SEO: It’s More Than Just Keywords
Search engines help people find what they’re looking for online. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps people find you. It’s simple, right?
While the role of SEO is easy to understand, the path to actually scaling a search engine results page (SERP) takes a bit more effort – and we’re not just talking about using keywords.
For an SEO strategy to be effective, it needs to be the sum of many parts, like any marketing initiative. It’s about playing the long game and considering all factors that contribute to your website’s favorability among search engines (read: Google).
As a starting point, let’s explore the fundamental pillars at play in Google’s ranking algorithm: on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and technical SEO.
On-site SEO, also called on-page SEO, is all about optimizing your website’s content, the elements that help search engines crawl and index a page. It’s everything you can fully control.
On-site SEO includes:
- titles and title tags;
- internal links; and
A big piece of on-site SEO is about making sure your content serves a reader’s search intent, that it’s actually helpful. (Who knew?) This is where audience and keyword research come into play, helping you build a resonant topic roadmap and keyword strategy. Tools like SparkToro, which we often use for audience insights, are invaluable.
Here’s a great resource covering a number of on-site optimization techniques.
Off-site SEO, or off-page SEO, refers to externally applied tactics you can use to help boost your search ranking – or, in this case, your reputation.
Content that matches Google’s E-E-A-T criteria, proving Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is considered higher in quality and rewarded as a result.
In addition to publishing valuable, informed content, there are many off-site venues to help demonstrate E-E-A-T.
Off-site SEO can include:
- content marketing;
- business reviews (which contribute to trustworthiness);
- digital PR (another way to earn backlinks at scale, building your authority);
- podcasts; and
- many others.
Technical SEO often gets overlooked, but it’s a key player in the SEO trilogy. It refers to the process of optimizing the…well…technical requirements search engines demand of your website, including activities aimed at enhancing the user experience.
Technical elements can include:
- page speed;
- URL structure;
- accessibility (alt tags, text-to-speech, etc.); and
Note that these technical considerations are Google-confirmed ranking factors. No matter how brilliant your content is, if your website doesn’t load fast enough, for example, visitors are going to bounce, and Google will interpret that as a negative user experience, harming your ranking.
Also, at a basic-functions level, technical SEO is fundamental in ensuring search engines can effectively crawl your site. This comes down to paying special attention to how your pages link together. Check out these examples of SEO-friendly site architectures for guidance.
Don’t forget the maintenance
Like everything, it’s not enough to set it and forget it. Your website is constantly changing, so your SEO strategy should change, too. Something as seemingly minor as adding a new web page or changing a URL can affect your entire SEO structure, so carve out time to review your strategy throughout the year.
Note: there are a number of tools available to help you track and improve your search performance. These include a suite of free tools available from Google.
Additional business benefits of SEO
Web traffic isn’t the only benefit of SEO. Consider the knowledge you’ll gain from researching your target audiences, insights you can use to inform your messaging and positioning.
You can also find added value in tools like semrush, which lets you easily conduct market research on your competitors; not only can you see which keywords they’re prioritizing in their content, but you can also see which pages of theirs are driving the most traffic, and even the extent to which they’re advertising.
Other advantages include a better understanding of your website’s analytics, not to mention web environments themselves. And the list goes on.
Searching for more web traffic?
SEO plays a significant role in boosting your website’s visibility and driving traffic to your pages – but don’t expect immediate results. The best results take time and a comprehensive approach that incorporates on-site, off-site, and technical SEO best practices. What’s above only scratches the surface.
If you’re ready to learn more about the many ways to improve your search ranking, our digital team is ready to help. Contact us today to get started.