SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, but what is meant by a search engine? A search engine is generally a software algorithm that helps you find the data you need as easily as possible. When talking about SEO, search engines mean websites like Google, Bing, etc…. Well, mainly Google 😉 Search engine optimization is about understanding how these search algorithms work to optimize your website in different ways to rank higher in search results.
Stay with me, we will dive deeper into SEO search engine optimization.
To clarify what organic traffic is, maybe we should start with an example of what it is not: if you have a Facebook page or an Instagram page (social media in general) and you post something there to promote your website… will you get visitors to your website? Yes! Is it organic? No! But why? Well, if you don’t post anything, you won’t get any traffic. Okay, let’s take another example: Let’s say you pay for ads on Google, is that organic traffic? No! Because if you don’t pay Google, you won’t have visitors.
Now organic traffic is like passive income: If you do it right, it doesn’t disappear just because you do nothing for a month. That’s the great thing about SEO: it helps drive traffic to your website in an organic and sustainable way. SEO should be part of your digital marketing strategy!
Targeted traffic means reaching the right audience. Let’s say you have a company that sells microphones online. Now imagine someone searches for “best gaming PC monitor” and lands on your website. Would you call that targeted traffic? Well! How about “best microphones for Twitch streamers”: do you think you would generate a sale from this targeted lead? The probability is much higher than in the first example. Targeted traffic is therefore very important, and with SEO this is possible by optimizing your website for the right keywords. Choosing the right keywords is the key 😛
The quantity of traffic is also important, of course. If you want to grow your business, you need a bigger audience, and one way to do that is to get more visitors to your website! With search engine optimization, the number of visitors will increase slowly but sustainably. But how do you achieve that? By getting your website to rank for more and more keywords (always keeping the above in mind and understanding the intent of the keywords).
General organic traffic also means that you don’t have to pay for it. The amount of traffic depends on SEO not on your budget, but on how long and how well you have optimized your website.
Let’s dive a little deeper into how search engines work. They have three main functionalities:
There are a variety of ranking factors, but here are 10 of the most important.
As we have already established, search engines like Google need to “crawl” your website. The simpler it is for the algorithm, the better. Here are three things your website should have:
Search engines want to end up displaying the best websites as results. A good website is also about creating a good user experience! Of course, Google does not have employees who test every website and give a rating. But there are a few clues to what a good user experience looks like.
Ultimately, your website needs to be engaging and present the content in an enjoyable way! You also want visitors to stay on your site and perhaps peruse multiple pages. Search engine optimization is not about optimizing everything for a search engine, it’s about understanding what we can do to get “extra points” from the search engine and trying to provide the best possible experience for site visitors.
This is an important issue! If your website is not mobile-friendly, then you have some work to do. By 2020, about 50% of the traffic generated by search engines will be mobile (and I believe this number will increase in the coming years). Think about how many times a day you use your phone to Google something? Optimize your website for mobile devices!
You could say that a mobile-friendly website is part of a great user experience.
Keyword research is the key 😉 Keyword research is about finding out what exactly people are searching for in search engines like Google, e.g. “SEO services”. But that’s not all. Of course, you also want to know how many searches there are and, more importantly, how strong the competition is. Another aspect is to consider the search intent. Let’s take my website as an example: I offer SEO services. If someone searches for “SEO for beginners”, they probably want to learn more about SEO and are not looking for someone to do SEO for them. What would be the better cue? Maybe “SEO expert” or “SEO agency”. With these keywords, it’s pretty clear that they are looking for a company or expert to do SEO for them. So when choosing keywords, think about the intent and analyze the competition!
There are many tools for keyword research, but none of them can really tell you the intent behind the keyword and whether you will be able to rank for it. If you want to look into this, Google offers a free keyword tool called Keyword Planner that will help you dig deeper into this topic.
Link building is also a part of search engine optimization. Link building means acquiring so-called backlinks from other websites. Literally, it means that another website has a link to your website. For example, this is a backlink for the MOZ website: What is Link Building?
Now there is a whole science around link building, but ultimately it comes down to the quality of the backlink and the anchor text. The quality of the backlink is defined by how much the search engines trust the website, and the anchor text in the link to the MOZ website is, for example, “What is link building?”.
By site architecture, I mean how your various pages and posts on your site are connected. The ideal website architecture allows users, and therefore search engines, to easily access the content of your website and find what they are looking for in an efficient manner.
But why is this part of an SEO strategy? Well, search engines are able to find all of your internal pages faster, link juice is sent around your various internal pages and it’s again part of creating a great UX (user experience).
If you want your website to be found in the search engines, you need to create content! If you have a thin website with no content, Google won’t be able to tell what your website is about. The easiest way to create a channel for publishing content is to set up a blog, as I have done on this site. But that doesn’t have to be the case for everyone. Use keyword research tools to come up with ideas for the best content, and publish it! (and don’t forget to market your content! Content is king, but advertising is queen)
Link building is part of off-page SEO, so what is on-page SEO? Now, when you do the step I mentioned earlier, creating content, the question will come up: I want to rank for this particular keyword, but what do I do with it? On-page search engine optimization is about just that. Creating subheadings (H2), adding images, inserting certain words and phrases into your content (like the keyword you want to rank for) …
On-page SEO used to be much easier because you could just “spam” the keyword into the content and you would be ranked. This is called keyword stuffing and it doesn’t work these days, instead it’s considered spam and you have no chance of getting a placement. So on-page SEO today is more about not over-optimizing. However, there are still a few rules you should follow when writing content.
This is something very important when it comes to search engine optimization, because this is basically the text that is displayed as a result by Google. You already know this 😉 Well, to make SEO even more complex, it’s not only about getting your website on page 1, but also about getting people to click on your result. You can achieve this by optimizing your title and meta description.
Just because I offer SEO services, I will not say: of course hire an expert! The answer is: it depends. If you are just starting out with your website or are a very small business and can’t afford an SEO expert, it obviously doesn’t make sense. Even if you have the budget, you also need some time to make certain changes or plan and create new content. The answer is, if you have time and no budget: Learn it yourself. If you don’t have the time but have a sufficient budget, you should assemble a digital marketing team.