This being an advanced guide, we are not going to dwell much on the basics of SEO as there are so many articles that already cover this online. Mostly, I know that you are here to double your search traffic, right. Well, one important thing to note is that SEO plays a critical role in boosting your traffic tremendously and promoting brand awareness.
As a matter of fact, there are thousands of people creating content right now just like you! In order to get it right, it is important that you understand how you can use SEO to achieve your goals.
According to statistics, over 80% of traffic starts with a search query. This is the very reason why SEO is very crucial when it comes to content marketing. You may be thinking ‘staying on top of the game is quite easy, right?’
Well, the truth is, it is NOT! If you want to drive traffic to your website, you have to devote lots of time and effort into research and experimentation. The good thing is that Google algorithms are constantly evolving and that means that if you keep abreast with them, you will be up to date with the latest news and trends. With this in mind, you are sure to become an SEO expert within no time.
So, what makes up a robust SEO strategy?
Well, there are three core components to attaining a robust SEO strategy, which is what we are all about here. One thing to bear in mind is that in order to optimize a website, it is important that you improve its ranking factor. To do this, you have to pay attention to three key areas; the technical setup of the website, content and finally links.
Technical Website Setup:
When it comes to SEO, one thing that you have to look out for making it rank among the top three searches. This means that; a search engine has to find your web pages, scan them in order to understand what topic you are talking about as well as the keywords used; and finally, add them to the search index.
You may be wondering, “seems pretty straightforward.” Well, there is always a catch to this! The truth is a web page may look different to you and to the search engine. To you, it looks like a collection of graphics, formatted texts, links, and colors. However, to the search engine, it is absolutely nothing but just text!
This simply means that any element that cannot display just text may be invisible to the search engine; hence, regardless of your web pages looking attractive to you, Google may consider it’s content inaccessible. Some of the factors that affect this include-
Web navigation and links:
Did you know that search engines often scroll through sites as you would? The truth is that they follow links, land on pages and use links in order to find information to use in the analysis. However, as we have already mentioned, they cannot use images. This means that it is important for you to set your navigation and links in text format only.
So many content creators think that using long strings of words makes their content look great and attractive to the readers. However, before you get to the reader, it is important that you think about the means through which you are getting it out the there-search engine!
Using long strings often make the structure quite complex. Therefore, it is important that you keep the structure short. Make sure that they minimally go beyond the keywords as much as possible for proper optimization.
The speed of the web pages:
This simply refers to the time the reader takes to load the page. This is an indicator of quality. So many website elements influence the load time such as the size of images. To make sure that everything works out well, consider using Google’s Page speed insight tools so that you get suggestions on how you can improve it.
Using dead or broken links:
So many times, content managers change the links to a web page and redirect visitors to another in order to find the content they are looking for. Unfortunately, some do not update and the visitors visit a page that is no longer existent. Because of this, the website gets poor user experience and prevents the search engine from indexing the content.
Why Content is Important for SEO?
It is important to note that every time someone is using a search engine people are simply looking for content on a particular topic that they are interested in.
The truth is that content might assume a wide range of formats from the text, blog posts, and web pages, videos, business listings or even product reviews and recommendations. All these are content!
To SEO, content is what makes a website more visible and accessible. Some of the reasons why this is the case include;
Target Audience for SEO:
It is what target audience is looking for when they are searching irrespective of what they are searching. This means that the more content you publish, the higher your chances of attaining higher search visibility.
Search Engines and SEO:
Search engines often use content to determine how a web page ranks. This determines how relevant the content is to an audience’s search query. In other words, when someone is scrolling through a web page, people are looking for content on a certain topic of interest.
When they look at the length of the page and its structure, they can already tell whether the quality is good or not.
Content and Keyword Research for SEO?
Well SEO is not entirely about getting your target audience or site visitors to your website. The truth is, you want to attract as many people who need what you are selling and can serve as leads, conversions and make sales (customers).
However, this is only possible if your content ranks higher for the keyword they are looking for. This is the very reason why you have to start your SEO work by unraveling the relevant phrases that prospective clients enter into the search engines.
