Search Engine Optimization

What Is SEO? Definition, Advantages, and Examples

December 2021

SEO is an essential marketing technique that is focused on bringing organic, non-paid traffic to your website by using high quality content to get to the top of a search engine results page. 

 

Reaping the benefits of your SEO labor may be a bit of a slow process at first, but once you’ve managed to achieve some results, your success will build upon itself. 

 

In this article we’ll give an in depth explanation of everything you need to know about SEO, from what it is, to how it works and the major pillars of SEO. Let’s get started!

* Do you want to boost your website's positioning on Google? We're sharing 10  keys to improving SEO ranking in our FREE ebook! Download it here.

SEO marketing

 

What Is SEO and How Can It Increase Your Website Traffic?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a marketing technique focused on optimizing your website to get it to rank as the number one result on search engine results pages. Through a number of tactics and tools, you can organize your website in a way that search engines understand and choose to show to their users.

 

Think of SEO as both an art and a science. It combines the creativity and ability to create high-quality, engaging content that users value, with a strong understanding of analytics and of your prospective customers. 

 

It's important to remember that SEO is only focused on organic ranking. You can not pay to rank higher with SEO. The only way to rank higher on SEO is to ensure you're satisfying the search engine’s requirements. 

 

SEO For Beginners: The Basics of Search Engine Optimization

 

Benefits of SEO

A strong SEO strategy can bring a number of different benefits to your business’s online presence and to your marketing strategy overall. These benefits can include the following:

  • Increased visibility and traffic to your website: The higher your website pages rank on Google, the more traffic you’ll get.
  • Improved website quality: As its full name implies, there are a number ways you must optimize your website to get it to meet Google’s high standards. By doing this, you’ll improve your website in the process.
  • Build consumer trust: Search engine users naturally trust websites that ranked at the top as there is a sense that Google has “vetted” the pages that appear.
  • Establish your brand as an authority in your field: SEO involves a lot content creation, like blog writing. Naturally, the more your write about a topic, the more people will turn to you as a valued source of information (but only if the content is high-quality, you can’t cheat with SEO.)
  • Long-term technique: SEO may be a bit of a slower, long-term marketing strategy but, once gets going, it only grows. SEO is a long-term strategy that builds upon itself overtime and becomes more effective.

 

A Guide to the Types of SEO

There are actually many different kinds of SEO. However, in terms of SEO activities, the two main types are on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

 

On-page SEO refers to actions that you conduct on your own website to contribute to its ranking. This include content creation, the use of keywords, the proper use of headings, meta descriptions, and URLs.

 

Off-page SEO refers to actions that you can take outside of your own website to boost its ranking, like link building or guest blogging.

 

There are also two styles of SEO: White Hat and Black Hat SEO. White hat SEO is based on using ethical, transparent techniques to build your pages’ rankings. Essentially white hat SEO is following and respecting Google and other search engine’s rules regarding website and position optimization. 

 

On the other hand, black hat SEO uses questionable techniques to trick the search engines into quickly raising your site's ranking. While Black Hat SEO may work in the short-term, it does more damage to your website over time and search engines will penalize you for it. 

 

SEO vs Content Marketing vs Inbound Marketing

When you’re first getting started in the world of SEO, content marketing, and inbound marketing it can be difficult to distinguish between these strategies. They all involve some content creation, keyword research, and utilize similar metrics, but they are three distinct concepts that build upon each other. 

 

Let’s start with content marketing. This strategy is focused on creating and distributing relevant and valuable content that attracts and retains users’ attention, with the aim of driving them to be future customers. Content marketing encompasses a variety of methods like blog writing, video marketing, social media, and sometimes native advertising. But, content isn’t always enough to drive users to your website or convert them into customers.

 

This is where SEO comes in. SEO is focused on boosting the organic ranking of a website on Google using different techniques, one of which is content marketing. Bringing customers to your website is crucial to getting them to convert, but once they’re there what’s next?

 

The answer is inbound marketing. This non-invasive marketing technique seeks to both attract, retain, and convert customers using a combination of many different marketing techniques, such as content, SEO, marketing automation, and lead nurturing.

 

 

Understanding Search Engines

Before we really dive deep into what SEO is and how it works, it's important to first understand how search engines work and how they determine what to rank. Here are some key stats from SEM Rush:

  • “In English, worldwide, 88% of searches on desktop are on Google. On mobile, that figure is a whopping 96%. Bing and Yahoo combined account for 1.5% of searches on mobile and 8% of searches on desktop.”

This means ranking on the other search engines can be important, but Google will always be the main focus.

 

So, how does Google decide what to rank and how? When Google detects new content, it does 3 important things crawl, index, and rank. Let’s review what this means.

