Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the process of optimizing your website for viewers to find you via search engines. In essence, you are making your website more visible in search engines for your target audience.
Step one is to make it easy for search engines to read your website. This means compelling content that answers the searcher’s query, as well as keywords optimized to attract them. Then, ensure a great user experience including a fast load speed and compelling UX, and share-worthy content that earns links, citations, and amplification. Finally, focus on title, URL, & description to draw high CTR in the rankings.
Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing send spiders, or crawl bots, throughout the web to find, crawl, and index different web pages. They evaluate each of these pages for the content that is on them, taking into account everything from layout, structure, keywords, images, tags, links, schema, and more.
All of this information goes into a database, where the search engines use their proprietary algorithms to prioritize, or rank, each piece of content. Every URL will rank differently for different search terms or queries. These queries are often referred to as keywords.
The more keywords your website ranks for, the more traffic it will receive from search engines. The more traffic it receives, the more the search engine will crawl the site, allowing it to discover more content and rank more pages and keywords. As you can see, a snowball effect begins to take place over time.
This is why SEO is often referred to as a long term strategy for growing your brand and adding traffic to your website.
There are several benefits of optimizing your business website for search traffic.
While SEO might not be the first source of revenue your business turns to as it grows, it is a necessary component of any business that wants to stabilize their growth and longevity.
Optimizing your website for search engines is a complex and intricate process. It helps to start with the basics, which is not as common as you might think. So many prefer to dive right into keyword optimization or building backlinks, but Search Engine Optimization really starts at a core website level.
Ensuring your website is set up properly is vital for optimizing it for search engines. Having all of the technical components in place for easy crawling involves:
These technical components can be messy, but they ensure that a crawler can easily move around your website. This allows it to maximize its time while crawling your site, while also sending positive technical feedback to its algorithm.
The great news is that these technical details are also good for the user. Viewers love a fast site that is easy to navigate. Viewers don’t want to go do a dead end page or a broken link. Getting the technical details right is good for search engines and for viewers.
Another important and often overlooked aspect of SEO is getting your website’s search intent correct.
According to Moz.com, search intent is “the primary goal a user has when searching a query in a search engine. Many times, users are searching for a specific type of answer or resource as they search.”
Understanding the types of queries that your target market searches for, and what they want when they perform that search, is vital to ranking your website. Search engines like Google deeply understand what a user is looking for when they search a specific query, and if your website doesn’t match that, then you won’t rank.
Before performing all of the traditional SEO tactics, it is vital to understand what your target market wants out of each and every search query. And, then ensuring your pages are accurately on point.
Long gone are the days where a website could easily game the system and quickly rank on search engines. Over the past decade, search engines have gotten extremely sophisticated in how they write and execute their algorithms.
It is theorized that Google uses over 200 different components, or ranking factors, in their algorithm. These factors are constantly changing, and Google readjusts the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) frequently in accordance.
Google releases several Core Algorithm Updates each year, which are broad in nature and large scale updates. But, in reality, Google does 500-600 updates of their algorithm every year. The majority of these are smaller in nature, and less far reaching, but impactful all the same.
All of this means that search engines are extremely advanced, and getting more advanced each and every day. Shortcuts might still work, but only in the short term. Optimizing your site for search is a lengthy but rewarding process.
While there are hundreds of individual factors that play into SEO for a website, these are the three main buckets that everything can be grouped into. These should be your main focuses.
On Page work in SEO refers to everything that you do in the technical set up and makeup of your website. A lot of the technical details we referenced earlier fall into this category.
Making your website have as good of an experience as possible for users results in better rankings on search engines.
Working on your on page factors is where we often see the quickest wins in SEO. When you offer a better and easier experience for both users and crawl bots, you can see big gains in your search engine rankings.
You’ve probably heard it said that Content is King, and that is true for SEO. Content is the cornerstone of good SEO. Without content, your website can’t rank. Period.
Good content, however, is what separates websites that rank from those that don’t. Google has put a huge emphasis into understanding the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of an article, a website, and its contributors. This is often referred to as E-A-T.
Nowadays, ranking high for a SERP typically requires having content that is keyword optimized. The use of LSI keywords, or secondary keywords that directly or indirectly relate to the topic, is also vital. Beyond that, ensuring that TF-IDF keyword ratios are followed is also important for the modern search engine.
At the end of the day, backlinks are still the number one ranking factor for Google and other search engines. Like it not, a link is a “vote” from another website, and acts as a great distinguisher for search engines to rank based on.
Because of its importance, you don’t have to look too far to see all sorts of backlink opportunities present themselves. Unfortunately, most of these are not organic and natural in nature, which can put your website in a dangerous and precarious place.
However, without a backlink strategy in place, it will be very hard for your website to rank quickly.
Unnatural linking is the number one reason for websites to receive Google penalties, or manual actions. Crafting a strategy where your website is set up to receive links naturally and organically is incredibly important.