Have you ever worked in a company where departments don’t talk to each other, and projects fall apart as a result? The same problems arise when businesses don’t understand SEO and its role in marketing. There’s no need to feel bad for needing an SEO for Dummies type of guide. In fact, if more professionals admitted they didn’t quite get SEO, they’d see a lot more success with it. SEO is one of the most powerful drivers of traffic, visibility and reputation a business can get. It’s often misunderstood, though.
If you want to build a solid digital marketing strategy that has a cumulative effect, then SEO will be your foundation. This process, when used to its full potential, increases your website authority.
Keep reading to discover what SEO is and how you can use it correctly.
What Is SEO Anyway?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Search engines want to give users the most relevant information and recommend the best user experience.
To do this, search engines must crawl websites looking for a variety of factors to determine if a website is helpful and useful. SEO is the process of optimizing a website and using specific ranking factors to gain visibility in organic (free) search engine results.
Many people assume SEO is all about using the right keywords, and that is part of the process. SEO is a much larger-scale practice, though, as there are 200 factors involved.
Ten broad ranking factors include:
• A website built on a well-coded platform with an https SSL certificate informing users it’s safe.
• A fast-loading website to give users a good experience.
• A mobile-friendly website, since most users now use mobile devices.
• Domain age, URL and authority: Search engines value domains with history, a keyword-related name and respected websites that others link to.
• Optimized content: Articles and topics that match keywords users are searching for.
• Technical SEO: Optimizing titles, H1 header tags, subheadings, meta descriptions, image alt tags and page schema markup.
• User experience: This is ranked by Google’s RankBrain AI. It measures the rate of people who click through to visit your site, the bounce rate of people who quickly exit your website on the first page, and the total time spent on your site.
• Internal links and backlinks: Google counts how many other websites link to your site and the authoritative power of those sites. Relevant content is measured by interlinking your content articles.
• Social signals: The engagement and sharing of your content on social networks.
• Business info, such as name, address and phone number: This includes creating business listings on Google My Business and a Facebook page. It’s also important to encourage customer reviews on relevant directories that measure usage.
Why SEO Is Powerful
When you get SEO right, search engines will rank your website and content higher up in the search results.
The vast majority of traffic goes to the first page of search results, so if you’re not there, fewer people will find you. Getting to the first page of Google for a select number of keywords is one of the strongest achievements you can make for your business’s visibility.
SEO can help your business grow its reputation and authority. By appearing in results more often, your audience will become more familiar with your brand. Familiarity breeds trust and increases customer loyalty.
The One Big Mistake Businesses Make
Many businesses understand they need SEO but outsource it in the wrong way. It’s not uncommon for businesses to treat SEO as a project, where someone optimizes a website, and then it’s considered finished. If this is the service an agency is promising you, run! While it would be nice if SEO was a short-term project, it’s not the case.
Integrating SEO From The Start
SEO should be a cohesive part of your entire online presence from the very beginning, not limited to a few posts you want to rank for. By integrating SEO throughout your online presence early on, you can make it as clear as possible what your brand is about.
Your website as a whole needs to be optimized for user experience, while content marketing will help keep it regularly updated. Posts on your website should have SEO in mind from their very conception so they’re optimized the moment they’re published.
Integrating SEO from the beginning means choosing your keywords, content type, audience and message whenever you create something new online. This requires planning and dedication to get the consistency you’ll need.
Google might be the search engine that pops to mind, but YouTube, Twitter and even Instagram have become search engines in their own right. This means content published on these platforms should be optimized as well.
A key factor for search engine rankings is the number and quality of backlinks. A backlink is a hyperlink from another website to yours.
Getting a backlink isn’t difficult, but it can be more challenging to get one from a website that search engines deem high quality. Backlinks from large websites with strong reputations, like The Washington Post, will be better for your SEO than your friend’s blog with its readership of five.
The easiest way to get high-quality backlinks is to create outstanding content that people will want to share. When search engines can see that lots of major websites link to your business, they’ll know your business must be worth ranking.
SEO is an ongoing practice that never ends. It’s an integral part of everything you create online for your business, and when you treat it as such, you’ll start seeing far greater results.
Where many companies do an SEO project and drop it, by staying consistent with your dedication to SEO, your brand visibility will soar. SEO is a long game. Your marketing is a constant, and SEO is the heart of marketing.
When you can see SEO as an integral part of everything your brand does across the internet, you’ll have graduated SEO for Beginners.