What is SEO

The Definitive Guide To Boosting Your Website Ranking In Google

Contrary to the pronouncements of some marketers, Search Engine Optimization or SEO is not dead. In fact, it is alive, well, and has never been more relevant or important for businesses.

Without SEO, your digital marketing strategy will be like casting a net into an ocean filled with fishes and catches nothing. The fishes are ignoring your bait and not going inside your net.

The Internet opens up an ocean of opportunities. If you want your business to capitalize on the opportunities available on the Internet, you must have SEO in place.

what is seo

The Value of Google’s Search Rankings

What is the first thing that you would do if you forgot that it’s your wife’s birthday today? How about if your car battery won’t start? How would you know how to make a béchamel sauce for your kid’s birthday party? That’s right. You would run a Google search.

According to a study by Google, that’s the same thing 81% of online shoppers and 89% of B2B buyers would do.

What is the implication of search for businesses?

In another study by Google, data revealed that 76% of consumers who run a search query on their smartphone will either visit or contact the business and 28% of those contacts or visits will result in a sale.

Having a website for your business is a great way to enhance your online presence. It will help potential customers find your business when they do a Google search.

Except, there is one problem.

There are more than 2 billion websites on the Internet.

These websites are servicing the search requirements of more than 4 billion users. Of course, not all of these websites are in your industry or line of business. The question remains that with all of the websites operating on the Internet, how can your website be found?

Perhaps the more appropriate question would be: Which websites get the lion’s share of online searches?

A study conducted by Chitika on the value of Google rankings showed that websites which occupied the first 3 positions in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) garnered 61.5% of all online searches.

The more telling statistic from Chitika’s study is that the drop off in search traffic from the first position to the second position is very significant: 32.5% versus 17.6%.

How much search traffic does the 15th ranked website in the SERP get? 0.4%.

Can you imagine the search traffic volume of the websites that appear on the second page of the SERP?

If the search produces results in terms of traffic and conversions that means your digital marketing efforts should focus on finding ways to move up Google’s search rankings.

This is why you need SEO for your business.

What Is SEO?

If you do a Google search on “What is SEO?” you will come across websites with various definitions of SEO. All of them mean the same thing. Instead of coming up with an umbrella definition of SEO, we will explain what it is all about, what it does, and how it will help your business achieve its goals.

The fundamental objective of SEO is to have your business found on the Internet. SEO does this by accomplishing two things:

Improve Search Ranking

SEO uses techniques that conform to the ranking factors of the search engine’s algorithm.

Increase or Enhance Online Visibility

An SEO strategy is composed of processes that help enhance your site’s visibility so that it will be easy for the search engines to find your content.

If your SEO strategy can improve your site’s search rankings and enhance its visibility, it will deliver 2 significant business objectives:

  1. Drive more traffic to your website.
  2. Increase sales conversions.

These are very 2 powerful reasons why you should have an SEO strategy in place for your business.

The Internet has changed the way consumers make purchasing decisions. Search engines have given consumers unlimited access to information. Consumers are more educated. They can do research on products and services before finalizing their choice.

If knowledge is power, then the Internet has tilted the balance of power in favor of the consumer. SEO will help you stay top-of-mind with consumers.

Here are 4 key statistics on the importance of SEO for your business:

  • 90% of consumers have not made up their mind before starting a search.
  • 50% of local searches using a mobile phone will result in a visit to the retail location within the day.
  • 48% of consumers start their mobile research through a search engine.
  • 77% of consumers research a brand before engaging with it.

Moving up the search rankings will help your business get found. Based on the research earlier, the higher you are on the SERP, the greater the volume of search traffic that goes to your website.

The more visits your website gets, the higher the probability of converting interested consumers into paying customers.

So how does a search engine like Google rank a website?

The primary objective of a search engine is to provide users with the most relevant information in response to their search query. A search engine uses an algorithm which is a mathematical formula composed of various ranking factors.

The search engine’s algorithm helps them determine 2 very important qualifications:

  1. Relevancy
  2. Authority

The algorithm will measure the relevancy between the search query and the content found on the website. It will identify the keywords found on the content, how the keywords were used, and its ratio to overall word count.

The authoritative value of the website or webpage will be determined by its popularity. How many people have clicked on to the site? How many backlinks does it have? How long do people stay on the site?

The more popular the site, the more it will be recognized as an authority. The search engine will conclude that its content must be of great value to its audience.

A search engine will change its algorithm frequently. This is in response to changes in search behavior. For Google, User Experience is very important. Its algorithm is constantly revised or adjusted to make sure it can deliver the best search results for its users.

