Here in the 21st Century, every business uses content to market and grow profit. You can’t just operate a storefront anymore – you need a website, and that website needs to be fine-tuned to maximize online visibility and thus, brand awareness. So how do you pull this off?
The answer is SEO.
There’s no way around it – businesses need to understand SEO and how to get the attention of digital visitors. A strong online presence can grow your business exponentially, but to achieve the best results, you have to get a grasp on the basics of SEO. And you’re in luck because that’s precisely what this article is designed to do!
Let’s be honest… It doesn’t look like the internet is going anywhere anytime soon, so it’s time to adapt and optimize your digital content. Do this and you’ll be pulling visitors to your website like a regular online vacuum. Read below to discover how SEO works, how best to manage it, and what it can do for your business.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.”
When we talk about SEO, we’re talking about optimizing your digital content so that it will feature in the top search engine result pages (SERPs) for relevant queries. When you search for something online, you will typically click on one of the first results presented to you—not always, but often.
If a web page features on the second or third page of search engine results, most people won’t even see it in the first place, let alone click on it. So how does a search engine decide which results go on which page? It’s honestly a bit complicated, but the simple version goes as follows…
Major search engines like Google employ “bots” to visit large numbers of web pages – this is known as “crawling.” As the bots visit different pages, they collect info about said pages to keep in an index. You can think of the index as a massive library with a very skilled librarian who can pull up exactly the book you’re looking for. All you have to do is ask, i.e., type your search into Google.
So as pages are added to the index, Google’s algorithms analyze them according to hundreds of different factors, and this orders the pages relative to a given search such as “why is my cat overweight” or “concealed carry permit for antique musket rifle.”
In other words, Google is figuring out what people are really searching for when they type something into the search bar. If Google decides a page does a good job of showing users what they want, then that page gets ranked highly for certain keywords or searches.
You can’t pay Google or any other search engine to rank your page higher – that would be a pretty bad business model for the search engine! No, the engine must deliver users what they want to see.
Simple, straightforward, and effective. And that’s why you have to put in the effort as you build your website. Please users and search engines first, and you’ll be on your way to a successful website.
But SEO isn’t just about what you should do to please Search Engines – it’s also about what you shouldn’t do to displease them. For example, spamming the same keyword over and over is not a great plan. Nor should your pages feature big chunks of unrelated text that a hypothetical user will find confusing and irrelevant.
How Can SEO Help My Business?
Is SEO helpful to businesses? You bet it is. Here are a few ways that SEO can support your business and transform your company.
Brings People to Your Business
It’s not easy to kick off a business – just ask an entrepreneur. One of your first goals will be to raise your company’s visibility and gain public awareness. Virtually everyone is online at this point, so having a website is no longer optional for a business.
It’s sink or swim, and if your company lacks a website, it will sink. SEO is the factor that will actually lead people to your site via search engine results. But keep in mind that SEO is more of a long term strategy that can be extremely cost effective, when done right.
SEO improves your web pages’ rankings. And as your site starts moving on up to the top of the search results page, it is seen by more people. It’s a powerful cycle, and the more visibility you get, the deeper you enter into public awareness overall.
That is key when it comes to credibility and authority. It’s not a quick process to achieve all this, and it takes effort. Importantly, credibility is also obtained via “backlinks.” A backlink is a link to your website from somewhere else.
To make sure you earn valuable backlinks, you need a link building strategy in place. Google notices this and assumes that if people are linking to your site, it must be because your site offers relevant, quality content. This is a fair assumption, and the end result of collecting lots of good backlinks is a higher SEO ranking.
For example, if you run a site dedicated to helping people find hotels, you want backlinks from places like travel websites. On the other hand, if you get backlinks from a website that specializes in alligator skin shoes, this will cause unhappy shoe shoppers to ultimately leave your site in confusion.
Enhances the User’s Experience
SEO isn’t just about gaining more visibility – it’s about quality too. You want visitors to your website to have a positive experience because it means they’re more likely to come back. Your site should be fast, attractive, and simple to navigate.
Believe it or not, search engines have ways to determine the overall quality of your site. If it’s a complicated, ugly site with slow loading times and with no internal links, it’s going to get ranked lower in Search Engines index. Remember, Search Engines want to please their users, which means that you need to please Search Engines.
