As a business owner, you want to be sure you understand the factors that go into your businesses ranking and visibility online.
Understanding Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the data behind it will help you optimize your website, your ads and even your local business listings. This helps you get seen by more people online and will ultimately convert more interested clients.
SEO is your secret superpower in the digital landscape, and we’ll let you in on all of the proven industry secrets we use as a digital marketing agency to help businesses like yours succeed.
What is SEO?
Have you ever had a question you just couldn't find the answer to? You may resort to the familiar search engine, Google to resolve your query. When you search for something online, there are many different things going on behind the scenes. In just a few seconds, the search engine you use sorts through billions of potential answers, based on thousands of different factors, in order to find the right results for you.
How does this happen? SEO plays a major role!
Search engine optimization is a term marketers and web developers use to describe the process of continually improving websites and web pages in order to make them discoverable and useful to prospective clients. One of the key outcomes of good SEO is an increase in the amount of website traffic you get from search engines.
SEO focuses largely on organic traffic rather than paid traffic. This makes it an appealing option to business owners who are looking to improve the quality of their web traffic without a significant ads budget.
What Are The SEO Ranking Factors?
There are many different ranking factors that go into SEO, and they are continually changing and getting updated. In order to get a basic understanding of SEO ranking factors, let’s first look at it in a more abstract way. You may have heard references to the 3 pillars of SEO, these include discovery, relevance, and authority.
All SEO ranking factors will fall into one or more of these three categories. Let’s explore them briefly.
Discovery focuses on the initial user's search. How easy is your website to find online? Will it appear when a user searches for your brand name? What about the services you offer? Discoverability is the first step to ranking online.
Relevance is the second pillar and it relates closely to discovery. It focuses on how relevant your website content is to users searching for your company or services. Search engines only show content that they think will be relevant to a user.
Lastly, the final pillar is authority. There are many ranking factors that determine your website's authority, and it is for a good reason. Search engines do not want to show low quality content to users. They want to be sure that you are at the top of your game when it comes to credibility, trust and reliability online.
Gone are the days of spammy sites ranking high online. Search engines want to be sure you are an authority on the topic at hand.
So what are some of the ranking factors that go into good SEO?
- Excellent website health
- A Secure (HTTPS) website & domain
- Fast Page Speed on both desktop and mobile
- Mobile responsive pages
- Domain age
- Quality and quantity of consistent content
- Relevant keywords
- Optimized title tags and meta information
- Clean and user friendly experience
- Strong backlinks and domain authority
- Local SEO factors like GMB, Yelp & Maps listings
How Does SEO Apply to My Businesses?
SEO is so important for businesses of all sizes. Good SEO gives you an organic way to optimize content online so that prospective clients and search engines alike can find you easily when searching relevant search terms.
It is a free and relatively straightforward way to improve your visibility to get more traffic to your website. It doesn't matter what industry you are in, SEO is important for all business owners that have a digital presence.
What Are The Do’s and Don'ts of SEO?
In the early days of SEO, Google and other search engines were still refining their AI and machine learning capabilities. The logic behind SEO existed but not to the same standard that it does today.
Marketers, developers and business owners could get away with using ‘black hat’ SEO tactics to quickly soar to the top of search engines. Some of these malpractices included keyword stuffing, back-linking to thousands of spammy sites, churning out sparse, uninformative content and buying up domains to link to the same site. In some cases, these tactics worked for a short period of time, but they quickly backfired.
In recent years, search engines have become more powerful than ever and unfortunately, there is no quick or easy way to rank high online and improve your SEO fast. SEO is the epitome of the saying ‘slow and steady wins the race.’
You may not see dramatic changes overnight, but if you slowly work at it and build out continually good quality content, you will see significant progress over time.
- Create a keyword strategy
- Create long-form quality content
- Optimize your website with meta information
- Post consistently
- Measure progress
- Reach out to industry leaders for features and backlinks
- Link to credible sites and sources
- Be sure your business information is up to date on local listings
- Post to local listings weekly
- Perform frequent SEO audits
- Use relevant images and videos in your posts
- Monitor site performance
- Ensure fast load speeds on all devices
- Redirect broken links on your site
- Don’t post short, irrelevant content
- Don’t over-do it with keywords
- Don’t link out to spammy websites
- Don't plagiarize or use duplicate content on your site
- Don’t use HTTP sites, upgrade to HTTPS
- Don’t add too many new things at once
- Don’t ignore the need to be mobile friendly
- Don’t violate copyright or trademark information
- Don’t redirect pages away from your site
How Do I Know SEO is Working for My Business?
Patience is the key to good SEO. Ranking well is not something that happens overnight.
That being said, there are a number of different ways that you can measure your progress and ensure you are on the right track with your SEO initiatives.
The best indication of SEO improvement is an increase in your rank online for certain keywords that are relevant to your business. Rank tracking is so important when it comes to SEO and it’s something you should do right when you are getting started. If you notice an increase in your visibility for a certain keyword, that should be considered progress. Even new websites can increase in rank, although it’s best to wait at least 3 months after a new page or site is published before checking your rankings for signs of improvement.
Likewise, there are other factors that indicate whether your SEO is effective. This will require looking at your website's analytics. An increase in organic website traffic and traffic to certain pages of your website is a good sign of SEO in action. You can see an example of this in a website redesign project we did for one of our clients, LA Dental Clinic. Their organic traffic increased by 220% as a direct result of SEO.
Additionally, a lower bounce rate means that your website users enjoy the content on your site and stay on your pages longer, which in turn boosts your SEO further.
The Best Tools of the SEO Trade
There are many different helpful SEO tools out there that can help you measure your SEO progress and stay on track with your initiatives. These include:
- Google Search Console
- Google Analytics
- Google My Business
- Google Maps
- Website plugins like Yoast for SEO
How Do I Become an SEO Expert?
You’re off to a great start! Let’s take it to the next level. Now that you have a basic understanding of what SEO is and how it works, it’s time to dive deeper into it to really put it into practice for your business.
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