If you’re a business owner, nothing keeps you up at night like the thought of remaining invisible while your competitors snatch a majority share of your market.
How do your toughest competitors do it? Do they know some amazing secret you’re not aware of? Those are definitely big enough questions to lose some sleepover.
After all, who doesn’t want more visibility for their business?
Improved visibility, the kind that really allows you to compete in your industry, is the great promise of SEO.
The basic SEO tactics that can help your business grow in 2020 is simple– you optimize your website to increase your search engine rankings and, by extension, your website traffic.
The traffic you get through applying solid SEO fundamentals can be the difference between businesses who have a steady stream of leads, and those businesses who have to scavenge for prospects.
SEO is simple in theory but in practice?
Most people have a hard time with it.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” You should have heard the term SEO, and if you haven’t already, you could obtain a quick Wikipedia definition of the term. The process of making changes to the design, content, link structure of a website to improve its ranking and visibility in the search engine’s unpaid results is called SEO.
SEO can be fun once you understand how it works – and especially once you start seeing results!
So give it some time, apply consistent action, and enjoy the process!
SEO is really a technique in Digital Marketing which helps search engines find and rank your website better than the majority of other websites in reaction to a search query.
In the last ten years, SEO has been changed drastically with the enormous growth in competition.
In this blog, I aim to give an overview of some different tactics of SEO.
SEO is not difficult but, like anything worth learning, it does take some time and application before you can start to see results.
Rest assured, the results you will get from the successful implementation of SEO will pay back all your efforts in learning it many times over.
Hopefully, by the time you have finished reading, you will be more aware of the opportunities SEO presents to you and more confident in your ability to do it yourself.
Why SEO is important
While paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines.
Organic search results cover more digital real estate, appear more credible to savvy searchers, and receive way more clicks than paid advertisements.
SEO is also one of the only internet marketing channels where if you do it right in the first place you are going to get its results over a long term without employing most of your resources, unlike paid ads where you need a constant flow of funds to be in front of your audience.
Search engines are getting smarter, but they still need our help.
Optimizing your site will help deliver better information to search engines so that your content can be properly indexed and displayed within search results.
How exactly does Google decide where your page should rank?
Google promotes the pages it regards as authority webpages to the highest point in its rankings. It is your task- or the task of any company you hire to complete your SEO – to produce authority pages. Basically this requires building links and writing content.
So basically SEO involves writing pages that use keywords, which are words people use within searches and securing links from other pages to exhibit how essential your page is when compared with the others. Links are votes and votes enable you to get elected to page 1.
An easy 1-2-3 Guide to Improving Search engine results:
- Write content that will be utilized by the people who look for your product.
- Build links to your pages to exhibit their importance.
- Keep carrying this out!
Search engines want to help you succeed. In fact, Google even has a Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, much like the Beginner’s Guide!
While webmaster guidelines vary from search engine to search engine, the underlying principles stay the same: Don’t try to trick search engines. Instead, provide your visitors with a great online experience. To do that, follow search engine guidelines and fulfill user intent.
Three Core Elements of a Strong SEO Strategy
To optimize a site, you need to improve ranking factors in three areas — technical website setup, content, and off-page links. So, let’s go through them in turn.
1. Technical Website Setup
For your website to rank, three things must happen:
First, a search engine needs to find your pages on the Web.
Then, it must scan them to understand their topics and identify their keywords.
And finally, it needs to add them to its index — a database of all the content it has found on the web. This way, its algorithm can consider displaying your website for relevant queries.
Seem simple, doesn’t it? Nothing to worry about
After all, since you can visit your site without any problem, so should Google, right?
Unfortunately, there is a catch. A web page looks different for you and the search engine. You see it as a collection of graphics, colors, text with its formatting, and links.
To a search engine, it’s nothing but text.
As a result, any elements it cannot render this way remain invisible to the search engine. And so, in spite of your website looking fine to you, Google might find it’s content inaccessible.
