With the digital focus of today’s society, customers are most likely going to find your business through a search engine.

After all, when you want to figure something out and are not sure where exactly to start, you probably head to Google and start searching the web. SEO is extremely important because if you do not have it, then you will not have visitors from search engines. However, following these guidelines can help your business reach more people through search engines.

What exactly is SEO? According to whatisseo.com, Search Engine Optimization is “the process of improving the visibility of a website on organic search engine results pages, by incorporating search engine friendly elements into a website.”

This can sound intimidating, but as you break it down you really need to focus on optimizing your website with relevant and targeted words.

Begin by doing keyword research. This entails using keywords to research actual terms that consumers use on search engines. By learning what consumers are searching for, you can figure out what relevant words your business should use to show up on search engines.

When beginning keyword research, you should…
1. Understand your business! After all, SEO is all about which website is the most relevant for the searcher. So, as you dive in to understanding what your company stands for, ask yourself these questions. What matters to us? What matters to our consumers? What do we represent?
2. After you have a general idea about what topics are most important to your company, it’s time to get more specific and narrow it down. Brainstorm keyword phrases that you think people would search for in relation to those topics.
3. Create a mix of head terms and long-tail terms. Head terms are generic, basic keywords that are most frequently searched by users on search engines. They are usually shorter and less specific than long-tail terms. For example, the term “painting” could be a head term. Long-tail keywords are more specific and longer. An example of a long-tail keyword might be “DIY tips for painting your bedroom”. Both head term and long-tail keywords are necessary. While long-term keywords drive less traffic to your site, it is more likely that the consumer will find what he or she is looking for.

After you have determined your keywords, it is time to incorporate your predetermined keywords into titles, descriptions, headings, content, images and URLS. These are some of the most important places your key words should be listed on your webpage.

And finally, keep in mind…
1. Every time you add a new page to your website, you will need to update your SEO appropriately.
2. Avoid search penalties! Do not repeat words over and over again in text. Search engines can detect this and it will result in penalties.
3. SEO results are not immediate and the newer your website is, the longer it may take before you see the benefits from the work you put in.

By Elizabeth Coakley, Public Relations and Marketing Intern