What is SEO?
What exactly is SEO anyway?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making improvements to a domain or web page so that its rankings in search engines (Google 90% of the time) improve.
If your site has been properly optimized for search engines your website will benefit from regular organic traffic (also known as unpaid traffic).
Organic traffic is widely accepted as the single most valuable marketing channel there is – an asset that will introduce new people to your brand for years to come.
All businesses – small, medium or large – benefit massively from SEO because organic traffic is the primary source of traffic for the vast majority of websites.
51 percent of all website traffic comes from organic search, 10 percent from paid search, 5 percent from social, and 34 percent from all other sources.
Simply put, Search Engine Optimization can be thought of as your company’s reputation online. If your website commands authority, relevance, and trust – organic traffic will inevitably follow.
So exactly how does a website garner authority, relevance, and trust?
I thought you’d never ask.
Here are the key components of Search Engine Optimization.
Content Is King
– Just as Bill Gates predicted in his 1996 article with the same title, the internet is but a channel of delivery while content is what keeps us coming back again and again.
Taking the time to answer questions that fall within your sphere of expertise will help your website establish authority. You will show existing and future clients that you are an expert in your field while providing them with valuable information and generating positive exposure for your brand.
Google pays very close attention to how users interact with your page. When users spend time on your site, visit multiple pages or take action to call or contact you – Google will move your website up the rankings because users are responding positively to your content.
Meta Tags and Schema Markup – Organizing the content on your page
The best content in the world won’t do anyone any good if it’s poorly organized. Meta tags are important to both Google and user experience. These tags tell google which topics are relevant to your page. Meta tags also organize information visually for your users. Title and description tags show an introduction of your site on the search engine result pages (SERPs) and heading tags organize content on each page of your site.
When setting up your URL structure keep your URL as short as possible (3-5 words) and make sure to add the keyword you want that page to rank for. Also, make sure that the keyword is easy to read
Use categorical hierarchy to help search engines understand the relevance of a web page.
By placing the hierarchical information in the URL, search engines are able to better decipher that this page doesn’t pertain to the topic of history but rather the history of soccer.
Imagery and Design
In our opinion, aesthetic appeal is equally as important as good content. According to Microsoft, the average web user has an 8-second attention span so you’re going to need a darn good argument if you expect them to spend 10 minutes or more on your blog article.
Good images can evoke powerful emotions in users in a matter of milliseconds and encourage them to spend more time on the page – giving your content a chance to shine. Oftentimes, the frontend design of a website is so good that users find themselves staying on the page longer just to play with an animation or other dynamic feature on the page.
Show your users that your website is above the rest with fantastic images and a top-notch design.
Off-page SEO (also called off site SEO) refers to all of the ranking signals that take place outside of your website that influence your SERP rankings. It’s likely that 0ff page SEO accounts for more than 50% of a site’s ranking factor weight in the Google algorithm.
Backlinks are the heart of your site’s off-page SEO success. Backlinks can be found in multiple forms:
Occur throughout the web and social media. Netizens have found value from your business or website and are linking to it through via recommendations, citing information on your site or otherwise endorsing you.
Are usually the result of outreach and include guest blogging and asking other websites for a backlink.
Self Created Backlinks
Include directories and links in blog comments. These links should comprise 10% or less of a sites backlink profile so as to avoid any penalty from Google – many self-created link strategies are considered black hat SEO.
Multiple factors create a good backlink but the popularity relevance and trust of the site linking to yours are three of the most important.
SEO: Local vs National
While local and national SEO are similar in the sense that they have the same goal of ranking a website at the top of the first page of search engines, local and national SEO campaigns do require a different approach.
Local SEO campaigns need to focus on keywords associated with their geographic location and make sure that their website and associated JSON-LD tagging is optimized so that Google and other search engines recognize the location of the business.
National campaigns will focus on multiple locales or ignore local optimization altogether. National campaigns generally require more resources because competition for generic, national keywords can be fierce. For this reason, many bloggers and affiliate marketers focus on “long tail” keywords in an effort to rank for keywords nationally without competing head to head with large companies.
