WHAT IS SEO AND HOW CAN IT HELP MY BUSINESS?
How many search queries does Google process in a second? 40,000.
So, while you were reading that first sentence, the search engine received 120,000 queries, encompassing all sorts of questions. “How to pull off floral pants,” “best diet for CrossFit,” “bake shops near me,” and much, much more.
The sheer volume of people who look for things on the internet is what encourages businesspeople to invest in search engine optimization (SEO). SEO makes it easy for potential customers to see you online. And if people can find you, they’re more likely to buy from you.
SEO campaigns are very involved processes, but the results— and we can attest to this—really spell the difference between surviving and thriving as a business. Understand what it is, how it works, and how you can make the most of it to reap the benefits of search engine optimization.
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Here's a brief video of how Organic SEO works
The Works: How SEO Affects Search Engine Results
Note: It’s a good idea to start with an SEO audit to find out how your website is currently performing.
SEO is a set of techniques that increase your visibility on search engines. It makes a search engine display your site at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) of a certain keyword. As a result, the quantity and quality of your site’s traffic improve.
SEO strikes people as something that concerns only search engines. It’s all about codes, keywords, website improvements, and whatnot.
That’s only half the story, however. SEO is also about people. Specifically, your customers.
Search engines aim to answer the query of the user. They scour the web and display content that answers the question best. That’s why a sound SEO plan considers your target audience, the content they want to consume, and the words that they use to find answers — keywords.
Keywords: How Important Are They?
This is how a search engine determines the value — and results in page position — of online content:
- Crawling – Search engines send out bots called crawlers to look for new content on the web. They look into the code and content of each URL they find.
- Indexing–Search engines store the information from crawlers on their index, a huge database of content that’s good enough to show to users.
- Ranking–When somebody inputs a query, search engines look in their indices for the most relevant content and rank them in the SERP.
Search engine algorithms look for certain signals to rank the content properly. They seek out key words and phrases within a page’s content to check if they do contain the answers the users are looking for.
That’s why an SEO campaign starts with intensive keyword research. This uncovers:
- The words and phrases your target audience search for
- The number of people who search for these terms
- The content format that your target audience prefers
Years ago, using keywords to rank was easy. The rule was that the more keywords, the higher the chances of ranking. So, all digital marketers had to do was stuff as many keywords as possible into a site’s content. It didn’t matter if the content sounded bad and offered no value to the searcher.
Search engines have grown smarter over the years, though. They can now understand semantics to a degree and interpret the meaning of a searcher’s query. A part of that is finding and understanding whether a piece of content is relevant and can answer the question. If they see that your content just stuffed keywords in a bid to rank in the SERPs they’ll penalize your site.
As such, keyword stuffing hurts rather than helps your rankings.
So, where should you put the keywords? Strategic places include your meta descriptions, meta titles, content headlines. Just integrate your keywords seamlessly into your site’s content so that a human reader would find it useful, and you’re good to go.
Local and Organic: The SEO for Your Business
We won’t delve deeply into the differences between the techniques in local and organic SEO. Instead, we’ll explore the practices that are common to both.
For now, it’s enough to know that SEO can be divided into two categories:
- Organic SEO – This makes your site SEO-friendly and ranks it for relevant keywords. Organic SEO campaigns don’t have an element of location, meaning, keywords don’t have names of towns, cities, etc. If you’re an e-commerce site with no geographical target, this is the campaign style for you.
- Local SEO–This involves building visibility in specific locations. The keywords of a local SEO campaign have names of places and the words “near me.” It aims to drive foot traffic to your brick and mortar store.
And that SEO practices fall into two broad categories:
- On-Page SEO– This involves tweaks on your website (content and site architecture) to hit Google’s ranking factors.
- Off-Page SEO– This involves changes outside your website to optimize your online footprint and rank better.
Improving Your Site: On-Page Optimization
Under on-page optimization, SEO marketers focus largely on content and site architecture.
Content. We go back to the fact that search engines serve users. They favor websites with content that people would read and enjoy.
In the eyes of search engines, these are the characteristics of quality content:
- Long and In-depth–Long-form content allows you to insert more keywords into your site and increase the on-page time, which is a ranking factor. Different studies recommend different lengths. Some say 1,890 words is best, while others suggest 2,250-2,500.
- Fresh and Updated – The more blogs you post, the more traffic you get. A study by HubSpot found that companies that publish more than 16 blog posts a month get almost 3.5 times more traffic than companies with less than 5 monthly posts.
- Gives Direct Answers – The Google SERP displays featured snippets. These are boxes that appear higher than organic results and feature a concise, direct answer to the query. So, content that provides direct answers is more likely to be promoted in the featured snippets.
Site Architecture. This refers to the way your website is structured. The goal, like other SEO aspects, is to provide users with a great experience. An optimized site architecture:
- Uses a robots.txt file– This guides the crawlers to the pages that they should crawl, index, and rank.
- Has an SSL certificate – Google favors sites with an SSL certificate because it ensures that the data transmitted to and from those sites is encrypted.
- Defines canonical links–A canonical attribute tells crawlers the preferred version of a web page.
- Is optimized for mobile devices–Mobile devices account for about 50.3% of the web traffic in 2017. Many of your customers are on mobile, so your site should function seamlessly on mobile devices.
Beyond Your Website: Off-Page Optimization
Under off-page optimization, SEO marketers focus largely on link building and social media marketing.
Google favors a strong backlink profile, a collection of links from other sites that lead to yours. Why? Because, in the eyes of search engines, links are a vote of confidence. The more backlinks you have, the more authoritative you look. Many marketers build links through guest blogging, where they publish a guest post on a quality blog, so they get backlinks for their sites.
Note that Google only acknowledges links from authoritative sites. Links from spammy sites hurt your rankings.
Social Media Marketing
No, social media is not a direct ranking factor for SEO. But it does have an indirect effect.
For example, you published really good content on social media, and it generated many shares and links. High social engagement lets you gain traction on Google and causes your post to move up in the SERP (yes, SERPs display social media content, too).
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let us reiterate that this is just the tip of the iceberg. SEO involves a lot of techniques that need to be executed perfectly so your site would rank and we’d be more than happy to do them all for you.
Schedule a consultation today, and let’s discuss how we’ll rank your site.