WHAT IS SEO
Search engine optimization is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. SEO targets unpaid traffic rather than direct traffic or paid traffic.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” In simple terms, it means the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business.
How does SEO work?
Search engines such as Google and Bing use bots to crawl pages on the web, going from site to site, collecting information about those pages and putting them in an index. Think of the index like a giant library where a librarian can pull up a book (or a web page) to help you find exactly what you’re looking for at the time.
Next, algorithms analyze pages in the index, taking into account hundreds of ranking factors or signals, to determine the order pages should appear in the search results for a given query. In our library analogy, the librarian has read every single book in the library and can tell you exactly which one will have the answers to your questions.
Our SEO success factors can be considered proxies for aspects of the user experience. It’s how search bots estimate exactly how well a website or web page can give the searcher what they’re searching for.
Unlike paid search ads, you can’t pay search engines to get higher organic search rankings, which means SEO experts have to put in the work. That’s where we come in.
Our Periodic Table of SEO Factors organizes the factors into six main categories and weights each based on its overall importance to SEO. For example, content quality and keyword research are key factors of content optimization, and crawlability and speed are important site architecture factors.
The newly updated SEO Periodic Table also includes a list of Toxins that detract from SEO best practices. These are shortcuts or tricks that may have been sufficient to guarantee a high ranking back in the day when the engines’ methods were much less sophisticated. And, they might even work for a short time now — at least until you’re caught.
We’ve also got a brand new Niches section that deep-dives into the SEO success factors behind three key niches: Local SEO, News/Publishing, and Ecommerce SEO. While our overall SEO Periodic Table will help you with the best practices, knowing the nuances of SEO for each of these Niches can help you succeed in search results for your small business, recipe blog, and/or online store.
The search algorithms are designed to surface relevant, authoritative pages and provide users with an efficient search experience. Optimizing your site and content with these factors in mind can help your pages rank higher in the search results.
Similarities between paid and organic search
It’s not all about differences – there are also similarities between paid and organic search:
- Keyword research: You use a search engine for both paid and organic search, and both require a user to enter a keyword. So you need to do keyword research for organic search and paid search.
- Landing pages: Both types of search require you to create landing pages. For SEO, the landing page needs to be connected to your website. For paid search, it can be the exact same landing page you use for organic, or it can be a completely separate stand-alone page that sits off your website.
- Traffic: Generating traffic is a major goal of both paid and organic search. Most importantly, both paid and organic search traffic includes user intent. That is, someone is asking Google a question or searching for information – they are in an active mindset and as a result they are more likely to take action once they find this information.
Differences between paid and organic search
From the outset, it’s important that you understand the differences between the organic, natural search synonymous with SEO and paid search. There are five key differences:
The first difference is that paid search results appear at the top of search engine results pages, and organic results appear beneath them.
Another key difference between paid and organic search is time. With paid search, you get near instant results, sometimes in minutes; whereas, with organic search, results take more time – often weeks, months, and even years. So you have to play the medium to long-term game with organic search.
When it comes to paying, well, as the name suggests, with paid search traffic is paid. You pay-per-click (PPC) on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. What that means is, you pay a fee every time a user clicks on your ad. So instead of relying on organic traffic to your website, you buy traffic for your page by paying Google to show your ad when your visitor does a search for your keyword. For organic search, traffic is free, although it does require an investment of both resources and time.
In terms of the return on investment or ROI, it’s actually much easier to measure with paid search. That’s partly because Google provides more keyword data that you can capture in Google Analytics. However, with paid search, ROI can stagnate or decline over time. With organic search, ROI is a little bit harder to measure, but it often improves over time. Over the long term, organic search can offer a very good return on investment.
Share of traffic
When it comes to the share of traffic, roughly 20% to 30% of searchers click on paid results, and 70% to 80% of searchers click on SEO results. So the lion’s share of clicks are actually on the organic results.
The three pillars of SEO
As a digital marketer, knowing how to get your brand, website, or company found by searchers is a core skill, and understanding how SEO is evolving will keep you at the top of your game. While SEO changes frequently in small ways, its key principles do not. We can break SEO into three core components or pillars that you need to be familiar with – and action regularly:
- Technical Optimization: Technical Optimization is the process of completing activities on your site that are designed to improve SEO but are not related to content. It often happens behind the scenes.
- On-Page Optimization: On-Page Optimization is the process of ensuring the content on your site is relevant and provides a great user experience. It includes targeting the right keywords within your content and can be done through a content management system. Common examples of content management systems include WordPress, Wix, Drupal, Joomla, Magento, Shopify, and Expression Engine.