How To Develop An Effective SEO Strategy

As mentioned earlier, search engines have an algorithm that determines the search ranking position of a website. An algorithm is a mathematical formula that is composed of different ranking factors.

For an SEO strategy to be effective, it should have components that can influence or accommodate the conditions of the ranking factors. By now, you might be thinking, “How can I influence the 200 ranking factors in Google’s algorithm?”

SEO is a strategy that uses different tools, processes, techniques, and tactics to improve your website’s search ranking and enhance its visibility on the Internet. These component parts of an SEO strategy can be categorized into 2 groups:

Onsite SEO

The purpose of onsite SEO is to make your website compliant to the demands of the search engine’s algorithm. It will focus on the technical aspects and setup of your website. The objective of online SEO is to have your site as search engine friendly as possible.

Offsite SEO

The purpose of offsite SEO is to enhance the visibility of your website by utilizing external or offsite channels such as social media, email, and community blog sites. The objective of offsite SEO is to build channels that will drive inbound traffic to your website.

The great thing about SEO is that it is not a rigid strategy. SEO is intended to be a flexible strategy so that it can evolve and accommodate the changes in consumer behavior as well as trends and developments in the industry.

Your strategy should always consider both onsite and offsite SEO. Focusing on one and overlooking the other will result in an imbalanced SEO strategy.

As discussed earlier, an SEO strategy should improve your site’s rankings and online visibility. By doing so, it will drive more traffic to your website and potentially increase your rate of converting potential customers into paying customers.

Therefore, your SEO toolbox should consist of the processes that best support the objectives of onsite and offsite SEO.

3 Key Components of an Effective SEO Strategy

Now that you know the importance of both onsite and offsite SEO, we can design an effective SEO strategy by simply breaking it down into 3 key components:

  1. Technical Setup of Your Website
  2. Content Creation
  3. Integration of Backlinks

Technical Setup of Your Website

A search engine uses an algorithm to rank a website. But how does a search engine find a website to rank?

A search engine uses “web crawlers” or “search bots”. These crawlers scour the Internet for content that is relevant to a search query. Once the crawler finds a web page, it scans the content to determine its relevance.

From there, the crawler will index the content and add it to its database on websites that are relevant for a specific search query. Within a few seconds, the results are presented on the SERP. All of this happens right after you click the search box.

If the process is simple as it looks, it is not. A search engine does not read a web page the same way you do. Google does not see the graphics, the colors and the way you formatted its text. For Google, everything is all text.

Therefore, unless your website conforms to the technical specifications of the search engine’s algorithm, it will remain invisible to the crawlers. No matter how good your website looks and reads, it will not be seen and indexed by the search engine.

In order to improve the visibility of your website to the search engine, your SEO onsite strategies should focus on 3 areas of the site’s technical setup:

1. Mobile Responsiveness

Industry analysts first predicted the growth of mobile technology in 2012. They “shared a vision” that eventually, mobile devices would overtake the PC desktop as the primary source of online traffic.

The prediction became a reality in 2014 and it will continue to become the dominant force as mobile technology continues to evolve.

Mobile responsiveness, or the ability of your website to accommodate various screen sizes, is a significant ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm. In fact, the search engine giant took the importance of mobile responsiveness to the next level with its mobile-first indexing ranking system.

With the adoption of a mobile-first indexing ranking system, Google has officially recognized mobile as the primary area of its UX focus.

Instead of prioritizing content that has been specifically created for desktop viewing for its search and indexing activities, Google has trained its sights on mobile-specific content. If your website is not yet mobile responsive, take the necessary steps to make sure it is compliant to one of Google’s most important ranking factors.

2. Page Speed

Page speed measures the loading time of your content. Another way to define page speed is the amount of time it takes to display the contents of a specific page. Web designers define page speed as the time it takes for a browser to receive the first byte of information from the server or “time to first byte”.

Google has identified page speed as a key ranking factor. The search engine giant believes websites are not downloading fast enough. The standard page speed loading time is 3 seconds. However, the page speeds of the top ranking websites in Google average between 7 and 13 seconds.

A slow loading page will lead to a poor user experience. Likewise, having a slow loading page will not benefit your business. According to statistics on user experience, 40% of consumers will abandon the search if it takes longer than 3 seconds to download the page.

Can page speed have an impact on revenue? Yes! A one second delay in page speed can result in a 7% reduction in sales conversions.

Put simply, if your page speed is slow, you will have fewer visitors to your website. Consequently, you will have fewer opportunities to convert leads into sales.

