SEO – what is it and how did we get involved?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization.
Online marketing strategies include on-page and off-page SEO. Search engine Optimization focus on the natural ranking of a page in search engine result pages – SERPS. (I.e. excluding advertising).
These results are also known as organic or earned results.
The higher a page ranks in search results increase the likelihood of visitors. Frequent listings (for example no. 2,6 and 8) on the first page of Google also increase the likelihood of more visitors. Visitors converts into customers when the products or services on the page satisfy their needs. (Call-to-action).
What kind of optimization is there?
Search determines the kind of SEO required.
- Information – how to articles or scientific publications as example
- Topical search. This type of search is very specific. Examples are music, historical documents, estate agents or property or online reservations.
SEO specialists interpret search results to determine how to improve organic rankings.
- What are the visitors searching for?
- Which keywords (short or long-tail) do visitors use to find the site?
- Where does the traffic come from? (I.e. in which search engine do the customer find my site)
- Geographics – from which countries are my visitors?
- Demographics – which age group, gender, ethnic group is looking for my site?
- Are the visitors using desktop or mobile to search?
Use the above information to draft a working strategy. I prefer to call it a working strategy as it will change based on analytic’s (web statistics) . Ensure that you install a web analytics program (Google Analytics is free) prior to website launch in order to gather visitor statistics.
Note that SEO is part of the online marketing plan. Pay-per-click advertising and optimization thereof is known as Search engine Marketing (this will be another article).
I have a strategy what happens now?
The next step is to optimize the website content. It entails the following
- Edit the content. Include synonyms or industry jargon (based on the statistics and keyword research) in your content, article and blog pages. Google uses a latent semantic indexing (the relationship between terminology and the views expressed in content. A mathematical algorithm determine this relationship).
- Edit the code – this requires an expert or web developer. Some companies appoint web developers as SEO experts. Ensure that the code in the pages comply with search engine protocol. (Google webmaster tools, Webmaster central (Bing) and Yahoo).
- Remove all obstacles that prevents search engines to crawl your site or impact negatively on all the work done. (To name a few: page name structure, user friendly navigation, headers, error pages and redirects, responsive (Mobile) design and pages that load < 1 second.
Ensure that your website content and code meets search engine fundamental protocol. Get it right from the beginning.
The fundamental requirement is now in place. It is now time to take SEO off-page and build page rank and page authority.
Page Rank: Google’s algorithm measures the importance of website pages.
Page Authority: A score from 0-100 developed by Moz. It is an indication of how well a page will rank in search engine results.
There are 3 recommended ways to do this:
- Build links to your site’s pages.
- Distribute your content using social media. (Social media marketing i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Google+)
- Share bookmarks on social sites such as Reddit, Delicious etc. It is not as popular as it used to be but still a great way to attract attention to your site.
There are three types of Search Engine Optimization:
Black hat SEO – webmasters that use techniques which do not comply with the search engine guidelines in order to obtain top organic rankings – these ranking tend to be short lived and banned quickly by the search engines due to non-compliance with the search engine rules.
Grey hat SEO employs techniques that focus on increasing the site’s rankings but does not necessarily deliver good quality content.
White hat SEO – webmasters using techniques which do comply to the guidelines set out by the search engines – these rankings will last a long time as it employs quality content, correctly optimized pages for keywords and quality and natural linking techniques.
We spend a lot of time on content and research to ensure that we address the visitor’s need to the site. Analyzing and interpreting web analytics is just as important as your statistics shows the visitor’s clicking behavior. Keyword research (both long tail and short tail) are just as important especially when you are blogging or writing articles. Analytics also assist in determining conversion rates.
Search engine Optimization is part of the marketing mix in an online strategy and it is best practice for sites not to solely rely on organic rankings as ranking might be affected by algorithm changes.
An example of early White hat SEO techniques (1998 – SEO was first mentioned in 1997), is the New Frontiers Expedition where we used updates, the media (radio and television), and online-offline promotions to produce quality content and create a group of interested people that followed the expedition.
Do you need help with your SEO?