Search engines have become a natural way for people to find answers to questions, products to buy, directions to a destination or images, videos, and news. They are now a staple in our society and businesses are using them to advertise to customers or try to rank organically within the results. Websites that do not show up in search engines face an uphill battle being overshadowed by their competitors who are appearing within the search engines and generating traffic from Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo.
Ranking organically within the search engines can be the difference from seeing no revenue come through your online store, to making thousands of dollars in organic revenue. Ranking organically doesn’t require any ad spend and can be achieved by targeting keywords through on the website and following best practices. But, before we get into the technicalities, let’s discuss some common SEO questions.
What does SEO stand for in business?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the practice of optimizing the content and meta tags on a website to appear for targeted keywords within a search engine. Often times this means increasing the quality of the content and utilizing the targeted keywords through a website page.
The goal of SEO is to increase the number of visitors who come to your site from the keywords the website targets and increase the quality of the visitor, so they convert once they are on the website. For an eCommerce store, this means we want to drive organic traffic that ultimately will buy products from the store; and for a blog, this means we want to drive organic users who read your blog posts and then sign up for your newsletter, etc.
Why does SEO take so long?
SEO takes time, this, is absolutely true. It can take around 6 months to start seeing results from organic keywords. And this is just to start seeing results! But let’s not forget the work that must first go into this effort.
A website does not simply begin to rank for keywords, once an SEO agency begins working. First, we typically will audit the website so we can prioritize our SEO strategy. Next, we research organic keywords within the website’s niche so we know which keywords we will target throughout the website. In most cases, we will then optimize the meta tags, which include the title tags, the meta description, the H1 tags, and the alt tags. We use the keywords we researched within the meta tags, so the search engines know where to index the pages. Finally, we optimize the copy on each page by also adding the keywords within the copy. Once this initial work is completed, it must be implemented on the website by a developer.
Now, the website can finally begin to be crawled and indexed by search engines for the keywords we are targeting. But the caveat here is that many other sites are also competing for these keywords, and many of these sites will be more reputable. For example, try outranking Amazon, Wikipedia, or CNN, it’s going to be very difficult. But this is why we try to target less competitive keywords, right? Well, yes. But we still need to build the domain authority (basically, the website’s reputation) by building links back to the website.
There are cases where the website may already have a high domain authority and can compete for keywords much quicker, but nonetheless, you must take into account the time it will take for the agency to complete the initial round of optimizations.
What is On-Site SEO?
On-site SEO is the exercise of optimizing the different components of the website. This includes the meta tags, the content, and the speed of the website. All of the optimizations happen within the website, as opposed to off-site SEO where optimizations or SEO work happens on other sites to ultimately help your site.
Meta tags are the “low-hanging fruit” of search engine optimization. Meta tags directly influence which keywords a webpage will rank for. This is why we typically will prioritize meta tag optimization so that webpages can begin to be indexed by search engines for the target keywords, early In the campaign.
Title tags appear on the search engine results page or the SERP. This is the clickable title you click when you are clicking to a website from the SERP. Title tags should contain the keywords you would like to target, but these should be unique to the page. Don’t target the same keywords on each page, target a specific keyword for each page. It is also best practice to keep title tags between 60 to 70 characters.
Meta descriptions appear under the title tags on the SERP. The meta description does not have direct influence on the keywords the page will rank for, like the title tag does, but is more for click-thru rate and providing the searcher with a good idea of what the page they are clicking to is about. The meta description should be about 150 to 160 characters so it is not truncated with a “…” at the end.
The H1 is typically the page name. The H1 is on the website, it does not appear on the SERP. For example, the H1 would be the name of the product on a product page or the blog post title. If possible, the H1 should contain a keyword or keyword phrase to support the title tag.
An image alt tag helps the search engine crawlers to understand what the image is. Since the crawler cannot see the image, we use an alt tag to help the crawler properly index the image. In many cases, the alt tag might just describe the image, but keywords should be used if possible!
You may have heard the phrase “content is king” and for SEO, this is true. Search engines and keywords are extremely competitive. As more and more websites go live each day, ranking organically is becoming harder and harder. Search engines are looking for the best websites and webpages to rank on the first page and they use a plethora of factors to do so, but put simply, if a user is not finding what they need on your website and they leave quickly to click on another result, this will negatively affect your website. This means your content was either irrelevant to the searcher or didn’t provide them the information they needed.
Website content must be relevant to the keywords you target and must be quality content. If a user’s bounce from your webpage, this is an indication that you need to optimize your content. If users begin to find the answers they need on your website, search engines will recognize this and begin to increase your rankings.
Page speed is a very important to your users experience and also factors into keyword rankings within the search engines. For image heavy websites, or large ecommerce stores with many product images, optimizing the images on the website can make a huge impact. To find out what components of your website that you can optimize to improve page speed, check out Google Page Speed Insights.
What is Off-Site SEO?
Off-site SEO is the optimizations done outside of your own website to improve the visibility of your website or improve its domain authority. Off-site SEO includes a few different strategies but most common are citations and link building.
Citations are any mention of your business or website Name, Address, and Phone Number. Typically, citations appear for local businesses in business directories or social media websites. Citations help searchers find local businesses and can impact search engine rankings by increasing the visibility of the business and providing links back to the website.
Link building is the process of building links from external websites back to your website. Link building influences a website’s Domain Authority (DA), or the website’s reputation on a scale of 1 to 100. The higher a website’s domain authority, the more likely it will outrank lower domain authority websites. Although the domain authority is comprised of many different metrics, building links from high DA websites back to your website is a proven way of increasing your website’s domain authority. Basically, it’s showing the search engine that reputable sites are willing to link to your website and associate their site with yours.
A few common link building strategies are:
- Guest posting
- Linking unlinked brand mentions
- Content-based link building
To Sum It All Up
In today’s day in age, SEO really has become a necessary channel for any digital marketing strategy. Both on its own and when complimenting a PPC campaign, a proper SEO strategy can drive quality traffic to your website and increase your site’s visibility and profitability.
Do you have an SEO question that wasn’t answered above? Please reach out and we will be happy to answer your question and add it to the above post!