Many common search phrases have local intent and use keywords with geo-modifiers like “[service] + [City Name]”, “restaurant near me” or “barber open now”.
Local Search Engine Optimization values storefronts and physical locations so you’ll want to make a plan to optimize each of your business’s locations accordingly. Your address is especially crucial as Google considers proximity to the searcher one of the most important ranking factors.
The single most important step you can take in solidifying your online presence in your market is by putting a bit of effort into your Google My Business (GMB) page. Complete your profile, double checking that all of your information is correct. You can also add a few pictures of the business and the team in action. After claiming your business on google your business can be showcased on google:
Customer reviews and endorsements are important for all businesses but the importance of online reviews for local businesses cannot be overstated. Great customer reviews combined with your distance from the searcher account for a huge portion (if not the majority) of Google’s algorithm in local search.
If your business is doing great work in your community make sure you’re getting credit for it online and ask your customers to leave you a review on Google. Just remember that some review platforms like Yelp actually prohibit business owners from asking for reviews but that doesn’t mean you can’t add a Yelp badge or links to your Yelp account to make your account more accessible and more likely to earn reviews.
Schema Markup is structured data that presents important information to Google in an organized way so that your information can be presented to those who need it. You can use schema to tell google information about your industry, contact information and hours of business.
Fortunately, you do not have to write this information manually and you can use a schema generator to write this code for you. This code can be pasted onto your website in the footer of the page or as instructed by the Google structured data markup helper.
What Is a National SEO Campaign?
National SEO is a strategy typically implemented by e-commerce websites or large chains with multiple locations that aren’t restricted to geographical terms. If simple keywords are targeted, competition for keywords at the national level can be fierce. Oftentimes, companies vying for top positions of the search engine results page will hire teams of content marketers, writers and SEO experts to identify and produce the best content possible for their target audience.
Black Hat SEO is a Search Engine Optimization term that refers to techniques, strategies or tactics that are ultimately a violation of a search engine’s terms of service.
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines openly denounced the use of black hat SEO strategies. In fact, if your website is suspected of employing these types of tactics your website can be subject to penalization or even banned.
Techniques that Google considers blackhat include:
- Content Automation
- Doorway Pages
- Hidden Text or Links
- Keyword Stuffing
- Reporting a Competitor (or Negative SEO)
- Sneaky Redirects
- Hidden Text or Links
- Link Schemes
- Guest Posting Networks
- Link Manipulation (including buying links)
- Article Spinning
- Automated Queries to Google
- Link Farms, Link Wheels or Link Networks
- Automated Queries to Google
- Rich Snippet Markup Spam
- Automated Queries to Google
- Creating pages, subdomains, or domains with duplicate-content
- Pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing, viruses, trojans, and other malware
Black hat SEO is most commonly used for those who are looking to turn and burn a website. SEO’s that are looking to turn a quick profit until they get banned from search engines entirely. They focus content primarily to game search engines – providing little if any value to human users. Black hat tactics are eventually penalized by google which is why many websites experience sudden drops in search rankings and traffic.
Black hat SEO has no long-term value and is widely discouraged.
White Hat SEO
While black hat SEO focuses on gaming Google’s algorithm, white hat SEO focuses on providing the best user experience possible.
Activities related to white hat SEO include:
- Quality content and information
- Well written content that isn’t too wordy or drawn out (include a short form answer above the fold if possible).
- Spaced out text with proper font size (at least 14px).
- Optimized on-page SEO including schema and meta tags
- List your business in high-quality directories and directories related to your industry and location
- The site is easy to navigate and users can find the information they need quickly.
- Page loads in 2 seconds or less
- Images are at least 72 pixels per inch to prevent blurriness
Good white hat SEO practices generate high-quality organic traffic for years to come. When working to improve your website always remember to focus on providing the best user experience possible and traffic will follow.
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