What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimization encompasses a number of strategies designed to maintain your site health, promote new content and services, or capture a new audience.
Sites that are optimized for search engines must meet different criteria under the primary discretion of Google, the most popular search engine on the internet. In order to have one of your pages rank on the first or second page of Google, your website should abide by the three pillars of SEO: entertainment, authority, and trustworthiness (EAT).
Types of SEO
SEO professionals are trained to target one or more areas of a website that may be preventing your business from coming up near the top of a Google search. Search Engine Optimization can be broken down into four main categories:
1. Technical SEO
If SEO can be compared to a watch, technical SEO might represent the hidden gears and cogs. With that said, skilled technical Search Engine Optimizers need to be code-savvy. Technical SEO involves the following tasks:
- Site speed improvements
- UX (User Experience) optimization
- Content pipelines, e.g. delivering form submissions to specific email addresses
- Adding robot tags to signal Google crawlers to scan your website
- Domain registration and maintaining security of internal and external information
Someone who clicks through your website will not be able to see the scripts running behind-the-scenes that give your site its look and feel. However, if your website fails to address any of the above responsibilities, Google crawlers will determine your website to be non-user-friendly, which could plummet your search ranking.
2. Content SEO
You might have heard the old marketing adage, “Content is King”. This is only true if you’re hosting good content. Copywriters and graphic designers are key members of a professional SEO team whose main goal is to boost organic traffic to your site. Referring back to the watch analogy, a copywriter or graphic designer might represent the watch’s digits, timestamp, and hand movements. It is the role of these SEO experts to convey messages clearly, and govern the flow or voice through which these messages are delivered. Content SEO involves:
- Regular blog development with optimized keywords
- Internal linking to other valuable pages on your website
- Branded copy for strategic landing pages, i.e. homepage, product pages
- Creation of graphic elements such as icons, banners, etc.
- Tangible product inserts (if your business sells and delivers goods)
- Gated content, i.e. PDFs, whitepapers, etc.
Often times, a copywriter and graphic designer will work together on a number of digital projects. The copywriter will relay the messaging to the designer, who will find the best way to visually convey the information. This connection is vital, since many website visitors will invest more attention to the visual elements than the copy on any given page (especially if the copy is lengthy).
3. Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO can be summed up as the networking aspect of website optimization. Managing social media platforms along with building affiliate relationships provides multiple streams of user traffic to your website. Off-page SEO is our watch’s battery, with visitors serving as the source of your website’s energy reserve. Key responsibilities when performing off-page SEO include:
- Translating brand messaging through the most commonly used social media platforms, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube
- Cultivating following(s) by targeting people who are most likely to visit your website
- Engaging in community conversations on Reddit, Quora, and other “ask me anything” platforms
- Requesting links to your website from other websites related to your cause (also known as backlinking)
Just because off-page SEO may not directly affect the actual content displayed on your website doesn’t mean it’s any less important. When Google sees your business positively promoted on other platforms, their algorithm changes to make your website more readily visible.
4. Analytics SEO
Analytics SEO is a critical element when trying to optimize for search engines. Analytics not only measures the success of brand campaigns, it also assesses key metrics to help you dictate the course of future campaigns. Of the different types of SEO, analytics represents the wristband of our watch, tying everything together to make sense of your website’s audience. Important metrics to analyze are not limited to:
- Conversion rate, which demonstrates the appeal or need for specific goods and services. Capitalize on the pages that deliver the highest rates across your site.
- Click-through rate, which indicates the average number of pages a visitor “clicked-through”. This can be a negative metric, as users should be able to quickly find what they’re looking for in as few clicks as possible.
- Bounce rate, or the percentage of visitors who exited your website from any given page. If one of your pages has a high bounce rate, the content may not be serving the intent of your visitor.
- Pageviews, which are quantified as a whole number over a given timeframe, helps you identify which pages on your website are generating the most traffic.
Without analytics, search engine optimization has little purpose. It’s essential to have the numbers paint a picture of what works on your website, as this information ultimately guides the direction of the coding, visuals, messaging, and targeted audiences.
What is Google Indexing?
Shortly after you launch your website or publish a new page, Google will crawl the new URL (or link for the layman) and automatically add it to its infinite index. When someone performs a Google search and includes terms that appear on your page, Google’s algorithm will work to match your page with the searcher. The only way to hide a page from Google’s index is to either add a robot “noindex” tag to your metafields, or to delete the page altogether.
What is a Meta Tag?
Meta tags offer a variety of functions to your website. They are essentially signals to Google which dictate the purpose of a specific page. Your page title and description, product pricing and availability, and indexation settings are all coded using meta tags on your website.
What are Backlinks?
As mentioned above, a backlink is a reference to one of your site pages from an external, non-affiliated website. Backlinks from authoritative sites are basically a “vote” in favor of your content. Accumulating backlinks over time is a proven strategy to increase your ranking, as a higher number of backlinks signals to Google that your content is relevant.
What is Keyword Optimization?
Before writing a new blog post, it’s important to conduct thorough keyword research to gain a better understanding of the specific terms people are using to find information in your field. If your blog can include a set number of related keywords, there’s a greater likelihood your content will be found. Optimized keywords are measured based on rough monthly volume scores, which can help you determine the competitiveness of specific terms.