Google has always been big on user experience. If your website continues to offer slow loading pages, Google will send fewer crawlers to index your content.

Your latest blogs and other forms of content will not be picked up and be given the opportunity to be seen by an audience. This can have damaging consequences in your efforts to boost your search rankings.

3. Site Organization

Does your website have dead links and broken re-directs? A dead link is a hyperlinked text that sends readers to a web page that does not exist. In contrast, a broken re-direct sends a reader to a referenced website that is no longer active.

These types of pages will negatively impact user experience and prevent search engines from finding and indexing your content.

Another factor to consider when organizing your website is to simplify its URL structure.  Search engines do not like going through a string of words that stretch out at arm’s length.

You should also clean up your website by removing duplicate content which can confuse search engines.

Duplicate content makes it difficult for the search engine to identify which content it should index and present in the search results page. If your website has duplicate content, Google will penalize you in the search rankings.

Content Creation

Content drives traffic and greatly improves SEO. It’s what people search for when they launch queries on Google.

People want information. They want answers to questions, concerns, and pressing issues. They are looking for solutions to problems; recommendations or courses of action. All of these inquiries can be answered by finding the right content.

If your website does not have a blog page, you might be undermining your business’ chances of capitalizing on potential opportunities. Here are 5 key statistics on the benefits of blogging for your business:

Blogging is the type of media that is most popularly associated with content. However, content comes in many forms.

Videos, images, product reviews, forums, and search engine directory listings are all forms of content. Your content marketing campaign should integrate these different forms of content in its strategy.

With billions of content shared every day, how will your content get found and indexed by the search engines? It all comes down to producing high-quality content.

Google has established its criteria for high-quality content:

  • Content should be unique and fresh.
  • Content should be informative.
  • Content should be relevant to the search query.
  • Content should reference relevant links and sources.
  • Content should take User Experience into account; it should be easy to read, well-organized, and well-researched.
  • Content should not be stuffed with keywords.
  • Content should incorporate other types of media to be helpful. For example, embedding a video link to a blog, the use of relevant images, and infographics.

So how do you write high-quality content? It seems like a daunting task but it isn’t. Here are our tips on how to write or produce high-quality content on a consistent basis:

Find Great Topics to Write About

When creating content, always keep in mind that you are writing for your audience and not for yourself. Therefore, your topics should address the needs, wants, and concerns of your audience.

How do you find topics for these? More specifically, how can you find out what their needs, wants, and concerns are? Here are a few ways you can uncover what your audience wants you to write about:

1. Run Keyword Research on Google Keywords Planner. This is a simple keyword search tool that can help you find keywords that rank high in your industry.

Once you’ve identified the keywords with the highest monthly searches, launch a query on Google. The websites that will appear on the SERP will be great reference points for topics to write about.

2. Include a Call-to-Action In Your Blogs. It is a good idea to end your blogs with a CTA. A CTA represents what you want your reader to do next.

An example of a good CTA would be, “We hope you enjoyed the article as much we did writing it. If you have any topics or suggestions on articles that you would want us to write about, please share them in the comments section below.”

3. Engage Your Audience. In your social media pages, invite your followers to share ideas on topics they would want you to write about. You can also review the types of content you’ve posted and check which ones have generated the highest levels of engagement.

4. Use Analytics. Check your website data and find out which types of content had the most views, shares, and likes. These are the topics which interest your audience the most.

5. Check Your Competitors’ Websites. Visit your competitors’ websites and find out the types of content they are writing about. Take note of which topics generate the highest levels of engagement, likes, and shares. DO the same on their social media pages.

6. Use Online Tools. There are websites that can help you find the most searched topics in your industry. Good topic-generating websites include AnswerThePublic and BuzzSumo.

Conduct Research

For your information to be useful, they must be validated by reputable references. Research is a process that takes time but is certainly important to make your content valuable to the reader.

There are 2 types of research that you should undertake:

1. Keyword Research – We touched on this briefly in the previous section. Keyword research is very important not just for finding topics to write about. It will help you find the best keywords to use for your content. Having the right keywords and the correct ratio to total word count will help the search engine find, analyze, and index your content.

2. Content Research – Including data such as numbers, statistics, dates, and other factual information will add value to your content. However, make sure these are correctly linked to a trusted resource. You should also check that the information has been updated.

Create an Outline

Most of the best online writers work with an outline because it gives their content more structure. An outline makes it easier to create a smooth flow or transition from one section to the next.