Promotes User Engagement
A lot of what SEO brings to the table is based on how many people it leads to your business’ website. If your web pages SEO is properly set and maintained, you’ll get more quality traffic. The more visitors you have, the more opportunity to understand their behavior and provide a great user experience. This will in turn, result in higher engagement.
For example, a “contact us” landing page or a chat box can encourage users to interact with your business, and SEO is what brings those users to your site in the first place. Thus, good SEO improves engagement and conversion rates.
But you don’t want any old traffic showing up to your site – if someone goes to your site by mistake, they’ll almost always leave immediately. If that happening often, your rank actually drops (even if you’re bringing in a lot of traffic). So what you really want is the right traffic, i.e. visitors who find what they’re looking for by landing on your site.
User engagement is measured by things like how many of your pages people visit, how long they stay on your site, and whether they come back or not. If all these metrics consistently increase, then you are bringing relevant traffic to your site.
Ones does not simply puts keywords and rank #1 on Google
How Much Effort Does It Take?
So how much effort do you need to put into a good SEO strategy? Years ago, the answer to this question might have been different. Regardless, the answer now is pretty clear…
When done right, SEO takes a lot of effort.
Search Engine algorithms change and adapt to the ever evolving internet. Ranking factors shift and make SEO a constant puzzle. SEO experts must stay up to date with latest trends and fine-tune their SEO techniques, as needed.
Have you ever noticed how introductions to some body of knowledge often begin with a history of how that knowledge has developed? That’s because a deep understanding of the fundamentals leads to a stronger expertise.
SEO is no different – experts wring their years of experience to devise and implement new approaches. The whole thing can get so complicated that a digitally inexperienced business owner can feel overwhelmed as they take those first steps into competitive digital operations.
Your competitors are coming up with new ideas every day, and it takes a small village of SEO wizards to keep you at the top of your game. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to learn SEO. For example, if you can sign up for a Google Analytics account, this will be immensely helpful in figuring out which pages get visited at what times and for how long.
There is a bit of a learning curve for Analytics but doing SEO without it is like trying to hammer nails without a hammer.
How to Use SEO in My Digital Marketing Strategy?
Here we’re going to discuss some major tips for using SEO in your digital marketing strategy. Not sure how to begin incorporating SEO into your marketing efforts? Read on.
1. Define Your Goals
To get started in SEO, first you need to understand your business objectives. What do you want to get out of your website? Are we talking ecommerce, b2b, booking services, or something else? Whatever your objective, the website needs to provide a destination where visitors can take action, i.e. a purchase, contact form, etc.
Defining your website’s strategy will allow you to figure out who best to target, which is a pretty big step. It informs virtually all of the other SEO strategy choices you’ll make down the road.
2. Make Your Website Attractive
Your website ought to provide the optimal experience for its visitors, and that includes how it looks. In other words, your site should be beautiful! This will go a long way toward making visitors feel comfortable, and it will ultimately draw more people to your business.
Use high quality images, modern site design layouts, and employ a color wheel to get an idea of which colors work best with one another. But also keep in mind that there is an important balance to strike between page speed and quality imagery. If all your pics are huge, hi-res masterpieces, the site could load slowly, causing people to click out of the page! The best formats for website images are typically jpg, png, or webp.
3. Communicate Using Quality Images
Appealing images are important, but it’s not enough to load up your site with nice pics. Your site’s pictures must communicate important messages to visitors. A legal business’ website probably shouldn’t have a bunch of smiling children plastered all over it – instead, the people in your images ought to look studious and professional.
This will visually communicate to your visitors what is your website exactly about. And try not to use old stock images that have been used in excess. The newer and more original the pictures, the better. Don’t forget the alt text!
4. Meet Technical Best Practices
This one is non-negotiable. Your website needs to meet certain technical best practices. This is to ensure it gets indexed in the first place. Without technical SEO, all the wonderful content you create will be just a waste of resources.
Remember that visitors are coming to your site for a reason – they want information. The info you give them must serve a purpose. A good SEO strategy will see your site offering helpful resources that visitors can engage with. Blogs, email updates, informational PDF downloads, links to relevant apps, etc.
