According to Google, 30% of mobile searches are related to a location. Additionally, local searches lead 50% of mobile users to visit stores within one day. In order to increase your ranking within such local searches and improve your chances of being seen by potential customers, small businesses must put substantial effort into their search engine optimization (SEO) techniques.

SEO is made up of several different elements that help improve your website’s ranking, drive traffic and increase awareness within organic search engine results. For the most part, the higher your business ranks, the more visits it will likely receive from search engine users.

There’s an endless amount of information available regarding SEO, but for those who are just starting out and trying to understand the basics, here are a few rudimentary terms to get you started.

Organic Search

Organic search is when an individual enters a single string of text into a search engine and clicks on one of the non-sponsored links that appear. Organic search results encompass all results that are not paid for. The higher a business’s ranking is in organic search, the more likely it is that people will click on it. To help your chances of increasing your business’s ranking in organic search results, make sure that your website is packed with high-quality content filled with relevant keywords.

Keywords

Keywords are short words or phrases that tell search engines about the content on your website. When a user conducts a search, Google utilizes an algorithm to provide said user with relevant matches based on those keywords. To help with your organic ranking, research the keywords that pertain to your business, then write unique content that focuses on those keywords.  You’ll want to avoid “keyword stuffing,” which is over packing a web page with tons of keywords in an attempt to rank higher for them.

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

SERPs are the pages that show up after a user types in a search query on a search engine like Google. All SERPs are unique, including queries that take place on the same search engine with the same keywords. Search engines tailor results to fit each user, taking in additional factors like locations and browsing history to determine the most accurate results. Each search engine utilizes its own unique algorithm to determine the order of the links on a SERP, however, there are many universal strategies that can help you improve your business’s ranking.

Featured Snippet

When a user conducts a search on Google, like “Where are bananas grown?”, a box will appear at the top of the organic search results. This box is what’s referred to as the “featured snippet” and its purpose is to answer the searcher’s question immediately. There are three types of featured snippets, paragraph (see below), list and table. Ranking for snippets can greatly increase your traffic, as it’s the first thing a user will see when they conduct a search. You don’t necessarily have to rank at the top to be a featured snippet, however Google must deem your answer to the searcher’s question as the best result available.

HTML Tags

HTML tells a browser how to display your website and HTML tags break up your website into various sections that are each formatted uniquely. Here are the most common HTML tags:

Headers: The large text at the top of a webpage is the header. Headers are for helping site visitors discover the information that they’re looking for. They also help tell search engines about the content on each webpage on your website. It’s important to use relevant keywords within these headers to help improve your SEO and search engine ranking. The top title is the <h1> tag, then below that is the <h2> tags for the major subheads of articles. The first 3 are the most commonly utilized, however header tags go all the way through <h6>.

Meta Descriptions: Meta descriptions are short snippets that summarize the content on a webpage. Search engines generally show a page’s meta description when the search phrase is in the description. They should be 160 characters or less in length and filled with relevant keywords that pertain to the article’s focus. Good meta descriptions will prompt searchers to click on your website link, increasing your click-through rate.

Title Tags: Title tags are the bolded letters at the beginning of a search query result. Although titles and <h1> tags often have the same text, it’s more beneficial for them to be different. These tags will help tell search engines what your webpage is about. The ideal length of title tags is 60 characters or less.

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