Search engine optimization (SEO) is a big topic these days. As a business owner, it’s vital to understand some basic SEO. Even if you hire an SEO expert, what if you’re adding a new post to your blog? You should know enough so that it’s optimized when you post it! Here are 12 things you really should know about SEO…

1. The purpose of search engine optimization.
The rest of these points don’t matter a lick if you don’t know what SEO is, and why you need it… SEO helps your website to be ranked higher by search engines. In turn, you get free, targeted leads flowing into your site on autopilot.

2. The difference between basic and advanced SEO.
Basic SEO entails little changes you can make in order to get a higher search engine ranking. Advanced SEO goes into your meta tags and HTML code.

3. Keywords, keywords, keywords.
Keywords are what drive SEO, and what drive traffic to your website. Be sure to choose your keywords carefully.

4. Use backlinks.
The more references there are to your website, even within the text of your website itself, the better search engines will like your website.

5. Create a sitemap.
If you create a sitemap of your site, it’ll be easier for search engines to crawl your site, making it easier for them to see how pertinent your site is to the search at hand.

6. Include keywords in your image descriptions.
Captions, image descriptions, and alt text are all great places to get in one more plug for your keyword.

7. Update regularly.
The fresher your content is, and the more consistently you update, the higher your ranking will be. People want to see new material on your website, and search engines recognize this. This is especially important with Google’s new “freshness” update.

8. Have a search-friendly URL.
The URLs within your website should make it clear what’s on each page. A search engine can’t guess; it can only know what you tell it clearly.

9. Use Flash discerningly.
Flash is pretty to look at, but it can disrupt SEO because it can’t be linked to a single page. If you must use it, include some navigation or text below.

10. Use social media.
If you use social media to spread the word about your page, you’ll not only have a higher search engine ranking, but your social network will also see your page. This is one of the more important of the 12 things you really should know about SEO.

11. Build relationships with other sites.
If you link to others and they link to you, search engines see that as legitimacy.

12. Monitor your ranking regularly.
The more you know about where you stand, the better you’ll be able to evaluate the efficiency of your SEO strategy.