SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of obtaining high rankings in Google Search. Yet Google algorithms change at such an alarming rate that it can seem impossible to keep up. Fortunately, rather than chasing the latest updates, simply staying the course can help you gain and maintain high rankings. Before you go looking for the most recent tips and techniques, make sure your basics are as good as you can possibly make them. Here is what you must know about basic SEO. 

1. SEO Is an Ongoing Process:

Too often, business owners make the assumption that SEO is a one time commitment. The reality is that it is something you must continually monitor and tweak over time. Like regularly scheduled car maintenance or health checkups, keeping a close eye on your SEO can minimize the time and effort that is required to fix most problems. Addressing issues as soon as they occur is always better than putting them off. 

2. Content Is King:

Long gone are the days of poorly written web pages stuffed with unnatural keywords. Today, SEO demands that you provide high-quality, authoritative content on each page. At a minimum shoot for 500 words, but 700 to 1,000 or more words are preferred. Organize your content for web readability, using lots of sub-heads, bullets, images, and other features to break up walls of text. 

3. Keywords Matter:

Exactly which keywords you choose to optimize for makes a big difference in your success. Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to identify relevant keywords your ideal prospects are searching to find your products or services. Then edit your web pages and/or create new web pages that are 100 percent focused on your target keywords. 

4. It’s NAP Time:

NAP refers to your business Name, Address, and Phone number. Google reviews your NAP listed on your website, as well as your NAP listed on other websites across the internet. For example, business directories publish your NAP and this information needs to match the information listed on your website. If there are any discrepancies, then your search rankings will suffer. 

5. Above the Fold Is Where It Counts:

“Above the fold” is from an old newspaper term that referred to the spot where the newspaper was folded. Today this phrase refers to the part of a web page that a reader can see without scrolling. Use this space to capture the attention of your prospect right away and encourage her to keep reading. Use engaging, useful, highly relevant content to minimize your bounce rate, or the percentage of people who click immediately back off of your page. 

6. Mobile Optimization Is Crucial:

In today’s always-connected world, savvy shoppers move effortlessly between multiple devices, and they expect websites to travel with them. To take this into account, Google released an update to their algorithm in April 2015 in order to include mobile-friendly factors. In other words, if your website is not easy to use on a mobile device, then your search rankings will suffer. 

7. Get Fast Results from Local SEO:

Local SEO is the process of optimizing your Google My Business profile for searches within your local area. For example, when you search for a nearby dentist, then you’ll see a map in the Google results along with dental offices near your neighborhood. Those “map” results are the Google My Business results. Ranking your profile on the first page is typically easier and faster than traditional SEO to rank your website. The key is to complete and verify your profile, ensure your NAP is consistent across the internet, submit your business to online directories, and encourage your customers to post reviews on your Google My Business profile. 

8. Social Media Cannot Be Ignored:

Social media has become an increasingly important part of a solid SEO strategy. As stated above, content is king and social media is the content superhighway. Engaging, high quality content can be shared virally across social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which in turn drives more visitors, more links, and more conversations that can help improve your search rankings. 

9. Tracking Is Essential:

Without tracking in place, how could you possibly know which parts of your SEO campaign are working and which need some help? Google Analytics is a powerful and free tool that lets you analyze your search rankings and user behavior on your website. Use the data to determine which web page rankings are driving traffic and conversions, and which web pages are on the 2nd page of Google and just need a little push.