SEO is a huge, complex subject, with ever-changing advanced concepts and long-standings basics. In a nut shell, SEO is about making your website more visible to the types of people that you want to find it, without having to pay per click. Although it can be an initial investment up front, or even require steady work over a long period of time, it’s a marketing method that is fairly stable and provides long-term benefits.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and refers to the practice of trying to determine what your best customers are likely to type into a search engine like Google when they are ready to buy, and tweaking the pages of your website to “rank” higher for those specific search terms (also referred to as “key words”).

A higher rank means that your site will appear closer to the top of the list of search results, so you can get in front of more customers searching for your products or services.

So how does search engine optimization work? Although the most advanced parts of SEO are very technical and frequently change, the main tenets are surprisingly simple and always the same:

Clean code and clear, correct “mark-up”

It’s true. Google is trying to promote a robust, disability-friendly and future-device-friendly web. That translates to pristine code, and the need to “tag” every element on the page in a way that makes its significance obvious to blind robots. No matter how beautiful your site’s design or how clever your copy, if your site is running on subpar code you are likely being held back because of it. A remodel with correct semantic markup can cause a site to jump several rungs in the rankings.

Choosing excellent keywords and writing copy that uses them

Once you’ve got a place to PUT your content, it’s time to start applying keywords to your pages. Make sure that the phrase you are competing for appears in key areas, such as in the title, page link, and in the main body copy. If your copy reads well to humans, it usually plays pretty well with robots, too. Pick your keywords, write strong, human-friendly content that incorporates those keywords, and make sure your images have alt tags. Those are the basics, right there, and they can get you a long way in some niches.

In fact, the most challenging part is often deciding on what keywords you want to compete for. There’s an entire industry of experts whose job it is to identify the most profitable search terms. If you’d like help with keyword selection or its placement in your copy, ask us about setting up a keyword consultation session.

It is best to choose one keyword per page on your site. Yes, really; just one. If you have hundreds of terms that you want to compete for, you will need a different page for each keyword and something interesting or useful to say on the topic. That blog is starting to look like a great idea, isn’t it?

When choosing keywords, try to imagine what someone might type into a search engine when they are in the market for your product or service. If you needed you, what would you search for? Are there common questions or problems that your customers commonly run into that prompts them to seek out your help? You may want to use those questions or problems as a starting place to develop your keywords.

Off-site link building

What other people have to say about you makes a huge impact on your ranking. Just as in a person to person referral, search engines prefer not to risk their reputations by placing an unknown business highly. You can help put them at ease if credible organizations validate you as someone that can be trusted. Ask partner organizations to give your new site a positive mention when it launches to get started building a positive “buzz.”