What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a term that seems to be talked about more and more every single day. As SEO specialists become more knowledgeable, and the number of companies effectively implementing these practices to the framework of their businesses increase, you better believe that right here & now is a better than ever time to establish yourself among your online competition. The factors that search engines use to rank results include social media engagement, off-site optimization, topical authority, latent semantics, mobile friendless, local optimization, domain authority, and much more. That’s where search engine optimization, or “SEO” comes in. SEO is the process of implementing strategies and techniques in an effort to achieve a higher rank in search results. Typically, the higher a site is in search results, the more visitors it receives.
SEO Basic Strategies
The first search engines were relatively ineffective, as they couldn’t do much more than search for pages that included specific keywords. Search engines have evolved over time and are complex enough to use hundreds of factors in their search algorithms. Search Engine Optimization, or simply SEO, when successfully implemented, uses a combination of hundreds of methods and strategies to draw users to a website. They include the following:
- Use of keywords or widely used phrases related to a site’s purpose. When a user types a phrase into a search engine, the search engine combs through the sites that contain that phrase.
- Consistent website updates. Sites that haven’t produced new content in a while will be seen as less relevant. Any broken links or similar flaws will bring down a site’s ranking.
- Attention must be paid to the basic usability and design of a website. Search engines take into account the website’s hierarchical structure and ease of navigation, as well as the quality of information and content it contains. Simpler sites with clear, concise and useful language tend to rank higher in search results.
- Find ways to have other websites link to yours (linkbacks). A search engine views this as an indication that your site is valuable enough to be referenced by others. The higher ranked the site that links to you, the better.
- Don’t display your company’s name or other important marketing material as part of an image, as the text in an image won’t be included in a search engine’s indexed results.
Why Is SEO Now More Important Than Ever?
With the rapid growth of online competition, your online presence really is more important than ever. Today’s search engines serve millions of users every day providing answers to questions or solutions to problems. If you have a website, online store or blog, properly executed SEO can provide increases across the board and ultimately help your business to grow consistently.
What is SEM?
Overall, SEM is the marketing process with the end goal of getting more visibility in search engines either by getting more free traffic (SEO) or paid traffic to your website. Through paid search advertising you essentially buy advertising space in the search engine results. So instead of trying to rank higher and get free traffic you pay to appear in front of the searches. The most well-known advertising agency for PSA is Google Adwords. Through Google adwords you can get your ads to appear in the Google search results and you pay only for the clicks on your ads. This is also the reason why the whole process is called Pay-per-click or PPC.
Google AdWords is by far the most popular search engine platform for hosting online ads. Bing ads and Yahoo search ads are also known throughout the digital marketing industry but come nowhere close to the revenue Google Adwords provides. Wherever you choose to spend your internet marketing funds, there are some key strategies for running successful SEM campaigns. Some of them may include:
- Launching ad campaigns with a specific audience (e.g., geographic, industry, etc.) in mind
- Creating ad groups that consist of target keyword variations
- Writing relevant ad copy using those selective keywords
- Setting an ad budget
- Monitoring metrics like clicks, impressions, click through rates and average cost-per-click
Key Differences Between SEO & SEM
The difference between SEO and SEM is simply that Search Engine Optimization is part of Search engine marketing or Search marketing as it is widely known. Both processes aim in increasing visibility in search engines. SEO is about optimizing your website to get better rankings in the search results while SEM goes beyond SEO. It involves many other methods that can get you more search engine visitors like PPC advertising. Search engine marketing reaches consumers at exactly the right time: when they are open to new information. Unlike the majority of digital advertising, search engine marketing is non-intrusive and does not interrupt their tasks. Results are immediate with SEM. It is arguably the fastest way to drive traffic to a website.
Main Factors Impacted By SEO
Now that you know what is SEO and how it works, let us take a look at some of the factors that can impact your search engine optimization ranking. Search engine giant, Google will never give away the exact algorithm they use to rank sites. However, we do have a pretty good understanding of some of the factors that impact search engine results page (SERP) rankings.
