Natural SEO referencing
Search engine optimization is the science of improving a website to increase its visibility when people search for products or services. The greater a website’s visibility on search engines, the more likely it is that the brand will capture business.
A website’s visibility is generally measured by its placement – or ranking – on search engine results pages (SERP). Companies always compete for the first page, where they are most likely to attract attention.
If we take the example of Google, SERPs often present ads at the top of the page. These are positions that companies are willing to pay to be placed on the first page. The ads are followed by normal search listings, which marketers and search engines refer to as organic search results. The process of SEO aims to increase a company’s organic search results, by bringing organic search traffic to the site. This allows marketers to distinguish between traffic that arrives at a website from other channels – such as paid search, social media, referrals, and direct – and organic search traffic.
Organic search traffic is generally of higher quality because users actively search for a specific topic, product, or service for which a site can be ranked. If a user finds this site through the search engine, it can lead to better brand engagement.
How does SEO work?
While there is a way to maximize results, it is almost impossible to fully manipulate search algorithms. Companies often look for the shortest path to ideal results with the least amount of effort, but SEO requires a lot of action and time. There is no SEO strategy that can change something today and expect clear results tomorrow. SEO is a long-term project, with daily action and constant activity.
Search engines use robots to crawl all pages of a website, downloading and storing this information in a collection called an index. This index is like a library and when someone searches for something in it, the search engine acts as the librarian. The search engine extracts and displays relevant information from the search query and shows users content related to what they are searching for. Search engine algorithms analyze web pages in the index to determine the order in which these pages should be displayed on the SERP.
How Search Engine Optimization Works
Here’s a brief description of how search engine optimization works.
What algorithms evaluate search engine optimization?
Hundreds of factors determine the order in which index content is displayed in a SERP. However, they boil down to five key factors that help determine the results that are returned for a search query.
The meaning of the query.
To return relevant results, the algorithm must first determine what information the user is seeking. This is called intent. To understand intent, the algorithm looks to understand language. Interpreting misspellings, synonyms, and the fact that some words have different meanings in different contexts are all elements that allow the algorithm to understand the searcher’s intent. For example, search engines must be able to distinguish between “bass” as a fish and “bass” as an instrument. The intent would be based on additional search terms, historical search, location search, etc. to display the correct information.
Relevance of web pages.
The algorithm analyzes the content of web pages to evaluate if the sites contain relevant information compared to what the user is searching for. This step occurs after intent is established. A basic signal for relevance would be that the web page includes the keywords used in the search. This includes the presence of those words in the body of text or in page titles. But beyond keyword matching, search engines use aggregated interaction data to determine if the page is relevant to the search query. They look at anonymous data from past searches to match the page to the query.
The goal of search engines is to prioritize the most trustworthy sources available. Intelligence built into algorithms can identify pages that demonstrate expertise, authority, and trustworthiness with respect to the intent.
Ease of use of web pages. Website design and accessibility play a significant role in search ranking. The algorithm examines how the site appears in different browsers, if it’s designed for different device types (desktops, tablets, and phones), and if page load times are suitable for users with slower internet connections.
Context and settings.
Search engines and their algorithms use information from past search history and search settings to help determine the most useful results for a user at that moment. Country and location may be used to provide relevant content for the area from which a person is conducting their search. For example, a person searching for “football” in New England will get different results than someone making the same query in England.
Benefits of SEO
Search engine optimization is a critical marketing activity to make a website or business visible online. But it also offers several other benefits to businesses.
Building trust and credibility
Sites that rank highly in SERPs are considered to be of the highest quality and most trustworthy. The results displayed on the first page are the most relevant, which enhances the credibility of the business or website. Having good content on the site and a good user experience will help the site rank better.
A competitive advantage
When good SEO is consistently deployed, those who do it more and better will outperform the competition. Many businesses feel they cannot afford not to appear on the first page of a search result. But if a team works toward this goal and is ahead of the competition, it will have a competitive advantage.
Reaching more people
SEO allows you to attract any user with intent at any time, regardless of the phase of the customer journey they are in. It relies on keywords and phrases to attract the audience to specific products and services. Companies can create a list of keywords they want to be ranked for, then develop content around those keywords.
Promoting content marketing
By having a list of keywords to rank for and developing content around those keywords, users are more likely to find the information they are looking for. Content and SEO work in harmony with each other. A site will rank better if it creates useful and quality content optimized for those keywords. By ensuring that the keywords are present in the titles, meta descriptions, and body of the content, you will improve the ranking for those terms.
Here are some tips for creating a content marketing strategy for SEO.
Better ranking in local searches
Local searches are becoming more common, with users searching for products or services “near me”. To improve SEO in these searches, a company can create a Google My Business account and optimize the listing for local searches. With this and localized content on the website, the user is more likely to see local search results in their queries.
