What is SEO and How does it Work?

So you’ve paid for a web domain and web host and are ready to launch the business of the century right? Not so fast. The key to a successful website, or ecommerce shop is all in your SEO. Okay, maybe not all, but a significant amount most certainly is. According to statistics HubSpot found on Statista in 2019, “search traffic generated 65% of total ecommerce sessions, 33% was generated through organic search, and 32% was generated through paid search. (Statista, 2019)”

If you’re venturing away from a brick and mortar shop and into the virtual land of e-commerce, you’ve certainly heard the acronym, SEO heaps of times. Or, maybe you’re simply trying your hand at an online business? The big question is, what is SEO? And why do you need to utilize SEO to increase sales and successfully launch your business, website, or blog? We’re very glad you asked. In the following article we’ll review everything you need to know to increase your presence online. The age of billboard or poster advertisements are long gone. Unless of course, you consider an online ad the new poster. Through this article you’ll be able to launch your site beyond the basics and into the professional realm. That is, the realm where new clients can actually discover your site. 

What is SEO and How

Photo Credit by Jess Stanier

What is SEO exactly, and why is it so important for my Business?

First off, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Great, we’re glad we got that off our chests. What this means is, you’re optimizing (there’s that word again!) traffic to your webpage from search engine results. This way, when someone is searching for a brownies recipe, or new toys for their cats, they will find your page (assuming you’re selling cat toys or recipe books) among the first suggested web pages. 

In some ways, the internet is a scary place. There are thousands, if not millions of possible answers to your questions. And in many cases, supplies available for the demand. Since many shops can no longer rely on foot traffic to bring in new customers, they must generate a searchable presence online. And though this new field of marketing and sales may seem extremely complex, in fact, it’s not all that difficult to manage. You don’t necessarily need an in-house SEO expert to run your website. Let’s dive a little deeper in order to understand how to maximize our online presence through SEO, shall we?

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What are SEO tools?

Well, SEO tools are essential tricks for website owners. Website owners will use these tools to bump their webpages higher up on the search result lists. SEO tools provide web owners insight into how to ensure their website will appear among the first, after your consumer hits the search button. These tools are available for free, with a wide variety of services that shouldn’t be overlooked. The tools available can vary from keyword research tools, to analytical tools, technical SEO tools and more. There are plenty of tricks and resources out there (maybe too many!) that are both free and simple to use. Let’s have a look at some of our favorite ‘engines’ now.  

Here are some examples of SEO tools and how they work: 

1. Google PageSpeed Insight  

If your website takes too long to load on tablets, phones or desktops, you will likely lose potential clients. Google PageSpeed Insight will tell you how fast or slow your website takes to load on a user’s browser and its overall performance ranking. The bonus is, this tool will also offer you insight into how to improve your score. 

2. Answer the Public

Answer the Public is a free keyword research tool. They will supply you with the most common questions individuals are searching on Google’s autocomplete results. This tool is especially useful for websites which generate articles or blog posts to increase sales. The tool only offers two free searches a day, but unless you’re running a News website, we think that should be enough to get the ball rolling and the numbers rising.

3. Google Analytics

As far as analytic tools go, Google analytics is just about the highest ranking analytics tool there is out there. Google Analytics is especially useful when you know your target audience. There’s an abundance of data on this site, which is both a plus and a minus. But, they also have many tools to limit the data to exactly the target group you need insight on. For a complete guide on how Google Analytics works, we recommend viewing Hubspot’s guidelines.

4. Smush

If you’re using WordPress, this tool will compress the images on your site without reducing the image quality. The images on your website are one of the main components which can slow down your page on your users’ devices. Smush is both free and easy to use. 

What is SEO and How

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5. SEO Web Page Analyzer

SEO web page analyzer is a useful tool for looking at your website for another perspective. According to Buffer, “SEO Web Page Analyzer performs a comprehensive on-page analysis to uncover issues like a missing image alt tag, heading structure errors, and page bloat.” For even more on free SEO tools, visit Buffer’s “25 Simple and Free SEO tools to Instantly Improve your Marketing.”

6. Yoast

Yoast is a Plugin for WordPress which aids in SEO. Yoast works on charming both the visitors to your site and the search engine spiders. Some of Yoast’s fan favorite offers include, title and meta description templating, their automatic canonical URLs, an SEO analysis on your text, and much more! 

What’s a basic beginner’s guide to SEO?

