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Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is not static; it changes all of the time. Think of it as a living, breathing creature, like your webmaster is the Mother of Dragons from “Game of Thrones” and your website is a baby dragon. You have to feed the dragon, nurture the dragon, check in on the dragon, control its fire-breathing — all the time — or the dragon won’t survive.

As Google’s algorithms constantly become more refined, your SEO optimization practices must become more sophisticated in order to create — and maintain — a successful website. You could have wonderful traction one month, but if you make the mistake of thinking, “We’re there. We’ve reached our destination. We can stop,” the next month, you’re rankings may have declined.

SEO is an Ongoing — and Complex — Practice

Search engine optimization is fundamental to getting found online, and being successful with SEO is challenging, because you have to stay current with what Google and the other major search engines dictate. By the way, the Google search engine algorithm changes faster than most of us change underwear. According to Moz, Google makes more than 500 algorithm updates per year — and some of those definitely affect the way Google views your website. (Some of those major updates do have cute nicknames, though, like “Penguin & Panda.”)

Savoir Faire’s resident expert has been practicing SEO for more than 15 years — and even he is challenged by it on a daily basis. SEO is an ever-evolving landscape of improvements and adaptations that keep your site organically viable.

If you think you know what it takes to do SEO today, we can guarantee that at some point (likely soon!) it will be significantly different. Most people are not aware of the many complex elements Google is taking into account when ranking the organic relevance of a website. It’s goes much further than than keywords and meta tags.

A holistic approach to SEO begins with the architecture of your website. It starts with a plan of how you will map information and reaches to creating thoughtful navigation to assist users in finding that info. SEO looks at how your URLs are created, worded and organized. Is it critical that SEO stays top of mind and plays a role from the very beginning of your website design and development process.

Adding SEO after the fact, is possible, but not recommended. It’s like saying that you want to weave a plaid shirt but you’re going to add the blue stripes later. How does that happen? Will you glue them on top? That would be a sad-looking shirt. And, how long will that blue stripe last before it starts falling off? Just like your clothing, if your site isn’t tailored correctly, it’s not going to perform well. If the foundation of your website isn’t properly built — both the architecture and user experience — you’re working against yourself already.

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93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.

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In April 2018, Google generated 63.5% of all core search queries in the United States. Microsoft Sites handled 24% of search queries and Oath (formerly Yahoo) had a search market share of 11.4%.

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Up to 80% of people ignore paid search results, choosing only to click on organic listings.

Write for Your Audience, not for Google

Smart, regular content is key to improving your SEO. You can’t just drop keywords into your content and trick Google into finding you. Google’s search algorithm is so sophisticated that it can see when you’re stuffing keywords. If it’s just “blah blah keyword and yada yada keyword,” and doesn’t make sense, Google will sniff you out right-quick.

Write for humans. Savoir Faire has journalists on the team who have written thoughtfully on a myriad of subjects. When we blog for you, we know what we’re talking about and how to reach your audience.

Developing a strategic list of keywords to use in your content would be one of our first steps in working with you. An SEO win would be earning a high organic position with keywords that drive qualified traffic to your site — visitors who will take action once they get there.

When creating content, here are a few other best practices:

  • Have bulleted lists on the page, like this one, to make your pages easier for the user to read.
  • Headlines, subheads and pulled-out quotes keep your page layout from looking like a dirty, grey screen. Think of “the old gray lady” — the New York Times; when people see web pages that are wall-to-wall text like that, they glaze over and eject from the page, if not the site.
  • Utilize page tags that relate to the topic you’re writing about to help with off page SEO.

On the subject of what not to do, be wary of any company that says they can get you on the first page or first position of Google for a particular keyword; it’s not that cut and dry. And, don’t think that by including all of your service areas and competitors in the text is going to get you to the top, either. The humanization of Google will see right through that tired tactic. Finally, beware anyone who says they can “do SEO” for you. As we’ve tried to convey here, SEO is a complex, multi-faceted practice that touches many areas of your website.

Extra Credit to Improve Your Rank

How fast your website loads on someone’s screen is another big factor for ranking, so look at things like image size and “minification” of code, where possible. If a visitor bounces before your page loads, Google will interpret that result negatively and ultimately, your visibility for that particular search could be impacted. A good user experience across the board will always win you points with Google.

Let’s say during a Google search, the algorithm comes up with five results that are relatively equal. If your site is utilizing one of the extra credits below, that can put you ahead of the competition.

Be the featured snippet

If someone asks Google a question, it will find the content that delivers the best answer, and it will provide the searcher a “snippet” from that page. Knowing how to write your content in such a way that your site captures Google’s attention to become the answer of that question is art plus science.

Schema markup:

By using this, meaning is added to your text content and can help the way it is displayed as a search result. For example, if your business is hosting events, schema markup added to the elements specific to that event (time, speaker, location, event reviews and ratings, etc.) can get those events to show up higher in relevant searches and can include the details for the event that have been marked up.

Mobile-first experience:

Having a mobile version of your website that loads quickly and with a tailored experience specific to user needs weighs heavily when Google goes to rank it organically. Google switched to mobile-first indexing in 2018 so everything you do or don’t do on mobile matters more to Google

As you can gather from the above, success with SEO is not an overnight achievement. It can literally take months to make some solid, positive impact. Savoir Faire can help you work towards improving all the elements outlined above and others not noted to improve your website’s rankings and organic traffic.

Search Engine Optimization is a challenging topic to stay current on.

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