You know what to do when you need new marketing ideas, don’t ya? Or even time to find a new accounting software. Well, maybe not for your car tires!
A recent study found that 82% of B2B buyers turn the first thing to Google looking for a solution to a problem – and let me tell you, those numbers are high because who doesn’t have problems sometimes (or always)?
So, what does that mean for you?
The internet is an ever-changing landscape, and Google rules the roost when it comes to searches. But without at least some presence on Google – which means your website appears in their rankings for certain keywords or phrases, businesses cannot succeed online!
In this guide, we’ll show how easy SEO can be so that even someone new like yourself with no technical knowledge whatsoever will know exactly what needs to be done.
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for “search engine optimization.” SEO is the process of using strategies to help your website rank higher in organic search results – which are not paid advertisements, but rather real results based on what people are searching online at any given time!
Google actually has a very complex algorithm called Google RankBrain (introduced in October 2015) that uses artificial intelligence to help rank websites. SEO is one way to attempt to influence how your website appears in these search engine results pages (SERPs).
Now that you understand what SEO is, let’s go over some of the basics. As mentioned before, SEO is the process of using strategies to rank your website higher in organic search results. This means that people who are not specifically looking for your business will still be able to find you through a Google search.
There are two main things that SEO impacts, which are rankings and visibility.
Ranking is how search engines determine where your web page, or any web page, will be placed with a SERP. The position of your site will depend on a variety of factors, including the relevance and authority of your website.
Relevance is how well your content matches what someone is searching for online. For example, if you are a plumber in Chicago, you would want to make sure that your website has content about plumbing that is relevant to people living in Chicago.
Authority is based on the number and quality of links that are pointing to your website from other websites. In order for Google to deem your site as an authority, it must be considered reputable by other websites.
Visibility is how often your website appears on search engine results pages (SERPs). This is called your SERP share. Visibility is closely related to rankings, but it also takes into account how many other websites are competing against you for the same spot on a search engine results page (SERPs).
SEO helps increase visibility by helping you control both of these factors through SEO strategies that can help improve SEO rankings and increase website traffic at the same time.
Three components of every SEO strategy
When it comes to SEO, there are three components that every SEO strategy contains: technical website elements, content, and link building.
1. Technical Website Elements
Technical SEO is all about the behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done on your website in order for it to rank higher. This includes optimizing your website for speed, ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly, and fixing any errors that may be preventing Google from indexing your pages correctly.
Let’s deep dive into the technical aspects of your website.
The way Google sees your website is very different from the way you see your website. Google crawls (or visits) your website like a visitor would, which means SEOs call this process crawling. When Google is crawling and indexing your site, it sees it all as text.
This includes images, yes images! A search engine can’t see images and instead will see the image’s name. Therefore, it’s best to ensure that the image contains a keyword we’d want it to rank for.
To enhance your website’s technical elements, on-site SEO optimization is a must. To make sure your site’s indexing is on point, Google needs a few things from you. The most important factors are:
The load time is a very important factor in determining the quality of your website. Many different elements can affect it, including image size and compression techniques used on pages to reduce their size during transmission over internet connections where bandwidth may be limited. Google has provided Page Speed Insights Tool which will help you optimize page rendering by suggesting ways that might improve overall site performance.
A search engine crawls sites just like you do. They follow links and use the URL of other content to find it on your website so that they can analyze this information for their users who are looking at a particular topic or issue related to yours. But as we all know there’s no way those crawlers can see images; therefore, ensure that all links are set as text-only!
Search engines hate reading long strings of words with complex structures. Yes, that’s how it is. So, keep your URLs short and make them as easy to understand for the crawlers as you can! Of course, include the main keyword within your URL.
A broken link sends a visitor to the wrong page. This can cause frustration, especially if you’re trying to learn more about something in-depth or find content that has been removed from an index. The resulting user experience isn’t good for anyone and will impact your SEO negatively.
Search engines use sitemaps and robots files to make sure they crawl all the pages on your website. A site map lists out each page, its URL address & title; while a robots.txt file tells them which content shouldn’t be indexed (like policy pages) so you can avoid having those items show up in search results!
