Today is not about “get the traffic”. Today is about “get the Targeted and Relevant traffic”, which is what everyone today is trying to achieve via different ways of Digital Marketing. We’ll be discussing one of the key digital marketing techniques here in this post – Search Engine Optimization.
What is SEO?
“If you’re going to post content on your site anyway, you might as well take the time to ensure Google takes notice of your effort.”Content Factory
To someone who understands SEO, this little line speaks volumes but for those of you don’t understand, let me expound a little.
SEO, the acronym obviously stands for Search Engine Optimization, a technique used to increase the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of the website or a web page to users of web search engines. SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic/visitors and the purchase of paid placements. It involves making certain changes to website design and content to make it more attractive to a Search Engine in the hopes that it will be displayed as a top result on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).
In order to reward germane results to people who search the web for information the Search Engines scan and crawl various websites checking for relevant content and to determine how easy websites are to navigate and read and based on a number of parameters they rank websites and display them accordingly on SERPs.
Why do you need SEO?
“Content is King but Marketing is Queen and runs the household.”Gary Vaynerchuck
Of all organic traffic, in 2015, it was found that Google accounts for more than 90% of global organic search traffic and so it goes without saying that it is important to have a strong presence on Google SERPs. Building a strong architecture and providing clear navigation does the trick providing visitors with great experience and thereby encouraging repeat visits. It is noteworthy that Google is increasingly paying attention to user experience. The amount of traffic driven to a website by Search Engines is a substantial percentage which indicates how important SEO has become in today’s world.
Statistics suggest, in 2014, 64% of all web traffic came from organic search as compared to 2% from social, 6% from paid search, 12% direct and 15% from referral sources. Studies show that on the first SERP, the top 5 results account for 68% of all clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for a meager 4%.
What Search Engines look for…
- Relevancy – Search Engines will always strive to provide the searcher with the most relevant websites for queries ranging from the simplest to the hardest of levels. With internal algorithms in place to calculate the relevancy of websites and considering various factors that could alter rankings of websites, we can rest assured that relevancy is key while providing results on the SERPs.
- Quality of content – Helpful, useful, long-form content that understands a user’s intention as a whole is given greater priority and thereby better rankings as opposed to content with a dump of keywords based on popular search queries to generate traffic.
- User Experience – Easy navigation, clear searchability, relevant internal linking and related content are great tools to increase user experience will leave traffic on websites wanting to explore further.
- Site speed – How quickly websites load is increasingly becoming a factor for quality rankings. Google may soon start labeling results that are hosted on Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP).
- Cross-device compatibility – Responsive designs of websites with quality content that can be equally optimized for any given screen size or device gains major points.
- Internal Linking – This tool that eases navigation has a lot of benefits like it keeps traffic on your websites for longer. Users click on one link after another that brings up various posts or linked websites thereby engaging them for longer periods and also the Search Engine crawlers will realize how useful and trustworthy the content is the more they crawl on internal links. It provides the audience with further reading options and increases ranking of certain keywords.
- Authority – An authority website is a site that is trusted by users, industry, Search Engines and other websites. A link from an Authority website is highly valuable as it is seen as a vote of confidence. The more of these you have and the more quality content on your website, the more likely your own site will become an authority too.
- Meta description and Title Tags – Increases the chances of a searcher clicking on your result. A meta description is a short paragraph that appears under your page’s URL in the search results. Title tags are used to tell the Search Engines and visitors concisely what website it about. Ensure maximum usage of keywords and relevant content for maximum traffic.
- Schema Markup – Adding these to the HTML pages make search results appear more attractive and turn them into rich media playground, adding star-ratings, customer ratings, images, etc.
- Properly tagged images – Since Search engines cannot see content and can only read the content we need to ensure that images are well tagged and accessible.
- Evergreen content – More thoughtful, helpful and practical-advice based articles can lead to huge long term wins in terms of driving traffic and occupying highly visible positions in SERPs.
- Domain Names – Sub-directory root names better overall site structure compared to subdomains. No hyphens, no alternative Top-level domain names, lesser keywords (due to closer scrutiny by Search Engines).
- Headlines and Permalinks – Make them snappy, attractive and as descriptive as possible with limited but good usage of keywords.
- Comments – Leave it open to the possibility of having a thriving community of regular commenters engaging in dialogue under posts. This shows that people do read the content and either praise or criticize it, but they do READ.
- Local SEO – Keep all data on the website updated at all times since Search Engines give out information in real-time based on time, location or situations.
- Social Media Marketing – You need to make sure you’re present on all relevant social channels and not just broadcasting your content in a faceless manner, but by using it as a customer service channel and genuinely interacting with people in a friendly, helpful and entertaining manner.
What Search Engines aren’t looking for…
- Keyword Stuffing – Overstuffing the website of course unnecessarily brings down the ease of readability and comprehension and should be avoided.
- Link buying or excessive link exchanging – The most valuable links on your websites would be those coming from authority websites.
- Annoying ads – Anything overly intrusive destroys the pleasure of reading content and slows down website speed.
- Mobile app interstitials – Presenting mobile visitors with a full-screen advert to download apps will be considered mobile unfriendly.
- Duplicated content – If there are multiple websites with the same content then Search Engines will index only one out of them all.
- Hidden texts and Links – There are ways to manipulate rankings that a user may not ever see, but Google will probably find and punish you for it. Stay away from using white text on a white background, positioning text off-screen, setting font size to zero or hiding a link in a single character like a comma or a full-stop. The temptation to put a link in that last full stop was incredibly high.
Having discussed these factors it is important to keep in mind that SEO takes time to work its magic. You won’t experience the benefits of SEO overnight. In fact, it may take months to enjoy the results of your hard work. However, following SEO best practices by creating quality content that is focused on helping human visitors is the best way to build a sustainable online business that will continue to bring in new organic site traffic for years to come.
I end the article with a popular joke to bolster the need for Search Engine Optimization in today’s world.
“The best place to hide a dead body is Page Two of Google Search.”Unknown