 

Crawling

Crawling refers to when Google’s “spider” analyzes your page to assess what your content offers. Spiders are especially drawn to new content, which is why it's important to consistently be updating your website and blog. 

 

Links are crucial for crawling because it is how the spider arrives at your webpage. It navigates your website using your internal linking structure. This is why you always want to link to other articles in your blog content and why pillar pages are so important. You can also submit your sitemap to Google to get it crawled. 

 

Indexing 

After Google has crawled your website, it will Index it. Indexing is Google’s way of understanding and organizing a webpage. It stores information about the content, images, videos, keywords, etc. It will use all of this information to determine how to rank your web page in its search results. 

 

Ranking

After crawling (analyzing) and indexing (storing info) your website, Google uses this info to rank your website when someone makes a search. 

 

It also takes in other ranking factors like location, language, device, load times, site trustworthiness, content, keywords, etc. No one knows exactly how Google decides to rank their results, but there are over a 100 different factors being considered. 

 

The most important thing we know is that Google is looking to rank based on the user’s search intent. This means that while keywords are important, matching the intent of a user’s search is more important than using a certain keyword x amount of times. 

 

The 3 Pillars of an SEO Strategy

There are many different ways you can orient your SEO strategy. At Cyberclick, we’ve identified 3 pillars that make for a strong SEO strategy: keywords, content, and website optimization.

 

Let's take a closer look at these three pillars and at how you can incorporate them into your SEO strategy. 

 

Keywords

Keywords are all of the possible search engine queries which may be relevant to your business and your customers. These are a pillar of SEO because they are one of the easiest ways to decide what content to create to attract users. 

 

By understanding keywords and key themes, you will know the best words or phrases to use in order to help users find your content and your website. You can find the right keywords to use by creating buyer personas and conducting keyword research

 

Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a semi-fictitious representation of your ideal customer. In order to conduct proper keyword research, you must first understand your buyer personas.

 

This will allow you to brainstorm words and phrases that relate to your buyer persona's needs, interests, pain points, concerns, and questions about a topic. This will directly inform your keyword research and thus your content. 

 

 

You must take into account what types of searches your buyer persona is making and what content they are interested in. Based on that, you can brainstorm a variety of related keywords and themes. Then, you can use a keyword tool to see which words are viable and relevant.

 

Keyword Research

Using tools like SEMRush and Google Keyword Planner, you can analyze different keywords and determine whether they are a good fit for your brand and buyer personas. 

 

To determine what themes and words would work well, pay attention to the following factors when analyzing keywords.

  • Keyword search volume: It's important to ensure that people are actually searching for the words you have in mind. If the keywords have a very low search volume, then you may have to think of new phrases or topics of interest. 
  • Difficulty level: You need to look for keywords that have a high enough search volume but are not yet widely used by other brands or sites. Look for words with low difficulty levels or competition, but high search volumes. These are the ideal keywords to use for your content.
  • Relevance: How relevant is the term to the industry in general, to your particular brand, and most importantly to your buyer persona.

It’s important to note however that when we say keywords, we don’t literally just mean one or two words. In fact, using groups of related keywords will help give your content a better shot at positioning on Google as well as provide more opportunity to answer queries. 

 

Don't concern yourself with mentioning one keyword x amount of times, because search engines do not work like this anymore. Instead, focus on key themes. 

 

Content

After determining what will attract people to your website, you have to actually create that content. This leads us to the second pillar of SEO: Content

 

As defined by Joe Pulizzi, content marketing is "a marketing technique for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract and retain the attention of a well-defined target audience, with the aim of driving them to be future customers." 

 

Within an SEO strategy, content marketing is used to attract people to your website. Think of content as bait to attract new potential customers.

 

How to Create Good Content

Your content will do nothing for your SEO if it is not engaging, valuable, and attention grabbing. There are endless amounts of content formats to choose from. In general, stick with content that is relevant and valuable to your target audience, yet sustainable to produce. 

 

SEO For Beginners: The Basics of Search Engine Optimization

 

There is different content for different users depending on the stage of the funnel they are in. The best content is that which applies to a user regardless of the phase of the funnel they’re in. This can include: 

  • Blogs
  • Downloadable PDFs
  • Ebooks
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Newsletters
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts

Good content generally has 6 main characteristics:

  1. It’s easy to read: Use short sentences and paragraphs, clearly organized ideas, and headings for different sections. 

  2. It’s original: Never copy content! Google penalizes duplicate content, and they know who the original creator is. 

  3. It’s relevant: Your content must always be centered on the buyer persona’s needs, questions, concerns, pain points, etc.

  4. It’s SEO optimized: Include the keyword theme multiple times. But, don't overdo it or become obsessed with how many times it's used. Mention it naturally. Keyword stuffing will get you nowhere.

