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Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Definition

Search engine optimization is the process of improving the quality of the website or a web page from search engines. Search engine optimization targets unpaid traffic rather than direct traffic or paid traffic.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

 

Search engine optimization Strategy

An SEO strategy (also referred to as “SEO approach” or “search engine optimization strategy”) is the process of planning, outlining, and implementing steps designed to improve search engine rankings. In other words: a Search engine optimization strategy is the process that you follow when you want to get more organic traffic.

How to create an effective Search Engine Optimization strategy

  1. Know Your Keywords
  2. Write High-Quality Content (Naturally)
  3. Use Keywords in Your Website Page URLs
  4. Do not Overlook Page Titles
  5. Review Every Page for Additional Keyword Placement
  6. Improve User Experience
  7. Hire an Expert.

 

  1. Know Your Keywords

In Search engine optimization, first things first. You cannot do much without knowing what keywords your target market is using to find solutions to the problems that your company solves. This requires a little research. Step inside the shoes of the potential customer of your product or service. How would you find solutions to your problem? What would you search for in your search engine? For example, if you sell organic dog food, your potential customer is probably concerned about her dog’s health.

Maybe her dog has food allergies, and she is concerned about the chemicals and byproducts in most dog foods. Start searching. What sites pop up? Look at the words used in those snippets.

In my “dog has food allergies” query above, words like “sensitivities,” “natural,” and “balanced” show up. Do not forget to think about related words, like synonyms (thesaurus.com can be your best friend) and groups of words. Back to our dog with food allergies search. You could consider keyword phrases such as “food sensitivities,” “all-natural diet,” “complete balanced nourishment,” and “only natural ingredients.” The keywords should be more relevant to your category and it is too much important in Search engine optimization.

  1. Write High-Quality Content (Naturally)

The key here is to use your marketing spidey sense and create engaging content that is valuable to your target market. Valuable content includes content that answers the questions that your buyers have, provides them with insights they can use, and educates them so they can be better at what they do. Within the great content you are creating, remember to use appropriate keywords naturally. In Search engine optimization, the main key is only rich content.

Do not try to stuff your pages (i.e., adding keyword terms repeatedly in your content, in your meta tags, in your Alt descriptions, etc.) to inflate your site’s ranking. It will not help your search ranking (in fact, it could hurt it). If search engines catch you (and they will because their bots are super smart!), they can penalize your site by lowering your ranking or completely removing your site from their index. Plus, it will not impress your website visitors.

Who wants to read the same words over and over: “Are you looking for organic dog food? If you are looking for organic dog food, look no further. Our organic dog food website is the best place to order your organic dog food.” Keep it real—you are writing for a person.

  1. Use Keywords in Your Website Page URLs

To make Search engine optimization more effective, be sure you do not overlook your page URLs because they are important for your SEO. This is where your keyword research comes in handy. For example, if a page talks about your solar financing product, then the URL for that page should be products/solar financing. Focus on the most common and most searched appropriate keywords. If you are trying to decide between “solar financing” and “solar leasing,” choose the one with the highest search ranking.

There are a couple of quick and easy (and free) ways to check search ranking. One is to use Google AdWords Keyword Planner. Simply enter your keywords to get an idea of how popular they have been historically in terms of search volume. You can also use Google Trends, which is a truly fun site to explore. Compare different keywords to see a quick graphical comparison of interest over time.

  1. Do not Overlook Page Titles

It is critical to creating engaging and interesting titles for your web pages to keep the momentum of Search engine optimization smooth. Be sure they grab your target market. If they do not, people are not going to read all the great content below. I find that answering “What’s in it for me?” for my visitors helps me focus on what to highlight. Ask yourself: What is the benefit they will get from the content on this page and why should they care? Once you have that nailed, shorten your title, use strong words, and make it sexy (try a little alliteration for fun).

As you are creating these attention-grabbing headlines, ensure your keyword is in the headline (the H1) and/or the subhead (the H2). Using the solar financing example above, your H1 might be “Solar Financing Made Easy.”

