Everything you need to know about SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial aspect of optimizing a website's content to increase its ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). The process involves two main techniques: on-page SEO, which involves optimizing elements within the website, and off-page SEO, which involves external factors that influence the site's ranking. A strong SEO strategy should incorporate both techniques, as well as a comprehensive domain level content strategy/ content marketing strategy.
However, in order to really have a good understanding of SEO, you must first understand how a search engine, or an algorithm works.
In short, the order in which search engines’ ‘robots’, ‘crawlers’, or ‘spiders’ process a website is as follows:
Discovers a new website, analyzes the content and data on each page of the website, indexes the content and data, receives a query, determines the relevance of content and data on the website versus the search query and returns results to the search query. A search engine’s goal (think Google) is to provide the most relevant, useful, and timely information possible to a person’s search query.
And a search engine can do this by analyzing the data and content on your website in order to rank it for the most useful and relevant information.
This is accomplished using digital ‘robots’, ‘crawlers’, or ‘spiders’. These robots crawl the web using digital maps in order to find new websites and pages.
Once a robot discovers a new page, it then analyzes the content on each page of the website and determines the quality of that website, the theme of it or how to categorize it, and what types of searches the website should show up for in organic search results.
Organic search is a primary source of website traffic, and it is crucial to rank on the first page of search results as according to a study, 67% of all clicks go to the top 5 organic results. This means, if you’re not on the first page, you may miss out on tons of potential traffic.
To rank on the first page of search results, it is important to focus on keywords that are relevant to your target audience. Keywords are single words or phrases (long-tail keywords) that represent the search queries used by people when using a search engine.
SEO and Keywords:
SEO keywords are single words or short phrases that represent the search queries that people use when they use a search engine. When you align your content creation and optimization with the words, topics, products or services that your target audience is searching for -- you have a much higher chance of showing up in their search results.
However, when it comes to keywords, you don’t want them to be too basic or broad. You may want to consider ‘long-tail keywords’ rather than single words as these can be more beneficial for ranking and the searcher is typically in the later stages of the buyer’s funnel.
Think about it this way, when people are browsing to purchase a product or service, they tend to start with very basic and generic words. The deeper they get into their search, however, the more specific and detailed the search query will become.
Initial search: “running shoes”
Later-stage search: “white Nike women’s running shoe size seven”
In this way, you can see that you are not only able to include several relevant keywords but also able to capture a potential customer who is more than likely ready to make a purchase. How to Conduct Keyword Research for SEO
Keyword research is an essential part of any SEO strategy.
By identifying the keywords and phrases that your target audience is using to search for your products or services, you can optimize your website and content to rank higher in search results in order for your target audience to come across and find your website.
Here are some basic steps to follow to conduct keyword research:
Identify your target audience: Before you start your research, it's important to know who you are targeting. This will help you determine the keywords that are most relevant to your business.
Brainstorm keywords: Start by brainstorming a list of keywords that are relevant to your business. This can include words and phrases related to your products or services, as well as the topics and industries that are associated with them.
Use keyword research tools: There are several keyword research tools available that can help you find the keywords that are most relevant to your business. Some popular tools include SEMrush and Uber Suggest.
Analyze search volume and competition: Once you have a list of keywords, you can use keyword research tools to analyze the search volume and competition for each keyword. Look for keywords that have a high search volume and low competition, as these are likely to be easier to rank for.
Focus on long-tail keywords: In addition to more general or 'broad' keywords, consider targeting long-tail keywords. These are more specific phrases that are more likely to be used by people who are further along in the buying process.
Optimize your website and content: Once you have identified your keywords, use the list you have created to optimize your website and create content.
Where do I put keywords?
When it comes to keywords on your website, substance is more important than frequency, but you still want to remain consistent. There is such a thing as too many keywords, this also may be known as ‘keyword stuffing.’ You don’t want to throw in your keywords unnaturally throughout your site just for the sake of having keywords on your site. Be practical: think about what placement and in what context makes the most sense.
Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
Title tags are the names of the individual pages on your website that appear in the search results. This is the first thing that a visitor will see when searching for your website and coming across it in search results.
Meta descriptions are the short descriptions you see under the title tags on a search results page that describes what that individual page on the website is about.
Check out the example below:
Both the title tags and the meta descriptions are essential to SEO. These should be optimized so that a person browsing through search results will have a better understanding of what the individual page and website are about to decide whether or not they want to click on your website.