Duplicate content can be a major drawback for search engine optimization, as it confuses the engines and makes them hard to determine which page should show up in results. They might even penalize you by not showing any of those pages at all!
Content is king, as the saying goes. And it’s true; high-quality content is one of the most important SEO ranking factors. You want to make sure your website is publishing content on a regular basis, and that the content is well-written, informative, and relevant to your audience.
One way to ensure your content is of the best quality is by using topic clusters. A topic cluster is a group of blog posts around a central topic, with each post serving as a “subtopic” of the main cluster. This helps to organize your content in a way that’s logical and easy to navigate for your users.
When writing SEO content, try to tie in the SEO keywords you’re targeting into your topic clusters. This will help to naturally include them into your content, which the search engines will appreciate.
In addition to high-quality content, you also want to make sure your website is publishing fresh content on a regular basis. This tells the search engines that you’re an active, up-to-date site that’s worth being listed for relevant SEO keywords.
Make sure your blog is set up to automatically publish posts at a specific frequency (e.g., once a week or each day). When you’re done writing your blog posts, schedule them to be published in the future to ensure your SEO rankings don’t take a hit!
Last but not least, when writing SEO content it’s important to be as accurate and informative as possible. SEO is an incredibly competitive field, so if you don’t provide the information your users are looking for, they’ll simply go somewhere else. And that’s the last thing you want!
We’ve previously mentioned keywords multiple times, but the whole process of optimizing your content for SEO actually starts with keyword research.
The first step is to find the right keywords to target. This involves doing some research and finding keywords that have low competition but high search volumes. This will help to ensure you’re targeting SEO keywords that actually matter and potential visitors searching for those terms.
We’ve already published a full guide on how to conduct keyword research to help you learn all you need to know about it.
Once your target SEO keywords have been identified, you need to start incorporating them into your content. This can be done in a few different ways:
- In the title of your post
- In the body of your post. Your main keyword should be mentioned within the first 100 words of your blog post.
- In your headings
- As part of your site’s SEO title tag & meta description
- In the file names of your images
- In the alt text of your images
- In the URL
It’s important to have SEO keywords in each one of these places, so take some time and make sure they’re included where they belong.
Are there any other on-page optimizations that are non-keyword related? Well, of course, there is!
A page’s on-page SEO is impactful and important to a site’s ranking. The factors detailed below help confirm credibility:
Content length is an important ranking factor. If you want to rank higher on Google search, make your content as long and deep as possible. The longer a blogger can keep their audience engaged with thorough information about one specific topic or idea – the better! That’s called dwell time; it matters greatly in ranking algorithms by Google. This will ensure more readers stay around for a while instead of immediately scrolling down or leaving.
Internal linking between different sections or pages helps reinforce that it is an authoritative source for information, not spammy advertising material from one person trying desperately hard but failing miserably at making something happen; this also creates long chains of hyperlinks that show visitors exactly where they should go next. You should aim to include between 2 to 4 internal links per blog post.
External links to other websites are also important, but these links should be relevant. You don’t want to include an SEO link just for SEO’s sake; you want to include SEO links because it makes sense. If you have a post about SEO, link to an SEO blog! If your post is on SEO in the future, link to a popular SEO blog that covers the news.
3. Link Building
We already previously discussed the importance of relevance and authority to ranking.
Being focused on providing users with the best experience possible, search engines started prioritizing pages that are relevant to the search query, and that is also popular.
What we discussed so far, technical elements and content, greatly impact your webpage’s relevance to a search query; however, links point back to your website directly impact your authority.
What is a backlink?
Links from other websites that point back to your website are called backlinks. The more high-quality, relevant backlinks you have, the higher your website will rank in search engine results pages (SERPs).
How Do I Get More Backlinks?
There are a number of ways to build backlinks. Here are the top ways SEOs use:
- Creating high-quality, relevant content that other websites will want to link to
- Guest blogging on high-quality, relevant websites
- Participating in online and offline discussion forums
- Commenting on other blogs
- Building links through social media
- Creating press releases and distributing them to online news outlets
- Directory submissions
Link building is an important aspect of SEO, and it’s something that should be done on a regular basis.
