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 you to the top of search engine results pages.
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!
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a marketing technique focused on optimizing your website to get it to rank as one of the top results 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 cannot pay to rank higher with SEO. The only way to rank higher with SEO is to ensure you're satisfying the search engine’s requirements.
A strong SEO strategy can have a number of different benefits for your business’s online presence and your overall marketing strategy. These benefits can include the following:
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 you conduct on your website to improve its ranking. This includes content creation, the use of keywords, the proper use of headings, meta descriptions, and URLs.
Off-page SEO refers to the actions you take outside of your website to improve its ranking in SERPs. This includes things like building backlinks, guest blogging, and social media marketing.
White Hat and Black Hat SEO are two different approaches to search engine optimization (SEO). White hat SEO is based on using ethical, transparent techniques to build your pages' rankings. This means following Google and other search engines' rules regarding website and position optimization.
On the other hand, Black hat SEO uses questionable techniques to trick search engines into quickly raising a site's ranking. These techniques may include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and link farming. While black hat SEO may work in the short term, it is not sustainable and can actually damage your website over time. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to detect and penalize black hat SEO practices.
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. While they all involve some content creation and keyword research, they are distinct concepts that build upon each other.
Let’s start by discussing content marketing. Content marketing is a strategy that aims to create and distribute valuable content that attracts and retains users' attention. The goal of content marketing is to drive users to your website or social media channels, where you can convert them into leads or customers. Content marketing can take many forms, including blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, and e-books, and more.
Now, let's delve into the role of SEO. SEO focuses on boosting the organic ranking of a website on Google using different techniques, one of which is content marketing. While attracting customers to your website is crucial in encouraging conversations, what happens after they arrive?
This is where inbound marketing comes into play. Inbound marketing is non-invasive marketing approach that aims to attract, retain, and convert customers by utilizing a combination of diverse marketing techniques. These techniques can include content creation, SEO, marketing automation, and lead nurturing.
By understanding the different concepts of content marketing, SEO, and inbound marketing, you can create a more effective marketing strategy that will help you attract, convert, and retain customers.
As we talk about SEO and how it works, it's also important to understand how search engines work and how they determine what to rank. According to 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 that ranking on the other search engines can be important, but Google is definitely still the main focus.
So, how does Google decide what to rank? When Google detects new content, it does three important things: crawl, index, and rank. Let’s review what this means.
Crawling is the process of Google’s web crawlers (also known as spiders) visiting websites and collecting information about them. This information includes the website's content, structure, and links to other websites.
Indexing is the process of storing the information collected by the web crawlers in Google's index. The index is a massive database of websites and their associated information.
Ranking is the process of determining the order in which websites appear in search results. Google uses a variety of factors to determine a website's ranking, including the quality and relevance of its content, the number and quality of backlinks it receives from other websites, and the user's location.
There are many different ways you can orient your SEO strategy. At Cyberclick, we believe that the following 3 pillars are essential for a strong SEO strategy: keywords, content, and website optimization.
Keywords are the words and phrases that people use to search for information online. By understanding which keywords are relevant to your business and your customers, you can create content that is more likely to be found by those who are searching for it.
There are different ways to find the right keywords for your SEO strategy. One is to create buyer personas, which are semi-fictitious representations of your ideal customers. Once you understand your buyer personas, you can brainstorm short and long tail keywords that relate to their needs, interest, pain points, concerns, and questions.
Using tools like SEMRush and Google's Keyword Planner, you can analyze different keywords and determine whether they are a good fit for your brand and buyer personas.
Here are a few different factors to consider when conducting keyword research:
It’s important to note that keywords are not just single 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.
Avoid keyword stuffing, as search engines no longer consider keyword density as a ranking factor. Instead, focus on creating high-quality content that is relevant to your target keywords and audience.
After you have identified the right keywords, you can start creating content that is optimized for those keywords. This content should be high-quality, informative, and relevant to your target audience. It should also be well-written and engaging, so that people will want to read it all the way through.
Content marketing is a great way to attract people to your website and boost your SEO rankings. Joe Pulizzi, an expert in content marketing explains that “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” This will also help improve your website's authority in the eyes of Google, which will lead to higher ranking in the search results.
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 but, in general, opt for a format that your target audience consumes regularly that is sustainable for you to produce.
The type of content that you create will depend on the stage of the buyer's journey that your target audience is 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, etc.
Here are some of the characteristics of good content:
It is easy to read: Use short sentences and paragraphs, clearly organized ideas, and headings for different sections.
It is original: Never copy content! Google penalizes duplicate content, and they know who the original creator is.
It is relevant to the buyer persona: Your content must always be centered on your buyer persona’s needs, questions, concerns, pain points, etc.
It is 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.
It includes non-text elements: Include images, infographics, and videos when they can further the value of the content.
It is valuable: The content provides your target audience with something that they value, such as information, education or entertainment.
It is important to find a balance between creating content that is valuable to the user and optimizing that content for search engines. Ensure that you provide value to the user and aren't just advertising your brand, products, or services. Your content should also use the relevant keywords and themes so that your audience can find it.
Content alone does not attract people 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 fits with the research you’ve done.
Beyond just producing content, maintaining and optimizing your existing content is key. Here are some things to consider when managing your content:
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:
Let’s dive into some of these concepts.
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
The title tag and meta description are two of the most important on-page SEO elements. The title tag is the text that appears at the top of the browser tab, and the meta description is the text that appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Headings are important for organizing your written content and making it easy for readers to navigate. They should be used to divide your content into logical sections, and the headings themselves should be clear and concise. Be sure to organize your written content using the proper headings.
H1 headings should only be used for the main title. H2 headings should include your keyword and be used 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.
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.
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 side 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.
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.
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.
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 keep it up to date.
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!