S.E.O. It’s an acronym I’m sure you’ve heard or seen when looking up website design/building or business basics.
But what is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a fancy way of describing a process that website developers, marketers, and now SEO experts use to make your website visible for people who are searching for what you may have to offer.
Search engine optimization practices are always changing as the technology we use to surf the internet changes. It used to be that designing a website that looked amazing on a desktop computer was all a website designer/developer had to worry about. But as of 2022, more than 50% of website searches come from mobile devices. This means that mobile optimization is critical. Google now prioritizes mobile usability over the others as a result.
The ever changing landscape is one of the reasons why I put the term “experts” in italics. SEO requires constant professional development to stay on top of the updates that Google, Bing, and other search engines implement. Some are helpful and some are not. Some are straightforward, some not so much.
Why does SEO matter?
“But Shawna, I just want to use my website for people to buy my goods or services. Why should I care about all the backend SEO work that you do when you build a website? I don’t want to pay for all that extra crap…”
All that extra crap is what helps YOU get found in a sea of other small business owners who are trying to do the same thing. The more the search engines see you and your website as an authority in your category the more traffic will be driven to your site. There are a lot of SEO practices that you don’t see, called technical SEO.
Technical SEO is about making sure your sure your site can be found (aka crawled) by the bots that index your site. This is how the search engines know that your site may or may not answer the questions people are searching answers for when they are looking online. It’s making sure key words and key word phrases are used not just in the body of the text, but in the alt text of your images, in the meta description of your page or post, etc.
Then we have something called “local seo”. Local SEO is how you get found when someone looks for a physical business that offers a product or service near them. It’s about your geographical area.
The third big SEO category is the on page SEO. It’s the stuff you can see. The titles, using title tags, making sure your keyword is used a specific percentage of times in the body of a post or page, appropriate internal and external links. All these things help build your authority. And authority is what drives traffic to your site.
Want to be on the 1st page of results?
That’s easier said than done. Especially now that Google as implemented what feels like infinite/continuous scroll for results. Many times there are no rhyme or reason for why a site shows up on page one. Web designers do their best through the use of SEO best practices, but a lot can depend on the search term and how competitive it is. For example, “black dress” has millions of options, “lacey black dress” has less but still a lot, “size 10 lacey black dress” is more precise. The more drilled down your search terms are, the more likely you are to show higher up in search results for people who are searching for what you offer.
Showing up in search results in a huge sea of options isn’t always the best. You want to identify key phrases that are explicit to what you have to offer. For us here at SBarnes Designs, some key phrases we may use include “website design for small businesses”, “website design with focus on digital accessibility” or “digital accessibility website designer“, “disabled veteran owned small business”, etc. You get the idea. The more specific you get, the closer you are to attracting your ideal client.
So what is SEO? It’s a lot of things. It’s about implementing best practices to make your site accessible and found by those who are looking for what you sell. When you decide to improve your SEO, something to keep in mind is that it is a marathon, NOT a sprint. Improving your SEO takes time to see the results. It’s worth the time and the investment so long as you go into any SEO campaign with realistic expectations. As in, expect to run a campaign for a minimum of three month, six to twelve is better.
Whether you are looking for a website designer to build a new site, looking to improve your current website, or are ready to grow through an SEO marketing campaign, I hope that you found this post helpful. Find someone you want to work with for the long haul. Find yourself a website guy/gal that can be your biz bestie and you can see yourself working with for as long as ya both are in business.