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Search engine optimization (SEO) is what moves your website closer to the top of the search results, where potential clients will find you. Actually, SEO isn’t that difficult since Google, by far the most popular search engine, is clear about what factors they look at to determine a website’s ranking for specific search phrases. While SEO is relatively straightforward, it is very time-consuming. In this simple 5 minute guide, we’ll give the rundown on:

  1. Why SEO is Important
  2. Keywords
  3. Content
  4. Local SEO Content
  5. Other Factors 

1.) Why SEO Is Important

Very few people will use Facebook or other social media sites to research a product or a service; they head to their favorite search engine. Approximately 75 percent of people find what they are looking for on the first page of the search results, and 70 percent of these people click on organic search results, not advertisements. Having your website show up at or near the top of the search results brings you qualified leads over the long term, without you paying for each click.

2.) Keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases that consumers type into a search engine to find what they are looking for. Google will return links to websites that have content containing the exact keywords, ranking the websites in a specific order that depends on a wide variety of factors. However, the number of times keywords appear in a website’s content is an important factor. An individual searching for a family law attorney in Austin, Texas might type “Austin divorce lawyer” into Google. Wanting to provide the most relevant results, Google will rank attorneys websites, which frequently use those words in their content, higher than a blog where someone casually mentions that they are off to an appointment with their divorce lawyer who has an office in Austin.

SEO professionals do extensive research to determine which keyword phrases to use to find websites in their client’s industry and then naturally work the keywords into the content. Professionals, such as physicians and attorneys, should vary their keyword terms to include lawyer and doctor, since these are the search terms that many people use.

3.) Content

According to Google, CONTENT IS KING! Your website can’t simply list your products or services; you need informative, engaging content that will keep visitors on your website and give you ample opportunity to prove to the reader that your product or service is exactly what they need. Having keyword-rich content attracts search engines, however, always write for the person reading the content, answering their questions and establishing yourself as an expert. Also, write content for your typical client, not others in your industry, avoiding overly-technical terms and industry jargon.

4.) Local SEO Content

If your business serves a specific geographic area, use local keywords in your content that incorporates your city and state to boost your ranking in local searches. For example, an attorney might use “our Anytown, New York car accident lawyers are available for house calls” or similar phrasing throughout the website.

5.) Other Factors

Google uses hundreds of factors to determine a website’s ranking, which include technical aspects and authority factors. Technical aspects include making sure your website loads quickly and ensuring that you don’t have any broken links on your website. Authority factors, such as a large number of Facebook likes, links pointing to your website from well-established websites and listings in industry-specific directories take time to establish, but they are worth the effort.

If you have a local business, make sure that you claim your Google+ Local listing and engage in citation building. Citations are mentions of your business like you would find on Manta, the Yellow Pages and Nolo, which verify your address and phone number for local searches.

SEO requires maintenance. Keeping up a social media presence and building citations takes time, but these things are important if you want to build your business. However, nothing is more important than posting fresh content regularly. Blog, guest blog, post fresh content on your website and create YouTube videos that link back to your website. Search engines love fresh content; it shows that your website has something new to offer visitors and it helps establish you as an authority that keeps up with changes in your industry.

So there you have it. Now go! Put our simple guide to work and start improving your rankings today.