Understanding the web environment
Users who keep up with the constantly evolving Internet will be better equipped to meet a website’s ongoing SEO needs. By staying up to date, businesses can better understand how search works and make more informed decisions about how to change and adapt their strategies.
To have an effective SEO strategy, businesses need to invest in the time and resources necessary to be effective. There are companies that can be hired as SEO experts to manage strategies, but businesses with the right team in place can do it themselves.
Obtaining measurable results
There are tools and analytical data that can be used to measure the effectiveness of SEO efforts. Google Analytics can provide comprehensive data on organic traffic. The data includes the pages customers viewed and the keywords used in searches. This data can then be cross-referenced with intended actions to see how SEO played a role in customer engagement or acquisition.
There are three main components – or pillars – of SEO that can be used to develop effective SEO strategies:
Technical optimization This is the process of performing activities during the construction or maintenance of a website to improve SEO. It often has nothing to do with the page content itself. Means to manipulate technical optimization include having an XML sitemap, structuring content to be intuitive for users, and improving site performance – such as page load times, correct image sizes, and hosting environment.
On-page optimization This is the process of ensuring that the content of a website is relevant to users. This content includes the right keywords or phrases in titles and body text; and it is necessary to ensure that each page includes meta descriptions, internal links within the site, and external links to other reputable sites, as well as a good URL with the main keyword. Website administrators use content management systems (CMS) to maintain page content.
Off-page optimization This technique is deployed to improve a site’s ranking through activities outside the website. This type of activity largely relies on backlinks. Companies can generate them through partnerships, social media marketing, and guest blogging on other sites.
These three components help marketers focus on activities and techniques that will get their websites ranked well.
Here are some additional techniques to use within each of the three pillars:
Research and selection of keywords.
Perform keyword research on terms for which it is most desirable to rank. Companies should focus on keywords that have a high search volume to be relevant to search engines. Examining competitors’ top-performing keywords can also help develop a strategy to compete with them.
Create quality content.
Once the keyword strategy is in place, the content strategy follows. Pages are more likely to appear higher in SERPs by creating quality content that is relevant to readers and their search queries.
Create unique page titles and meta descriptions.
Page titles should include the main keyword of the page. And meta descriptions should be brief summaries of what the user can expect to learn on the page. These elements are displayed in SERPs and are likely what people use to justify their clicks.
Use pay-per-click to complement organic traffic.
Paid advertising can help improve organic click-through rates by giving marketers the ability to test title tags and meta descriptions that appear in SERPs. By ensuring a first-page placement, these ads mimic organic search results to see which text prompts users to click. This can be used to adjust page titles and meta descriptions with organic results.
Use alternative text for images.
Alt text is used to describe an image on a web page. This is essential for robots that crawl the site to understand what the image represents. It also verbally describes what the image is for visually impaired people. It’s also another opportunity to capture keywords.
A URL slug is part of the URL that is unique to a specific page. This is also an area where it is important to place the main keyword related to the page content.
There are hundreds of tools to improve, manage, and report on SEO effectiveness. Some are free, while others are paid. But they all help marketers research keywords, develop strategies, and measure the results of improved rankings in SERPs. Here are some SEO tools commonly used by marketers today:
This platform is used for keyword research and online ranking data. It gives marketers insight into keyword strategy development and maintenance. Semrush can also be used to measure SEO performance over time.
Google Analytics and Search Console:
This platform provides real-time data on SEO effectiveness. Paired with Google’s Search Console, marketers can monitor site traffic, optimize rankings, and make informed decisions about a site’s search appearance.
For websites using WordPress as a CMS, Yoast SEO is a plugin used to improve on-page optimization. Users can define the URL slug, meta description, and page title. They can also see how their page content can perform in searches. A checklist of items is available so users can ensure their page is as optimized as possible.
This tool is used to audit websites and provide a keyword, link, and ranking profiles. It can also identify top-performing pages and those that need improvement.
This is a competitive keyword research tool for Google Ads. In addition to keyword research and data it can produce, it gives a detailed overview of competitor SEO and PPC data.
HubSpot Website Grader:
This is a free tool that provides report cards with actionable information on SEO performance. It can indicate if a website is mobile optimized, measure site performance, and give security recommendations.
This tool searches for content trends in countries or regions of the world. It finds popular topics and related long-tail keywords. It also compares these trends over time. Discover how long-tail keywords can improve marketing efforts.
This tool allows marketers to see link profiles and keyword search data. It also has a built-in site analysis function.
While not a tool to buy or use for free, consultants have the SEO expertise that some in-house teams lack. Good consultants can help develop the right strategies, execute or recommend a long-term plan. They can also establish reporting metrics to determine success.