Anyone can get started with SEO to drive more traffic to their site. Though SEO strategies are often in flux and changing with the times, there are some basic rules which will remain constant. If you’re interested in becoming an SEO professional, or simply looking for basic SEO knowledge we recommend you start here. 

Understand How and Why People Search

Some users are searching for general information about a topic, while other users are looking for specific content. You can choose to utilize high ranking keywords, but if a user is looking for very specific content, they will scroll right past the link to your page. Your aim is to satisfy the users intent when visiting your page. To better understand how users search you can follow Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines.

Inbound, Outbound and Internal Links

Google started using a PageRank algorithm which went beyond your standard keyword search. This means, the links you thread into your website, blog and articles will affect how low or how high your webpage will rank. Google assumes that when a website uses the highest quality websites for their page, then that website is somewhere on the same level as those higher ranking sites. Naturally, inbound links are the highest ranking when it comes to SEO. Inbound links are the number of websites sending users over to your website as a reliable resource. Inbound links should be one of your goals. But, we’ll talk more about clarifying your goals later on. 

Valuable Content

As we stressed earlier, keywords are no longer the only tool for high ranking SEO. That’s because, early on, websites started over-abusing SEO keywords. They were forcing SEO keywords to bring more users to their page. But, in a matter of minutes the users exited the page when they didn’t find the actual information they were searching for. The most reliable way to experience organic traffic and search visibility to your page is by continuously keeping the standards high. And, offering high quality content. 

Updated Designs

Have you ever visited a website and found the page so utterly confusing? The clarity and searchability of a site is almost all in the design of the page. Think about the design of your website in relation to the layout of a supermarket. Imagine if the candy bars were no longer by the counter. We wouldn’t know where to find them, and frankly we’d leave without buying anything to munch on. In this case, everybody loses. Making your website more attractive to a search engine and your audience is one of the surest ways to increase those numbers.    

On-Page / Off-Page SEO

On-Page SEO are the strategies you use on your actual website to gain higher ranking. Some examples of On-Page SEO include, your meta descriptions, URL structure, Content Structure and website speed. Off-Page SEO, in a way, is out of your control. It’s how your website ranks outside of the actual website. But naturally, your On-Page SEO will directly impact your Off-Page SEO. But both are of equal importance. If you want to learn more about On-Page and Off-Page SEO you should read this blog post on The Difference Between On-Page and Off-Page SEO.

What are 5 Things every SEO strategy needs?

Yes, online marketing is a relatively new game. However, there are some fundamental strategies to ensure your website doesn’t retreat all the way back to the 12th or 20th page of your target audience’s search. The idea is to increase visibility as much as possible, but how does one do such a thing? Here’s how:

1. Managing Your Goals
When we’re talking goals here, we’re not necessarily referring to financial goals. Though your financial goals are certainly a part of the bigger picture, it’s important to start from the ground up. In this case, it’s essential to remain focused, with a clear set of attainable and comprehensive goals. Start by setting up project goals, ranking goals, etc. before focusing on the final revenue. 

An example of clear goals include, agreeing to generate 25 articles a month, with a specified word count. According to Hubspot, “Companies spend 46% of their budget on content creation.” Your goals can also focus around the design and trademarks of your business. The agenda here is to fully understand what your business has to offer the public, your niche, etc. And finally, knowing how to resourcefully distribute those goals among your team. 

Photo Credit by Digital Marketing Institute

2. Optimizing and Updating Keywords Across all Fronts
Keywords are praised as one of the most important aspects when it comes to implementing SEO strategies. How you use keywords will greatly impact your business’ presence online. Keywords aren’t limited to SEO, but your all around branding. Industry trends are always changing and you’ll need to keep up with what’s going on. This way you can update your keyword list and follow how your keywords are ranking over time. 
3. Don’t overlook Mobile usability
According to Broadband Search, “over the past decade, the share of traffic coming from mobile has shot up, but in 2018 and 2019 that number has held steady at 50 percent suggesting we may have reached the new normal.” But most importantly, Google has started prioritizing mobile versions when considering the business’ ranking. So, if your site isn’t mobile friendly, loads too slowly, or isn’t designed for smartphone screens, then your overall website will ‘lose points.’
4. Understanding Your Audience
First, you’ll need to understand your audience in order to come up with a strategy that grabs at their attention. Once you understand your audience, you’ll also know which platforms to find them on. By platform we mean Facebook, Google, Instagram, or anywhere else you plan on advertising your page. After you’ve lured your audience onto your page, you’ll have to figure out how to keep them there. If, say, the language you’re using is too amateur, or too tech savvy you will lose their attention rather quickly. 

