All The SEO Essentials You Need To Know
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most essential concepts in digital marketing and a must-do for successful marketers.
If we know one thing about SEO, it’s that that search engine algorithms change frequently, and that those strategies that were successful yesterday are redundant tomorrow. This can frustrate even the most level-headed marketing pros.
It’s still heartening that some SEO basics continue to stand the test of time. In this blog post, we will tell you why SEO is important for you and what you could be doing wrong with your SEO.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the act of enhancing your website content to make it more favorable in the eyes of both readers and search engines.
Your SEO strategy should be the backbone of your digital marketing efforts and your online presence – it’s what brings high quality, qualified, relevant traffic to your website. On the flip side, if not done, or not done well, it prevents your website from getting the highly coveted organic traffic, which will instead go to your competitor.
Why is SEO important?
Consider these statistics:
- Up to 90% of all internet traffic comes through search engines (HubSpot).
- More than 70% of search traffic comes from organic searches vs 30% from paid search advertising (MarTech).
- 66% of marketers say that growing their organic presence is their top priority and generating traffic and leads is their #1 concern (HubSpot).
So, why is SEO important for you? Because without it, your prospective customers are not going to find you on the internet, unless they already know your business and website domain, which is unlikely for most people and most businesses.
The primary job of the search engine is to help people find what they’re looking for. And to help them match your business to what your customer is looking for, you have to optimize your web content. The content needs to be optimized in a manner that the search engine bots find your business to be relevant to the searcher’s query and show it in the search results.
So, that’s why you need to do SEO. But you already knew that!
Google has confirmed that content and link-building are two of the most important factors it uses to decide where it ranks your site on a search results page. And for those factors, quality trumps quantity.
But if you thought that SEO is just about optimizing the content and creating links, you are taking a very narrow view of SEO. True SEO encompasses your entire digital presence – not just your website. You need to consider:
- On-site SEO: The content and links on your website.
- Off-site SEO: The content and links on external websites that link back to your site.
- On-SERP SEO: The content related to your page that lives on the search engine results page itself.
Of course, most businesses today are aware of the importance of SEO and of ranking on Page 1 of Google search results, and are probably doing SEO too. However, the results you may be getting from those efforts could vary.
8 Key Factors To Achieving SEO Success
We get it: SEO is complex, but even smaller businesses that don’t have a lot of money to spend on digital marketing efforts can take advantage of SEO. Because, as we have said before the basic pillars of SEO remain unchanged even though Google makes changes to its search algorithm 500-600 times annually.
We list herein 8 key aspects you should pay attention to when it comes to content optimization for SEO:
- Keyword research: All success is built on a solid base or foundation – and that’s what the keywords are. Think like your customer. How are people likely to search for your business/ products/ services? What terms or phrases are they likely to use? Those would be your keywords. Look at this from various angles – as there will be different types of customers, and in different stages of the buying cycle. Once you have identified those terms/ keywords which you think your prospective customer will use for searching for you, then create your website content incorporating those keywords.
- Competitive analysis: Which of your competitors are in the top positions in Google organic results? Have a look at their content. Get ideas and inspiration. Look at those competitors who are faring poorly in organic rankings. Understand what they are not doing/ doing wrong. Then evaluate what you can do better and differently. Include that in your content and you’ll be on your way to SEO success.
- Website optimization: Look at all of your digital content – website, landing pages, blog posts – they should all be in sync with the keywords and content strategy you have outlined. Pay attention to your images – add alt text and captions. Ensure GDPR compliance. Have clear visibility of your contact information. Ensure your website is mobile-responsive and your content is easily readable across all digital devices. Consider the user experience – ensure quick page load speed, fix broken links, avoid excessive redirects, use a good font and font size, and address navigation issues.
- Content strategy: You’ve heard it before – content is king. What about your content? Is it well-written, well-structured, and relevant to your user? Have you incorporated your keywords in a seamless manner into your content and not just stuffed them in. Do you think your content is shareable? If yes, you’re doing it right.
- Mobile vs desktop content: Search behavior on mobile devices differs from search behavior on desktop. A mobile user is generally looking to connect quickly and is more likely to take immediate action. Make sure your content is optimized with the mobile user in mind.
- Your domain authority: Moving away from content, now consider how valuable your website is considered on the internet. Does your site have a high domain authority? Are many external websites linking back to your content and referencing your website? Think of ways by which you can increase your domain authority by getting quality websites to link back to you. Conversely, if more low domain authority/ spammy sites are linking back to you, you will have a low domain authority and an adverse SEO impact. Get rid of poor quality links.
- Social media strategy: Google, Bing, and all other search engines today look for social signals as an indicator of the digital presence of your business. Are you active on any social channels? How do people engage with you? These factors too influence SEO rankings.
- Measure, report, improve: SEO isn’t just a do-once-and-leave-forever thing. It requires continuous attention, review, and enhancement. Implement Google Analytics on your site. Put in place conversion tracking codes on your website to ensure you know the results of your SEO efforts. Regularly review your keyword positions, organic traffic, and organic conversions. Are they moving in the right direction? If not, what needs changing? Once a quarter audit your website too – for page speed, broken links. Make changes timely to maintain and enhance your SEO rankings.
Crafting a successful SEO strategy requires attention to all these aspects. Equally important, content goes hand-in-glove with context. So make sure your content is giving context to your website user’s journey, their needs, and expectations.
4 SEO Mistakes You Have To Avoid
Now that we’ve seen what makes SEO successful, let’s look at the reverse and see what you shouldn’t do. We list here 5 of the most common and key SEO mistakes you need to avoid:
- Incorrect keyword strategy / ineffective keyword research: Not undertaking a comprehensive keyword research – using keyword planner, Google Trends, paid/ free tools is a common and costly error. Going for more generic and short-tail keywords instead of long-tail keywords that denote more intent is another common error. Alternatively, going for very long-tail keywords that do not have much search volume, but are easy to rank for is another mistake. If your SEO is performing poorly, relook at your chosen keywords – the fault could lie with your keyword selection.
- Overlooking the basics: You’ve got to do the basics right. Look at your site in Bing/ Google Webmaster to know there are no issues with your site being crawled by the search engines. Your website may have malware that is redirecting your site to a spammy link or there are technical glitches rendering your site non-crawlable. Not having website security or HTTPS enabled is a huge error. Not updating your sitemap or optimizing your title tags, meta descriptions and alt tags over time in keeping with changes to your content is often overlooked and can affect results.
- Inadequate attention to either content or link building: Both content and link building are crucial to SEO success. Ignoring one for the other is a huge mistake.
- Trying to game the system: Know that Google penalizes and blacklists websites that undertake black-hat SEO tactics. Never indulge in such practices. Refrain from keyword stuffing, link farming, and plagiarizing content.
There’s only good SEO. Anything else is not SEO. If you are not on Page 1 of the search engine results, whatever you are doing is not SEO. Of course, it’s unlikely you will be on Page 1 for all of your chosen keywords, but if most of them aren’t performing, you’ve got to change tactics. Keep investing in your website and it will pay you dividends in the form of organic traffic, conversions, and more business.
This blog post is adapted from a blog post by our parent company – WSI. The original post can be found at https://www.wsiworld.com/blog