The basic structure of an outline has a beginning (The Introduction), a middle (The Body), and an end (The Conclusion). From there, you can break it down into smaller components or sub-topics. You can also use the outline to help you keep track of your word count.

For example:

  • Introduction (300 words)
  • Body (2,400 words)
  • Conclusion (300 words)

There are also no clear rules on how to write with an outline. You don’t have to write the introduction right away.

A good example would be when you are writing a “List Type” or “How To” article. It might be a good idea to write the body first so you can have a deeper idea on the content and come up with a more compelling introduction and conclusion.

Implement Quality Control Measures

How did you react when you came across a blog that had misspelled words or wrong grammar? It must have felt like chewing on ice with a broken tooth. These types of mistakes are hard to forget and can create a bad, lasting impression on the reader.

Don’t take chances with publishing content that may have glaring errors. You should always implement quality control measures to make sure your content is flawless and reader-friendly.

Before publishing your content, review it for errors. You should also use software that can run quality control checks on your content. Here are some of the best software you can use:

  1. Grammarly Checks for errors and gives recommendations in spelling, conventions, usage, and grammar.
  2. Copyscape This is a popular tool used to check for plagiarized content. It will show you if there are websites that have similar content as yours.
  3. Readable.io Readable.io checks the readability of your content. If your content has a Flesch reading score of 50 and higher, that means it is an easy read for your audience.

It takes time to create high-quality content. However, it is time well-spent and it will pay out dividends in terms of greater traffic, search rankings, and conversions.

Include Backlinks

Earlier in this article, we mentioned the two important factors that will give your page a boost in the search rankings: relevance and authority.

The first two components of an effective SEO strategy; technical setup and content creation will address the issue of relevance. The third component, backlinks, will help your website achieve popularity and consequently, authority.

Backlinks are sometimes simply referred to as “links”. When a website references your content on their page, you get a backlink to your website.

The more often your website gets referenced by other websites, the more your site becomes recognized by Google as an authority on the particular search topic. After all, if you want to validate your content, why would you reference a mediocre link?

For the same reason, you should be careful when referencing links in your content. Not all links are the same. You might get links that are considered low-quality by Google and this can have a negative impact on your search rankings.

Therefore, during the research process, it would be advisable to use reputable and trusted authority websites as references.

Link building is the process of getting new backlinks. This is a key SEO strategy to help your website move up the search rankings. However, it must be done with a strategy, thought, purpose, and a lot of patience.

What would be the best tactics to use in developing an effective link building strategy?

  • Organic Links – These are backlinks originating from a website that has used your content as a reference.
  • Outreach – With this tactic, you will have to contact the authority website and offer a proposal for your content. Once you’ve created what you confidently believe is an awesome piece of content, email the website and sell the idea of using your content as a link. If they agree with you, they will use it.
  • Guest Blogging/Posting – There are websites that allow other bloggers to write or publish content on their site. The benefit is the website will allow you to post 1-2 links to your website in the content and your author bio.
  • Profile Links – You might come across websites that provide an opportunity for you to link back to your site. For example, websites that allow you to create an online profile. You should take advantage and add a link to your website.
  • Competitor Analysis – An SEO expert can run an analysis of your competitors and see which of their backlinks can be used for your website.
  • Social Media – While social media may not be a significant ranking factor, it can be used as an effective channel for link building. In fact, many SEO experts use social media to build links by running contests, sharing content, and including links in their social media profiles.

Conclusion

Now that you know the 3 key components in building an effective SEO strategy, it’s time to put those tools to work!

What you need to keep in mind is that SEO is not the veritable “lightning in a bottle”. As effective as it is, SEO will not give you results overnight. It is a process and time is the primary element in all processes.

Your SEO strategy has to be flexible; it should be allowed to evolve and adapt to changes in business conditions and consumer tastes and demand preferences. At a time when information is very accessible to consumers, rigid strategies will not work.

Once your SEO strategy is off and running, you should continually monitor its performance. Specifically, you should track the following benchmarks:

  • Organic growth of site traffic
  • Conversions
  • Keyword rankings
  • Bounce rate; average time spent by a visitor on a page
  • Number of indexed pages
  • Top performing pages
  • Poor performing pages
  • Summary of new links
  • Summary of lost links

Google Analytics is a great tool for tracking performance. Google Analytics can prepare different reports that will help you make a comprehensive analysis of your performance thus far. It will remove all guesswork and help you arrive at well-thought-of and educated decisions on how to improve your SEO strategy moving forward.

If you enjoyed this guide, feel free to share it. We hope that it helped you understand “What is SEO” and boost your website ranking in Google.