What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to improve a company’s ranking in organic search results. More visitors to the company’s website leads to more conversions, customers and revenue.
When asked to explain what SEO is, I often say that it is a way to make sure that your website comes up when someone does a Google search for your product or service.
But this simplifies the discipline a bit.
There are many ways to improve the SEO of your site pages. In order to be found by search engines, a website must have title tags, keywords, image tags, internal link structure, and inbound links. Search engines use a variety of factors to determine how to rank a website in their SERPs. These factors include site structure and design, visitor behavior, and other external, off-site factors.
SEO directly impacts both your website’s rankings in search results and how visible it is overall.
How Does SEO Work?
SEO is the process of optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results. SEO involves improving the content of a website, conducting keyword research, and earning inbound links. SEO results generally take a while to show up on SERPs since webpages need to be crawled and indexed by search engines first. However, the effects of SEO can take months to fully materialize.
What determines where a web page is placed in a search engine’s results page is the page’s authority. Rankings start at position number zero through the final number of search engine results for the query, and a web page can rank for one position at a time. As time goes by, a web page’s ranking in the search engine results pages (SERP) may change due to the page’s age, competition from other pages, or changes to the search engine’s algorithms.
This refers to how often a particular domain appears in the search engine results. Lower search visibility means that a website is not appearing in many relevant search results. Higher search visibility is when a website is appearing more often in relevant search results.
The two are responsible for delivering the SEO objectives of traffic and domain authority.
To optimize a website for search engines, the content on each page must be clear, concise, and well-written so that search engines can easily understand what the page is about and match it to relevant searches.
Note, I said “page” not content. Most on-page SEO work is based on the words used, but it also includes some code optimization.
If the foundation of a house is in terrible condition, it will have a lot of issues, no matter how nice the interior is decorated. The same is true for SEO. You need to have a great foundation on your website, which consists of the following:
- Unique text content
- Internal link architecture
- Bot accessibility
- URL structure
- Server response codes
Don’t be intimidated by these tech-sounding terms. If you would like an audit of your website for its foundation, you should contact a website developer. The process should only take a few hours.
Unique website content
Every time you use a search engine, you’re looking for content — information on a particular issue or problem, for example.
True, this content might come in different formats. It could be text, like a blog post or a web page. Other than just being a textual content, a post could be in a form of a video, a product recommendation, and even a business listing.
It’s all content.
Greater search visibility can be gained through SEO.
Here are two reasons why:
- First, content is what customers want when searching. Regardless of what they’re looking for, it’s content that provides it. And the more of it you publish, the higher your chance for greater search visibility.
- Also, search engines use content to determine how to rank a page. It’s the idea of relevance between a page and a person’s search query that we talked about earlier.
While crawling a page, they determine its topic. By analyzing elements such as page length and structure, they are able to assess the quality of the text. Search algorithms analyze a person’s query and compare it to pages they believe are most relevant to the person’s inquiry.
Duplicate content on your website can also prevent you from achieving your true potential ranking. There are many businesses we’ve worked with or consulted for that have duplicate content on their site or a messed up URL structure.
Below are several examples.
- City level pages: A business will try and rank for all suburbs around a city or all cities in the state by having a similar page for each one. By doing this, Google can detect that this is manipulative and oftentimes duplicative content, which can impact your ranking in a negative way.
- Unnecessary pages: We’ll often see service pages broken down into sub-service pages, which isn’t always a good thing. For example, how many people are really looking for a display remarketing company in Columbus, Ohio? We have a page for online advertising, where we mention our focus on display retargeting, but we don’t need an entire page for this.
I recently consulted with a business owner on which services he should target for ranking on his homepage. I asked what the revenue breakdown was between service A and B. Once I found out that A made more revenue and was expected to continue doing so, I told the person that the main focus should be on A since it’s what pays the bills.
Your title tag is one of the most important aspects of your website. Make sure to choose what to include in the title tag based off of business metrics that are actually relevant.
