In the world of business, websites do more than just extend your online reach; they provide an all-in-one solution to expressing your creativity, passion, and service offerings from the comfort of your own home.

The internet has become the top dog for marketing over the last few decades, and as a business owner or entrepreneur, understanding how to leverage it is essential for the long-term health of any business operation. Search Engine Optimization—commonly referred to as SEO—is the practice of tweaking and tinkering your website to bring in more traffic (and in turn, more customers and ad revenue). Understanding search engine algorithms, leveraging keywords, and optimizing the speed and performance of your site will take you from zero to hero in the eyes of search engines and allow your customers to find you online for years to come.

The Algorithm: How Do Search Engines Work?

Popular search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing use mathematical sequences called algorithms to determine the relative importance of a website. It’s important to realize that search engines exist to provide users with reliable information as quickly and efficiently as possible. When a new website is found by the directory, search engines will start collecting data and metrics that tell it whether or not users are finding what they are looking for when they visit your site.

The bounce rate (how often users leave without interacting with the page), pages per session (how many pages users explore upon visiting the site), and page load time will give the search engine an idea of how useful the website is to users and how it should be ranked for a given string of search terms.

Leveraging Keywords to Sell Pie

When a user heads to Google, they are usually looking for something very specific and are planning on using a relatively general set of words to find it. From this point of understanding, we can begin a brief discussion on keywords and how the content of your website will drive traffic.

As a running example, say that you’re operating a company in Bonnyville that bakes and sells apple pies. Intuitively, you understand that the keywords you’ll want on your site will be centred around your city/location, the product, and perhaps your business name. You’ll pick a series of keywords and strings that reflect these and insert them into the content of your site strategically (see my post on SEO keywords here for a more detailed guide). This way, when a user is looking to satisfy their craving and they hastily type “fresh apple pie bonnyville” into Google, they’ll stumble upon your site, navigate to the location page, and briskly travel to your shop for some of the good stuff.

And, luckily for you, the Google algorithm will be tracking all of this activity and will be sure to give your site a golden stamp of approval so that you’re at the top of the rankings next time a user performs a similar search.

Making Sure It’s Fast Enough

A common problem for new web developers who aren’t super SEO savvy is that they don’t focus on optimizing the speed and performance of their pages. Search engines track page load times because they know that the typical user won’t stick around for very long if they know that the next page in the rankings is only a few clicks away. Here are a few simple tips for making sure that your site is as fast and zippy as possible.

  1. Optimize images—be sure to use an online photo compressor to reduce the size of all the images on your site. These sites use lossless compression algorithms that can reduce the size of photos by up to 95% while retaining all of their quality.
  2. Reduce baggage in your code and leverage coding resources—articles like this go into great technical detail about what you can do with your websites code and structure to weed-out inefficiencies.

Modern businesses only reach their full potential when they have a strong online presence and are making their website speak for them. While hours upon hours of development can go into creating a website, this is all wasted time unless traffic is being driven to the site through SEO strategy and implementation.

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