  5. It includes non-text elements: Include images, infographics, and videos when they can further the value of the content

  6. It’s valuable: Remember to always create content for the user. The more valuable your content, the more people will click on it and the better it will do. Content that is not valuable will ultimately not succeed. 

 

Balance Between Content and SEO

It is important to find a sweet spot between your content and how your optimize it. Content must always provide value to the user, not just advertise your brand, products or services. However, it must use the relevant keywords and themes so your audience can find it.

 

Content alone does not attract users to your website if it is not well-researched and optimized. Think about how you can create something interesting that has the potential to be shared, while also being easy for Google to understand.

 

Also, don’t forget to have a bit of fun with your content. It does not always have to be practical. It can be entertaining or emotional as long as it is adapted to the research you’ve done.

 

The Technical Side of Content

Beyond just producing content, maintaining and optimizing your existing content is key. Here are some things to consider when managing your content:

  • Internal linking: Link to other articles on your blog and to your pillar pages if, for example, you talk about a concept and have a related article. Remember, this is how Google’s spider finds and crawls your webpage.
  • Pillar pages and topic clusters: A pillar page is what a topic cluster is built on. The pillar pages broadly cover a topic while the content cluster addresses a specific keyword related to that topic in greater depth. 

 

 

  • Off-page SEO: As mentioned above, off-page SEO consists of elements outside your website that contribute to your positioning. Off-page SEO includes a lot of content creation such as:
    • Link building
    • Industry forums and blogs 
    • Social media
    • Video marketing 
    • Guest blogging
  • Backlinks: Backlinks, also called inbound links or link building, are links from external websites that link back to yours. They let Google know that you are trustworthy and authoritative. 
  • Guest blogging: Writing articles for other relevant, authoritative websites not only helps build an author’s or brand's reputation but also allows you to get inbound links from other trusted, authoritative sources. This is one of the best opportunities for an SEO specialist to build a backlink

     

Website Optimization

You’ve done your research and created your content. Now what? The final pillar of an SEO strategy is a Website Optimization. 

 

Website optimization is a broad term that refers to technical SEO and on-page SEO practices that serve to get web pages in the best shape for Google. This includes properly structuring content, using headers, titles, alt text, optimizing for mobile, and taking care of loading times. 

 

A lot of website optimization has to do with on-page SEO. While a big function of on-page seo is content, there are also technical aspects like:

  • Keyword strategy
  • URL optimization
  • Titles and meta descriptions
  • Structure of page headings
  • Image optimization
  • Mobile friendly optimization
  • Site map
  • Load times
  • High-quality content
  • Content optimization

Let’s dive into some of these concepts.

 

Optimized URLs

URLs should be easy to read and index by search engines. There are four simple rules for creating good URLs.

  • Keep them short and simple
  • Use only lowercase letters, numbers, and hyphens.
  • URL must contain the keyword from the page’s content.
  • Do not include years

 

Content Titles and Meta Descriptions

When posting written content like a blog article, be aware of how you arrange the title, (H1, H2, etc.), URL, and meta description. Google takes these elements into account when deciding the positioning of a page.

 

Headings

Be sure to organize your written content using the proper headings. An H1 heading should only be used once as your title. The H2s should include your keyword and be used only to organize major themes, while H3s and H4s are for introducing smaller concepts.

 

For example, below you can see all of the different headings in an article.

 

 

SEO For Beginners

 

It is important to use a variety of keyword themes in each header, when relevant to the section. This is especially important when it comes to rich snippets and it's a great way to instantly boost your content to the top. 

 

Optimizing Images

Search engine spiders can't "read" images the way a human would. Therefore, you need to help the spider interpret them. In the alt text, describe the image using the keyword of the content. You can simply use the same keyword from the title and meta description. 

 

Also, try to keep images on the smaller size as far as file size goes. Try to only include jpg, png or gif formats. Jpg tends to be the smallest, which will help with loading times.

 

Responsive Design

Because most web traffic comes from mobile searches, you must ensure your website is optimized for mobile use. In fact, Google does not rank websites that are not mobile friendly and indexed as mobile-first.

 

Ensure your website offers a good user experience for all screen sizes and fast loading times. 

 

Loading Times

A page that takes too long to load results in high bounce rates and alienates visitors. It can also make the SEO positioning of a page worse, as Google will take this into consideration. Audit your site and optimize pages that are slow to load.

 

Sitemap

This is important for indexing. It can be done manually through Google, but most blogging platforms (like Wordpress or Hubspot) automatically create this. Remember to tell Google Search Console what your sitemap URL is and maintain it to keep it up to date.

 

In Conclusion

There are certainly many more tactics and techniques that are important in the world of SEO. This quick beginners guide serves as an introduction to SEO to help get you off to the right start.

 

New Call-to-action