Here’s the bottom line right out of the gate. If you are not investing in SEO Internet marketing in 2022, your website is invisible. As of January, there were 1.7 billion websites on the internet. Every day, internet users perform 3.5 billion searches on Google. 91% of those users won’t go past the first page. Over 90% of content published online gets zero organic traffic.
The numbers don’t lie. If you have a website, you need search engine optimization. You have probably identified the fact that you need visitors on their website. Figuring out how to make that happen is a different story. Hopefully, this guide will answer some of your questions about how SEO can help drive traffic to your website.
Let’s get started.
For starters, SEO stands for search engine optimization. To better understand what this term means we can break it down even further.
Search Engine – A search engine is a program used to identify information in a database based on keyword classification. When you type a keyword or phrase into a search engine, information relevant to those words appear in the form of a website on the internet.
Optimization – Making something operate as fully functional and efficient as possible.
When you combine these terms, you see the reason for using SEO. To perfect the content on your website in a way that makes it easy for a search engine ro process. If you haven’t optimized your website, you are putting a square peg in a round hole.
This form of optimization involves improving the readability and efficiency of content located on your website. In other words, structuring the information on your website in a way that can be easily understood by a search engine.
Consider the following story for the purposes of a metaphor.
You are a college student enrolled in a class with 300 people. You and the other students submit a research paper to the professor. Your professor reviews, grades and returns your paper with a class ranking. The only way to get a passing grade is to score in the top 10.
When you receive your grade, the first thing you see is your score which is a 64. Your class ranking is 158 out of 300. Frustrated, you begin to compare your paper with other students. You notice that your paper is actually better than some of the people who placed in the top 10. You start to wonder how this is possible, not realizing you didn’t follow the directions.
The directions outlined how your paper was supposed to be organized, but you failed to follow the directions. You were supposed to put your name at the top left of the page, followed by your class number, class name, and date. Your paper had the date first, followed by your name, class name and class number. You also skipped the page title completely, leaving the professor with no idea of what your topic was. Yes, the information in your paper was great. However, the value was greatly diminished because the structure was hard to understand.
In this metaphor, the professor was the search engine, your paper was your website content, and the class was the other websites on the internet. When you submitted your paper, that was comparable to publishing a blog post or an update to your website. The professor’s grade was similar to the search engine analyzing your information and ranking it based on relevance. Just like the professor couldn’t understand the structure of your paper, search engines have the same standard.
There are many tools you can use to make sure your content can be easily understood by a search engine. A research paper has the benefit of a spell checker. At the same time, your website can use a SEO checker to reveal problems that can be fixed to increase your SEO Score.
One of the ways a search engine determines the value of your content is by looking at the amount of engagement it gets from viewers. Search engines are able to track how people respond to your content and if it is not good, your ranking will be affected.
One of the number measurements for off-site SEO is the presence of backlinks. If you have a lot of other website’s linking to your pages, that tells the search engine that your content must be valuable. For that reason, your content’s relevance will increase.
Social shares is another way for a search engine to determine value. A good number of likes, comments, shares and other measurables will also increase your relevance. Off-site SEO can be thought of as virtual word of mouth. When other people recommend your content, that means it must be pretty good.
Content marketing is the foundation of any hopes of appearing on a search engine. It is impossible to have an online presence without any content. A lot of people don’t understand this and they wonder why their website isn’t showing up on the first page of Google. The reason they aren’t showing up is because they haven’t been able to prove their relevance.
The way you prove your relevance is by supplying a search engine with enough information that they can trust you. When a user types in a search query, Google needs to be able to trust that you are the answer to the problem. Google doesn’t want its users to have to click through multiple websites to be satisfied. This is why their ultimate standard is quality and relevance. If your content is not structured properly and your page only has 200-300 words, that is not going to be considered relevant. There is no way you can solve a problem with 2 paragraphs of information.
Search engine optimization really comes down to one main principle. Your entire business needs to be online. Every detail, every product, every service. There shouldn’t be one thing about your business that a customer can’t find on your website. If you put everything about your business online, there is going to be enough information there for Google to recognize you.
Just like anything else that involves competition, there are SEO best practices as well as shortcuts for circumventing the system.
