Over the last few years, marketing has expanded in all directions to become a broad field that relies on multiple different strategies. What once used to be a field dominated by billboard advertising pieces has now transformed into a field that contains many variables. Current strategies reflect different niches.
A restaurant or small business will likely benefit from a boost in online visibility, whereas, a larger brick-and-mortar corporation such as McDonald’s or Walmart will still benefit from paid media such as tv ads, billboards, social media advertisements.
Regardless of strategy, marketing is a completely different world than it was a few years ago. With information being so easily accessible online, marketers have been tasked with finding a balance between creative and technical skills.
How SEO Can Help With Your Website
With the number of online users constantly growing, establishing a brand can be the most effective way to attract somebody’s attention. Creating an online brand and voice can not be achieved without prioritizing an SEO strategy.
Establishing a voice is not an easy task, and with others fighting to do the same thing, it can be easy to think your voice is drowned out. But through consistency and expertise, you can establish a brand and a voice. To do this, you’ll need to build out a comprehensive website that emphasizes your specialties through written content.
Having content on your website can take on many different sizes and forms; ranging from videos to blogs to sometimes even podcasts. Using content not only establishes a voice but it also can be used to prove to search engines that you’re a reliable source of information. This can be seen as building trust with search engines and building trust is exactly the goal of SEO since the more trust you build, the more traffic you’ll receive.
By building out content; depending on your niche, you’ll be proving to your readers (and search engines) that you’re a reliable source of information. As an example, Google values (although doesn’t rank) a metric called E.A.T.
- Expertise – The value your content provides
- Authority – The domain authority of your website (I’ll explain this more below)
- Trustworthiness – Is your content consistent in its expertise
Meaning that Google will evaluate your site depending on these three metrics. If Google believes your site’s content matches well with E.A.T, they’ll likely prefer your website over others leading to more qualified traffic.
What Exactly is SEO?
So what exactly is SEO? SEO also known as search engine optimization, is a fast-growing marketing tactic that has been widely adopted in recent years. Search engine optimization is a strategy where you optimize your site based on what search engines and searchers are looking for.
There are three different types of SEO, all reflecting an overall effort to boost rankings on search engines and driving qualified traffic (potential leads) to your website. Whether it be eCommerce or brick-and-mortar, SEO is generally the right tool to help boost your online visibility.
So what are some of the techniques that make up SEO? Let’s discuss more below.
Starting with the basics, on-page SEO refers to any optimization or fixes that takes place directly on your website. On-page SEO is made up of a few components so I’ll explain them each in detail below.
First we’ll start with content structure. This seems like an obvious fix given that content should always prioritize the user, not the search engine. With that being said, it’s still very important to structure your content to make it easier to crawl by search engines. Content structure can be formed by setting your page headers (H1, H2, and H3s.) This format helps crawlers (search engine bots that help determine what your page is about) understand the progression of your content and allows for an easier reading experience. Think of page headers as an outline to an essay.
More importantly, having more of these headers (along with more content) will lead to more ranking opportunities, as search engines are able to clearly determine what your content is about based on the HTML headings you provide.
As I mentioned, search engines will almost always reward websites that value user experience over search engine experience so make sure you’re always focusing on unique and helpful content.
Next, we have meta tags. Meta tags consist of two items, meta description and title tags. You won’t be able to see any of these tags as they’re built into the code of your website. This allows search engine crawlers to get a quick glance at your website before they crawl it.
If you’re using WordPress, there’s a plugin called YoastSEO, which will provide you with these boxes automatically so there won’t be any coding necessary. Yoast will also you provide with an on-page SEO checklist that’ll help your page (and website) perform better.
These meta tags are shown as a snippet whenever a user performs a search inquiry. Normally, when performing a search, we see the title (what the page is and the brand name), the URL structure, and a mini call to action at the bottom of the URL. The meta description, which is the call to action, is shown as a way to entice users to click on your link and visit your page.
This one is fairly simple, but one of the more overlooked aspects when performing on-page SEO is leaving the URL (also known as the slug) untouched. When building out a page or blog post, your URL will automatically generate from your title.
It’s always good practice to shorten your URL to take out stop words (“and, how, but”) and have the remaining words being your target keywords. Leaving a URL can negatively affect your SEO since URL length can affect page speed, which is now a ranking factor according to Google. So in this instance, the shorter the better.
Internal linking is an absolutely crucial element of optimizing your page. Any area of your website can be and should be linked to. This helps drive traffic to other areas of your website while guiding crawlers.
Often, search engine crawlers miss out on pieces of content on your website, so by adding a link to another page on your website, you’re telling these crawlers that this page is important and relevant. Search engines will actually penalize you for random linking so always make sure your linking text is relevant to the page you’re driving traffic towards.
Another overlooked element of on-page SEO is adding (and optimizing) images. This once again seems very obvious, but it’s especially important to highlight that you’re prioritizing user experience.
This doesn’t even have to be just images, this can be in the form of videos, infographics, or audio. Either way, this will not only show that you care about your users, but you’ll also receive another ranking opportunity through the item’s alt text.
Basically, alt text is a way to describe the image to users and search engine crawlers so they visualize what this piece of content is about.
Either way, whether you’re creating content, or just updating a certain page on your website, you’ll need to keep these few items in mind to help increase traffic and drive up rankings.