But before even being indexed, Search Engines also need to understand your website and every piece of content in it. Technical SEO makes sure that this happens, by making sure all elements are working perfectly to offer Search Engine bots and spiders a great crawling experience – this ranges from including a valid sitemap to setting up your htaccess file to tell google what pages they can or cannot index.
Remember to always include a relevant description of your page within the page title tags and meta description.
5. Get Blogging
Whether you offer products or services, a good SEO strategy must always include a blog. A blog can give a kind of face to your business. It tells customers that you have plenty of expertise to share about your industry, and it creates a sense of personality.
Blogs can help you reach larger audiences, by simply targeting more generic keywords. And you can’t just write any old blog either – your posts must be planned, carefully strategized, informative, and ultimately helpful. Blogs are particularly helpful for businesses that sell products because there’s only so much content you can include in your product pages. Blog posts fill out the website, making it more robust.
Your blog posts should feature a voice that is tailored to your customers. For instance, a business selling athletic merchandise should not blog with the voice of a lazy person who binges aggressively on potato chips – instead, the voice should sound energetic, like that of a gym enthusiast who loves the great outdoors.
Blog about your company’s activities and explain the honest pros and cons of whatever your business is selling. It’s also really helpful to consistently produce new blog posts (like once per week) and post them on social media.
And did we mention your business needs a social media presence? Because it definitely does.
What are the best SEO strategies to follow?
Follow these general SEO strategies to get you started. Keep in mind that every website is different, and Search Engines ranking system can seem positively mystical at times, but you can’t go wrong with the following strategies.
1. Keywords and Site Structure
We really can’t stress this one enough. Search Engines will closely examine your content to understand the relevancy of your web pages. That means your target keywords need to hone in on what potential customers are truly looking for.
One easy way to figure out which keywords to use? Enter a relevant search query on Google and watch what the autofill function populates. This tells you straight up what people have already been looking for, so if you type “best bicycle…” and Google suggests “…models,” you just learned that plenty of people are searching for the best bicycle models. That said, the best way to do this kind of research is to use platforms like SEMRush to get a serious handle on which direction to take your keywords.
Be forewarned, though, that there is a lot of nuance in keywords. A solid keyword strategy includes both: broad search terms and long tail keywords. Don’t forget local, high intent search terms, and all relevant keyword variations. This helps increase the reach of your business and brings quality traffic.
Finally, note that a winning keyword strategy should be supported by a good website structure—how pages are organized on your website. This defines which pages will rank for what keyword. If too many of your pages are ranking for the same keywords, they end up competing with themselves. SEO experts call this “cannibalization!”
2. Factor Engagement Metrics into Your Content
To understand how your content is doing, you can check your website’s engagement metrics. This includes time spent on page by users; bounce rate (how many people look at a page of your site before jumping to a new page); dwell time (total time spent on your site by visitors); comments left by visitors; social shares by visitors; and return visits from previous visitors.
So if any of these metrics (which you can measure via Google Analytics) are low, you can refine your content to better capture whatever it is your customer base is looking for by accessing your site.
3. Capitalize on Voice and Local Searches
Voice search is a growing trend – speech-to-text functionality is way better than it used to be, and people everywhere are using it as an alternative to the slower process of typing. This is especially true for Google searches.
This translates to less overall website traffic due to voice searches with a single answer, and any customer’s search will tend to be more impulsive given the lesser investment of voice searching vs. typing. In other words, it takes less energy to voice search, which means the decision will be made with less forethought than if it had to be typed out.
The answer to most voice searches will be taken from the search page’s featured snippet at the top. If your SEO and marketing are top-notch, your business’ website could end up being selected for the “rank 0” snippet result! This is difficult to get though. Voice technology makes results more personalized, so targeting longer, more specific key phrases could be helpful for your business.
If your business has a physical location, you can pair Voice Search with Local SEO and you can get a solid strategy to attract more potential customers. We suggest you get started with your Google MyBusiness presence as the very first step.
SEO, Your Business, and the Evolving Internet
In essence, winning the SEO game is going to be an effort in research, careful customer targeting, and attractive—and above all, functional—website design. The tricky part is that SEO is always changing – as new technology pushes new trends, business has to stay quick on the uptake and adapt to the new landscape. The one thing that will never change? Angle your business toward pleasing the customer. Figure out what they want and give it to them! Then everybody wins.