  1. Review Every Page for Additional Keyword Placement

Now that you have created high-quality content that your target market needs (and wants) and have attention-grabbing headlines to engage them and encourage them to read further, go back and review everything you wrote. In your review, look for additional places where you can naturally place keywords.

Can you switch a sentence around to include a keyword? For example, on a page about marketing automation, “Identify the best customers and convert more” could be changed to “Marketing automation helps you identify the best customers and convert more.” Also, consider whether you can create a keyword phrase by adding a word in front of a keyword? If I have a sentence talking about “marketing campaigns” and “marketing automation” is a keyword for my page, I will add “automated” to “marketing campaigns.” Do several review passes. You may be surprised at what opportunities you miss the first, and even the second time, around.

  1. Improve User Experience

This is beyond website content, but a good user experience is becoming more and more important in strong SEO rankings. According to Robert Berry in his blog Three UX Principles That Help Your Website Do Its Job Right, “During the last two years, Google has evolved to place a much higher emphasis on sites that deliver quality user experiences across platforms and devices. Though traditional ranking factors are still king, search engine optimization is increasingly becoming user optimization.”

So, work with your web developers to be sure that your website is easy and intuitive to navigate and that each link works and takes your visitors to the next bit of information they are looking for.

  1. Hire an Expert

As I said earlier, basic SEO is mostly common sense. However, if you can afford it, it is wise to hire an SEO expert to ensure your site is truly optimized. An SEO consultant or agency can audit your site and look at how it is performing against your most important keywords. They will provide you with a prioritized list of action items to help you take your site to the next level.

Here is the great news: You do not have to have to be an SEO wizard to make sure your website is well positioned for organic search engine traffic. Simply use your common sense and the seven simple tips outlined above.

Do you have any additional tips for building SEO into websites? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

The 3 Types of Search Engine Optimization and How to Excel at Them

There are three types of SEO you need for a well-rounded organic search strategy: on-page SEO, technical SEO, and off-page SEO.

By breaking down your strategy and thinking about SEO as these three categories, it will be much easier to organize and execute your optimization plans.

In this post, we will review each type of SEO and how they are important to your overall marketing strategy. Plus, we will show you different types of SEO tools that can help you improve your performance in each category.

The 3 Types of Search Engine Optimization

On-Page Search Engine Optimization

On-page SEO relates to the content on your website.

It includes strategies to optimize an individual page on a website. These factors (all of which are outlined in this on-page SEO checklist) help search engines understand the topic of the content and see that the website is a valuable source that people would want to find.

This type of SEO includes:

  1. Keyword research: Finding the best keywords to target on a page of content.
  2. Content creation: Publishing high-quality content focused on target keywords.
  3. Keyword optimization: Using the target keyword in all the right places and using good meta tag SEO.

Alexa has tools to help with all aspects of on-page SEO. For keyword research and content creation, use our Keyword Difficulty Tool to find relevant, popular, low-competition keywords to target on your site.

For keyword optimization, use our On-Page SEO Checker to do a full review of individual pages on your site and see if they are fully optimized for your target keyword. Enter the target keyword and URL to receive a report with missed optimization opportunities and tips for improvement.

Technical Search Engine Optimization

Technical SEO relates to non-content elements of your website.

It includes strategies to improve a site’s backend structure and foundation. Technical SEO improves a site’s readability (which makes it easy for search engines to crawl and understand the site) and provides a good user experience, which helps search engines see that the site is high quality. A good user experience is also important for readers and can affect overall traffic and engagement rates.

The types of SEO included in this category relate to:

An easy way to check on the state of your technical SEO is by using Alexa’s SEO Audit Tool. Enter your site to receive a report on the status of multiple technical elements along with instructions for how to resolve issues if you have any.

  1. Site speed
  2. Mobile-friendliness
  3. Indexing
  4. Crawlability
  5. Site architecture
  6. Structured data
  7. Security

Off-Site Search Engine Optimization

Off-page SEO techniques help strengthen the influence and relationship your website has with other websites.