Here’s the real fun part of SEO….off-page SEO. That’s right, instead of working directly on your website, we’re going to venture off into the vast web to help build out your name and/or brand.
Let’s start with the basics. Link building is one of the most effective strategies within SEO. Having more links directed to your site – also known as backlinks – establishes authority (also known as domain authority or DA for short) and proves to search engines that you’re trustworthy.
A site linking out, whether it’s based on a statistic or quote, acts as a vote of confidence from one website to another. Link-building can be a very time-consuming process and takes weeks before you actually start to see results. The results however will prove themselves since search engines typically rely on and drive traffic to sites that have a higher domain authority. Meaning you’ll have a greater chance of being placed higher to a user search query when it’s relevant to your content.
Your content efforts will also be more effective as they have a far better chance of receiving traffic than a website with a lower domain authority. Essentially a higher DA will almost always lead to an increase in traffic.
Obviously, your content will still need to be optimized to match user intent, but having a high DA is another tool to leverage your content/site against the competition.
However, when undergoing a link building push, you’ll need to understand that there are two different types of links you’ll receive:
These types of links determine whether you are going to receive any “link juice” when another site links to your site. Do-Follow are the most appealing links as they are the ones that determine authority. Whereas, No-Follow do not contain any authority and doesn’t do anything for SEO but still link to your site.
You’re probably wondering why you would ever go after no-follow links then. We’ll the reason to target these links is because they still refer traffic. Even though your domain authority is barely benefiting from these types of links, you’re still having traffic directed right to your site. Sometimes even qualified traffic. Even though the user might not actually buy anything or contact you, they at least become aware of your brand and can possibly become potential clients in the future.
Having a Google Analytics and Google Search Console property connected to your website is absolutely crucial in tracking website traffic coming to your site. It will give a complete look at who’s visiting your site, why they’re visiting your site, how they’re visiting your site, and what they’re visiting. So having these tools available will give you metrics on your current SEO strategies, including link-building.
It’s almost important to note that there are two different methods of receiving backlinks. One is whitehat and the other is blackhat. Blackhat is a looked down upon method, where you are unorganically receiving links to your website as a means to manipulate a search engines crawling algorithm. This can be through paid links (very much against Google’s guidelines) or spammy links.
The way to avoid this is to always focus on whitehat methods. Which are natural ways to link build such as guest posting, directory building, PR, etc. When it comes to link building, quality will always beat quantity
Next up, we have Local SEO. Obviously, this applies more for businesses that provide a local service. Still, it’s smart to optimize your site so that you can target your geographical area. Local SEO is basically a separate strategy from regular SEO given that there are many elements involved in it. There’s a few to keep in mind so I’ll explain them more below:
Even More On-Page SEO
That’s right, you guessed it! Even more On-page SEO. While this seems similar to what I mentioned above, this process involves more geographic targeting while optimizing for your keywords.
This form of SEO still involves using content like utilizing tools such as headings, and meta tags, and body text to target an area. For business owners that have a physical location, on-page SEO is perfect for telling search engines through your content where you’re located and the services you provide.
Optimizing Your Google My Business
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the most neglected forms of SEO. While this does fall under the off-page SEO category, it’s still crucial to build out your presence on Google maps. Having a fully built out profile will boost your chances of appearing in a search, and more importantly, it will help increase your chances of being featured in the local three-pack.
The three-pack (listed below) is a set of three businesses that is selected by Google to give the searcher the best possible match for their query.
It’s very difficult to get yourself ranked within this three-pack, but you can increase your chances by having a fully built out, comprehensive profile, that illustrates all areas of your business.
Even if you aren’t able to break into the three-pack, you still need to have your Google My Business profile built out to make your business more visible. That will bring me to my next point.
Reviews are the single most important element of local SEO. These efforts are all for nothing if you aren’t reaching out for reviews. Reviews, like backlinks, are a vote of confidence. Instead of proving your authority and trustworthiness to search engines, you’re now proving that to potential clients.
According to a study done by BrightLocal, over 85% of customers will look at a review of a local business before making a decision. That can be anything ranging from restaurants, mechanics, roofers, lawyers, or plumbers. Whatever it may be, it’s still important to increase visibility so you can guide potential customers in your area towards your business.
Reviews will also help your business by influencing a customers buying decision. What are you more likely to choose? A restaurant with 4.8 stars and only 5 reviews or a restaurant with 4.5 stars but over 100+ reviews? This is very important when it comes down to making a decision since a buyer will always trust your critic’s words a lot more than your own. So by having more reviews advocating for your business, you’re indirectly allowing yourself to build trust with a potential customer.
While the amount of reviews you have don’t help with SEO, it’s still a strategy that will help boost your overall digital presence on Google Maps and help potential customers/clients find your business.
This strategy can also fall under the category of link building, but it’s still important to have in any local SEO strategy. Having well-rounded directory profiles will not only help with your sites domain authority, but it will also increase your lead funnel, allowing for more opportunities to be directed your way.
How SEO Marketing Can Help With Your Business
SEO marketers will come prepared with an array of tools, but if you are interested in boosting your online visibility in your area, it’s important to either apply these tips or hire a digital marketer who can assist you with your marketing goals. If you’re interested in learning more about this field, feel free to contact me. I find the world of SEO fascinating and I always love explaining SEO (and other digital marketing strategies) to whoever’s willing to listen. Cheers!