Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a fundamental part of digital marketing. It is the process of optimizing your online content for search engines like Google to discover and show it as a top result for searches on their search result pages. The better visibility a page has in search results, the more likely it will garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to the business.
Regardless of what your business offers, a whole audience is likely searching for products or services like yours on search engines right now. And if you really want to attract them to your site, you will need to identify which keywords and phrases your target audience uses when searching for products or services. After that, you work towards ranking well for those searches. That is what Search Engine Optimization is all about. The secret behind SEO lies in understanding answers to the questions:
- What are people searching for online, and what answers are they seeking to find?
- What words they’re using in their searches?
- And, what type of content do they wish to consume?
Knowing answers to these questions will enable you to connect to the people searching online for the solutions you offer.
Whereas it is one thing to know your audience’s search intent, delivering them for search engine optimization is another important factor. Therefore, search engine optimization seeks to accomplish both.
SEO as a digital channel brings three parties into a working relationship. They are the digital marketer (or “SEO”), the search engine itself, and the searcher or site visitor. Suppose you’ve posted some content on “fertility treatment” to your website, and you want the search engine to show it as a top result to anyone searching for that keyword. SEO is the process you’ll use to make it most likely that Google will show up that content to anyone searching for the term “Fertility treatments.’’
To understand how content posted on a webpage manages to show up on search result pages, let us dive a little deeper to see how search engines work.
How Do Search Engines Work?
A search engine such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing can be compared to a website with a browser. As you visit this website and type in your question into its browser, it ‘magically’ replies with a long list of links to web pages that potentially answers your question.
It might surprise you to know that each search engine has crawlers or “spiders” that goes out to search the entire net for content. After gathering information about all the content they can find on the Internet, they bring them back to the search engine to build an index. That index is then fed through an algorithm that tries to match all that data with your query utilizing ranking factors. In other words, search engines work through the following three basic functions:
- Crawling: Search engines send out a team of robots to scour the Internet for content. These robots, also known as spiders, start out the process by fetching a few web pages, thereafter they follow the links on those webpages to find new URLs. Scanning through this path of links, the crawlers are able to find new content- be it web page, image, PDF, etc. These are added to their massive database of already discovered URLs, known as index. This is to be later retrieved as a response to a search query whenever a searcher is seeking information that becomes a good fit for the content on that URL.
- Indexing: This involves storing and organizing all content found during the crawling process and deemed good enough to serve the searchers’ needs. Once a page is in the index, it becomes part of the huge database of already discovered content to be displayed as a result of relevant queries.
- Ranking: This is the process of arranging the results of the indexed pieces of content that will best answer a searcher’s query by how well it matches the query, that is, from the most relevant to the least relevant. Generally speaking, the higher a website is ranked, the more relevant the search engine believes that site is to the query.
Types Of SEO Strategy
Over the years, 3 types of search engine optimization have served as the relevant digital channels providing well-rounded organic search strategies. These are on-page SEO, technical SEO, and off-page SEO strategies. However, as search results continue to evolve in the past few years, other ways of optimizing for search engine ranking that we cannot afford to ignore are beginning to emerge.
In this article, I find it necessary to include YouTube SEO and Voice Search as niche types of Search Engine Optimization that can make great difference in your site visibility and consequent ranking. When businesses break down their strategy along these 5 categories, it’ll be easy for them to organize and execute optimization plans for their website content.
1. On-page SEO
On-page optimization revolves around website content. It includes everything that your readers will see when they visit your website. These are the strategies you put in place to optimize an individual page on a website. They also include all you do to help search engines understand the topic of the content and see that the website is a valuable resource that people would want to find. These include but not limited to;
Keyword research: This is the process of searching to find keywords or search terms your target market are using when conducting searches. Skilled keyword researchers focus on determining the following 3 factors;
- Keyword frequency;-how frequently users are searching for those keywords,
- Keyword difficulty;- how difficult it is to compete with other content creators using that keyword given its high value and
- Search intent;- the objective the searcher is trying to accomplish by their use of those keywords;- whether it is to learn about something, find something, or buy something.
Content creation: Effective On-page SEO is built on high-quality, informative content—content that’s really going to solve problems of users better than other available resources. The information you’re sharing as a content creator has to be top-notch, created around, and focused on the basic keywords being targeted by users.
Keyword optimization: This Involves the use of relevant and related keywords in all pieces of content. Making sure that those keywords are totally optimized to meet your goals can provide a big boost to your SEO objectives. For example, keywords should be present in the title, URL, first paragraph, and at least one sub-heading in your page. This would convey a message of consistency throughout your content.