This is where, Technical setup, also called on-site optimization, comes in. It ensures that your website and pages allow Google to scan and index them without any problems.
The most important factors affecting it include:
Website navigation and links
The search engine crawls the entire website as any other visitor but the only difference is they cannot understand images they only understand the text. And hence structuring your website which makes it easier for search engines to crawl is very important
Simple URL structure
Search engines don’t like reading lengthy strings of words with complex structures. So, it is always important to restrict the length of URL to make it only contain the main keyword, for which we are trying to rank
Search engines, use the load time — the time it takes for a user to be able to read the page — as an indicator of quality. It can be affected by any element on your website be it images, or any other CSS codes.
So, it is always recommended to keep the website as light as possible
Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool for suggestions on how to improve your pages.
Dead links or broken redirects
A dead link sends a visitor to a nonexistent page. A broken redirect points to a resource that might no longer be there. Both provide poor user experience but also, prevent search engines from indexing your content.
Sitemap and Robots.txt files
A sitemap is a simple file that lists all URLs on your site. The search engine use it as a map to crawl the website. On the other hand robots.txt, help search engines identify what not to crawl which restrict the duplication of content on the search engine and improving the quality score of the website
The search engine cannot understand the duplicate content and it gets confusing which content to display for any search query and hence it may act as a negative factor for your website, copying content can also lead to a penalty where none of your pages may be listed on search engines
2. Content is King
Every time you use a search engine, you’re looking for Content— information on a particular issue or problem.
This content might come in different formats. It could be text, like a blog post or a web page. But it could also be a video, product recommendation, and even a business listing.
And for SEO, it’s what helps gain greater search visibility.
Here are two reasons why:
- For one, content is what customers want when searching. Regardless of what they’re looking for, it’s content that provides it.
- 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.
The process of optimizing content begins with keyword research.
Keyword research is a core SEO practice because it helps you understand how and why people come to your website, how your competitors attract visitors, and generally how — and how often — your audience searches online.
Analyzing keywords and identifying search trends will help you build pages that best serve the needs of your audience by providing the information they’re searching for and solving their problems.
Keywords are fundamental to how search engines work — searchers type keywords into search engines and search engines return pages that, based on their algorithms, are the best results for those keywords. Keep in mind that these search results include individual pages.
This is important to note because pages — rather than entire websites — rank for keywords, and any given page can rank for thousands of variations of keywords. Understanding which keywords searchers use and how they use them is instrumental in ranking in search.
Keyword research will dictate the SEO strategy and content creation. Every new page you build on your website should be inﬂuenced by insights from keyword research.
With a list of keywords at hand, the next step is to optimize your content. SEOs refer to this process as on-page optimization.
On-page SEO refers to optimizing the titles, descriptions, and content of your website in order to influence your position and rank higher in the organic search results.
For those who ask if on-page SEO is still relevant right now and onward, it undoubtedly is.
On-page Search Engine Optimization brings in targeted organic search traffic. When a user types in a search query, they’ve got a specific need and specific intent. If they access your content via organic search results – and your content satisfies their intent – you’ve just landed the highest quality traffic possible.
That’s the kind of traffic that leads to paying customers. It’s also more cost-effective to acquire customers organically as opposed to paid means. In the long run, you get a trackable and quantifiable return on your SEO investment.
But on-page Search Engine Optimization isn’t just about ROI. It’s also about how quickly you see that return. It’s vital that your site is search-engine friendly so search engines can have immediate access to your web pages and content.
a) Keyword Optimization
First, ensure that Google understands what keywords you want this page to rank. To achieve that, make sure you include at least the main keyword in the following:
- Post’s title: The post title is meant for people that are already on your website. It tells them what your post or page is about. On the contrary, SEO title is meant for people who are not on your website yet and it will be shown to people in the search engines.
- URL: Your page’s web address should also include the keyword. Ideally, including nothing else
- H1 Tag: In most content management systems, this tag displays the title of the page by default. However, make sure that your platform doesn’t use a different setting.
