Whether you’re a start-up or an SMB, you too can capture a big market share if only you invest in SEO. SEO is your best bet to conquer the online turf. What truly makes the digital landscape the perfect platform to compete is that all businesses regardless of their size or scope have equal opportunities to grow and succeed.
However, to compete against industry giants, you need to ensure you fully understand SEO and what it can do for your online business. So, if you’re new to the term SEO then don’t worry. We have exclusively designed this post to help new online business owners develop a solid understanding of SEO.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
1- What Does SEO Mean?
Just like any business owner who’s new to the digital world, you too must be thinking ‘what does SEO stand for’? To begin with, SEO is the short form or abbreviation for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. It can be best described as the ultimate practice of optimizing web pages to increase online visibility by ranking high on search results of Google and other search engines.
All this is done organically. This means that it is non-paid. To optimize your business on search engines, you must create a well-rounded and result-focused SEO marketing plan comprising of different strategies. These strategies are commonly selected after a thorough analysis of your current business standing, rank and goals that you want to achieve—short and long-term.
strategies. These strategies are commonly selected after a thorough analysis of your current business standing, rank and goals that you want to achieve—short and long-term.
2- Why is it Crucial to Optimize on Search Engines?
Search engine optimization is not a choice. You must invest in it because SEO is crucial to your business success. How you optimize is tied to your success and business growth. SEO is a practice of increasing both the number and quality of web traffic by improving ranking in the SERPs (search engine page results).
Here are some important statistics that we have compiled for you to help you better understand its impact and importance:
Research studies show that:
95 percent of clicks go to websites listed on Google’s first page
Websites that rank higher on the page receive an increased CTR (clickthrough rate) and more targeted traffic
Google accounts for more than 79% of all global desktop search traffic following by Bing 7.27%, Baidu and Yahoo.
Google receives more than 63000 searches/second daily
This year an average online business firm is most likely to allocate around 41 percent of its marketing budget to digital. This figure is expected to increase to 45 percent by the year 2020.
All these statistics indicate the true importance of optimizing on search engines especially Google. With over 1.94 billion websites crawling on the search engines, SEO is the best way to make sure that your website gets noticed and found by your target audience.
If you don’t optimize your site, you will not be visible in the top searches for your industry. And thus your competitors will capture the bigger share of the market regardless of how good your products or customer service may be. So, it is advised to optimize for search engines to improve online visibility.
3- Top Benefits of Search Engine Optimization
There are tons of benefits of SEO. These include:
3.1- Improved Search Engine Visibility
When you optimize your website by using the right SEO strategies and keywords in compliance with Google algorithms like Penguin and Panda then it increases the chances of getting crawled by the search engine bots. This helps improve your ranking and visibility for the optimized keywords.
3.2- Qualified Leads
Through SEO, you can make sure that you generate quality leads. Search engine optimization focuses on targeting people interested or might be interested in the products/services you sell. This means that because of SEO your website will automatically come in the searches they do for the products and services you offer thereby attracting them to your website.
3.3- Low Bounce Rate and Increased Sales
Another benefit of SEO that is worth mentioning is that as you generate qualified leads to your site, it decreases your site’s bounce rate. Wondering how? Let us explain. Since the leads that you generate through SEO are already interested in or looking for the services you offer, there is a high chance that they will eventually convert into sales instead of just bouncing off. Furthermore, it increases your conversion rate thereby getting you more returns and improving your financial bottom-line.
Search engine optimization can do wonders for your online business but this brings us to another crucial question, how does it work? Continue reading to understand its mechanics—the technical aspect of SEO.
4- How Does SEO Work? Understanding the Technical Aspect
Search engines such as Google typically score their search results upon relevancy and authority of pages the bots crawl. Also known as spiders, these bots collect all kinds of information about your website. This enables them to determine what and when to serve a searcher a page.
Google uses more than 200 ranking factors to optimize websites. These factors attract bots and help them crawl your optimized pages thereby improving their search engine visibility. By crawling we mean scanning the site, its content, headings, images, and hyperlinks. These search bots detect all hypertext links on the site. They crawl the entire internet regularly in order to update data.