Other websites linking to your content is called a backlink. You gain a backlink to your site every time another website mentions your content and points their readers to it.
Backlinks are the foundation to Google’s algorithm. Once you have a good site structure in place, you need to focus on getting other websites to link to yours. A backlink is a link from another website to yours. You need to focus on quality over quantity.
Google uses the number and quality of links as a way of measuring a website’s importance. The idea behind it is that high-quality websites would be referenced more often by webmasters than mediocre ones.
But note that I mentioned link quality as well. That’s because not all links are the same. If you use low-quality ones, it can negatively impact your rankings.
Links Quality Factors
If the quality of your site’s links is low or Google suspects they were created solely to increase your authority, your rankings could be negatively impacted.
This is why SEO specialists focus on acquiring high-quality links instead of any links when building backlinks. They aim to generate the highest quality references possible.
We can’t say for sure what makes a link high-quality, but we have some ideas.
- The popularity of a linking site: Any link from a domain that search engines consider an authority will naturally have high quality. In other words, links from websites that have good quality links pointing to them will yield better results.
- Topic relevance: Links from domains on a topic similar to yours will carry more authority than those from random websites.
- Trust in a domain: Just like with popularity, search engines also assess a website’s trust. Links from more trustworthy sites will always impact rankings better.
HARO is just one way to acquire authoritative links. If you want your website to be successful, you need other websites to mention your site regularly, which will help you generate more backlinks. This can be accomplished by taking the following steps:
- Reach out to industry-specific reporters to let them know you’d be available for expert quotes pertaining to your industry.
- Reach out to industry-related websites and offer to share your expertise by contributing a guest blog post.
- Reach out to partners, vendors, clients or customers to ask them to list you on the “partners” page of their sites.
- Reach out to clients or customers offering to provide a testimonial on their site, which will also include a link back to your site.
- Reach out to city-related magazines and publications to provide insight on your local market.
Disavowing spammy backlinks
I said that link building is necessary for SEO success. There were plenty of people who attempted to take advantage of the system by outsourcing their link building or getting listed on directory sites full of spam. This could have led to a Google Penalty.
I suggest you log in to Google Search Console, under “Search Traffic” click “Links to Your Site.” Find “Your Most Linked Content” and click “Download Latest Links Report.”
An Excel file containing all the backlinks that Google detects pointing back to your site will be downloaded. If you see a lot of spammy links in the report, you might want to contact an SEO company to do a backlink audit and submit a disavow file.
Have you ever wondered how businesses get their addresses and star ratings to show up next to their listing on Google? This comes from your Google My Business page.
If you don’t pay attention to your Google My Business page, you should start immediately by taking the following proactive measures:
- Make sure all of your business information is consistent (name, address, phone).
- Make sure your photos are up to date.
- Have a strategy in place to be proactive with your reviews.
- Turn on the feature to let customers message you.
- List your primary category to align with the services or products you offer.
How to Monitor & Track SEO Results
Having a well-designed website is important for getting it into the search results. This includes having good technical setup, informative content, and helpful links. Monitoring your efforts helps improve your strategy further.
To measure SEO success, you need to track data about traffic, engagement, and links. And though, most companies develop their own sets of SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), here are the most common ones:
- Organic traffic growth
- Keyword rankings (split into branded and non-branded terms)
- Conversions from organic traffic
- Average time on page and the bounce rate
- Top landing pages attracting organic traffic
- Number of indexed pages
- Links growth (including new and lost links)
Google wants to ensure that the traffic to your site is coming from legitimate sources. This means your content needs to be stellar. Your blog content should be compelling on your own site. You should promote your blogs on Facebook to drive traffic to your blog. Your homepage and interior pages should provide valuable, insightful information for the reader. Your site NEEDS to be mobile friendly.
If a business does not actively try to get its content noticed in search results, it will not last long. By making your website more visible in search results, you can attract more visitors, resulting in more sales and conversions. It is well worth the time to become an expert in SEO. Your website is your primary marketing hub. Make sure your content is great so you can convert more customers and Google will be happy too!
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