- The first 100 words of content: Finding the keyword at the start of your blog post will reassure Google that this is, in fact, the page’s topic.
- Meta-title and meta-description tags: Search engines use these two code elements to display their listings. Meta descriptions are very important HTML codes that entice readers to read an entire blog. The ideal character count of Meta descriptions should be 160.
- Image file names and ALT tags: Remember how search engines see graphics on a page? They can only see their file names. So, make sure that at least one of the images contains the keyword in the file name.
The alt tag, on the other hand, is text browsers display instead of an image (for visually impaired visitors.) However, since the ALT tag resides in the image code, search engines use it as a relevancy signal as well.
- Semantic Keywords: Variations or synonyms of your keywords spread across your website helps search engine to determine page relevancy better. Add them to ensure that your page doesn’t start showing up for irrelevant searches. For example, if I write an article on Amazon, how can search engines know if it is on Amazon the E-commerce giant, or Amazon forest.
b) Non-Keyword On-Page Optimization
On-page SEO is not just about sprinkling keywords across the page. The factors below help confirm a page’s credibility and authority too:
- External links: Linking out to other, relevant pages on the topic helps Google determine its topic further. It also provides a better user experience as it helps develop credibility among your audience
- Internal links: Those links help you boost rankings in two ways. One it allows users to visit on other pages of your website and also gives semantic relation to the search engine for all the inter-linked pages on your website
- Content’s length: Long content typically ranks better. That’s because, if done well, a longer blog post will always contain more exhaustive information on the topic.
- Multimedia: Multimedia elements like videos, images, audio players can signal a page’s quality. It keeps readers on a page for longer. And in turn, it signals that they find the content valuable and worth perusing.
“Off-Page SEO” refers to actions taken outside of your own website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages.
Just like the name suggests, it employs methods that make a web site search engine friendly that don’t alter the web page itself.
One of the greatest benefits of Off-Page SEO is that it directly affects the ranking of the page. It’s the system that determines what will be an essential web site and what will not be essential. This determination is based on whether other sites link right back to or make reference to your web site. The bigger the quantity of backs links, the larger the rank the web site gets.
But before we talk more about how it works, here’s what SEOs mean when talking about links.
What is a backlink?
Links, also called backlinks, are references to your content on other websites. Every time another website mentions and points their readers to your content, you gain a backlink to your site.
Google uses quantity and quality of links like this as a signal of a website’s authority. Its logic behind it is that webmasters would reference a popular and high-quality website more often than a mediocre one.
But note that I mentioned links quality as well. That’s because not all links are the same. Some — low-quality ones — can impact your rankings negatively.
Getting started off with Off-Page SEO is very easy providing you comprehend it well. There are several items you’ll want to get right about your site and lots of work that you’ll have to do off the web site. Here’s what you’re looking for effective Off-Site SEO.
Content: The fundamental prerequisite for effective off-page SEO is for the web site to possess useful and good content. The Off-Site SEO depends a great deal on this. Many sites provide links on the webpage for reference purposes.
If the content on your site is good, some sites can make reference to your page that will enable you to get points when it comes to page ranking, without actually needing to do anything yourself. An internet site with good content by itself could possibly get links to it and therefore a higher rank.
Link Exchange: Link exchanges are, as their name suggests, linking to a different page as a swap for that page linking back again to yours. With the quantity of information on the internet, you will see many web sites that pertain to the same topic as your site. Carrying out a link exchange with such sites can not only enable you to get a great rank but additionally attract more traffic.
Building the site’s link popularity is among the backbones of off-site SEO. The popularity will make reference to the amount of back-links the web site features. You will find simple tools online which you can use and through those tools, you can examine the link’s popularity.
Article Submission: Yet another way to conduct off-site SEO would be to submit good quality, keyword-optimized articles every day to directories with a higher page ranking. Many directories offer free article hosting and allow you to give a link right back to your site in your profile displayed along with the content.
Blog / Forum Signatures: Join blogs and forums, and spread the message about your website. Maybe you already did this, posting a remark together with your signature link onto a forum thread bearing the website address.