Good Website Design: A good web design produces a site that’s easy for visitors to navigate and give them a good user experience. For example, if your visitors want additional information but are not able to figure out where it is, they’re not likely to stick around on your site. And again, pages should not have blocks of content in strange places. Too many hyperlinks that don’t serve a clear purpose, essentially erases any audience that you managed to bring onto your site.
So, much of the On-page optimization is focused on the user, and that’s who you’re trying to attract. Poor web design therefore, can make it impossible for users to read what they came to your website to do.
HTML, (or Hyper-Text Markup Language) is a web building block that defines the meaning and structure of web content. The term “Hypertext” refers to links that connect web pages to one another. They can be either within a single website or between websites.
Links are a fundamental aspect of the Web. An ‘SEO’ becomes an active participant in the world wide web by uploading content to the Internet and linking it to pages created by other people.. HTML provides a means to create structured documents, images, and interactive forms that could be embedded into a web document. Title tags, headers, meta tags and description are all part of on-page optimization factors.
2. Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO is a carefully designed strategy of building high quality backlinks for your website. Getting links to your site helps bring in visitors, and it shows Google that other people around the internet value your content, and that your site is authoritative.
- When other high quality websites link to a website, it sends positive signals to search engine crawlers, telling them that the linked-to website is valuable, useful, and has results that searchers would be happy to find. All of these factors help improve the search rankings of the linked-to website.
- Social media is another off-page signal that can make a big difference in your SEO, as well. If your content enjoys wide engagement on social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, search engines take that to mean that it’s worth talking about and would therefore help other people find it. Having a piece of content that’s popular on social media gets you a lot of traffic and is therefore a fine Off-page SEO strategy.
Building positive relationships with bloggers, journalists, social media personalities, and the people behind websites similar to yours are all acceptable off-page SEO practices. Commenting on other blogs as well as Guest blogging are all popular off-page SEO strategies.
Hanging out on blogging sites like Reddit, bookmarking sites and other relevant forums can be helpful. From the foregoing, we can see that off-page SEO focuses more about you as a content creator and the relationship you build outside your web page than on your content itself.
3. Technical SEO
Technical SEO is concerned primarily about site architecture. Hence the technical aspects of search engine optimization work deals with the site’s backend structure. The way your website pages are organized influences everything you do to optimize your site; from the URL, to sitemap, even to using robots.txt to restrict search engine movement to certain pages. It is related to on-page factors but has to do with things that go on behind the scenes.
Technical SEO process ensures that a website meets the modern search engines technical requirements with the goal of improved organic rankings. These include but not limited to :
- Site Ranking
- Site Speed
- Site architecture
- Structured Data
Technical SEO might sound intimidating, but if guided by on-page SEO principles, it would be possible to use it to create a good user experience for your visitors. However, search engines must be able to find, crawl, and index the pages on your website before they could rank. A strong site structure makes every other technical SEO task much easier. Making your site pages a few links away from each other, enables search engines to crawl 100% of the pages.
4. Voice Search SEO
Voice Search SEO is one of the newest types of SEO. As one of the most popular ways to conduct searches, it focuses on improving the online visibility of the business for conversational voice search results.The secret behind voice search optimization lies in earning the featured snippet, and the role of voice algorithm.
A featured snippet is like a clipping from a newspaper or a magazine. It highlights specific information from an organic search result in a paragraph, list, or table format.
The following steps are required to earn a featured snippet;
- Researching keywords
- Developing subheadings
- Organizing web page content
- Optimizing web page content
- And more
VOICE SEARCH ALGORITHM
Voice search SEO requires optimizing for the right keywords. This includes optimizing your site for words that your audience will verbally use in voice search even when they use slang words that are popular within the region or business. Google says that their algorithm detects when a query is a question and tries to find pages in the index that answer the question being asked. The algorithm then displays a top result as the featured snippet.
While it’s not up to you as an individual to make any of your pages a featured snippet, Google determines what featured snippets are allowed for each query. You can only increase your chances of having a featured snippet by optimizing your pages.
Voice Search algorithm uses data and location analysis to understand search context. Therefore SEO’s must dig deeper to understand the consumer and their behavior to be able to isolate how different people use their various voice-enabled features and devices. It is equally important to create webpages with headlines that ask common questions, and thereafter, provide answers to the questions while using the rest of the page to elaborate further on the topic.