Check out our video SEO Made Simple to learn more about what you need to know to optimize your website.
For a full list of what you need to optimize your website, download our free guide ‘the Ultimate Guide to SEO for Small Business'.
How long does it take to build SEO?
SEO is optimizing your presence on a search engine over time.
You are competing with hundreds of thousands of other businesses like yours who are also looking to be on the first page of Google.
To move up to the third, second, or even first page of Google takes time and a lot of continuous effort as it does not happen overnight.
First, understand that SEO integration ensures that your website itself is fully optimized to be indexed by search engines; this tells search engines or lets Google know that there is a new website published on the internet that needs to be crawled and indexed.
However, because you are a new website on the internet, it takes time to build credibility and domain authority to rank on page one, two or even three of search results.
There are some things that you can do to improve SEO on your website so that eventually you do appear on page one of search results.
For example, blogging.
Blogs are great for SEO as they give you the space to include relevant keywords and helpful content for visitors. Blogs also help to position your site as a leader in your industry as blogs provide the opportunity to make your website a relevant site that has the answers to your customer’s common questions (think FAQs = frequently asked questions).
Another example of how to drastically help improve SEO is through social media and content marketing.
A content marketing strategy is a strategy used to attract, engage, grow and retain an audience, and build a community by creating and sharing relevant articles, blogs, videos, podcasts, and other types of content. To have a strong and effective content marketing strategy, it must align with the brand's vision, mission, values, and target audience. The strategy should also consider where the target audience is and what platforms they are on.
SEO and Social Media:
While there are many things you can do to your website to optimize it for search engines, there are many other tactics that take place off of your website. For example, social media.
Using social media can be a great way to increase brand awareness, overall online presence, drive traffic to your website to enhance SEO. There is a correlation between social media and higher ranking in search results; however, correlation does not mean causation.
But there does seem to be an indirect influence on SEO by an engaged audience on social media, as this will increase online presence, and overall brand visibility. It has been stated that tweets on Twitter are crawled and indexed, as are pins on Pinterest (both platforms are great for SEO). It has also been stated that if it is accessible to Google and if it contains a link, then the link has the potential to be crawled.
First and foremost, when it comes to creating quality content, this means creating unique content that is your own. Not plagiarizing or copying someone else’s content.
Note: Google gives ranking credit to whoever posted the content first. Therefore, the best way to avoid this is to always properly cite your sources and link back to the original source if possible.
Original and unique content are much more likely to receive shares, engagement, and interest in your business. Which are all fantastic for SEO as the more that a person shares the link to your website or your content, means more opportunities to get in front of a new audience and for robots to discover and crawl your website.
The more that a person shares an engaging piece of content on social media, the more chances that you have to grow interest in you and your business, drive traffic to your website, and increase conversions. In addition, the more time that a person spends on your website, the more that Google will deem your website as useful, relevant, or valuable (all are fantastic for enhancing SEO).
Finally, if you are going to copy and paste someone else’s work onto your website, or if you quote someone else, you must ensure to properly cite them. To go one step further, include your own perspective or add some sort of value to the original author’s point or perspective. If there is no value added, Google may see this as duplicate content, and this can potentially hurt your ranking.
In addition, Google likes to see when you link to other websites (if they are relevant/useful/credible) because this generally will enhance a person’s experience by having their questions answered or providing even further information on a topic that they are already interested in.
SEO and Success:
To see real success in SEO, first determine a domain level content strategy.
A domain level content strategy is a high-level vision of the overall website's theme that guides content creation to meet specific business goals and objectives. A strong domain level content strategy should be based on a core theme, be aligned with business values, goals, objectives, mission, and vision.
Doing so will help to guide things such as keyword research, determining which platforms to engage on, and will help establish content pillars (or categories) for content creation.
Additionally, this will help to link related content to each other, on and off your website, to increase authority around topics, enhance user experience, and be consistent with strong branding.
In conclusion, a comprehensive SEO strategy involves incorporating both on-page and off-page SEO techniques, a strong domain level content strategy, and a content marketing strategy. This will help to increase a website's ranking on search engine results pages, drive more organic traffic to the site, and establish the website as a trustworthy and authoritative source in the eyes of both the audience and search engines.
Check out our course SEO Made Simple for more.
Chief Creative Officer