If you’re a business owner, there’s a big chance you’ve heard the term SEO. Do you really know what it means, however is a completely different question. The truth is that SEO can immensely improve your business’s performance in the digital world. Therefore, it’s definitely something, which you should be including in your marketing strategy. If you feel confused as to what exactly does that mean and how you can use it to grow your business digitally, worry not because we’re here to let you in on the most important details about SEO. Keep reading to find out how your business can benefit from search engine optimization.

What is SEO?

We already gave you a clue but SEO actually stands for Search Engine Optimization. We know that things may not be completely clear, so let us explain. Through good SEO practices you can significantly increase the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. Furthermore, SEO improves the exposure of your brand, when it comes to organic (non-paid) search engine results. This means that your website’s overall searchability and visibility are strongly influenced by SEO. Thus it is a crucial tool when it comes to online businesses in 2021, which according to the latest trends are most of the businesses out there. So if you haven’t thought about optimizing your website for the search engines on the web, you should definitely keep reading to find out what are some of the benefits you’ve been missing out on.

How Does It Work?

In order to understand how SEO works, you need to first comprehend what search engines are. One of the biggest search engines (SE), which you probably already use on a daily basis, is Google. However, there are other similar platforms on the web, such as: Yahoo, Bing and even YouTube (for visual content). The main function of SE is to answer users queries. Google doesn’t share official data about it, however according to kenshoo.com, the web giant processes more than 5.6 billion inquiries per day.

In order to find the right answers for users’ questions, search engines go through a massive load of data, such as web pages, videos, pictures, documents, PDFs and more and order them in their database. This process is called crawling and indexing. After the platform has looked at all of those sources, it determines which of the files contain useful information for answering your question. Then the files, webpages, videos and other data are displayed in the results page. The tricky part here is the fact that the order in which those results are displayed depends on how well a particular source answers your query. Therefore, sources, which Google (for example) thinks answer your question best, will be displayed first in the results pages. This is referred to as ranking.

So, here’s how this is connected to improving your business presence in the digital: If you understand what questions your customers are asking about your business (the intent of your audiences queries) and which words they use when searching online for it, you can create content and optimize your website so, that Google detects your efforts and adequately connects your audience to the appropriate solution (and if you’ve succeeded with your SEO optimization, that solution would be your website). As moz.com says: “If knowing your audience’s intent is one side of the SEO coin, delivering it in a way search engine crawlers can find and understand it is the other”.

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How can your business benefit from SEO?

There are a number of SEO tools, as well as tricks and tips, through which you could optimize your website for the search engines. With their help, you could not only gain more traffic to your website, but also make it appear on the first search engine results page (often referred to as SERP). This can help you increase your visibility and ultimately broaden your clients list, because as searchenginejournal.com reminds us, organic search is most often the primary source of website traffic. Furthermore, Google accounts for over 75% of all global desktop search traffic and 15% of the daily questions directed at the platform come from new users. This means that your potential audience is rapidly growing and there’s a bigger opportunity for your business to be discovered by the people who need your products or services.

Even though SEO is a truly crucial aspect for business owners, and especially to those with local businesses, mastering your efforts can take time. Moreover, you shouldn’t put your hopes high and expect to see results right away. Keep in mind that sometimes it takes somewhere between 4 to 6 months before you start seeing results. As Forbes says, however, the results that you’ll see in 6 months and those in 12 months after your initial effort will significantly differ. The good news is that the results are long lasting and your SEO efforts will continue to benefit your business for a long time. On the other hand, if you’ve neglected SEO or your optimization isn’t very useful, this can hinder the performance of your website. You should try to avoid such outcomes, because as we already mentioned, it takes time and serious efforts to improve your ranking.

Additionally, there are a number of factors, which determine how good your SEO is. Although high-quality content and link building are the two most important points acknowledged by Google to rank your website for a particular search, the search algorithm uses more than 200 factors when ranking websites. Some of them are connected to the purpose of the page, which you are trying to rank, the amount and quality of the content on it, the overall information about the website and the content creator, the reputation of the website and the content creator, user’s interactions with the page, as well as the expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) of the source.

Crucial SEO elements for your website

As we already hinted, there are a lot of factors, which Google (and the other search engines) is taking into consideration before it decides where to rank a particular page. Fortunately, there is plenty of information available on the internet when it comes to SEO and although, we don’t know for certain what exactly each of those factors is, we can gain an idea of what some generally good SEO practices are. Furthermore, Google has extensive tutorials and guidelines on how to construct your website and what elements to include, in order to have a better ranking. Therefore, we’ve decided to lay out some of the major and most important SEO steps that you need to implement to your website if you still haven’t.