Once the data is crawled, it is then indexed. The index can be viewed as a library that is full of websites. It takes usually one to ten days for sites to get indexed. Please note that until the updates on the site are indexed it won’t be visible in the search engine.
After your site is indexed, the search engine shall pull it out for matching results to the search query that is submitted by the user. Here SEO plays a key role. The top results presented by the search engines are of the sites that are optimized well based on various algorithms/ ranking factors.
5- Ranking Factors that Impact Search Engine Optimization
Among the most important ranking factors that impact SEO are the following:
5.1- Content Development
It’s said content is the king. And we couldn’t agree more. Content acts like a magnet. Quality, original and well-written content optimized for the most searched and relevant keywords can help your site rank high in the search engine and keep the audience hooked. Such content can stir excitement, get clicks and compel leads into taking the desired call to action.
The types of content that you should focus on for improving your search engine ranking and user experience are blog posts, How-to articles, social media content, whitepapers, e-Books, and infographics.
5.2- Keyword Research
When it comes to improved search engine visibility, content without keywords is not possible. Therefore, you must make sure that your content is keyword rich. Your content should focus on proper and well-researched keywords that people use to search for your business.
Did you know that 50% of the search queries are either of four words or longer than that? This shows that users don’t just search for simple terms. Most use long-tail keywords that have four or more words. For example, instead of searching for SEO, users may type:
What does SEO mean?
What does SEO stand for?
What does SEO do?
Simply put, try using long-tail keywords in your content to optimize it better.
5.3- On-page SEO
As the name suggests, on-page SEO factors refer to things that are linked to the website page being optimized. In other words, these are the factors that are in your control. This means that you can easily work to improve them within by following the best SEO practices. It goes beyond the deeper levels of your website’s HTML such as:
5.3.1- Title Tag
The title tag tells the search engine bots what the page is all about. Ideally, it should not be more than 70 characters and must include both the right keywords and your business name.
5.3.2- Meta Description
This is more like a description. It describes the page in detail and helps bots and visitors develop and understand what the page is about. It is advised that you include the right keywords and provide adequate information so the reader knows what the content is all about.
Sub-headings improve readability and SEO. By using sub-headings like H1, H2 and H3 tags, you can help search engines better understand the content.
5.3.4- Internal Links
Hyperlinks or internal links help search engines get more information about the site. Let’s say you’re posting a blog about one of your product offerings. This post when internally linked to the product or page on your site can deliver better search engine results.
5.3.5- Alt Tags and Image Name
You can also optimize the images on your site which can further help improve your search engine optimization. This can be done by including alt tags and keyword and phrases in the image name.
5.4- Off-Page SEO
Additionally, you must focus on off-page SEO elements to improve your online business visibility. This is because like on-page, off-page SEO also helps you achieve your SEO goals. Although off-page SEO is not directly in your control, there are many ways that you can increase your chances of having off-page factors work in favour of your business. Some off-page SEO strategies to focus on are:
5.4.1- Link Building
Backlinks are a great way to optimize your site. However, you need to make sure that these links are not on spamming sites as it can eventually get your site banned from search engines. Instead, you should try to build links on credible and authentic sites. Moreover, you can also build relationships with influencers and fans and work with them to create quality content. Then you can backlink this content to your website.
5.4.2- Social Media
For boosting SEO make sure to tap social media. Social signals such as shares, re-tweets and shares can help improve your ranking. A great tip to get more likes and shares on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube is to focus on quality regardless of whether it’s a blog post, advertisement or video content. Simply stated, it must be top-notch in terms of quality and engaging.
6- Fundamental Principles of SEO
Now here are some golden rules or fundamental principles of SEO. Keep these in mind to get the best results when optimizing your content on search engines.
6.1- Links Continue to Rule
Link building may be an old SEO tactic, but it still works and remains a fundamental part of SEO. It continues to be the strongest indicator of a site’s performance on Google. The higher quality and relevant links you acquire, it will potentially have a positive impact on the SERPs of your site.
6.2- Always Optimize Content
Did you know that 84 percent of people expect brands to develop content? Also, 88 percent of B2B marketers believe that content creation truly makes their audience view them as a trusted and credible business.
