What is SEO and how it works?

seo blocks | seomitra

SEO is a complex digital marketing strategy that brands use to make their content more appealing to search engines, ergo- providing the best service towards its users.

SEO helps brands improve their website’s presence in search results i.e. on search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, Yahoo, Baidu, etc.  This can involve making certain technical SEO changes to your website design, making it SEO friendly website and SEO content friendly that focuses on user intent.

A study done by Backlinko and Search Engine Watch found out that the 1st position in the organic result is 10 times more likely to receive a click compared to a page in 10th position.

Furthermore, the 1st organic result receives 33% of search traffic compared to 18% for the 2nd organic result and lowers further down in search engine results page (SERP).

All in all, one of the main SEO goals is to get the website on top in SERP.

A well-developed SEO strategy will involve a blend of two types of SEO techniques which are:

  • On-Page SEO (On-Website SEO Techniques)

    On-page SEO or on-site SEO, includes producing content associated with high-value keywords and then optimising the content to make sure that the search engines bots (crawlers) know what the content is about. This involves optimising the website’s meta data for e.g. page titles, alt tags, header tags, meta descriptions, URL structure, internal linking, keyword placement, schema, and many more.
  • Off-Page SEO (Off-Website SEO Techniques)

    Off-page SEO or off-site SEO, is content that links your website from third party websites by creating backlinks to drive traffic and improve rankings. This technique of promoting the content across various platforms can be done through guest postings, social media, blogging, influencer marketing or content syndication.  These measures are meant to reflect your website’s social media authority and overall domain authority.

In my experience, off-page SEO is MORE difficult and tedious than on-page as this involves building trust and credibility for your brand.

Why is SEO important for business?

seo_on_keyboard

Google alone gets over 3.5 billion searches every day and no money in the world can pay Google or any program to occupy any position within the organic results. As more and more people use Google and other search engines to seek out products and services, it is vital to rank highly for relevant keywords that users are searching for. With reference to the above studies mentioned earlier, the disparity between the highest and lower ranking sites in SERP indicate clearly that brands desiring attention from online customers must boost their rankings in order to get the highest traffic and clicks.

Brands promoting their services and/or products online must concentrate their SEO efforts to make sure that their share of voice and visibility to customers isn’t compromised. SEO is a critical component in the overall digital marketing strategy that ensures a robust online presence and can engage with their customers. In short, SEO helps business by:

  • Expanding your visibility on the search engines
  • Increasing website traffic
  • Increase sales & leads
  • Builds trust and credibility
  • Increases brand awareness & equity
  • Drives offline sales

How SEO works?

With over 200+ ranking factors in Google search algorithm, there are many on-page and off-page factors to think about and actions that should be implemented in order to rank your website.

For instance, the search algorithms contain spiders aka bots that analyze your websites- page titles, social signals, backlinks, internal linking, blogs and determine whether your content is of high quality and useful for users, or

If your website is search engine friendly which makes it easier for indexing and crawling your website, or whether your website is mobile-friendly since many users access digital information from their mobile phones.  

These spiders collect data and information about your website and determine if your webpage serves user search intent. To begin with search engine optimisation, you would first require understanding the 3 fundamentally important questions about your client–

  1. Who your client is?
  2. What services/product your clients sells?
  3. Where does your client sell products/services?

Once you answer these basic questions, it’s time to move on to the next step:

Step 1: Keyword Research

Keyword research is foundation of an SEO strategy and the most crucial part in better understanding your client’s target market and analyzing how they are searching for your content, services, or products. As an SEO professional, you must find out what keywords, short or long-tail search terms are users typing in the search engines and how many people are searching. These popular keywords/search terms are to be ranked for in the search engines.

There are a handful of online tools that an SEO expert would recommend you use, which are:

Google Keyword Planner is the most popular keyword research tool since the data comes (well) directly from Google. All you must do is

  • Create an account,  
  • Go to keyword planner tool
  • Click discover new keywords
  • Enter a search term or keyword that customers might use to find your content online
  • Adjust your targeted marketed and language if applicable
  • Click Get Results

The Keyword Planner will show the monthly search volume trend for that keyword and provide you a list of keyword ideas with their average monthly searches which might be useful in your content.

