A website is the virtual representation of your business. But no matter how well-designed or easy-to-navigate your site is, it won’t be effective if potential clients aren’t visiting it. To make the most of your investment in its design and maintenance, use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to help your site be found.

What is SEO?
SEO is the collection of tactics used to improve a website’s ranking in search engine results. A website optimized for search engines is built in a way that makes it more likely to be ranked high, near the top of the first page of results.

Why do you need it?
Although the number will vary from site to site, around 70 percent of all website traffic comes from organic (non-paid) searches. Rank matters—the top five results from any search get the vast majority of user clicks.

Hallmarks of good SEO
Websites are a combination of content, design, and code. Search Engine Optimization comes into play with each of these elements:

Quality content — Search engines send traffic to sites that provide value to users pertaining to their search query. Providing informational articles, videos, and blog posts will make your site more helpful and user-centric.

Enduring value — Create content that will be useful to current and future visitors. Articles and materials that are dated will easily lose their value and relevance.

Authority — Search engines acknowledge that your site is trusted by your industry and users by providing links to your content. The more your content is shared and linked to, the higher it will appear in search results.

Great user experience — Search engines look for features that a user will find valuable. Easy navigation and plenty of internal links (those pointing to other pages on your site) are important, and searchability is key. Related content such as tagging and categorization also helps your users—and search engines—find what they seek.

Compelling title tags — The titles of your pages appear in browser tabs, search results, and social media shares. Titles should be human-focused with keywords positioned towards the beginning of the title.

Relevant meta tags — These short text summaries appear below the title in search engine results and social media shares. They should include keywords and be user-centered.

Responsive design — Search engines (especially Google) are increasingly sensitive to responsive design. Your site must work—and look good—on smartphones and tablets, in addition to desktops and laptops.

Alternative text — Search engines “see” your images by reading their alternative text (or “alt text”). Descriptive labels make your photos visible to both electronic search engines and humans with disabilities.

Search Engine Optimization can make or break your website, so be sure your site’s content, design, and code follow these guidelines. With attention to detail, your site will be user-friendly and easy to find—and you’ll stand out from the competition.