Optimized content is the backbone of search engine optimization. Some of the best ways to craft and optimize content are:
6.3- Keyword Usage in Context
Keywords are of great relevance to search engines. Previously Google scanned content only for keyword appearance but now things have changed for the better. Search bots now analyze content with keywords checking that they are rightly used in the context and related to the searcher, meaning there is no margin for keyword stuffing.
To optimize content with keywords, include your targeted keywords in titles, Alt tags, H1 headers, URLs and meta description.
6.4- UX is Crucial
To optimize your website on search engines focus on delivering the ultimate user experience. Keep in mind that user experience also denoted by UX plays a vital role in how your site performs and ranks on search engines. For this, your focus should be on making sure that the:
Structure of your website is excellent and easy to navigate through
The layout of the site is user-friendly
Optimize the website for speed. It should not take more than 2 seconds to load
6.5- Mobile SEO is a Success Driver
Since Google uses a mobile-first index to rank and display search results across devices like desktop, laptop, and mobiles, it is time to polish your site. Make it mobile-friendly to optimize it better.
7- Approaches to SEO—Black and White
Since everyone competing online wants to outdo competition and rank at the top, some businesses employ unethical tactics to achieve their goal.To help businesses understand what is right and wrong, Google provides certain guidelines that spell out good (white) and bad (black) SEO.
These guidelines provide a detailed framework to help marketers decide what can help them rank their website high compared to what strategies will hurt and damage their rankings. Therefore, you must have complete knowledge of what strategies are ethical and what strategies will penalize you. Let’s take a deeper dive to understand these two SEO approaches clearly:
7.1- Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO
Black hat SEO comprises of search engine optimization techniques that violate Google Guidelines. These strategies can get you where you want to go initially but they result in long-term damage for your website. These strategies are like taking shortcuts to success, but everyone knows there is no such thing. The only thing black hat optimization strategies will do for you is getting your website banned. Some examples of black hat SEO strategies are:
Thin content (less than three words/page)
Private blog networks
Most businesses get conned into trying out Black hat SEO to obtain faster results but the risk involved is higher. Black Hat SEO carries the risk of:
Website being banned
Business owner getting penalized
A demotion in rankings so that your business is relegated to the furthest pages
It ruins your chances of building a website that is sustainable, credible and able to generate leads consistently for years to come.
7.2- White Hat SEO
Compared to black hat SEO, white hat SEO is a true example of slow and steady wins the race. White hat SEO requires hard work, patience and consistency. More importantly, the results are ongoing and continue to contribute to your financial bottom-line year after year.
White hat SEO can be best described as a strategic approach predominantly focused on both search bots and the audience. The goal is to produce content that is engaging, high-converting and easy-to-read. All this is achieved in conformance with the search engine’s rules for optimization.
White hat SEO helps business owners build a sustainable online presence by following the best and ethical SEO practices thereby bringing more organic and targeted web traffic. It focuses on developing meaningful content that site visitors find valuable and perceive your site as an authority and a business that they can trust.
So, if you want to enjoy running a successful and sustainable business with a growing customer base and profit margins then white hat SEO is perfect for you. Examples of white hat SEO are:
Original and relevant content
Proper keyword usage
Promoting content on social media
Soliciting the use of data aggregators to gain local business citations
7.3- What’s Grey Hat SEO?
Some search engine optimization practices can neither be described as white or black thus they are termed as grey hat strategies. In other words, grey hat strategies fall somewhere in the middle. They are categorized as such because they fall somewhere in the middle and are not specifically in Google’s guidelines.
Therefore, when optimizing your business on search engines, you must be cautious about taking the grey hat SEO path. This is because it is not safe to assume that just because these strategies are not mentioned or labelled as being deceptive, they will not get you in trouble. In fact, chances are that such strategies may at some point negatively interfere with your search engine ranking. Some examples of grey hat SEO are:
Click-bait (the purpose of this strategy is just to attract attention and get clicks from site visitors without delivering any value)
Spun content (this content is slightly altered or rewritten)
Paying for reviews
Prolific exchange of links
Simply stated, instead of spending your time and efforts on searching for loopholes to exploit, it is best to focus on the basic principles and ethical strategies. This can help you offer excellent user experience and improve your search engine ranking.
8- Why does it Matter to Have Rich SEO Experience?