Google Keyword Planner – Keyword Trend

While discovering relevant keywords for your content, you will come across high- and low competition keywords which determines how challenging it would be for you to rank them. So, it’s better to prioritize and pick keywords that would be best suited in your overall content strategy.

Other popular keyword research tools include:

  1. SEM Rush
  2. KW Finder
  3. KeywordTool.io
  4. Ahrefs Keyword Planner
  5. Moz Keyword Explorer
  6. Keywords Everywhere
  7. Google Trends

Pro Tip: Always keep an eye on your competitors keywords and it’s better to prioritise high search volume keywords that your competitor is not currently ranking for.

Once you finalise and decided on the appropriate keywords that you would like to rank for, then move on to the second step i.e. content and on-page

Step 2: Content Optimisation and On-Page SEO

SEO and Content go hand in glove as there’s a deep relationship between both terms and is often difficult to know the nuances of how they relate. In other words, great content would ensure your SEO success.

The primary thing that must be understood is that there’s an enormous difference between content and optimisation, and every term applies and appeals to two entirely distinct audiences. Content, for instance, is targeted to readers- great content will attract readers, keep them interested, and encourage them to know or buy your product or service. Optimisation, on the other hand, has little or nothing to do with readers and instead is directed towards search algorithms, crawlers, search engine spiders that use your keywords to enhance your SEO ranking.

Simply put, content optimisation is the process of creating content that is written in a way to reach the most relevant audience. The method of optimising content should include relevant keywords present, i.e. by adding meta data like title tags, meta descriptions, and relevant links. You should also optimise your header tags (headlines) to increase CTRs (click-through-rate) and visual images for increased user engagement.

The reality is, if your content can’t be found by your audience, it won’t be very successful, which is why content optimisation is such an important step within the content marketing process.

Optimising Meta Tags

The meta title & meta description is a crucial HTML tag, because it tells search engines what your website is about. Optimise your website meta tags by ensuring that you include your targeted keywords. These keywords should also appear on the website more than once. The title tag also appears at the top of the browser when the page is viewed, and if the browser is tabbed, it’ll be the name of the tab for the page being viewed. As a result, title tags are important for search engines crawlers and explains your page’s content for your audience.

meta tags example
An example of how meta tags look in search engine results page
meta title on web browser
Page title shown on tab of web browser

You can also further improve website by optimising images, videos, headings, internal linking, schema, website structure, robots.txt, url structure and many more (new blogs coming soon!)

Step 3: Off-Page Optimisation and Link Building

Once you’ve created the content on your website and optimised it, the subsequent step is to promote that content. One important ranking factor that search engines use to work out a website’s quality is that the number of inbound links (backlinks) to the website. You would need to create as many high-quality backlinks as possible. A link from another website is sort of a vote of confidence that your site contains quality content. Getting links to your website shows search engines that you are trustworthy and reliable

However, not all links count an equivalent. A link from an authoritative website like BMW would be worth tons than the ones coming from a smaller website. BMW features a lot of traffic and plenty of inbound links from other sites, so it’s considered a high-authority website. The great thing is that you simply don’t need to start out by getting links to your site. Many SEO experts have countless ways for getting links to their sites. Some link building tactics include blogger outreach, blog directories, comment link, articles, influencer marketing, social media, brand mentions, getting press coverage, etc.

Off-page SEO is as important as on-site SEO. If you would like your SEO campaigns to achieve success, then you must blend in both techniques to ensure maximum success.

Step 4: UX and SEO

Creating a great user experience (UX) should be another goal as search engines are becoming better at measuring user experience factors. With each update that Google has released, it has leveled up towards providing more user-friendly results. Over the years, UX and SEO have created a partnership and share a common goal of giving users the best experience i.e. SEO is directed towards search engines, and UX towards your website’s visitors.

Websites should load quickly as slow loading sites frustrate users and cause them to go away and move on to another site. This increases the bounce rate and may hurt your website rankings.  Websites should even be mobile responsive so that users can view and access your website easily on multiple devices and different browsers. Avoid having too many ads on your site or having an excessive number of pop-ups. These are just few of key factors that influence your website rankings.

To sum up, UX is an important a part of your SEO tasks. You should work for your website visitors and not just for the search engines guidelines. The more attracting and optimized for users your website are going to be, the more traffic and returning visits you’ll gain.

So, what are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and we can discuss this further!

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