Your content should be compelling enough to answer most common questions and solve consumer pain-points. Therefore, you need to optimize your page to deliver information quickly. Since users conduct voice searches to get quick answers to their queries, it means you must structure your content to make it easy for Google to pull out the information as quickly as possible.
Creating bulleted lists can make it easier for Google to pull out the information from your content while responding to a searcher’s question. In that case, you’ll need to include only the most important information first to answer a query. In addition, you’ll also want to consider slang. If you realize there are certain slangs that people use to search for information surrounding your business, it would be imperative to use that slang to help direct leads to your page.
Search Engine Optimization for YouTube is a niche type of optimization that can make a big difference in how much traffic that is attracted to your website. YouTube has grown to become one of the world’s most popular search engines. Right now, ranking for a popular YouTube search is becoming a gold mine.
Optimizing your content for YouTube works the same way as it does for other search engines and would require the following;
- Great quality video content that is relevant to target and specific audience is a prerequisite.
- Engaging video that is able to create such emotional connection with your audience is necessary to foster engagement.
- Consistent content that is rising above the noise of a crowded marketplace.
- Accessible;- Whether you’re publishing support content on a dedicated portal, or making marketing content available on your website, you want your most relevant content to appear at the top of people’s search results. You can do this by focusing on creating high-quality content that includes appropriate keywords in appropriate places
- Video titles and meta descriptions should be descriptive, much like your page titles and introductions on text-based pages.
- A longer, keyword-rich description will help Google figure out what your video is about.
- Relevant keyword tags would be necessary help to boost your ranking..
The most common videos are the How-tos, reviews, and tutorials. Getting your videos ranked for these types of searches will have a huge effect on your video views.
How is SEO Fundamental to Marketing
Being such an integral and indispensable part of digital marketing, the importance of SEO to digital marketing cannot be over-emphasized; and it includes the following;
BRAND AWARENESS AND VISIBILITY
- SEO has given both users and marketers direct answers and information that is more likely to keep them on the results pages instead of driving them to other websites.
- A lot of customers won’t buy things from businesses they do not trust, and they will rely on services like Google to show them the best of the bunch. This means that businesses which are unable to appear on the first page of search results may seem to be less trustworthy. Companies that are visible in organic enjoy a greater level of trust and therefore stand a higher chance of convincing customers to purchase from them.
- It is true that social media, paid advertising and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines as organic results. Statistics have proven that organic results appear more credible to highbrow searchers and garner even more clicks than paid ads. For example, of all US searches, only ~2.8% of people click on paid ads.
- Whereas paid advertising would continually need to be funded to keep sending traffic to the site, SEO remains the only online marketing channels that, when set up correctly, can continue to pay dividends till infinity. If your piece of content is solid and ranks for the right keywords, your traffic can flow endlessly.
- Every year, billions of searches are conducted on search engines either with commercial intent, or to find information about products and services. Search is often the primary source of digital traffic for brands and complements other marketing channels. It is therefore a critical component of the buyer funnel that is ultimately getting users to complete a conversion or engagement. In a nutshell: SEO has ~20X more traffic opportunities than PPC on both mobile and desktop.
- Search Engine Optimization guarantees greater visibility and ranking in search results over your competition and this also translates to a positive material impact to your business in the long run.
- SEO establishes a strong foundation for a beautiful website with a clean, effective user experience that is easily discoverable in search and this enhances trust and credibility of the brand and its digital properties.
- BUSINESS GROWTH
- As mobile traffic continues to grow, Local SEO has become a fundamental part of the success recorded by small- and medium-sized businesses.
- The use of SEO tactics to relay brand messaging for groundbreaking products and services is a game changer that will impact the buying cycle in a positive way when done right.
- High-quality SEO is, and will always be a means for brands to discover and leverage new opportunities, not only to be discovered, but also to shine, thus taking its rightful position as a fundamental channel to digital marketing.
As we have discussed above, SEO has two main goals. The first is to help you understand what users are searching for online so that you can create high-quality content to satisfy their intent. The second is to help you create a website that search engines can find, index, and understand its content. The most important SEO tasks therefore have to do with:
- Identifying what users are searching for that is related to your products and services
- Creating content around those search words that will identify with the searchers’ intent.
- Providing the right signals to search engine crawlers and algorithms through various SEO techniques.
If you would want to learn about Search Engine Optimization via courses and training, visit www.thedigitalmarketinginstitute.org. You’ll be given the option to choose from the “Learning leaf” to get hands-on with SEO, from the basics to the advanced on-page tactics. Then, you’ll be able to unleash the power of SEO on your web marketing campaigns.