- Off-Page Optimization: Off-Page Optimization is the process of enhancing your site’s search engine rankings through activities outside of the site. This is largely driven by backlinks, which help to build the site’s reputation.
Seo Writing Tips to Make Your Content Go Further
1. Write for your audience first
This SEO content writing tip is number one for a reason. It seems easy enough, yet so many companies make content for all the wrong reasons. Write content that appeals to the interests of your target market or answers their questions. Not all posts need to be about your product or service, but they all should be industry related. Assert yourself and your company as an expert in your industry by writing SEO-friendly content that is interesting and informative, and do it better than your competition.
2. Keep it all under the same roof
Get the credit and traffic your website deserves by keeping your original content under your own domain name. That means if you have a blog opt out of hosting with WordPress or Blogger and host the blog in a subfolder on your own domain (ie: www.example.com/blog ). Any time you have an opportunity to showcase other forms of original content like videos, infographics or whitepapers, make sure to also embed them onto your website as well and share from there.
3. Make headlines that pack a punch
You have a very short amount of text to make a very big impression. So don’t underestimate the power of an effective headline on SEO! Write headlines that are clear, interesting and make use of rich keywords. In addition to a great headline, also make sure your meta descriptions are interesting and further elaborate on the topic of your article. Keep in mind that your title and meta description are what show up in the search results, so make them count!
4. Use keyword-rich phrases
Use relevant, keyword rich phrases in your headlines as well as throughout your content to let both your readers and the search engines know what your post is about. But beware, too many keywords will not only turn off your readers but can result in search engine penalties for keyword stuffing. Use keywords thoughtfully and sparingly, sticking to a more natural feel. In addition to using keywords throughout the body of your post, take advantage blog tags by tagging a few relevant keywords for each post; most general blogs have tagging capabilities already built in.
5. Structure your posts
The contents of your post may be great but can be easily lost in an unorganized, inefficient format. Breaking your content up into smaller paragraphs with headlines makes for an easy read that will keep your readers engaged. For the search engines, back-end organization is key too. Using proper tag hierarchy when tagging headlines (H1 for titles, H2 for subtitles) is important to maintain a well-structured article.
6. Incorporate imagery
Make your posts pop with images! People are visual. Adding an image along with your blog post can make a big impression. Have a Pinterest account? In addition to promoting your blogs across your other social media channels, posts with images can also be pinned, adding another avenue for traffic to your website.
7. Propel content with social media
Social media is a powerful tool that can help increase the reach of your content and promote sharing. Post each new article on social media sites and in forums, using engaging descriptions and a call-to-action. Since the power of social media lies in sharing, it’s also important to have share buttons on each of your blog posts. If you want more control of how your links appear when they’re shared, implementing Twitter Cards for Twitter or Open Graph for Facebook (technical) can give your shared links a boost, and may help your click-through rates.
8. Implement Google Authorship
Google Authorship is a quick and easy way to tie content to a certain author, all you need is a Google+ account. As a result, your articles come up as rich snippets in the search results featuring the author’s photo along with the article title. Google Authorship is great for personal promotion, but can also increase the click through rate to your articles. If you’re an author, learn how to set up Authorship for your website.
9. Promote natural link building
Link building has come a long way since the days of link buying and link farms, but links are still an important ranking factor for SEO. Linking to your own articles or website in your post ensures a link back to your website if your article is picked up by another site. If you get creative with other types of content like infographics and videos, adding an embed code on your site helps to promote content sharing and also adds a link back to the original source. Creating great SEO content helps increase the shareability and the likelihood that other websites will link to it, so aim for quality!
10. Monitor your activity
Stay on top of your SEO friendly content by monitoring your efforts. Google Analytics is an easy and free way to track your page views and the average time spent on a page. Check things like your bounce rate and time on site to get an idea of how users interact with your website after landing on your content. If you see a high drop off in addition to a low average time spent on the page, that’s an indication that your content wasn’t relevant to what they were looking for, or worse, wasn’t interesting. Also, take a look at the number of social interactions (shares, likes, etc ) to get an idea of the virality of your post. Just looking at these simple metrics can give you a good idea of which content pieces are well-received and liked so that you can replicate that type of content down the road.
Both SEO and content writing are important pieces to the puzzle, so it’s important to use quality techniques for both to ensure higher traffic and engagement on your website. If you have any questions about SEO, content or how they work together, feel free to contact us for more SEO writing tips!
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