If you are at the point of publishing a site, you’ve more than likely heard a hundred times that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a vital digital marketing tool. But do you really know how SEO works? Have you wondered, why does my site need SEO at all?
With a basic understanding of what it entails, you may not have a comprehensive grasp on what is often a complex and multifaceted process.
SEO is the most viable and cost-effective way to both understand and reach customers and by the end of this post, you will understand why.
Today’s consumers rely on search engines to help them find everything from restaurant recommendations to household appliances; from mortgage brokers to medical practitioners. Regardless of what your business offers, your target audience is almost certainly searching on search engines such as Google for products or services just like yours.
On the surface, the goal of SEO optimization is to improve your site’s rankings in search results.
But beyond that, the SEO purpose of achieving high rankings is to attract more traffic — and ideally, to convert that traffic into customers and leads.
During the pandemic, the need for SEO rose to an all-time high. As consumers shifted en masse to online purchasing, even previously traditional business realized that they need to embrace the shift to digital marketing.
Thanks to this mental shift, many brands and businesses understand that they need SEO for their digital properties and the benefits they will get from the SEO work being implemented on their behalf. The struggle now is deciding which SEO strategy will work best for them.
By now, we’ve answered “Why does my site need SEO?”
So, what does an SEO service provide? Why not do it myself?
The following information was first posted at the Digital Marketing Institute and includes links to helpful resources they provide. This is not an affiliate link and AR Softwork has no connection to the Institute beyond highly regarding their advice.
Branding is often considered a more traditional marketing strategy while SEO falls firmly into the digital category, however the two involve similar steps.
How can I improve my SEO?
There was once a time when keywords were the only SEO technique that mattered and that time has long passed, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still crucial. The difference is that today, keywords must be well-researched, carefully chosen, and judiciously used in your content in order to be effective.
But what exactly is a keyword? Keywords are words and phrases that prospects use to find online content, and that brands can then use to connect with prospects who are looking for their products and services.
When undertaking the key steps of keyword research, it’s important to look for ones that have high search rates and low competition and to choose short-tail keywords (such as dog), long-tail keywords (such as terrier puppies for sale), and local keywords (such as puppies for sale in Boston) to work into your content. Along with a primary or seed keyword, you should also have secondary and tertiary keywords as they will still offer value to your business. Finally, use keywords to optimize all your titles, URLs, and other on-page SEO elements (more on that later…)
Featured Resource: Get a FREE Keyword Score for your website
Content is a vital part of SEO because it’s the vehicle you use to reach and engage audiences. Knowing your angle and crafting content that fits is essential.
For instance, if you owned a nursery and wanted to increase your visibility, you might publish a series of blogs about gardening, choosing the right species of plants, growing tips, and more. When a person who wanted to know about gardening went looking for that information, your blog would come up, and you’d be able to build a relationship with that prospect by providing valuable information. The idea is that when the time came for that prospect to buy a plant, for instance, you’d be the first nursery that came to mind.
Today’s content must be educational, but also interesting, relevant, and shareable. Content comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Web page content
- Blogs (it’s easy to start your own blog to practise!)
- How-to guides
- Whitepapers and e-books
- Social media posts
Off-page SEO involves external optimization practices that happen away from your site rather than on it.
The main technique used for off-page SEO is backlink building since quality backlinks to your site from external sites tell search engines that your site is valuable and high-quality which helps to build authority.
There are many tactics to backlink building, and some of the current best practices include guest blogging, creating lots of infographics that will be highly shared, and using influencer marketing in your content.
P.S. You can read a complete guide to on-page and off-page SEO to make sure you know the difference and make the most of both. In addition, some experts are beginning to refer to off-page SEO as “reputation building”
Local SEO is becoming increasingly important as more and more people use mobile devices for search. These days, 60% of all searches are performed on a mobile device , and nearly half of those searches have local intent.
So, let’s say you own a restaurant, then local SEO would ensure that when people in your area went looking for the best restaurants in town, they’ll come across your site.
Along with using local keywords, other local SEO best practices include claiming directory listings, creating location-specific pages for your site, and creating pages for your business (also called doorway pages) on Google My Business local directories and Google Maps.
Featured Resource: Install an interactive Business Directory on your site
Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to paid marketing efforts, and it includes things like native ads, Google AdWords, social media ads, pay-per-click (PPC), Google shopping ads, display ads, and more.
Although SEM isn’t always a major component of a comprehensive SEO strategy, it does have its place as it can help you reach new and highly targeted audiences. You can also make your SEO and SEM work together.
Examples of SEM advertising activities include:
- Paid and targeted campaigns
- Keyword based copy that specifically relates to your business or product
- Performance indicators such as click-through-rates (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC)
- Performance indicators such as click-through-rates (CTR) and cost-per-click (CPC)
Understanding the Importance of SEO for Modern Businesses
Visibility and Rankings
One of the most important functions of SEO is increasing visibility, which means making it easier for prospects to find you when they search for something you have to offer. Visibility is directly related to your ranking.
The higher you rank on a search engine result page (SERP), the more likely prospects will see you and click through to your site, so it’s key to increase your organic page ranking. The more effective your SEO efforts, the higher your ranking and the better your visibility, which is especially important when you consider that a quarter of web users never click past the first SERP.
Increased web traffic is one of the main goals of SEO, and you increase traffic when you increase visibility and rankings. Consider this for a moment: the #1 spot on a Google search gets nearly 32% of clicks and moving up just one spot in search results can increase CTR by an amazing 30.8%.
The golden grail for many marketers is the ‘Featured Snippet’ which is often referred to as position #0 as it appears above the first ranked URL. This is usually content that’s taken from a landing page on a blog that answers a question people are searching for and can give your organic click-through a huge boost.
So, if you want more people to find your website through a search engine, then you need to use SEO practices that will help you rank among the top five positions, and ideally number one.
Featured Resource: Purchase a comprehensive SEO Analysis for your site
Page Authority (PA) is increasingly important to search engines as it’s becoming more important to web users. Essentially, authority means that your website is trustworthy, high quality, relevant, and has something to offer.
Scores range from 1 to 100 and the higher your number, the more authority your site has. You can find your PA rating by using tools such as Moz and while it’s difficult to influence it, many SEO experts believe it’s to do with link profile – getting external links from credible and well visited sources.
Creating a Better Visitor Experience
Another reason SEO is critical is because all the time you put into generating great content and on-page SEO optimization improves the usability of your site. This creates a seamless and positive customer experience.
For instance, when you take steps to make your site responsive, it will make it usable for all your mobile visitors as well as people who visit from a laptop or desktop. Similarly, by increasing your page load speed, you’ll reduce your bounce rate and encourage visitors to spend longer on your site. Consumers expect a page to load as quickly as possible with a limit on loading to not creep past three seconds! The longer the load time, the higher the bounce rate and the lower your conversions.
Remember, Search Engines Are Fallible
SEO is important because search engines aren’t perfect. If you don’t take steps to counter their failings, then your website will pay the price.
For example, if a site doesn’t have a proper link structure, then search engines may not crawl and index the site properly which can lower rankings. Coding errors can block search engines entirely, making it impossible for your site to rank, no matter how much time you put into other SEO efforts. Other common areas where search engines can run into problems include:
- Duplicate pages
- Images, flash, audio files, video, and other non-textual content
- Language and Semantics
If you’ve made it this far, well done! This should arm you with all you need to know to fill your site with bells and whistles when it comes to SEO.
Feeling overwhelmed? Contact AR Softwork now to look into improving your SEO for as low as $40 a month!