You will not be able to implement a market strategy without understanding the needs and triggers of your audience. According to an article titled, “The Importance of Understanding Your Target Market” in Red Mallard, “When you can identify your ideal consumers and reach them in targeted ways, you will get more out of your content strategy. And, you will get more out of your marketing budget, whether it’s digital marketing or any other marketing medium you use.”

5. Keep on eye on metrics and conversions
As we mentioned earlier, the numbers are always changing. The online network is a forever growing and changing sphere. You need to keep an eye on your metrics to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Evaluate your pages, where the traffic is coming from and then how to increase your conversion rate. It’s important to understand if high or low conversion rates are due to the changing market, or based on your overall strategy. And from there adapt, adapt, adapt. 

How can I track how successful SEO is for my website or blog?

Your SEO success rate can sometimes be relatively hard to measure without the proper tools. Why is that so? Because there is a huge influx of data one would have to analyze to truly determine how successful one’s page actually is. Every business has their own unique goals and objectives. This is a part of the reasons why it’s so important to set up your goals early on. Once you have a clear vision of what your goals are, it will make it much easier to analyze the success rate of your goals and SEO scores. 

Within the SEO world there’s what’s called, Key Performance Indicator (KPI). Your Key Performance Indicators are the metrics and measurements used to track just how effective your SEO implementations are. KPI.org defines KPI as, “the critical (key) indicators of progress toward an intended result. KPIs provides a focus for strategic and operational improvement, create an analytical basis for decision making and help focus attention on what matters most.” Three ways to measure your KPI is through Organic Search Traffic, Time on Page and Conversion Rate. 

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Organic Search Traffic

If one of your main goals is to acquire more leads or customers to your page, then Organic Search Traffic would be an important factor to measure. This measures how many visits your website experienced based on search engine results. Google Analytics offers the possibility to view how many visits you had due to Organic Search Traffic. 

Time on Page

If your website includes a fair amount of articles and blog posts this one’s for you. Analyze how long your visitors are spending on each article to determine how successful the article or blog post was. If too many of your visitors are only spending a few seconds on the page, then we know we have an issue there. 

Conversion Rate

If your end goal is sales, then conversion rate would be a key factor for your business to measure. Your conversion rate is based on how many visitors purchased something from your website. However, if you’re not running an e-commerce site, then conversion rate can also be how many visitors watched one of your YouTube videos, signed up for your newsletter, etc. 

Our Final Thoughts

If you’re planning on moving your business online, then there is no avoiding SEO. Some of the key aspects to focus on are high ranking keywords and phrases, your content, your overall business goals, and understanding your target audience. These are the first steps you’ll need to take for your page to experience organic, or unpaid traffic to your site. Some of the most effective methods for increasing your ranking on search engine results pages are really quite simple. The complex part is understanding how to evaluate your results and how to continuously improve your SEO techniques. 

It’s also important to remember that your Search Engine Optimization efforts will take some time to flourish. Don’t expect to see your numbers rising in just a matter of days. It may take months to actually experience the fruits of your labor. There is plenty of information out there to understand the ins and outs of SEO. And beyond that valuable information are free SEO tools to increase leads and conversion rates. Times are changing, and they’re changing faster each day. And the choice that needs to be made is will you sink or will you swim?

 

Other related articles you might like to read:

References Summary:

  1. (HubSpot, 2020)The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2020 https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics 
  2. (Aja Frost, 2020) The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics in 2020 https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/google-analytics 
  3. (Kevin Lee, 2019) 25 Simple and Free SEO Tools to Instantly Improve Your Marketing [Updated for 2019] https://buffer.com/library/free-seo-tools/ 
  4. (December, 2019) General Guidelines https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf 
  5. (Jonathan Stanis, 2018) The Difference Between On-Page and Off-Page SEO https://www.weidert.com/blog/difference-between-on-page-and-off-page-seo#body 
  6. (HubSpot, 2020)The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2020 https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-statistics 
  7. (Broadband Search, 2020) Mobile Vs. Desktop Internet Usage (Latest 2020 Data) https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/mobile-desktop-internet-usage-statistics 
  8. (John Welches, 2020) The Importance of Understanding Your Target Market https://redmallard.com/the-importance-of-understanding-your-target-market/
  9. (KPI.org, 2020) What is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)? https://kpi.org/KPI-Basics
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