Search engine optimization is hardly a new concept, but people still struggle with mastering it. Since Google defined how search terms work and developed algorithms to crawl websites, organizations have sought to score that elusive digital real estate: the top ranking in Google Search.
But for many, the journey to rank on Google is one full of frustrations, missed opportunities, and failures. For all the strategies, schemes, and attempts to get a foothold in search engine results pages (SERPs), some groups find themselves unable to reach the pinnacle of digital organic success.
For most of those organizations, it’s a lack of understanding of how search engine optimization works, of how to target strategies properly, or just an inability, either through workforce numbers, funding, or the tools necessary to follow through. But no matter the situation, most organizations can find traction and improvement just by focusing on the basics.
How does Search Engine Optimization (SEO) impact leads and conversions?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process and techniques associated with adjusting the content and structure of a website so that it displays prominently on search engine results pages.
SEO is a proven technique used to drive high quality traffic, and it’s one that all companies should employ as part of their overall digital marketing strategy. SEO is how search engines rank your website, which directly correlates to how much traffic you generate and ties into your content marketing strategy.
In short, your search rankings affect where your content ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs). Research shows that the vast majority of clicks from Google come from the first few entries of a SERP, so ranking at or near the top for as many of your target keywords as possible can increase your traffic significantly.
Creating a Successful SEO Strategy
A successful SEO strategy starts with scale. If you’re a smaller business that hasn’t invested in SEO, small wins can be significant. Of course, as your organization grows, so too do expectations, and the work necessary to keep up with your competitors.
As you begin an SEO strategy, or retool an underperforming one, don’t forget that at its core, SEO is about knowing what your audience needs, then telling them in the best possible way how your organization can help meet them. SEO ensures your audience finds your content so you can deliver this message, and establishes your organization’s authority and expertise, highlighting how you solve problems for your clients. You accomplish this by doing keyword research, then using those keywords to create good content that your audience can find.
Defining keywords is the baseline activity for generating SEO traffic. Knowing which words and phrases users are searching for informs you more than anything on how to target your customers. You need to choose keywords that are thoroughly researched, relevant to your audience, and represent high search volume.
In addition, targeting longtail keywords and phrases, are often more valuable for sales than high-volume phrases. You should also target longer key phrases, which are often further into the decision-making process and grab potential customers who are deeper in the sales funnel.
Another key aspect of identifying which keywords to target is search intent. Search intent is the purpose behind the user’s online search–what are users looking for when they make a Google search? When someone searches a given keyword, what is the user looking for to answer the question they have? Matching your keywords with the intent you are trying to meet is crucial to driving quality traffic to your website.
What keywords should I target?
There are many strategies for developing keywords. It would be easy to say there isn’t a wrong way to come up with your keywords, but there certainly is. It’s better to say there are a lot of ways to arrive at the right place, keyword-wise.
Some organizations play the guessing game, sitting around and brainstorming keywords without doing the appropriate research. This is a recipe for failure, and is unnecessary given the number of agencies and tools available to most companies.
Start with doing a keyword audit of your website to learn which keywords you use most. Then do an audit of your competitors, and maybe a site where you hope your company will be down the road. This will help you develop a baseline list of keywords to target, and maybe some inspirations for keywords you can really hope to rank for, and give you a model of where you want your company to be eventually. You should target specific long-tail keywords and a longer list of secondary or tertiary keywords that help you build relevance and authority over time.
The internet has tons of great keyword research tools you can use to build out your list of keywords. You can find everything from free tools to get started to paid subscriptions that include content editors, keyword audit software, and other tools to help you succeed.
Here are some tools you can use to identify and build out keyword lists:
Consistently publishing content to your website is key to driving engagement and growth. What exactly is content? In terms of your SEO work, content is any information that appears and can be consumed on the web. It is intended to inform, persuade, or entertain the consumer. Examples of SEO content include:
- Web pages
- How-to guides
- Social media posts
Publishing content is an opportunity to build relationships with potential customers by providing them something that is of value to them. This creates trust between potential customers and your brand, making them more likely to refer back to your site and eventually convert.
