Search engine optimization is something that many business owners may have heard of but not really understood. The phrase may sound complicated and technical, but the fact is that it is not as overwhelming as it might seem.

Optimizing your website is a crucial component to the success of your business. This guide will help you to understand search engine optimization and how you can benefit from it.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

This phrase, often shortened to SEO, can be thought of as a set of guidelines or best practices that websites should follow in order to get the best possible search engine rankings.

If you’ve ever performed a web search, you understand how critical it is for your page to show up as high on the initial results as possible. People rarely click past the first few listings, so these are the most coveted spots for blog and business owners.

When you create content utilizing these techniques, you are doing everything in your power to make sure that the search engines notice your page and believe it is a highly credible source for whatever you’re promoting.

But Isn’t That Cheating the System?

To some, the idea of deliberately creating content so that they show up in search rankings seems like gaming the system. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

First, nothing about optimization is illegal or unethical. You can think of it as an extension of your marketing campaign. No matter how great your business is, if nobody can find you, it can’t succeed.

Second, search engines employ very sophisticated algorithms to rank websites. These algorithms are adapted and improved as needed, so it is extremely difficult for anyone to truly “cheat” when it comes to rankings.

Finally, when the average user optimizes his or her content, it should be done with the understanding that this helps the search engines do their job. While the algorithms are sophisticated, search engines are not as good at understanding context or depth of meaning as humans.

By optimizing your web pages, you’re making it as easy as possible for the search engines to understand what your site is about and why it should be considered an authoritative source for your industry.

Why Does My Website Need Optimization?

In addition to the points listed above, there are several other reasons that you should consider optimizing your website.

1. It Helps Drive Traffic
When you create content that’s genuinely useful or relevant, it’s especially important to utilize search engine optimization. The combination of relevance and SEO will give your rankings a huge boost, and this means that your page gets a lot more exposure.

Exposure leads to more page visitors, which increases your chances of making a sale or having your content shared across social media channels.

Aside from bringing you more traffic overall, it will also bring you more qualified leads. People who are searching for the phrases you’ve optimized for are more likely to be actively seeking what you’re offering.

This is the most effective and inexpensive form of marketing you can employ because you’re focusing your efforts on improving search rankings for an active audience rather than pushing information onto people who may or may not be interested in your goods or services.

2. It Improves User Experience

While it may seem hard to believe, optimized website are not just better for the search engines. It’s important to remember that the search engine optimization guidelines are not a blanket set of rules for robots. These guidelines are based on what users want as well.

Websites that adhere to optimization best practices are typically also the ones that are deemed most user-friendly. The accepted search engine optimization guidelines for creating content and structuring a website will often make it more streamlined and accessible to your target audience.

3. It Keeps You Competitive

Not everyone utilizes optimization strategies, and many content creators and businesses never will. Whether it’s because the overall idea seems daunting, or it’s because they are not serious enough about their business model to understand the importance, there will always be a percentage of businesses that never optimize their content.

By employing search engine optimization, you are placing yourself ahead of much of the competition. If you can consistently stay on top of your SEO game, you can even stay competitive with the websites that are also optimizing their pages.

4. It Helps Your Site Run Smoothly

This aspect of search engine optimization is most useful for large websites or ones that have multiple contributors, but it is still worth mentioning as an advantage.

When you have many pages or multiple content creators, having a single set of proven guidelines for structuring content is very beneficial. Not only does it clarify what’s expected from contributors, but it unifies the look of your website and increases the overall credibility and professionalism of your pages.

How to Make Search Engine Optimization Work For You

Ultimately, search engine optimization does have a bit of a learning curve. However, there are simple things you can do to help improve your rankings.

1. Improve Page Load Speed

The internet has made us impatient. As consumers, we are more likely to leave a page if it takes even a few extra seconds to load, and this means that every moment counts. Be sure that your website code is as streamlined and efficient as possible, and use correctly optimized images so that everything loads smoothly and quickly.

If you’re not tech-savvy, it will be worth the cost to hire someone to help you optimize your website.

2. Format Content Into Bite-sized Chunks

If you’ve ever been faced with a wall of text, you can understand how unappealing that is to page visitors. Utilize headers, block quotes, short paragraphs and other items of visual interest to keep visitors engaged and interested in your page.

If possible, try to incorporate videos into your posts as well. Users are more likely to spend time on your site when you capture their attention with video content.

3. Publish Relevant Content

This might seem obvious, but consistently making high-quality, relevant posts is a great way to keep your site high in the search engine rankings. This shows the search engines that you’re actively producing quality content that is related to the terms you’re trying to rank for.

4. Have High-visibility Contact Information

Nobody likes to hunt down contact information. Having a separate, clearly labeled page that aggregates all of your contact information and relevant social media handles can boost your trustworthiness and help you capture new leads. To improve even further, have a simple, well-designed contact form available on your page as well.

5. Simplify Your Site Navigation

Have you ever visited a site that placed the information you needed deep within nested menus? In general, this is a frustrating and confusing experience, and it often pushes users away from the offending page and straight to a competitor.

Making your site’s navigation as clear and simple as possible not only benefits your visitors, but it boosts your search engine rankings as well. When users can easily find what they need, the chances are good that the algorithms crawling your pages are also able to easily find and index your website’s information.

Creating SEO-focused Content Can Mean Huge Gains

Ranking highly in search engine results can be the difference between a thriving website and one that flops. There are many intricacies to the art of search engine optimization, but if you understand why it works and employ the strategies listed above, you’re sure to see measurable improvement.