Digital Marketing 101: What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization

Guess how many websites there are. According to Netcraft, there are 644 million active websites, that’s over half a billion. So how do you avoid getting lost in the crowd? Search engine optimization baby, that’s what’s going to set you apart from your competitors.

The way business is done today has evolved from what it was a year ago. Most people begin their online experience on a search engine and showing up on the first page of Google can be what makes or mars your online business.

Over 90% of online experiences begin with a search engine with 68% of them being on Google. Even more peculiar, the first 5 results get 67% of all clicks. If your website doesn’t show up on the first page then you are as good as not being online.

Search Engine Optimization or SEO for short is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or webpage in a search engine’s unpaid results”, according to Wikipedia.

In simple English, SEO is a process of optimizing your content so that search engines such as Google will show it on the first page when searches are made on a certain keyword related to your brand.

Example, if you are an event planner, you want the search engine to show your website as a top result to who ever searches for “event planner”. SEO is the background work you do on your wesbite or blog post so when anyone searches for your keyword they as displayed on the first page.

There are two sides to SEO.

  • White Hat
  • Black Hat

black-hat-seo-vs-white-hat-seo

Most people follow the easier Black Hat path to make money quickly but if you are in this for the long run as I am you will choose the White Hat path.

white hat SEO is used to build an online business that can easily be scaled over time. This process focuses more on the human experience and trying to give them the most accessible and best content.

SEO Categories

On a broader note, there are two categories of SEO;

  • On-Page
  • Off-Page SEO

Look at them like cleaning the inside and outside of your house.

on-page-seo-vs-off-page-seo

On-page SEO is cleaning the inside of the house. It concerns search engine rankings determined by optimizing the content on your website such as images, headlines and page structure.

Off-page SEO is cleaning the outside. These are all the factors that affect your ranking from other sources such as social media, links from other websites and blogs in your industry, etc.

In order to rank well you have to make sure your are on top of the game on both of them.

Off-page SEO refers to all variables Google takes a look at, which are not exclusively in your own hands, but depend on other sources, such as social networks, other blogs in your industry and the personal history of the searcher.

They’re different, but you need to get both right in order to do well with SEO. If your page is properly optimized on-page but no one is pointing to it or talking about it, your website will be ranking lower than it should.

on-page-seo-off-page-seo

In just the same way, if you are properly optimized on the outside and someone clicks on your website and it doesn’t have a proper design, page structure or content, they would leave immediately and that will count as a bounce to Google. The higher your bounce rate, the worse your page will rank in Google.

Whatever anyone searches for, Google will bring up the best possible result so users can have the best experience.

That’s why you need to do both on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

Factors That Improve Search Engine Ranking

Keyword Research

This is the first and most crucial step to on-page optimization. This is a tediuous but worthwile step to find out what words people are using to search for your products and services. These keywords are then plugged into the content of your webpage. Make sure to always include targeted keywords and avoid overstuffing them because you can be penalized by Google if they notice it.

Content Development

Content is king. Without content there will be nothing on your website. You don’t have to come up with content from scratch, you can just check around and see what kind of content others in your niche are using to rank and replicate that.

UI/UX

This means user interaction and experience. Your website has to be structured properly so searchers can easily navigate through. The amount of time people spend on your site directly affects your ranking. You obviously want them to stay as long as possible.

Other factors that affect user design is fast loading time and a mobile friendly design.

Link Building

This is both an on and off-page SEO technique, it is pointing links from your web page to other web pages within or outside your website. It helps Google navigate through your website, telling them what exactly your website is about.

The quality of links back to your website is also crucial. Getting a link from a top influencer gives you a different ranking than a link from a colleague’s website. Guest blogging is a way I use to build back links to my website.

HTML Tag Description

These include title, meta and alt tags used to properly describe what a website is about. Although this doesn’t directly affect your search engine ranking, it improves your chances of getting clicked.

Title tags show up in the tab of your browser when you open a web page. Think of it like a newspaper headline. Example, if you teach people how to make wigs, your title tag should read; “Wig Making Academy.” Title tags are usually from the most words you want to rank for from your keyword research.

Meta tags are descriptions of what a web page is about. It shows up as a tiny snippet when Google displays your page as a result to searchers. Keywords are often mentioned up front.

Because Google can’t read images to know what they are about, alt tags are used to describe a picture so when Google crawls a site it knows what the picture is for.

Blogging

Google loves fresh content. Consistently posting content about relevant topics in your industry helps push your website to the top of search engines results. Guest blogging is also a good way to rank because you can point some links to your website and boost your domain authority.

Conclusion

Hopefully I have been able to convince you and not confuse you (lol) that you need to optimize your website as soon as possible. Make sure to do your keyword research before you come up with your content and optimize your tile, meta and alt tags using relevant keywords.

Have a mobile friendly website which proper architecture users can easily navigate through to decrease your bounce rate and improve user experience and interaction.

After reading this guide, how will you change your attitude towards SEO?


Also published on Medium.

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