Search engine optimization (SEO) is, simply put, making your website easier for search engines and your target audience to find. When your website is organized and optimized well with a clear structure and relevant copy, it has increased visibility so that Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines can crawl, index and understand it.
We often hear the question, “Wait, what does that mean?” in discussion with clients about SEO. It’s confusing to sift through all the jargon out there, and we want to help.
If you’re just starting to explore SEO basics for your small business or nonprofit organization, you only want to know what’s relevant for you - what will help you create a website that is friendly to both humans and search engines.
There is an overwhelming amount of information available online about search engine optimization, but we’ve put together an SEO glossary of terms that breaks down the bare bones for you in plain English - here’s our first installment.
Google’s online advertising tool. Through AdWords, you can create pay-per-click advertisements and access keyword optimization and analytics tools.
A program or formula used by search engines to deliver search results for a search query.
A text description of an image in your website’s HTML (not usually displayed to the user, unless the graphic doesn’t load). This is important to add because search engines don’t read images, just the ALT text on images.
A program that helps gather and analyze data about how people use and find your website. Google Analytics is a free and robust analytics program.
A section of your website that you regularly update with new content - from company and industry news to coverage of recent events. Since each blog post is a separate page on your website, blogging regularly is a way for more people to find you online.
Measured in your analytics, this is the percentage of users who enter your website and leave after only viewing one page. This is an important metric to analyze when improving SEO for small businesses or nonprofits (the lower the bounce rate, the better).
CMS (Content Management System)
A program that helps you create, edit and publish content to your website in an easy, straightforward way without a lot of coding or development skills.
The general term used for the part of a web page that is valuable or interesting to the user.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
The part of your website’s code that determines how different elements look and are formatted.
Text on a web page placed inside of an HTML heading tag, from H1 (most important) to H6 (least important. Headings help search engines index the structure and content of your web pages and help users easily read and skim content.
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language)
The language used to describe the format and functionality of your website. This is the code that search engines read, so it’s important to keep it clean and organized.
A link that comes from another site to yours. Inbound links from trustworthy sites can help you improve your SEO.
The word or phrase a user enters into a search engine. Paying attention to the keywords people use to find your website and optimizing web pages for certain keywords is an important step in mastering SEO basics.
Content that uses keywords excessively in order to improve search engine ranking. Keyword stuffing is when you write for search engines and not people, and the copy becomes difficult to read or nonsensical (this technique creates a negative user experience and can actually damage your website’s ranking).
Long Tail Keyword
A longer, more specific or uncommon search query. Targeting long tail keywords can be valuable for small business SEO strategy because these keywords have lower difficulty and produce more qualified leads. For example, the keyword “microbrewery” may turn up a huge number of search results, but something more specific like “microbrewery Jackson MS” would be easier to rank for and target a better audience for your business.
Data that describes your website to search engines. For example, a meta description is 160 characters that gives a brief overview of a web page’s content and why it may be of interest to visitors. This often displays on a search results page underneath the web page title.
Thanks for reading Part I of our SEO basics tutorial, and stay tuned for Part II of the glossary!
Interested in learning more about our small business SEO services? Contact Creative Distillery to see how we can help you get found online.
Yesterday, I was in line at McDade’s grocery in Fondren and noticed a line of sauces and dressings from Georgia Blue, a local Madison, Mississippi restaurant. (Georgia Blue isn’t a client of ours.) Seeing the sauce gave me the impression that Georgia Blue has a unique perspective on its sauces. As a diner, I look for restaurants to have a unique point of view, so seeing the sauces (whether I buy them or not) has increased the standing of the Georgia Blue brand in my eyes.
The Takeaway: Consider the opportunities out there to extend your brand into a retail product. For example, if you’re a spa, you could come out with your own label of skincare products. With white label manufacturing, it’s cheaper than you’d think.
Speaking of restaurants, one of the biggest branding opportunities restaurants miss is the to-go box. Consider every pair of eyes that might see your to-go box sitting in the office fridge. Those are all opportunities for new touchpoints for your brand, and communicate the brand points that: 1) you serve large portions, and 2) your food’s good enough to take home and eat for leftovers.
The Takeaway: At least stick a logo on that thing! However, consider the opportunities to really communicate unique selling points and personality to make your restaurant unforgettable.
The Takeaway: Take routine experiences for your customers and make them delightful in a way that speaks to the soul of your brand. They’ll remember and love you for it.
Our neighbors downstairs from our office, Broad Street Bakery, have been selling clever t-shirts about bread for years. I’m sure they don’t mind customers walking around with the logo, but more importantly, phrases like “Challah Back Girl” remind you that Broad Street is your destination in Jackson for unique house-made bread, reinforcing their positive brand points.
At Cups Espresso Cafe, they have new t-shirts designed exclusively by Cups baristas. Cups baristas tend to be talented artists outside of coffee, and their unique perspective and authenticity is a big part of the Cups experience. The t-shirts are a great avenue for Cups to share their baristas’ talent with customers.
The Takeaway: Consider what personality traits of your brand can be expressed through a t-shirt design. More than just showing off your logo, consider how to make the shirt unique, fashionable and memorable.
Business blogs serve a whole host of functions. It gives partners (like me) an outlet to write so that readers can connect with me and trust my expertise. Each post goes out into the search engine world and can be indexed and found by people who might not visit your homepage. For example, on our own blog, a review I did about collaboration software Minigroup still sends new visitors to the site each month. Our analytics show that those visitors go on to look at other pages on the site.
We like business blogs best when they communicate a personalty that complements the business’ offerings, which leads to a fuller understanding of the brand. One of our busiest offerings is writing content for clients’ business blogs, weaving in an editorial-style approach with search engine optimization to provide the most bang for the buck from the blog.
The Takeaway: Incorporate a blog into your business’ web presence, whether you do it yourself or contract writers to manage it for you. The benefits will come from returning readership, a more coherent personality for your brand, and the SEO bump.
Let us help you create new brand touchpoints for your business. The more unique experience we can create for your customers, the more your brand will become unforgettable to them. Contact us for a consultation today.
If you’re like many people, the term “search engine optimization” falls somewhere on the spectrum between vaguely unpleasant and downright intimidating. You’ve heard it’s important and you know you should probably look into it for your business, but you have a long list of other priorities that are far more pressing. (Plus, what is search engine optimization anyway?)
Here’s a little tough love: yes, you should make SEO a priority, and yes, it does take some time. Ignoring the importance of SEO is like ignoring the importance of having a website for your business; search engine optimization helps your business get found by potential customers who are interested in your products or services.
Here’s the good news: optimizing your website is not as scary as it seems. This basic info will help you understand what SEO does and how you can start thinking about it strategically to benefit your business.
What is search engine optimization?
SEO refers to the methods used to improve your website’s position in organic or unpaid search engine results (different from paid advertising). Sites that rank higher in organic search results are more visible and have a better chance of receiving web traffic.
What are good resources to learn more about SEO?
How can I get the ball rolling on improving my website’s SEO?
The first step toward optimizing your site is starting to think in terms of keywords that are most relevant to your business. Ideally, every page on your website should feature a few specific keywords and offer useful content to your audience. Since more content means more keywords, it is an excellent idea to start a company blog if you don’t have one already. Blogging not only lets you write about topics that are of interest to your customers, it also gives you an opportunity to use keywords strategically in every post. The quality of the content should always come first, but incorporating appropriate keywords naturally into the writing is a smart and easy way to be SEO-savvy.
Interested in learning more? Check out Creative Distillery’s approach to SEO and blogging.