Are you interested in ranking your company’s website more highly on Google? While there’s no magic formula to search engine optimization (SEO) success, there are fundamental practices to help maximize your performance.
Bill Rowland, former director of SEO at Trinity Insight in Philadelphia, is teaching UVM’s Advanced SEO course. The four-week, SEO digital marketing training covers everything from search engine ranking factors to keyword research to building SEO-friendly websites.
Participants in the online course will gain hands-on experience by optimizing a live e-commerce website, including the performance of keyword research, metadata optimization (title tags, descriptions, headings), image optimization (alt text), and content creation.
Methodical SEO Works
A consistent commitment to SEO over time is essential for any website to perform well in search rankings, Rowland says.
“The biggest issue over time is that you can lose focus and you’re probably not applying that methodical effort like you were when your site first launched,” he says. “But a lot of what SEO is all about is not so much the cutting-edge technology, but applying the basics methodically over time.”
Search Engine optimization is an ongoing process, so applying the basics over time can have a big impact on performance. This includes the types of optimization covered within the course.
Every business wants to rank on the first page of Google, but that’s not always possible when targeting high volume, general terms, Rowland says.
He adds that the more general keyword, the less likely a user will convert to complete a task—such as signing up for an email newsletter, requesting more information or making a purchase. While a more specific keyword such as ‘size 11 men’s running shoes’ may have less search demand, it’s more specific and likely to convert.
“One example is ranking for the term ‘shoes.’ It’s great if you rank for that, but the user’s intent is unclear. Who knows what that person is looking for? It could be a pair of pumps, flats or sneakers. You don’t even know if they’re even looking to make a purchase,” he says. “But if someone searches ‘size 11 men’s running shoes,’ they’re likely looking to buy. The best part is that a smaller website can rank for highly targeted terms that will convert much more easily than for general terms like ‘shoes.’”
Simplifying Search Engine Optimization
SEO can get complicated, but focusing on the foundational elements simplifies the optimization process and helps marketers focus on the elements over which they have control.
“The challenge is that Google isn’t transparent about what it uses to rank pages. The search engine reportedly uses 200 different factors, but it’s been recently suggested that different sets of criteria are applied to different content,” Rowland says. “But there is a fundamental understanding of things that do work, and in this course, we cover the things we know we can do to help improve SEO.”
Given the constantly changing algorithms, it’s not realistic for most online marketers to stay abreast on every update. However, there are basic components that typically do not change, including on-page optimization, optimization for mobile devices, page speed, external links, and structured data.
“Building a strong foundation is the place to start and you can worry about prospective changes later,” he says. “If you’re able to get to a point where you can consistently work to improve your site, then you’re doing better than 95 percent of the competition.”
Want to improve your Google ranking?
Register for UVM’s Advanced SEO Digital Marketing Training
This article was originally posted on April 22, 2019.