Not all links are created equal. In order to rank higher, you need high-quality backlinks from relevant websites.
What Makes a Backlink High Quality?
There are a number of factors that make a backlink high quality, including:
- The website’s Domain Authority
- The website’s Page Authority
- The number of links to the website from other high-quality websites
- The relevance of the website’s content to your own website’s content
- The anchor text of the link
How Do I Measure the Quality of a Backlink?
There are a number of tools you can use to measure the quality of a backlink, including:
- Majestic SEO
- Open Site Explorer
- Google PageRank
Local SEO is a must for businesses that have brick-and-mortar locations. It can be difficult to compete with online retailers who don’t physically maintain their stores, but Google has your back when it comes time to make an impression among potential customers in one particular area of town–you just need local knowledge!
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing a website for local search results. This includes adding location-based keywords to your website, improving your local citations, and optimizing your Google My Business page.
Why is Local SEO Important?
Local SEO is important because it provides you with an opportunity to rank higher in the SERPs for local keywords. For example, if you have a business that sells flowers and someone in your area Googles “flower shop,” you have a better chance of ranking higher in the SERPs than a business that doesn’t do any local SEO.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business (GMB) allows you to set up a free business listing, which provides your businesses with a Google+ (long gone now) page and a free website. You can use GMB to add information about your business, such as hours of operation, contact information, and website.
How Do I Optimize My Google My Business Page?
To optimize your GMB page, you’ll want to add information about your business and make sure that the following items are present:
- Your name and address
- A contact phone number with local area code
- A brief description of your business
- Links to relevant pages on your website
- Up-to-date hours of operation and price ranges, if applicable
- Up-to-date business photos
Local Search Ranking Factors
There are a number of factors that go into determining how your website ranks in local search results. These include:
- The quality and quantity of your local citations
- The relevance of your website’s content to local searchers
- The distance between the user and your business’ location
- The prominence of your business’ location
- The number of reviews your business has received
Once you’re done with the above, it’s now time to track your progress!
Monitoring SEO Results
Enhancing your website’s technical elements, publishing content, and link building are very critical to the success of your SEO campaign, and you can’t know if your efforts are bearing fruit or not if you don’t monitor results.
Monitoring SEO results in this case would mean keeping an eye on your traffic and links. The most common set of SEO KPIs to keep an eye on include:
- Organic traffic from SEO
- Top keywords driving organic traffic to your website
- Keyword rankings for important pages on your site or blog
- Number of backlinks from high-quality websites
- Domain Authority and Page Authority of backlinks
- Your top landing pages
- Links growth
Is that all there is to SEO? Well, not quite! Bear with us just a little more.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO refers to SEO techniques that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. The phrase was coined as a result of the “black hat” worn by the bad guys in Westerns.
Black hat SEO is typically employed to try and fool Google into ranking a website higher than it otherwise would be ranked. For example, Black Hat SEO techniques include:
- Keyword stuffing – filling your site with keywords without regard to user experience or conversions
- Cloaking – showing one version of a page to users and another (more SEO-friendly) version to search engines
- Spinning content – creating multiple versions of the same article to game the search engine results pages (SERPs)
- Link schemes – buying or selling links, or exchange links (doesn’t work!!) for the purpose of SEO
White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO
White hat SEO refers to techniques that abide by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and are generally considered to be SEO best practices.
Black hat SEO refers to techniques that attempt to beat the search engines, but are considered invalid or even manipulative by the search engines.
White hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO: a diagram!
In SEO, you’re going to find a lot of different SEO techniques that claim they will get your webpage ranked. In general, stick to the “white hat SEO” techniques, which are those that abide by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Should You Do SEO Yourself?
So you might be thinking, “I don’t have the time or resources to learn SEO myself?” If that is your response then I understand. However, if all of these things are true:
1) You do want some help with building out your site
2)There’s no one in particular who can give it too for 3-4 hours each week over several months so they’ll achieve good results
3) Having someone else work on this project will allow more freedom for other efforts such as content creation and marketing.
Then SEO outsourcing might be the right decision for you! If that’s the case then contact us right now and we’ll help you get started.