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SEO: A Back-to-Basics Review for the Uninitiated, Unsure or Mildly Curious

The rise of the internet has been so swift and all encompassing, and continues to evolve at break-neck speed, that sometimes it pays to pause for a moment and re-examine the jargon and acronyms that have become part of our everyday parlance – whether we truly understand them or not.

With that in mind, we start here by taking a back-to-basics look at SEO.

SEO, of course, stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of maximizing the presence of relevant, searchable words and terms in your website (and other online content) to help get the best positioning when a corresponding search is made through Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the others. SEO falls under the category of inbound or “earned” media (as in not paid for) whereas SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is categorized as paid media or more generally “paid search.” Getting SEO right essentially means that you will be higher ranked in the list of results than competitors as your website will be considered more relevant based on the algorithms used by the search engines.

So what are the key elements of a successful SEO strategy?  The key is to understand what the algorithm uses to determine which website is most relevant to the search term entered. Although each search engine has their own unique and evolving algorithm, the four key elements are as follows:

  • Keywords. The simplest way to get this right is to put yourself in the position of your target audience. What would they type to easily reach you? Or even better, what would they type when looking for the product or services you offer? Having words that clearly, directly relate to your offering is not a barrier to creative copy, but an essential foundation in the process. Keywords and phrases should be sprinkled throughout your website.
  • Page Titles. Search engine algorithms review every single page on the internet and propoerly naming pages (for example “Wedding Suite” or ”Family Rooms” on a hotel site) helps strengthen your cause. Whenever possible, you can place your key terms in the page titles.
  • Links. Links from other websites to yours are seen as an endorsement of your site by revealing the popularity of your content to the search engine. But beware! These links are verified to check that the websites are trustworthy and paying to get these links or falsely establishing these links will result, at the very least, in a decreased ranking of your site.
  • Reputation. Ultimately, search engines and companies (should) share the joint aim of getting the most relevant content to the user in the fastest and most direct way possible. Search engine algorithms put real value, therefore, on sites with genuine links and useful content that is regularly refreshed. This helps build trust in the website with a halo effect for the search engine.

These four factors are the basic building blocks to any sound SEO practice. Although only one piece of an overall web marketing strategy, SEO represents so much more than the keywords as it can often be shorthand for. Investing time in building compelling and timely content as well as forging partnerships with other sites will play an important role in improving your search engine ranking and inbound marketing efforts.

Interested in further online and inbound marketing insight? Download our free ebook guide to internet marketing and take your web presence to a higher level.

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