What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? | Hanna Landis Designs
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and How Does it Work?
If you own a website and want to increase your traffic, then you’re in the right place! Creating an online presence and growing your business can feel tricky (and sometimes overwhelming). You hear terms like “SEO” and “ranking” thrown around, but what does that actually mean for you?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is simply the process of making your website easy for search engines, like Google, to find. As your SEO improves, so does your position on a Google search engine result page (SERP), leading to more site visitors, clicks, and ultimately, conversions.

Improving your website—and your SEO—doesn’t have to be complicated! We’re here to unpack the basics of search engine optimization so that you can start immediately generating more traffic to your website.

How SEO Really Works

The majority of online searches occur on Google, so for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to focus on that specific search engine.

Google uses an algorithm that relies on over 200 different metrics to scan (or crawl) the internet and index websites. This master index is what supplies you with results every time you search for something online. When you type a question or phrase into Google, the search engine result pages include indexed websites that Google considers the most helpful or relevant to your search.

Why is this important? The majority of users (about 70%) will click on the TOP three organic search results on a SERP. (The organic search results are the ten or so websites that appear below the ads). Very few people will move past those top three, and even fewer will click on to the next page. In fact, the top organic search result is 10 times more likely to get clicked than the tenth result on the page. In order to increase traffic to your website, you will need to improve your search engine optimization to move up the ranks to the top of the search results.

Improving SEO for your business starts with understanding what metrics the search engines are using to decide which websites should show up on the first page of a search. Navigating hundreds of different metrics isn’t feasible, so instead, many SEO managers will focus on key metrics that are manageable—and that the company can actually control.

We’re going to focus on two types of search engine optimization that are important for every business. One is SEO within your website or on-page SEO. The second is SEO related to content other than your website, or off-page SEO.

Even having a basic understanding of these two methods can help you drive exponentially more traffic to your site and grow your business.

On-Page SEO

The best place to start optimizing for search engine ranking is on your website. On-page SEO looks at several different aspects of your site and determines how to get a better “score” with Google. In many ways, it is like fine-tuning a college essay—not only do you need to abide by all of the requirements (Googles 200+ metrics), but you want the content to be so relevant that it inspires the audience (your customers and potential customers) to choose you.

Some of the key elements of on-page SEO include:

on page SEO diagram
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Keywords

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Content

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Alt & Title tag

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Internal Links

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Site Speed

While some of these aspects may require the support of a web designer or developer (if working with HTML isn’t your forte), it is possible to manage some of your on-page SEO yourself. We’ll take a closer look at those elements below.

Off-Page SEO

Once you have focused the SEO on your website, it is time to look at content that is on other parts of the web. Essentially, off-page SEO includes all activity that drives traffic back to your website. In other words, off-page SEO is your content marketing strategy.

Some of the key elements of off-page SEO include:

off page SEO Diagram
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Blogs & Forum Posting

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Social Media

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Guest Blogging

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Video

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Backlinks/ Link Building

By creating content related to your business and industry, you are building your audience and referral traffic, which will ultimately result in more conversions on your website. Not only that, but any content you create is also communicating to Google and other search engines that you provide the solution that your customers are looking for, improving your search engine ranking.

Simple Ways to Get Started Improving Your SEO

🔍  Keyword Research

The quickest way to improve your search engine optimization is to include industry or business-relevant keywords on your website. Start by doing some quick keyword research. 

This means looking at keywords your potential customers use when searching for your business (or a business similar to yours). By learning which keywords are most relevant to your business, you can then utilize those keywords in your website copy, your headers and tags, and other content (we’ll get to that in a moment).

By focusing on relevant keywords, you are telling Google what your business is about. This allows your website to get properly indexed and pulled when someone searches for that word or phrase.

Keyword research can be as simple as reviewing your clients’ FAQs. The things they are asking are liking what they are searching for online. There are also tons of helpful keyword research tools available on the internet, including SEMrush, Google Trends, and Ahrefs.

💌  Create Relevant Content

Relevance is a huge factor (and more so every day) when improving your rank on Google. In fact, Google “awards” sites that are useful and helpful to the reader. The more your website answers the key questions that a user is asking (keywords), the higher your position will be on the search engine results page.

Relevant content requires a combination of the right keyword and simply using clear, precise copy. If you had only 5 seconds to tell a person what it is you offer, what words would you use? That is essentially the function of a home page. Visitors will glance at pages and move on rapidly if they are unclear or don’t answer their #1 question: Am I in the right place?

Remember this: if a Google bot can scan, read, and understand what it is you offer, then so will your audience.

This same truth applies to your blog content, free downloads, guest blogs, video, and social media! The more relevant and relatable your content, the more you attract users, potential clients, and that all-important traffic to your business.

How do you create relevant content? Go back to your keyword research and choose topics related to those keywords. What questions are customers asking? Create content around those questions, searches, and keywords, and help your audience find your business!

Pro Tip: Focusing on too many keywords in your content or using one word too often (keyword stuffing) can be damaging to your SEO. Instead, we recommend choosing one or two main keywords or phrases to focus on at a time. Sprinkle those words throughout your website, along with your relevant content, and take a step back to watch your ranking improve.

✏️ Write a Guest Blog

Your SEO is boosted by having high-quality backlinks. What is a backlink? It is a link from another source on the web (i.e. an industry-leading website) that sends visitors to your website.

One of the easiest and quickest ways to gain backlinks is to guest blog for other businesses or influencers in your industry, niche, or that have a similar audience as you. Guest blogging is a powerful tool and one that all businesses should be using!

Reach out to your network and offer to write on topics that will benefit the website where your blog will be posted. Do some research to make sure you aren’t suggesting a topic they’ve already covered in their blog. The more guest blogging you do, the more organic traffic (and backlinks) you gain!

Search engine optimization can be a complex strategy if you let it be. By breaking your SEO into manageable elements, however, you can start boosting your website traffic and search engine ranking today. The more you dive in and learn, the easier it becomes to navigate the more complicated elements of SEO that include code, analytics, and more in-depth research. 

Do you have more questions about SEO? Contact us for a free consultation and we’ll help you get started growing your business!