Many forums and blogs permit you to post links in your signature. This doesn’t take very long to action each day, particularly if you use the free Google Alerts service to notify you of any blogs that are relevant to your business. You can just visit the sites straight away and make a comment.
Furthermore, you can advertise online in a more traditional way. Advertise on websites with a greater PR which will, without a doubt, help in developing your off-page SEO campaign. If you have a physical business then you should, obviously, also advertise your website there additionally.
Make sure your website address is displayed on all your business documentation and be sure to direct any new, potential customers to your site whenever they telephone you or your staff with queries.
Off-page SEO is all about the things that can make your website more favorable in the eyes of Google and let it obtain a higher PR following the time that webpage has gone live. The off-site SEO is much like the job following the previous work on the site.
Up until now, we focused on getting a site rank in search results in general. If you run a local business, however, Google also lets you position it in front of potential customers in your area, specifically. But for that, you use local SEO.
And it’s well worth it.
97% of customers use search engines to find local information. They look for vendor suggestions, and even specific business addresses. In fact, 12% of customers look for local business information every day.
But hold on; is local SEO different from what we’ve been talking all along?
Yes and no.
Search engines follow similar principles for both local and global rankings. But given that they position a site for specific, location-based results, they need to analyze some other ranking factors too.
Local search results look different too:
- They appear only for searches with a local intent (for example, “restaurant near me” or when a person clearly defined the location.)
- it contains results specific to a relevant location.
- They concentrate on delivering specific information to users that they don’t need to go anywhere else to find.
- They target smartphone users primarily as local searches occur more often on mobile devices.
Note that these results contain no links to any content. Instead, they include a list of businesses in the area, a map to show their locations, and additional information about each:
- Business name
- Opening hours
- Star Reviews
Often, they also include a company’s phone number or website address.
All this information combined helps customers choose which business to engage. But it also allows Google to determine how to rank it.
Finally, the information a business includes in Google My Business — the search engine’s platform for managing local business listings — plays a huge part in its rankings.
The above is just the tip of the iceberg. But they are the ones to get right first if you want your business to rank well in local search.
What is black hat SEO?
The final aspect of SEO I want to highlight to you is something I also hope you’ll never get tempted to use. I mean it.
Because, although it might have its lure, using black hat SEO typically ends in a penalty from search listings.
Black hat practices aim at manipulating search engine algorithms using strategies against search engine guidelines. The most common black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking (hiding keywords in code so that users don’t see them, but search engines do,) and buying links.
So, why would someone use black hat SEO? For one, because, often, ranking a site following Google’s guidelines takes time. Long time, in fact.
Black hat strategies let you cut down the complexity of link building, for example. Keyword stuffing allows to rank one page for many keywords, without having to create more content assets.
But as said, getting caught often results in a site being completely wiped out from search listings.
And the reason I mention it here is that I want you to realize that there are no shortcuts in SEO. And be aware of anyone suggesting strategies that might seem too good to be true.
SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
You have to keep your site updated consistently over the long term. Also need to work on increasing the number of backlinks you get from authority websites.
SEO helps to ensure that you, as well as your company, are located globally or regionally by people who require precisely what you offer.
You are barely able to claim to be the best in the commercial world when nobody has heard of your company.
Sometimes, you have to focus on making people conscious of your organization, even though that does not lead to immediate sales. You’ll gain more revenue in the long run because it builds you up and makes certain your target audience knows about you.
The simple fact is, a lot of companies don’t invest in SEO because it takes time and effort. No bones about it, if you want to rank in the search engines you have to give your site some love. But that’s a good thing.
A well-optimized site is a better site; your users will prefer it and you’ll make more money. But businesses are often blinkered, focusing purely on week-on-week, or even month-on-month sales.
I hope that this overview of search engine optimization has been helpful, and if you are interested in hearing more about SEO and how it can help your business, feel free to comment and I will make sure I help you out at best !!