Content is effective in both attracting the search engines and helping your organization make connections with site visitors.The more quality, relevant content pieces that you have on your site, the more likely search engines will be to rank your pages higher on the search engine results page. Similarly, the more engaging and effective content you have on your site, the more likely your visitors will be to spend some quality time on your website and maybe even make a purchase. The secret to creating content that is optimized for both the search engines and your human site visitors is to create a variety of different types of content pieces that are well-written and on topics that are most relevant to your audience. Here are just a few types of content that you can focus on to help improve your content offering and, thus, your search engine rankings:
- Blog posts and articles
- Social media content
- E-books and whitepapers
- How-To Guides and Tutorials
- Videos and audio recordings
- Infographics or other visual content
Though creating content takes time and resources, it will more than pay off in the end. Search engines love great content and consumers need quality content to better understand the value your organization can provide. Start off by creating a few blog posts and work to build a following on social media. Once you have a group of loyal fans and followers, your organization can work to create different types of media to attract and engage new leads.
The on-page SEO factors are those elements that happen on your website. These are the things that you have complete control over, meaning that you can work to improve these factors over time by following best practices for SEO. This goes beyond just your content marketing to the deeper levels of the HTML on your websites. Here are just a few of the on-page SEO factors that can help you improve your search ranking:
- Title Tag The title tag on each page tells the search engines what your page is about. This should be 70 characters or less, including both the keyword your content focuses on and your business name.
- Meta Description The meta description on your website tells search engines a little bit more about what each page is about. This is also used by your human visitors to better understand what the page is about and if its relevant. This should include your keyword and also provide enough details to tell the reader what the content is about.
- Sub-headings Not only do sub-headings make your content easier for visitors to read, but it can also help improve your SEO. You can use H1, H2, and H3 tags to help search engines better understand what your content is about.
- Internal Links Building internal links, or hyperlinks to other content on your site, can help search engines learn more about your site. For example, if you are writing a post about the value of a specific product or service, you can link to the product or service page in your blog post.
- Image Name and ALT Tags If you are using images on your website or within your blog content, you will also want to include your keyword or phrase in the image name and alt tag. This will help search engines better index your images, which may appear when users perform an image search for a certain keyword or phrase.
When strategically placing your SEO keywords and phrases on your pages, it is important to avoid over-optimization. Google and other search engines will penalize your page if it attempts to use keywords too many times throughout the content.
In addition to the on-page SEO contributing factors that your organization has control over, there are also off-page SEO factors that can have a large impact your ranking. Even though you do not have direct control over these off-page factors, there are many ways that you can improve your chances of having these factors work out in your favor. Here are a few of the different off-page SEO factors that can impact your search engine rankings:
- Trust Trust is becoming an increasingly important factor in a sites Google ranking. This is how Google determines whether you have a legitimate site that visitors can trust. One of the best ways to improve trust is by building quality backlinks from sites that have authority.
- Links One of the most popular ways to build off-page SEO is through backlinks. You want to be careful here as spamming sites with your links is a quick and easy way to get your site banned from the search engines. Instead, take the time to build relationships with influencers and fans who create quality content and will link back to your site in their own content.
- Social Another important off-page SEO factor are social signals, such as likes and shares. When it comes to boosting SEO, you want to look for quality shares from influencers. The more quality content you publish, the more likely you will be to get people to share your content with others.
After learning more about what is SEO and how it works, you can now work to make changes to your site in order to improve your digital marketing and boost your online rankings on the search engine results page. Remember, there are a lot of factors that impact your SEO ranking, but the most important thing to consider is whether your content is valuable and relevant to your intended audience. Any business with a physical location should be using local search engine optimization. However, local SEO, though very important, is not always simple. It requires knowledge of the many techniques and methods that will get Google to notice you, as well as an abundance of time.
Ignoring local SEO is a huge mistake, particularly if you are a local business. It’s very easy for your competitors to get ahead of you if your site isn’t optimized and theirs is. Fortunately, you can gain the advantage back with a few changes to your site and some hard work. The coveted place for most physical businesses is the local pack or carousel and optimization is your best bet for getting there. Don’t miss out on a huge increase in sales. It may take a while to get your site completely up to speed for local search terms, but it is well worth the effort.
Whether you choose to handle your own search engine optimization or hire an expert in the field, don’t ignore local SEO. It can be an incredibly powerful force on your side and it would be a huge mistake not to take advantage of every benefit that local optimization can give your website.
Need help building your SEO? If you are not happy with your search engine rankings, it may be time to call in an industry leading SEO company. The talented team at Window To Recovery provide quality SEO services that will help you improve your search engine rankings and bring in more relevant organic traffic to your website. Click below to get a proposal!