The term SEO is commonplace in today’s world of marketing, but a lot of companies are still confused by what it is or why it’s useful for their business. I’ll try to clear some of that up.
What is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.
“Okay, but what does that mean?”
That means you optimize your website (and the content on your website) so that Google, Bing, and other search engines consider your site a quality site. You may not know this, but Google is analyzing your site over and over and over again and giving it an E-A-T score to determine how valuable it is to users (aka, determining how high to place it in the search results).
By giving your site an E-A-T score, Google is deciding how much your site displays the following 3 factors:
If Google decides that your site offers users a lot of value and you seem to be a trustworthy, authoritative expert on your site’s subject matter, it’ll rank you higher in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and hopefully you’ll make it to Page 1. If Google looks at your site and doesn’t like what it sees, you’ll get banished to the depths of the SERPs…like Page 15, or 20, or *gasp* Page 2! (Let’s be honest, anything after Page 1 is basically No-Man’s Land).
Let’s talk about SEO tactics that can be used to optimize your site.
The 3 Pillars of SEO
- Technical SEO
- Content creation & strategy <– Hey, that’s where we step in!
- Link Building
Technical SEO, Content, and Link Building are considered the 3 pillars of SEO, though there are many other factors involved in SEO. You can focus on one area, but SEO is way more effective when you’re giving attention to all three pillars. Some SEO professionals focus on all three, while others are highly-specialized in one area. Content Is Queen is specialized in content creation & strategy, but we can offer consulting in the other areas or point you in the direction of someone who claims them as their specialty!
There are certain technical aspects of your site and its server that signal to search engines whether your site is valuable or not. Does your site have a secure connection? Is your site mobile-friendly? Does it have fast loading times?
Search engines like Google want their users to be catered to and taken care of. They want your site to be secure, they want your site’s page speed to be lightening fast, and they want your site to be mobile-friendly, among other things. Here is a short list of ways you can optimize your site technically:
- Have an https:// URL over an http:// URL (Or as I call it, Say Yes to the S!)
- Make your site mobile-friendly
- Get your site loading times (page speed) to be as fast as possible
- Look out for duplicate content issues
- Create a sitemap
- Use structured data
Check out Moz’s Technical SEO resources to get a better understanding of the above.
Content Creation & Strategy
You might be wondering what the difference is between SEO content and “regular” content. SEO content is just regular content that has been optimized for search engines.
SEO content could be any of the following:
- Product pages
- Research articles
Yep, pretty much any type of content can be used to increase your site’s traffic and SERP rankings.
“So then why isn’t all content optimized for SEO all the time?”
WOW, GREAT QUESTION! Ideally, sites would constantly be writing and creating content with SEO in mind, but many businesses still don’t understand the correlation between or importance of content and SEO. One of our goals at Content Is Queen is to change this false way of thinking that content isn’t important or doesn’t need to be optimized.
There is a lot that goes into creating good, effective SEO content, but here are a few tactics we always use:
- Keyword research: researching to find out which keywords and phrases users are searching for or asking questions about
- Keyword optimization: knowing how to optimize your content to rank for your target keywords and search terms
- User intent optimization: knowing how to optimize your content in a way that not only ranks for the target keywords, but also for the user’s intent behind searching for that keyword
- Quality over quantity: producing content that is longer (min. 2,000 words), more informative, and more valuable to the user gets you better results than just pumping out lots and lots of thin, useless pieces of content.
Link building is the process of acquiring links from other websites to your own site. When Google is crawling your site and deciding on its E-A-T score, one of the factors it takes into consideration is how many links your site is getting from external websites. They also consider the quality of those sites that are linking to you. Usually, the more high-quality websites you have linking to your site through their content, the more likely it is Google will decide your site is also high quality and deserves to be ranked high in the search results.
There are two main ways to get links: organically, or through outreach.
When you get a link from another site organically, it means that site found your content, thought it would be useful to their users, and included a link to it in their site’s content.
With outreach, link builders will reach out to other companies or content creators who have similar audiences and ask them to include a link back to their site. For example: If I work for a company who makes kitchen cutlery, I might create an awesome piece of content about our product and reach out to popular food bloggers or recipe websites to see if they’d like to include a link to my content on their site. I do this because we have similar audiences (but are not competitors), and their audiences might find my content useful and helpful. If they include the link, not only do I get the SEO benefit of their site linking to mine, but I also get their users clicking through to our content and possibly purchasing our cutlery.
Things to Keep in Mind About SEO
Over the past decade, the need for SEO has increased tremendously for companies of all sizes. Even so, a lot of small businesses don’t believe it’s important that they invest in this area of marketing. This is a big mistake! Harnessing the power of SEO can mean big wins for your small business. And trust me when I say, if your competitors are taking advantage of SEO, you already have a lot of catching up to do!
That said, when you decide to pull the trigger on SEO, there are a few things you need to keep in mind in order to reap the full benefits:
- SEO takes time.
- SEO done well saves you money.
- SEO is always changing.
- SEO is fun as hell.
SEO takes time.
SEO is not a get-traffic-quick scheme. It’s an investment. Because of the nature of search engine algorithms, it can take a little while to see the results from your SEO efforts. Sometimes “a little while” means weeks, sometimes it means months. However, this doesn’t make your SEO investment or efforts any less important. There’s a reason why I named this guide “You Reap What You SEO”. Pour your energy and resources into SEO now, and reap the benefits later. Otherwise, your competition who is investing in SEO will leave you in the dust.
SEO done well saves you money.
Once you do start reaping the benefits of strong SEO efforts, you’ll understand why this is such an important piece of the puzzle. Organic traffic is free traffic. I mean, sure – you’re paying someone to do SEO for you, but unlike paid marketing channels, you’re not paying for every user clicking on your organic search results. This makes SEO one of the more profitable marketing channels when it’s done well.
SEO is always changing.
There may come a time in your relationship with SEO when you think you have it all figured out. You will be wrong. Because search engines like Google are constantly refining their website quality standards and their search algorithms, SEO professionals will always be changing and refining what they know to be true about SEO. One tactic that works today may not work well a year from now. SEO will keep you on your toes.
SEO is fun as hell.
Yes, SEO is always changing, but because of that it’s such a fun and exciting field. Working in SEO forces you to be creative and think outside the box, it forces you to always be learning, and it forces you to always be testing the limits on what you know to be true. It’s a very fun game that can make your business a lot of money.