Myth Busters: SEO Edition
Everything in the digital landscape changes rapidly. Search engine marketing is no exception. In fact, it just might be the fastest-changing area, what with new trends and new product releases every week.
search en·gine op·ti·mi·za·tion
noun: the process of improving your website so it attracts more visitors from search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo)
Search engine optimization is a rather complicated online marketing discipline, despite the simplistic definition above. There are numerous different parts to it and best of all (she says sarcastically) best practices are constantly changing. Google enjoys updating its algorithm frequently, which means ranks shift, causing a headache for marketers. Not only that, but Google releases new technologies all the time that provide a new way to rank pages. In a nutshell, there’s a lot to contend with. Lucky for all you SEO newbies, all of us here at Dowitcher love staying on top of the latest trends and are here to help.
Are you new to the complicated world of SEO? Here are some ideas you might not be familiar with, a few common myths, and best practices.
Just what does it take to rank a website page in organic search results? There is no single “trick” that will do this but rather many different factors that must work together.
SEO Truths and Fundamentals
- Google consistently focus on the users’ search experience. So you should, too.
- Content is king: Search engines want to direct users to useful content so creating great, quality content that continues to be fresh and exciting, well, is fundamental to SEO success.
- Make sure your site is optimized for mobile! We often talk about mobile-friendliness but really, it can’t be stressed enough.
- Google rewards sites that make it easy for users to find what they want so work to create a site that is easy to navigate.
- Have a social media presence. Be present, be involved.
Common SEO Misconceptions
- Let’s start off with a big one: SEO is dead.
It’s not. Sure, Google Answers is a thing – ask Google a question and an answer will appear, rather than a link. And that’s scary for SEOs because they want people clicking. Google can immediately tell you the weather, the best route to take to grandma’s house, and even how to brew coffee.
Despite this usefulness, search growth and site traffic continue to grow for most companies. Across the globe, search use is on the rise. And many people (I know I’m one) will continue to click through to the site that is cited (Wikipedia in the above case).
- Bigger is better, and there’s nothing my small startup can do to compete with large companies.
Not at all! It’s true that, in some cases, Google favors larger household names. However, there are plenty of options to get your name out there and your website ranking. For example, you might brainstorm alternative keywords or try paid ads.
- Social doesn’t affect SEO.
Your social activity absolutely has an effect on SEO. Google does not use metrics such as Facebook likes and shares directly in determining their search rankings. But social success addresses two things SEOs are very concerned with – being discovered by search engines and distributing content. Your activity on social media will put your content and website right in front of your target audience.
- I won’t be able to reach a global market.
Actually, SEO can be used to target international audiences. You can rank your site in different countries and you should definitely be doing this if you offer something that isn’t just enjoyed by Americans.
- SEO is something that can be done once and then my site is set in terms of ranking, for ever and ever.
Ack, nope. It involves effort, commitment, and adjustments. If you want to increase traffic (and reap other rewards), SEO is something that will have to be consistently worked on. As mentioned previously, things are always changing; you’ll want to keep up-to-date on the latest SEO trends.
- PPC plays a role in SEO.
Traffic coming form SEO (organic) is free while PPC, as the name implies, costs money (per click). PPC ads appear above the organic results. The latter can only show up in the middle of the page. Paid search advertising and SEO are both part of SEM but that’s about as far as the similarities go.
This algorithm basically allowed Google to rate the popularity and importance of a website in the search engine results. It’s the first and most well-known algorithm that Google used to order search engine results but it’s not used as much anymore. Plus, it’s easy to work around.
SEO Strategy and Best Practices
The first step is to identify keywords. Begin with keyword research (starting with your buyer persons, naturally, and where they on in the buyer’s journey). Keep in mind that long-tailed keywords (versus short) are easier to rank for because they’re specific and targeted.
Then comes your first round of optimization. This includes creating tags, URLs that play nice with SERPs, and optimal HTML code. Don’t forget to set up analytics to monitor performance and rankings!
Once the initial groundwork is in place, it’s time to craft relevant and optimized content around those keywords. You can use synonyms, switch up the syntax, include plurals; any close matches that indicate the intent of your keywords will work. To optimize your page around the primary keywords, add them to your page title and URL. Make sure to include them in the body, in headers, in image alt text, and the meta description. Then build landing pages and a site map. And continue monitoring engagement and site performance.
All of this on-the-page SEO is great but off-the-page factors are equally important. This refers to elements influenced by readers, other publishers, and site visitors such as social stats.
Now, no one factor will guarantee success. But implementing multiple elements outlined above will increase the odds of gaining a top ranking.
Put those harmful SEO myths out your mind and go forth and optimize! And, as always, feel free to reach out and get some help with this tricky business.