It includes strategies to build a website’s reputation and authority. These factors help search engines see that a website is an ideal search result because it is from a reputable, reliable, trusted source.

Most off-site SEO relates to high–quality backlinks. A large volume of links pointing to your site from relevant, authoritative sites shows search engines that your site is valuable and established.  You can gain these trust signals through a variety of link-building and guest posting tactics.

To create a link-building plan, use Alexa’s Competitor Backlink Checker. Enter up to 10 URLs of competitor sites and receive a report with all the links pointing to your competitors. Use this competitive analysis to get ideas for how you can build links to the same sites.

To create a guest posting plan, use Alexa’s Audience Overlap Tool. Enter your website or a site that has an audience you want to attract and receive a map of other sites that share the same audience. This report supports guest blogging outreach strategies, as it gives you a long list of sites that would be good opportunities to gain links and reach your target audience.

You can also use the information you uncovered with the backlink checker to find guest blogging opportunities. Look for sites where your competitors have submitted guest posts and try to do the same for your brand.

Use All 3 Types of SEO to Improve Your Marketing Strategy

To create an SEO plan that leads to real results, you cannot focus on just one group of ranking factors.  You need to use different types of SEO in conjunction with each other to give your site the best chance at showing up in search.

So, as you put together your SEO strategy, use tools that cater to all three aspects of SEO. Alexa’s Advanced Plan includes several types of SEO tools that can help you form your strategy. Try it for yourself. Sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan to access the tools you need to improve your on-site, off-page, and technical SEO and create a well-rounded optimization plan.

Why SEO is important

While paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, most of the online traffic is driven by search engines.

Organic search results cover more digital real estate, appear more credible to savvy searchers, and receive way more clicks than paid advertisements. For example, of all US searches, only ~2.8% of people click on paid advertisements.

In a nutshell: SEO has ~20X more traffic opportunities than PPC on both mobile and desktop.

SEO is also one of the only online marketing channels that, when set up correctly, can continue to pay dividends over time. If you provide a solid piece of content that deserves to rank for the right keywords, your traffic can snowball over time, whereas advertising needs continuous funding to send traffic to your site.

Search engines are getting smarter, but they still need our help.

Optimizing your site will help deliver better information to search engines so that your content can be properly indexed and displayed within search results.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is the process of discovering words and phrases (aka “keywords”) that people use in search engines, like Google, Bing, and YouTube.

Keyword research impacts every other SEO task that you perform, including finding content topics, on-page SEO, email outreach, and content promotion.

 

What Is On-Page Search Engine Optimization?

On-page SEO (also known as on-site SEO) refers to the practice of optimizing web pages to improve a website’s search engine rankings and earn organic traffic.

In addition to publishing relevant, high-quality content, on-page SEO includes optimizing your headlines, HTML tags (title, meta, and header), and images. It also means making sure your website has a high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

It considers various aspects of the webpage that, when added together, will improve your website’s visibility in the search results.

Why On-Page SEO Is Important

On-page SEO is important because it helps search engines understand your website and its content, as well as identify whether it is relevant to a searcher’s query.

As search engines become more sophisticated, there is a greater focus on relevance and semantics in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google, with its plethora of complex algorithms, is now much better at:

Adapting to this development is essential, and you can do it by ensuring that your website and its content – both what is visible to users on your webpages (i.e., text, images, video, or audio) and elements that are only visible to search engines (i.e., HTML tags, structured data) – are well-optimized according to the latest best practices.

Additionally, you cannot simply ignore on-page SEO because you have more control when optimizing for on-site elements – as opposed to off-page SEO that consists of external signals (i.e., backlinks).

If you put effort into on-page strategies, you will see a boost in traffic and a rise in your search presence.

This guide will walk you through the most important elements of on-page SEO.

Paying close attention to these 10 areas will help improve your content and authority – and increase your rankings, traffic, and conversions.

  1. E-A-T

E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is the framework that Google raters use to assess content creators, webpages, and websites.

