEO strategy meets storytelling. Your website should be a source of knowledge and entertainment, as well as a sales platform.

Creating High-Quality, Engaging Content

The foundation of any effective SEO strategy is content. Every word you publish is an opportunity to rank. But content just for the sake of content won't get you very far. It must be engaging, informative, and solve a problem or answer a question your target audience is asking.

Optimizing Content for Search Engines

In the creation of this content, you need to sprinkle in those keywords you researched earlier, while still ensuring the text flows naturally. Overstuffing keywords read as spam to both users and search engines, and you'll be penalized for it. 

Subsections within your content — marked by those H2s and H3s we mentioned earlier — are another chance to use your keywords. Just remember, make it readable and useful for your audience, not just for the algorithm.


Technical SEO

Even the most dazzling content won't succeed if the technical foundation isn't solid. Technical SEO focuses on the infrastructure of your website and is done with talented web developers who understand both SEO's changing requirements and the backend of your website. There are several crucial areas that, if not set up correctly, can hurt your website's organic traffic. 

Site Speed Optimization

How quickly your site loads is crucial. Users hate to wait, and so does Google. Use tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights to see how you can speed up your site. Common solutions include image optimization, leveraging browser caching, and minimizing HTTP requests.

Mobile Optimization

Your site must be mobile-friendly. The majority of web traffic now comes from mobile devices, so Google uses a mobile-first indexing approach, which means it primarily uses the mobile version of your content for indexing and ranking.

This could involve responsive design (where the site responds to the user's behavior based on screen size, platform, and orientation), or a separate mobile site, depending on your business needs.

This is not a comprehensive list of SEO strategies, but rather a place to get you started. For one, the rules keep changing. Search engines like Google are constantly releasing updates to be able to provide the best user experience for their customers - anyone entering a search query. Your competition is making adjustments to its marketing strategy. Search terms evolve with user experiences and your business changes. Chances are that you are adding products or service lines, expanding locations, and more. All of these elements need to be taken into consideration in your SEO strategy. For that reason, it's never a "one-and-done" situation.

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires constant vigilance, adaptation, and learning. But for those who are willing to invest in Search Engine Optimization for their website, the rewards are a steady stream of potential customers finding their way to your business.

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