  • Research keywords and customers’ search intents

As with most marketing strategies and tools, before you start planning and implementing, you need to conduct a research. With SEO you have to understand which keywords are mostly typed in the search engines by your clients when they need information about your brand. You can do this with the help of Google Keyword Planner or through any of the many third party tools available online. Furthermore, you need to understand what is the search intent of your customers when using those words. Generally speaking there are three main types of search intents:

  1. Informational: when a user needs more information on a given matter. For example, “How tall is the tallest animal in the world?”
  2. Navigational: searching for a specific webpage (in this case the user has a website in mind and wants to use the SE for easier access) For example, “NY times”
  3. Transactional: searching with an intent of buying something. For example, “Orchid seeds stores London”

Keep in mind that if you want to rank on the first SERP you need to provide content, which contains the keywords that your clients use when searching for you and is in accordance with your clients’ search intent.

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  • Have good content with clear titles and describe your page contents accurately

Although SEO ranking is important and you should be striving for success, don’t build your webpages primarily for search engines. After all, you want to be helpful to your customers and not deceive them. In order to be able to do that, you need to focus on interesting and well-written content, which corresponds to their search intents and grabs their attention. By doing so, you’ll build credibility and trust in your audience. Regularly take peaks at what your competitors are doing and what content pops up when you type some of the keywords you’re trying to rank for in Google. See what customers’ questions they left unanswered and get to creating the appropriate content.

When deciding what to include on your pages keep in mind that clear and smart titles are always a good choice. Many SEO specialists advise that your chances to rank higher can be increased if you use keywords in your titles. Furthermore, it’s preferable to have extensive meta descriptions with keywords in them on all of your pages. That being said, don’t jam in all of the keywords you can think of. That’s not going to help you not only because you’ll confuse Google’s crawlers (the algorithms that visit pages and index them accordingly), but also because in that way you are going to trick the users into visiting a given topic-related page, which doesn’t actually talk about what they thought it would. Furthermore, according to ahref.com, their study, including 2 million keywords, showed that most of the pages ranking high on Google, don’t have an exact matching keyword. Thus, your overall goal is to have really good content, which is answering your customers’ questions and to have good meta descriptions of your pages. If you can and if it fits go ahead and include appropriate keywords in your titles and descriptions, however, try not to overdo it.

Additionally, you should always include alt text, describing the visuals on your webpage. The goal here is to write little texts describing what can be seen on the pictures and other visual elements on your page. This will not only be useful for people who use a screen reader, but also it can significantly improve your ranking in Google Images (and overall SERP ranking as well). Furthermore, even if your images are slow to load (which is really bad in terms of SEO and UX) your website visitors will have the opportunity to read what they are about to see. Therefore you’re keeping their mind occupied while waiting and you’re providing information as to what you’re going to show them in a minute (let’s hope it’s less than a minute, though). As webmaster trends analyst in Google, John Mueller, tweeted: “Alt text is extremely helpful for Google Images — if you want your images to rank there. Even if you use lazy-loading, you know which image will be loaded, so get that information in there as early as possible & test what it renders as.

  • Use internal and external linking

It’s a very good idea to link high-quality, relevant sources to your content and to internally link your pages to one another. By doing so, you’re increasing your chances of ranking higher. Let us explain: years ago Google’s ranking algorithm favored webpages which had many links on them. Those popped up in the first SERPs because Google thought the more links a given page had, the better its content. Furthermore, as contentharmony.com says: Essentially, links to your websites are popularity votes, and the more votes you get, the more popular you are with Google. However, you need to know that there are better links than others. You should try to link not only to relevant, but also to trustworthy pages, which have authority when it comes to search engines. For example, if you’re writing an article about global warming, try to link NASA’s webpage, rather than some 5 year old article, written on a blog with 4 articles overall. Additionally, it’s a good idea to include diverse links on your webpage. This will increase your trustability and show that your content isn’t biased. Furthermore, pages without good diversity of links can be red flagged by the search engines.

  • Optimize your website for mobile devices and make sure your pages load fast

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that page speed and mobile compatibility play a huge role when it comes to higher ranking and bounce rates. According to statista.com, there’s a promising future for mobile internet usage, as global mobile data traffic is projected to increase nearly sevenfold between 2017 and 2022. Furthermore, the source states that as of April 2019, the global mobile population amounted to 4 billion unique users and in February 2019, mobile devices accounted for 48 percent of web page views worldwide. Since most searches happen on mobile devices (even more so with popular functionalities available for mobile devices such as voice search) we needn’t have to say that you must optimize your website for smartphones and tablets. You can see if your website needs improvements when it comes to mobile compatibility, with the help of Google’s Mobile-Friendly Testing tool. Once you make sure your clients can effortlessly access your website, no matter the type of their device, you need to optimize the speed of your pages. If you want to stay on top of your competitors you need to have pages, which load in less than a second. Otherwise you’re risking to have a very high bounce rate (which is never good for ranking) and to have lower traffic than your competitors.