White hat strategies are essentially ways of helping your website rank higher in a search engine that comply with policy. The goal of a search engine is to provide the most relevant content for viewers. As long as you are working toward creating value and.making it easy to understand, you are considered white hat.
Strategies that are designed to circumvent the system have been given the name black hat. Examples of black hat strategies are private blog networks, purchasing backlinks or doing anything else that doesn’t occur naturally from just creating good content.
One mistake a lot of people make when they write content is they don’t use appropriate keywords. When a user enters a phrase into the search engine, content with relevant keywords appear in the search results. You want to make sure there are as many direct matches between the keywords on your website and those being searched for by users. It is possible that you could appear without a perfect match, but it is far less likely. This is especially true for newer websites with less domain authority, as they haven’t fully established themselves yet.
Doing keyword research is one of the most important facets of search engine optimization. If you aren’t using the correct keywords, your content is not going to rank. There are countless tools you can use to find out the exact keywords and phrases that you need. Some of the tools are free and there are also paid options that provide more detailed information.
Here is a keyword tool I use that has both a free and paid option. The great thing about this tool is you can search for keywords by exact location. Search rankings can very depending on the city, county, or state. This is different from other tools that only separate keywords by country.
The first step of deciding what keywords you are going to use is figuring out what the content is going to be about. The next step is deciding who you want to see your content. This is an important thing because there are two different types of keywords, branded and non-branded.
These keywords include your name in the search phrase. Use these types of keywords if you want people to improve your visibility to people who are specifically searching for you. This is a good idea because you don’t want another business to rank higher than you for a search that was meant for your business.
These are the types of keywords that everyone wants to rank for. People assume that if someone searches for their specific business they will automatically be #1. In many cases that does turn out to be the case. Ranking for non-branded keywords gives you the opportunity to attract new customers. These types of phrases are more generic and higher in volume. For that reason there is also a lot more competition.
When you publish a page on your website or write a blog post, it will most likely be based on a specific topic. Whatever that topic is, you need to enter it into a keyword research tool. Depending on the tool, the results that return will include average search volume per month and assorted competition metrics. KWFinder gives a keyword difficulty score to help you see which terms are easiest to compete for. Don’t make the mistake of choosing all the keywords with the most volume. The competition is so high your chances of ranking are low, especially if your website is new. Choose the terms with a lower volume and lower difficulty score when you are starting out.
Once you have a quality piece of content with relevant search phrases, it needs to be structured properly. Start by publishing the content as is and then you can enter the website URL into a SEO tool.
The tool I use is by seobility. This tool can be used to perform a full site audit and it will also show your SEO score. If you have a piece of content you want to check now, you can click this link.
After the SEO audit is complete, there will be an outline of all the errors that need to be fixed. After researching thousands of websites and analyzing their SEO scores, less than 5% of sites have had a score above 80%. Anything above 85% is considered great.
Once you have created an optimized piece of content based on the search terms you want to use, all that is left to do is publish. If you are using WordPress, the Yoast plugin will help you with your meta description and title. Wix.com offers similar tools as well. Whatever platform you are on, make sure you are taking advantage of all the mechanics that help with your search engine rankings.
There are two ways you can drive traffic to your website. Pay-per-click advertising or search engine optimization. Paid traffic is a great short term solution but the minute you stop paying, your traffic goes back to zero. Think of paid traffic as leasing a car or renting your house. SEO is like owning a car. It is a long term investment, but once the work is done the traffic stays. Once you’ve produced content that ranks, it’s there to stay unless someone else passes you. Even so, your ranking will only decrease, no disappear. This is why when you do SEO you own your website traffic.
There is no point in having a website if no one can find it. You can refer people from social media and pay for clicks but in the end it is more expensive and you reach less people. If you analyze the websites ranking on the first page of Google, you will notice they all have high SEO scores. As you narrow your search, you will start to notice that the average SEO score of the ranking website’s is decreasing. This is because as you narrow your search there is less competition. You may find that in the city you are located, no one has an SEO score over 70%. This is your opportunity to own the website traffic coming from viewers in that area. Use the information in this post to build a strategy and own the website traffic in your area.