Everything You Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization

Everything You Need to Know About Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, gets so much attention – and for good reason. It sets successful blogs and websites apart from unsuccessful ones. For businesses, getting traffic via search engines is imperative to marketing: it drives sales and brand awareness.

If you’re new to the term, SEO can be a daunting concept to grasp. It changes regularly as search engine algorithms are updated and the number of websites populating the internet increases. However, its definition remains the same: SEO encompasses practices that drive traffic to specific web pages through search terms web users type into search engines, usually to find information or products.

Although much SEO advice tends to focus on Google’s algorithms, content creators also consider Bing and Yahoo! when trying to guide traffic to specific site. The goal is to get a website, blog, forum or other web resource as close to the top of web users’ search results as possible.

Content creators and website designers achieve this goal through a variety of methods. The main methods employed include:

SEO lies at the core of a successful content marketing strategies.
  • Varying content from page to page on a website
  • Using high-quality keywords in title, subheaders and captions
  • Creating high quality content that appeals to the intended audience
  • Consistent, frequent posting or updates rich with hyperlinks
  • Ensuring that pages are accessible to mobile devices

For businesses online, new traffic can mean new customers. SEO is an effective sales tool that is essential to modern marketing.

Statistics on SEO in Content Marketing

Employing an organized and focused content strategy can give you dramatic results in terms of engagement. According to Hubspot, 61 percent of marketing experts rate growing organic engagement through SEO as their main inbound marketing strategy. This is likely because organic traffic is 5.66 times more effective than traditional advertising.

Even though there are other search engines, attuning yourself to Google’s algorithm presents a considerable pay-off.

  • Google directs 94 percent of all organic website traffic and 96 percent of mobile traffic.
  • Upwards of 51 percent of mobile users claim that they’ve found a new product or company while using their smartphone, tablet or other device.
  • Approximately 90 of those looking for a product or service rely on search results to guide their purchase decisions.

Varying Marketing Content for SEO

According to Moz, search engine algorithms – most notably Google’s – rank duplicate content lower. Original content on every page of a website shows search engines that the site is populated by high-quality, custom-designed content worthy of web users’ attention.

Paraphrasing and hyperlinking can provide consistency in information without exact repetition. If you use information from external sources, explain the information in your own words and then include the hyperlink in your text. Also, make sure every page is comprehensive in its assigned content, and then use internal links to reference that information in other areas of your website. In addition to helping with SEO, this will cut down on redundancy.

Assembling or employing a small team of marketing specialists can have exponential effects on your SEO, bringing thousands to millions of web users to your site.

However, the only sure-fire way to use this SEO method for successful marketing is to create as much original text, imagery and other media as possible. Following strategic steps involving brainstorming, research, drafting, design and group collaboration can generate large amounts of original content in a relatively short amount of time.

Using Keywords for SEO

Keywords are terms or phrases that search engine users might use to find a particular website or web page. Anticipating these phrases and using them in your content is one of the best ways to raise the SEO of a particular web resource. The Google Chrome plug-in, Keywords Everywhere, is an invaluable tool for anyone setting themselves up for SEO success.

Keywords Everywhere identifies three factors:

  • Search volume, or how many times per month the phrase is searched for
  • Cost-per-click, or how much you may need to pay a search engine or platform to include the term in advertising
  • Competition, or how many other sources are using the term or phrase

For SEO purposes, search volume and competition are the most important. A keyword with high search volume and low competition is a high-value term that will boost the SEO value of your web resources. You’ll want to use these high-value keywords in all the digital marketing content you create in as naturally as possible.

Keyword use in your marketing content can positively influence your SEO over time. It’s normal to see a steady increase in traffic once the practice is implemented.

There are multiple types of keywords to make note of though. You’ll want to alternate short-tail (for example, one to three words in length) and long-tail (usually greater than three words in length) keywords to give yourself the best chances of being found through a search engine. Short-tail terms often have higher search volume, but long-tail are more likely to pull in an audience that is interested in your particular niche. According to Hubspot, 50 percent of all search queries are four words or longer.

Remember to include keywords that direct local traffic to your page, too. An example for a bakery in New York City might read, “Best birthday cakes in NYC.” If you’re unsure of whether to include a low-volume keyword that has other advantages, such as local search optimization, see this Three Girls Media article on the subject.

Once you’ve determined the best balance of unique and accessible terms for your business, create a master list of them. Each time you write web copy, a blog entry or advertising text, include one or two keywords. More than one or two high-value keywords on a page is a red flag for modern search engines. According to Wordstream, up-to-date algorithms are trained to look for “keyword stuffing” or overuse of high-SEO terms and either exclude or drop the rank of pages that do it. Keyword stuffing essentially confused search engines, counteracting the intended effect of directing search results right to your website’s ‘doorstep.’

How Quality & Consistency of Content Affect SEO

With the introduction of Google Hummingbird in 2013, SEO became more about high-quality, informative marketing content. The algorithm’s updates made Google search more attuned to answering questions and prioritizing content that could answer an inquiry. Google is now geared more toward helping web users understand a subject and readily access specific answers than to bringing up exact matches to inputted terms. Clearly-written, concisely-phrased and well-edited content is more likely to rank high because it presents information directly.

Posting on consistent days and times also trains search engines to recognize your content as fresh and relevant. As they “crawl” through web pages to sort and rank content, they’ll become accustomed to seeing that you post at a particular time. That new content will rank higher in search results and attract more traffic than inconsistent or outdated posts. For more information on the dangers of inconsistent posting, see this Three Girls Media article on blogging best practices.

SEO for Mobile Devices

Optimizing a web page for mobile viewing opens your page up to more traffic by virtue of making it accessible to mobile users. It also allows it to rank higher in search results. Introduced in 2015, Google RankBrain recognizes mobile-friendly content as more useful than desktop-only content.

Responsiveness – your site’s flexibility for a variety of web users – and consistency in content are two important components of an SEO-based marketing strategy.

Creating mobile-friendly sites or pages has several components to it. Your site, specifically your landing pages, must be scalable to different devices like smartphones and tablets. You will need to create an alternate URL, one following the format of http://m.subdomain.com/, for mobile accessibility.

It’s also important that Googlebot is able to access your page to assess its usability on mobile devices. For a guide on enabling Googlebot access, consult this Google help page.

How Long Will It Take to See Results of SEO?

According to SEO Mechanic, it can take 4-6 months to start to see results. Depending on the frequency of your digital marketing tactics, it may take closer to a year or two to experience the full benefits of optimization. Increasing traffic is a long-term investment that pays off in terms of increased sales, more followers on social media and heightened brand awareness. In that time, you can successfully grow a small- or medium-sized business into one that reaches out to millions of internet users.

Increasing SEO often has other positive effects over time, too. The work it takes to boost your website’s SEO can also:

  • Boost the richness of your content
  • Increase the word economy of web copy
  • Save money on advertising
  • Make you or your staff better writers and designers
  • Increase the efficiency of your overall marketing strategy

Three Girls Media Specializes in SEO-based Content Marketing

If you need help getting started on SEO-centered improvements, Three Girls Media has a full staff of digital marketing professionals who understand how to use various search engine best practices to make your business stand out. Contact us today to find out how to attract more traffic to your website, blog or social media pages!

For more tips, tricks and advice for SEO practices, see these helpful Three Girls Media resources:

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