Some business owners choose to perform search engine optimization activities on their own, in-house. However, as easy and simple as it may sound optimization requires time, a great deal of ongoing efforts and above all rich SEO experience.
Optimizing sites in-house can become overwhelming after reaching a certain point especially if you lack SEO experience. Without any experience in this field, you’ll always struggle to improve your website’s rank or sustain it. So, it is advised that you partner with an experienced SEO company like SEO Resellers Canada to redefine your business success.
Here are some more reasons why it makes sense to partner with a company that has a rich SEO experience:
8.1- Good Business Understanding
Unlike a company that is new to the industry, an experienced SEO company has a sound understanding of the field. This is a plus point as you don’t have to go through a hectic phase of trial and error which can be risky and time-consuming.
With complete know-how of what works and what doesn’t, rest assured you’ll be better off with an experienced company.
8.2- Develop a Well-Rounded Strategic SEO Marketing Plan
Leveraging on their wealth of experience and industry knowledge, an experienced SEO company can provide you with a well-rounded and result-driven plan with the right mix of SEO strategies. This gives your business the push and edge it needs to increase search engine visibility and sustain a high ranking.
8.3- Multifaceted Team of SEO Experts
An experienced SEO company will have a team of top-notch and skilled SEO experts and strategists. This acts as a driving force. They will help you every step of the way from strategizing to implementation, and monitoring.
8.4- Saves Time
Another great reason to hire an experienced firm is that you can save time and in-house resources on navigating through the complexities and challenges associated with SEO. Instead, you can utilize both time and resources on other revenue-generating areas of your business.
While an experienced SEO company focuses on helping you conquer the digital landscape, you can focus on offline areas of your business and customer service making sure that your customers keep coming back for more.
8.5- Abreast with the Changing Algorithms
Only an experienced SEO team can understand and tell the difference between the old and new algorithms. Such teams make sure that they are abreast of the changes that Google and other search engines make to their algorithms for better optimization.
An inexperienced company may struggle through without knowing what changes were made to the updated algorithms and why.
Keeping abreast with the latest in SEO is the key to success. This helps in better strategy development and provides the team with rich SEO experience an edge over others. Moreover, their knowledge about the changes in algorithms translates into success as they create strategies that deliver results.
8.6- Monitor Campaign Performance and Provide Reports
Experience matters because it allows teams to understand what tools to use for monitoring SEO campaign performance such as authority labs, Google analytics etc. This experience gives them the confidence to share campaign results with their customers because they have nothing to hide.
You can expect them to provide you with SEO reporting services with complete details about your website’s performance. Undoubtedly experience also adds to the authenticity of the company.
9- Final Takeaways
If you’re new to SEO we’re confident that after reading this you must have your answers to what does SEO mean, how it works and why SEO experience is crucial. Search engine optimization is a must as it is the ultimate way to increase online business visibility and attract targeted leads to your website.
Simply stated if your business website is not search-engine friendly it will never manage to compete with other websites. Furthermore, it will get lost among the billions of other websites. So, your answer to online business success can be summed up in three letters S.E.O. It is how you can ensure that your business site gets found by your target audience in the top searches for your industry.
A word of advice is to work with a reliable, trusted and experienced SEO company. Make sure to discuss your SEO campaign goals clearly before strategy development. This will allow your SEO partner to select strategies that can deliver targeted results and thus offer you complete customer satisfaction.
Remember that, search engine optimization is a lengthy process. Therefore, never fall for a company that makes false promises. It takes time to gain high web rankings and ongoing efforts to sustain it. Nothing happens overnight. Therefore, be patient and opt for an SEO company that is trusted and can ensure sustainable online success by using ethical SEO practices.
Jamie has more than two decades of experience in accelerating brand visibility for online businesses. His company operates SEOResellersCanada.ca, a white label SEO and digital marketing agency. With his unique and actionable business processes, agencies and small businesses can successfully expand online operations without the traditional associated cost overhead.
For over 18 years we have been the solution to fit any size agency or business. Our team of creative SEO experts and marketers develop some of the best results driven campaigns in the industry.
A forward-looking digital marketing agency knows that content is the fuel that fires up success in SEO campaigns. It will be an understatement to say that high quality content is the catalyst that enables SEO success.
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