The first thing to ask is what are the key terms people use when talking about your topic of interest? Then use those terms as your initial keywords. Then follow through with comprehensive research to discover terms that read and consumed by your target audience use regularly.
On-Page SEO Optimization:
Based on SEO, optimization of content is very important and is broken into on-page optimization/on-page SEO and Off-Page SEO. This ensures that the search engine fully understands the topic of the page and its keywords and then matches that to relevant searches.
It is important for you to understand that here, am referring to ‘page’ rather than content. This is mainly because SEO focuses on the elements of the code rather than just the words used! Some of these are meta-tags such as titles and descriptions.
What are some of the on-page optimization actions for you to take?
The first thing that you have to do is ensure that Google understands the keywords you would like your web page to rank. This means that you have to include the keywords into the following sections of your blog post or articles.
Google places a lot of emphasis and value on the words that begin the headline of your article. Therefore, ensure that you have your keywords in the title.
On your URL, ensure that your keywords appear there and nothing else.
This often reassures Google that this is the topic of the page and is relevant to the users’ search query.
Image Filenames and Alt tags:
Do you know how search engines see your images? I hope you remember what we said about how Google visualizes content. They only see texts and not images. Therefore, it is important that your images are defined using your keywords in the file name.
The alt tag is a text browser that displays text rather than images. Hence, it becomes a signal of relevance by the search engine considering that it resides in the code of the image.
This is usually in the form of titles and descriptions. These two codes play a role in displaying listing’s title and content for the blurb respectively. They both also help in determining what topic the page is relevant.
Finally, it is important that you add semantic words, which simply refers to the synonyms of your keywords as Google uses them to determine how relevant your page is.
For instance, if your keyword is ‘Apple’, this could go two way, the tech giant behind the iPhones or a fruit!
Therefore, by adding semantic keywords, you are making it easier for Google among other search engines to display content that is relevant to the search query.
Non-keywords on-page optimizations:
When people hear of SEO, they think that it is all about using keywords across the web pages. However, the truth is that non-keywords play a critical role in helping search engines determine how credible a page is. Some of these non-keywords include-
These links lead to other resources that are relevant to the topic that is on the content. They also offer a good user experience by simply positioning content as a resource that is valuable.
These play a role in helping you boost ranks by allowing the search engines to crawl other pages on the website and showing semantic relations between your website pages.
All these work together to determine how they are relevant to the search query. It is important to add at least 2 internal links.
Length of Content:
Did you know that long content rank better? This is mainly because if they are used well, they often content comprehensive information on the topic discussed exhaustively.
Importance of Links in SEO:
From our extensive study on SEO, it is true that your content cannot rank well without relevance and authority. The truth is that Google among other search engines often prioritizes pages that are relevant to the search query. This is what the first two core factors focus on.
Backlinks, on the other hand, play a critical role in contributing to the popularity of the web pages.
They are simply references to your content drawn from other websites. This means that every time another website pints its target audience to your content, you get a backlink to your site.
The quality and the quantity of such links is what informs Google of the authority the website commands among its target audience. When your links are of low quality, Google treats them as suspicious and this reduces your ranks.
This means that, when you are creating your content and building links, you have to focus on using high-quality resources/references for better SEO ranks. So what factors determine the quality of a link?
Search engines often assess whether the domain you are using is something that they can trust. Therefore, if you use links from the website with good quality information makes your rank better.
The popularity of a linking site:
Google helps those links that are on high authority domains and reads them as high-quality links.
If the topic covered by the links added is similar to yours, they will carry more authority than those that use random websites.
The process of acquiring new backlinks in SEO can be quite challenging and daunting at the same time. This means that, if you are interested in link building, you have to be creative, patient and exercise strategic thinking.
This works well in coming up with a quality link strategy that ensures that the link passes the quality criteria set by search engines.
Why SEO Strategies should evolve?
SEO is a dynamic interplay that is resultant on many factors. A static SEO strategy cannot exist for your website for more than a couple of years.
A standard SEO strategy checklist involves fifteen to twenty points that you need to tick off. This involves both On-Page SEO Optimization as well as Off-Page SEO Optimization.
