Guide to the ABCs of SEO Success
Online marketing provides many paths to true digital marketing success–which means getting more site views and more conversions.
But marketing strategies that can help your company, like SEO optimization, pay-per-click, social media, blog posts, and more, are time consuming and require a fully integrated strategy with your SEO. So, many businesses hire an SEO agency to smooth the path.
But SEO is a long-term process that can yield near-limitless results. Ready to find out more? Let’s begin!
What Is SEO?
SEO, search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing a website for search engines, to gain more web traffic and improve your site’s visibility. The main aim of SEO is to enhance the ranking of a website on SERPs (search engine results pages).
SEO Cornerstone Number One: Keyword Research
The first step of any SEO campaign is keyword research – finding the right keywords to target for your website. Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting keywords:
- The keywords should be relevant to your niche or industry.
- The keywords should be popular enough to generate traffic.
- The keywords should be achievable to rank for.
Several tools and techniques to find the right keywords are online. Some popular methods include using Google's Keyword Planner (or any software LIST OF BEST SEO SOFTWARE), competitor analysis, and long-tail keyword research.
To perform competitor analysis, first find your main competitors in Google. Look at their site's title tags and meta descriptions. They give you an idea of the keywords they are targeting. You can also use a tool like Moz's Open Site Explorer to see what organic keywords they are ranking for.
One final method for finding keywords is to create customer avatars. Take thirty minutes to put yourself in your target audience's shoes. What types of content would be beneficial to them? What interests them? What types of queries are they searching for? Answering these questions gives you the perspective you need to formulate your keyword strategy.
SEO Cornerstone Number Two: On-Page Optimization
Now that you've got a solid foundation for keyword research, it's time to execute that strategy consistently. Several best practices can help you with on-page optimization. But remember – your keyword research has to be well thought out for your content to excel.
First, create high-quality, engaging, shareable content that educates, entertains, or preferably both. Be sure to include your target keyword(s) throughout the piece in a way that sounds natural. That means no keyword stuffing because it gets you penalized by Google.
We recommend using your target keywords in the following places:
- Title tag
- Headings and subheadings (H1, H2, H3 tags)
- Introductory sentence
- Anchor text (text you hyperlink to other related pages on your site)
- Internal links (links to other pages on your site)
- Meta descriptions
It's also essential to have a well-designed website. Aesthetics matter – if your website looks like it was created in the early 2000s, chances are people will leave before even reading your content. Make sure your website is responsive (adapts to different screen sizes), has a clean design, and is easy to navigate.
Finally, your goal with content is to not only obtain a lead capture but also keep the reader on the page as long as possible. Getting more leads is common sense but keeping readers on the page longer is a crucial SEO metric that Google's algorithm favors. You'll rank higher because of it.
SEO Cornerstone Number Three: Technical SEO
Technical SEO could be considered a subset of on-page optimization, but for this article, we'll keep them separate. For technical SEO, we're talking about everything else not related to the content on your site that can affect your ranking. That includes items such as sitemaps, website speed, and indexation.
A sitemap is an XML file that lists all the URLs on your website. It's a helpful tool for search engine crawlers because it gives them a roadmap of your website's content. You can create a sitemap using a variety of online tools or plugins. Once you've generated the sitemap file, you'll need to submit it to Google through Search Console so that it can begin crawling your website.
Website speed is another technical SEO element to consider. A slow website frustrates users and hurts your ranking. Google uses site speed when determining where to rank a website, so make sure your pages load quickly. You can test your website's speed using Google's PageSpeed Insights tool.
Indexation is the process of a search engine crawler discovering and adding new content to their index. If your pages aren't indexed, they won't appear in search results. To check if a page is indexed, do a site:example.com search on Google. If the page you're checking appears in the results, it's been indexed.
SEO Cornerstone Number Four: Off-Page Optimization
Backlinks are the primary focus of off-page SEO. A backlink is simply an inbound link to your website from another site. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the better. Why? Because Google sees backlinks as votes of confidence – if other websites link to your content, it must be valuable for readers.
But not all backlinks are created equal. A link from a low-quality website will not have the same impact as a link from a high-authority site.
The first step in getting high-quality backlinks comes back to your on-page optimization. If your on-page optimization is sound, you'll get backlinks. If you'd like to pursue link building more actively, reach out to other websites within your industry for guest posts. Otherwise, consider hiring an SEO agency to obtain backlinks.
Staying up to date on the latest SEO trends is essential if you want your website to rank high in search results. And the four cornerstones of SEO – keyword research, on-page optimization, technical SEO, and off-page optimization – aren’t easy to pull off when you’re trying to run your business. Contact us if you're looking for more detailed information or assistance implementing these strategies. Our team of experts would be happy to assist you!