  • Analyze and improve your SEO performance

You should always base your actions on data, when it comes to SEO (well this is actually true for most of your marketing tools). You want to constantly keep track of the trends and the new SEO tools so you can include them in your strategy. As we already mentioned, it will take some time before you start seeing results. However, you should regularly keep track of your performance along the way and evaluate what works for you and what doesn’t. Of course in order to know that, you need to have a clear goal in mind. So whether you want to increase traffic to your website, boost your authority, rank higher (could be a combination of the above) or you have any other goal in mind, you need to outline your most important KPIs (key performance indicators) and record them on a weekly or a monthly basis. For this purpose you will greatly benefit from platforms such as Google Analytics or Google Search Console. Both of them allow you to track the performance of your website and provide a huge array of diverse reports and analytics functions. So don’t forget to use them and improve your performance with their help.

So those are the essentials of SEO and you should definitely implement them if you want to rank high on Google and increase your visibility. Keep in mind, however, that those are just a tiny part of all the possibilities SEO proposes. It’s always a good idea to have a well optimized website with strong UX, because if the users are happy with it, then the search engines are also going to like it. Furthermore, if you create a Google Business profile for your brand, your SEO will significantly benefit from it. This is crucial for small business owners, as it increases engagement and boosts local traffic to your page. Ultimately, it can influence your conversion rates in a very positive manner. Just make sure to follow the best practices when creating your Google Business profile and include high-quality content and visuals in it. Additionally, keep in mind that your SERP ranking depends on your overall website performance and set up, so even if you put all of your efforts in finding the right keywords and topics to write about, you can still end up disappointed because you didn’t complete your goal if your website or online store is not optimized correctly.

Why do you need SEO for your website?

Although you can increase the traffic to your website with marketing tools such as social media, email or other communication platforms, SEO is the best way to achieve this objective, as the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines. Furthermore, organic search results appear more trustworthy to internet users around the globe, and therefore receive more attention than the paid search results (achieved through Google AdWords). As HubSpot shares, 36.2% of consumers recognize links that are paid advertisements, but don’t click on them.

Additionally, if you decide to use paid advertising rather than SEO, you need to constantly set a budget and keep paying, so you can see the desired results. With search engines things look a bit different. If you have a great piece of content, which ranks for the right keywords, your traffic may snowball over time and you will see a constant flow of people visiting your website, even if you don’t edit or change anything in regards to this particular content.

Therefore, you want to be on Google’s “nice” list, you want to have authority, to be visible, trustworthy and easily discoverable. If you want to achieve that you need to execute the so-called “White hat SEO”, as opposed to the “Black hat SEO”. The latter is related to specific techniques and tools, which have the goal of fooling, spamming and confusing search engines, in order to provide a better ranking. You should definitely avoid that because it puts websites at a huge risk of being penalized and/or removed from search results (de-indexed). Plus, it has ethical implications. On the other hand, “White hat SEO” means the use of good practices and tools in accordance with search engines requirements and with a goal of providing a quality experience to internet users. In our opinion you should always act in accordance with white hat SEO.

So, if we’ve succeeded in convincing you that your website definitely needs SEO, it’s time to go through your options for optimizing your brand’s performance in the search engines. You can either try to implement some of the abovementioned practices and optimize your website for the search engines yourself, or you could seek help from the professionals. We would strongly advise you to refrain from any experiments you may want to perform, and outsource this task, because as moz.com shares, wrong SEO practices and techniques can actually harm your website more than they will help. Furthermore, good search engine optimization takes time and effort to be achieved. You will need to keep track of the constantly changing trends and try to figure out how the algorithm works, so you can stay on top of your competitors. Additionally, you’ll also have to monitor your competitors’ activity as well, because SEO can involve dynamic processes which require very good knowledge of what others are implementing at the moment. Moreover, because SEO requires a lot of effort, you may find it hard to keep up with all of the tasks, especially if you’ve never done search engine optimization before.

Therefore, we advise you to turn to the professionals. There are growing numbers of digital marketing agencies, which offer SEO services. The trick here is to be careful which one you choose, because as we already mentioned, if the SEO specialist prefers to use black hat SEO or is not particularly good at the job, they can hinder your business more than they will help. Thus, it’s a good idea to research multiple agencies and their services before you settle on the right one for you.

Of course, Markception is always ready to help, should you need our services. Our team consists of skilled professionals with many years of experience working both with international corporations, as well as small businesses. We can work together with you on outlining your business’s goals and coming up with the best solution for your brand. Markception’s team can help you not only with the creation, implementation and analysis of your SEO strategy, but also with all other aspects of your business’s marketing plan. We take pride in guiding businesses on the path towards their digital journey. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. Get in touch with us now.