Throughout my years of digital marketing, I’ve had plenty of inexperienced entrepreneurs spring up to me with a fresh-faced approach and a glint of hope in their eye. The future looks bright for them, especially since they have found an online niche that they believe will be profitable.
That look of enthusiasm quickly fades away when I ask them if they have a particular SEO strategy. Some may actually know what it means but don’t have a full grasp of what it can do for them.
I don’t blame them. SEO itself can be a confusing topic for discussion that can mean many different things. But luckily for you, this digital marketing consultant is more than willing to help out anyone looking for more information on the subject.
Okay, really though. What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the process that helps websites become more visible in a search engine’s unpaid results. It’s important to also recognize that SEO isn’t a “one and done” kind of thing, either. One day’s success may be the next day’s failure because of frequent changes made to search engine algorithms. For instance, Google updates their system between 500 to 600 times a year.
Therefore, marketers must adapt their SEO practices to the frequent changes made to the search engine algorithms in order to keep their website(s) ranking. If marketers fail to make the appropriate changes to content or any other ranking factor on their website, their website may lose their ranking, or even be removed entirely.
How does SEO work?
While we all know what a search engine is – like Google, Yahoo!, or Bing – many do not know how they really work. Well, understanding all the intricacies that happen behind the scenes can definitely give you a newfound appreciation for the technological marvels that are search engines.
First, Google, or whatever search engine you use, sends out search engine spiders to gather information on all the content they can find on the Internet regarding your query. When they return to the search engine with all of the data that they have collected, they create an index. After that, the index is sifted through the algorithm to accurately match the original query.
This is literally the first two-thirds of what SEO stands for – search engines (SE).
When it comes to optimizing (the O in SEO), that is more in control of the owner of the website, be it business or personal.
In short, optimizing is something that can be done in several ways. One of the popular options is in content writing, where keywords are used to attract both traffic and search engine spiders. A few years back, loading up a blog post full of keywords was a go to in terms of SEO, but now the focus is being shifted back—and rightly so—to several other factors that encourage content to be less focused on keywords and more focused on actually being informative and valuable.
While there are fast and easy methods you can use to make a quick buck, sticking to long-term, sustainable SEO practices are much more rewarding. In order for your website to have longevity and success, you need to be able to utilize both your on-page and off-page SEO at maximum efficiency.
What is on-page and off-page SEO?
These two categories need to be working well together in order to have a successful SEO strategy:
- On-page SEO – This refers to all of the ranking factors and variables that Google and other search engines use to look at your web page and its optimization, such as content, headlines, and page structure.
- Off-page SEO – This method deals with link building, social media marketing, social bookmarking, the personal history of the person doing the search and several other variables that deal with your website’s reputation.
Sound a little confusing?
Think about it this way: in this particular scenario, you own a restaurant. A good example of on-page SEO would be the inside of the restaurant that features beautiful, wooden oak tables stained a rich mahogany, a sleek and clean bar area with a variety of taps and top-shelf beverages in the back, friendly wait staff, and steamin’ hot food ready within minutes.
It could be the perfect bar and grill on the inside but if it doesn’t have a solid reputation, if there’s no social gatherings happening there, no word around town, no magazine or newspaper reviews, then you won’t have a crowd coming in.
If this scenario is reversed and you have a great social presence but a raunchy interior, you won’t have good results either.
In fact, you may have more people bounce. Not, like, slang for “leave,” but a term that Google uses when people leave only after viewing one page in your website. Having a high bounce rate will bring down your page in rank, making your website less and less visible.
To be truly successful when it comes to SEO, you’ve got to have both on-page and off-page SEO working in tandem.