A good SEO Executive or a great Digital Marketing Company will always keep informing you about the recent changes and updates in the field.
As much as SEO is about execution and implementation, it is also about study and research. Google, Moz, Ahrefs, and other tech giants frequently keep updating and publishing research papers on the latest changes, best practices, and pointers to up the SEO game.
A good agency should not only make their employees aware of the changes but also let their clients know about the updates. This would help keep everyone in the loop about the next steps for the website.
SEO is dependent on other Digital Marketing Strategies:
If you think that a good SEO strategy exists in isolation, you cannot be further away from the truth.
An SEO strategy to be effective needs to be supported with a great Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing Strategy.
This means that your SEO team should be in frequent touch and coordinate with the other digital marketing teams. A standard error done by most brands is compartmentalizing digital marketing services between agencies.
In other words, most clients have this notion, that if I give all the services to one agency, then they might manipulate me, or worse, cheat me.
I am not saying that this fear is unfounded. Owing to this fear, brands and clients give different digital services to different agencies. This is the wrong approach for your brand and the health of your website.
An integrated agency will help you offer complete solutions between strategies, and guarantee better ROIs. In terms of blaming responsibilities, they would not be able to point out that some other agency is doing shoddy work, and there work suffering as a result.
It is always better to go for a digital marketing company, which offers all-digital solutions. This would result in better output, synchronized work, and lesser follow-ups.
Coordination between your SEO team, your Content Marketing team, and your Social Media Marketing team will help your brand at least ten-fold than dividing agencies and services.
While there are many skeptics who see the division of digital marketing service as beneficial, I would like to think otherwise. Imagine the different services of digital marketing as various organs or limbs in the body. If one goes astray, it ends up affecting all the other.
Affordability and cost efficiency is also something that you will be able to achieve with a single integrated agency.
SEO: A Long Term Investment:
A common issue raised by clients and brands regarding SEO is the turn-around time or the ROIs based on timelines. While there cannot be any definitive answer that any digital agency will be able to offer, in our experience six months is a good period.
Within six months, you should be done with all your On-Page and Off-Page SEO checklist. After the optimization, other steps like regularly seeding in new content, as well as fixing back-links will follow.
You will be able to monitor some changes yourself by logging on to Google Webmaster, Moz, and others. Simply copy-paste your website URL, and measure the metrics from what it is now, to how it used to be six months back.
If your SEO team has done a good job, chances are that you will see a significant increase in traffic, time people stayed on your website, Domain Authority, and Page Ranking.
Some of our best SEO strategies have resulted in a 500% increase in traffic, increasing DA from 17 to 45, and a stark jump on Google’s page rank.
As a brand, you need to be patient, and steadily invest resources on your SEO strategy. Once you will start seeing results, your confidence in the team and the strategy will shoot up. This is when you can really go all out, and set some high goals.
You might want to ask your SEO team and Digital Agency that your brand should start owning up some keywords in the search. Ranking on the first page with four keywords is a good start.
SEO: The Final Word:
From the information, we have discussed, it is important to note that, content, links and the technical setup of your website are the key ingredients to SEO.
The bottom line is to drive traffic to your website once you have all the basics taken care of. However, you have to keep abreast with more content coming up, the next steps Google will take as well as the manner in which SEO is evolving.
When you choose to embrace the principles of proper communication, understanding search engines’ requirements becomes seamless and you achieve long-lasting SEO results.
Setting up and executing an SEO strategy is not an easy task. It is a technical challenge that needs digital creativity and foresightedness. A good SEO team starts with understanding your needs, requirements, and then offers solutions based on that.
You might want to ask your SEO team for a Plan Proposal regarding your brand’s website as your first formal ask from them. This can take place before you sign the contract.
A good digital marketing company will not lay out all their cards and recommendations in front of you for fear that you might steal them. They can, however, list all the problems associated with your website and analyze your competition.
A good SEO team will give you recommendations and competitor analysis report in their Proposal. Your job is to see how well they are technically proficient in their craft and what difference can they make to your business.
If you need further help regarding SEO, or how you should go about the selection process, feel to get in touch with us.
We wish you all the best for your SEO strategy!