Google has always put a premium on high-quality content. It wants to make sure that sites producing high-quality content are rewarded with better rankings and sites that create low-quality content get less visibility.

There is a clear relationship between what Google considers high-quality content and what appears in the search results.

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Call it correlation or causation – whatever it is, E-A-T is somehow playing a role in Google’s organic search results. This means E-A-T must be a consideration in your SEO strategy.

  1. Title Tag

The title tag, an HTML tag that exists in the head section of each webpage, provides an initial cue or context as to what the topical subject matter is of the respective page it is on.

It is featured prominently in the search engine results pages (typically used as the clickable link) as well as in the browser window.

The title tag by itself has little impact on organic rankings, this is why it is sometimes overlooked.

That said, missing, duplicate, and poorly written title tags can all negatively impact your SEO results, so make sure you are optimizing for this element.

  1. Meta Description

Since the early days of SEO, meta descriptions have been an important optimization point.

Meta descriptions, meta tags that provide a description of what the page is about, are often displayed in the SERPs underneath the title of the page.

While Google maintains that meta descriptions do not help with rankings, there is anecdotal evidence that indirect attributes of better descriptions do help.

Optimizing meta description correctly can help improve:

  1. Headlines

Want your website content to perform well on search? Then start writing compelling headlines.

Coming up with a title for a blog post might seem too basic, but a great headline can mean the difference between a click and an impression – that is why it is important to create them strategically.

Your headlines need to spark interest for it to stand out on the SERPs – enticing users to click through and continue reading the rest of the content.

  1. Header Tags

Header tags are HTML elements (H1-H6) used to identify headings and subheadings within your content from other types of text (e.g., paragraph text).

Header tags are not as critically important for your site rankings as they used to be, but these tags still serve an important function – for your users and your SEO.

They can indirectly impact your rankings by:

  1. Making your content easier and more enjoyable for visitors to read.
  2. Providing keyword-rich context about your content for the search engines.

SEO Writing

  1. SEO writing means writing content with both search engines and users in mind.
  2. There is a strategy behind writing solid SEO content – and it is more than just keyword research and fill in the blanks.
  3. Simply producing content for the sake of it will not do. Remember that you are writing content for people – therefore that content must be high-quality, substantial, and relevant.
  4. Keyword Cannibalization

True or false? The more pages you have targeting a keyword, the better you will rank for that keyword.

False!

Targeting a specific term across multiple pages can cause “keyword cannibalization” which has some potentially disastrous consequences for your SEO.

When you have multiple pages ranking for the same keyword, you are competing with yourself.

It is important to identify whether keyword cannibalization exists on your website and resolve it right away.

  1. Content Audit

Most content creators are focused on creating new content that they forget to audit their existing content. And this is a mistake.

Auditing your existing content is crucial because it helps you:

  1. Evaluate whether your existing content is achieving its goals and gaining ROI.
  2. Identify whether the information in your content is still accurate or has become stale (or even outdated).
  3. Determine what types of content are working for you.

Content audits can greatly help your SEO strategy and they should be done on a regular basis.

  1. Image Optimization

Adding images is a good way to make your web pages more appealing. But not all images are created equal – some can even slow down your website.

Optimizing images properly will help you make the most of a valuable SEO asset.

Image optimization has many advantages, such as:

  1. Additional ranking opportunities (show up on Google Image Search).
  2. Better user experience.
  3. Faster page load times.

Images should not be an afterthought. Make sure to incorporate images that support your content and use descriptive titles and alt text.

  1. User Engagement

Enhancing your website’s on-page SEO elements is only half the battle.

The other half lies in making sure that users will not bounce – but instead, they will continue viewing your content, interacting with it, and keep coming back for more.

Retaining engaged users is a great challenge, but it is certainly doable. To increase user engagement, focus on aspects such as site speed, user experience, and content optimization, among others.

Conclusion

On-page SEO is important if you want to increase your website’s chances of showing up in the search results.

Optimizing for on-site factors on a regular basis can help improve your rankings, traffic, and conversions.

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