But how often should you publish new content? The number of posts, or which types of content you should publish varies depending on the company, the needs of your audience, and the competitiveness of your keywords. Some organizations can post a couple of times a month, others need to post weekly, or even more. A good benchmark would be to look at your competitors in the industry, and adjust your strategy to match or exceed their output. But don’t value quantity over quality. Three strong, well-researched and written, keyword-rich blog posts monthly will impact SEO more than 10 slapdash, poor-quality blogs.
Content creation is also a strategy to become a thought leader in your industry. Building your business’s authority on a given topic establishes you as a go-to source of valuable information for the companies and individuals who can become your clients.
Create Carefully Crafted Content
One of the biggest SEO mistakes organizations make is deciding on a topic, then leaping into content creation, approving, and posting without considering several important steps, including many mentioned here. If you’re going to take the time to represent your company with content available to the masses, you might as well put the effort and time required to make good content.
In the rush of producing content, we sometimes lose sight of the true goal of publishing content, which is to educate our potential customer base. Just “getting something out there” isn’t good enough; it very likely will not find an audience, will not be worth reading, and almost certainly won’t have any real SEO value. Instead, gather and use tools available to your organization to create worthwhile content and maximize your ROI every time you put effort into content creation.
Here are a few things to consider when approaching content creation for your site:
- Provide valuable information. What are the questions your target audience is asking and how can you answer them?
- Find an original angle. What are the gaps in competitors’ content that you can fill?
- Keep the consumer’s attention. Be concise while covering all the necessary information.
- Stay updated. Content needs to be relevant in order to rank, so update accordingly.
Technical SEO refers to technical optimizations that improve your user experience and site indexing. Technical issues such as slow page speeds, improper redirects, and duplicate content can turn off visitors, causing them to leave your site before they even load your main page, and can negatively impact your SEO rankings.
In addition, if Google has difficulties crawling your site efficiently, it can harm your search rankings. Eliminating these problems improves your content’s chances to rank. Running a site audit can help you identify and target the most critical technical SEO issues facing your site.
7 Simple SEO Tips to Improve Your Search Rankings
Yes, SEO can be a lot of work. But there are simple steps you can take to build organic search rankings with a minimum of work.
1. Set an Organic Search Baseline
Determine just how visible your website is now to help measure growth. There are a variety of tools available to you to give you an overview of your organic and paid traffic and compare your online presence to your competition, helping you develop KPIs, metrics, benchmarks, and goals for increasing your visibility.
2. Use Related Keywords
When developing your keywords, don’t forget to research keywords related to the main one. This helps you create a spiderweb-type effect that allows you to rank higher for more keywords, creates additional opportunities for link building, and improves your search rankings.
3. Populate Metadata
Metadata fields are extra keyword opportunities. Be sure your meta descriptions are thoughtfully filled out with your main keywords. And don’t forget alt text and meta descriptions in your images!
4. Don’t Forget Images and Video
Images, graphics, and video content are all key to building authority and trust in your content, making it more visually appealing, and impacting your SEO efforts greatly. Alt text and meta descriptions are additional locations for keywords, and Google will reward your efforts in adding multimedia.
5. Optimize Your Content
Content optimization means a lot of things, and you may not be able to do them all at first, but you should make it your goal (and your priority) to make as many best practices as possible new procedures. This means things like:
- Implementing related keywords
- Ensuring you have H1 and H2 headings, and those headings contain your main keywords
- Having at least one piece of “rich” content, like images, graphics, or video
- Ensure keywords are integrated into content naturally and at the proper density
- Use title tags and meta descriptions, and include primary keywords
- Use your content management system’s optimization plugins
Pro tip: Indexing your content using XML sitemaps or other webmaster tools will improve your SEO.
6. Create a Network of Links
Linking to your own web pages is vital to building SEO, as is getting others to link to yours. Be sure to share your content on social media, and create a network of links within your content to the rest of your content. Make it easy for others to link to and share your content.
7. Fix Errors
Old, broken links, 404s, outdated information, slow load speeds, and other errors can hurt your search rankings. Be sure to browse your site frequently and make sure those minor, correctable errors are eliminated.
Ready to Boost Your SEO Rankings & Get Found?
Ranking on search engines is certainly within reach for a lot of companies, but it requires an investment of time and money. As you decide to make an investment in stronger SEO, you can maximize the benefits by calling in experts to help. If you want to build your SEO, improve search engine rankings, and see your investment in SEO pay off, contact the SEO experts at FoundSM.