Most already know that SEO in simple terms means ‘search engine optimization’. But when you break that down, everyone has an opinion as to what that means and how it’s done. Google has a guide for SEO, industry leaders predict best practices based on trends, and marketing agencies also have an idea of what it is and how to handle it. So, we know, SEO can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
With SEO, the goal is to make lots of modifications to your online presence that may seem insignificant in their parts but as a whole, they help internet users (and essentially customers!) find the products and services they’re looking for. Businesses want to be found, so SEO fundamentals and trends are very important to track and pay attention to. What this ultimately translates to is making intentional adjustments to specific details within a website so it will show up and rank better on all of the search engines.
We use search engines daily to find all kinds of information and products and services are going to be associated with those searches. Google is the biggest search engine and at least 70% of web searchers use it. Bing is also widely used but it’s important to know that there are others out there including DuckDuckGo which is gaining popularity. Now, with all this data online that is constantly changing even Google can’t really keep up with the number and types of searches that are being performed.
There are over 3,000,000,000 search queries done on any given day. That’s a lot of searches!
Website crawling is what indexes a website so it can be searched. Web crawlers are automated robots that fetch and analyze content on web pages. In simpler terms, think of an old school library card catalog. It’s like flipping through cards to find books and info.
Web crawlers look at the hierarchy of a website and how it’s laid out. Users should be able to get to anything in the website within 3 clicks. Think about this: How does the end-user or client go through the buying process to select products and services? Fully understand the buying process when it comes to content. Here are some questions a client is thinking about when they start their search:
What do I need?
Why do I need this and how does it work?
Why should I choose this product or service?
Thinking like the consumer of a product or service is the best way to know what content needs to be included on a website and how it is organized so it can be found. This is always going to be specific to whatever the product or service is and the information has to stay current and relevant or potential customers won’t take the business seriously and will bounce right away from the website, defeating the intended purpose.
Content. Content. Content.
You can’t consider SEO without paying strong attention to detail regarding content. Businesses need content to optimize their websites. But content is also very important for paid search. When any search is performed, both paid ads and organic results are displayed. Because search engines are becoming savvier to their users, it has become harder to tell the difference between paid and organic results. Regardless, no matter how users find a website, content is the key deciding factor for whether a website has a high ranking and useful presence for users.
Other Website Details that Matter for SEO
Good content that is well organized
Optimize images and include keyword image titles/tags
A mobile-friendly website
Make sure the site loads quickly
What Does Google Say About SEO?
Back in 2017, Google produced what’s called the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Even though that guide is now over 3 years old, it’s important to read through this guide to understand what Google feels the foundations are for SEO. In this guide, Google talks about how to find content, that is, words and information on pages of a website. It also discusses how pages should or should not be crawled.
Though that old user guide is available for reference, also keep in mind that on average there are 3000 updates to what Google looks at in order to rank a website every year! Imagine that, because even Google itself can’t keep up with a guide of all the details to look at for optimization and really only basic info is out there. Ultimately, digital marketers have to rely on experts and their own data.
What Do Industry Experts Say About SEO?
Digital marketing, design, content, and analytics experts (both Google and non-Google) have opinions, ideas, and estimations about SEO too. It’s important to consider these other sources too because Google doesn’t tell everything. It’s really like putting together a puzzle of results.
What are the current results?
What are the desired results?
What actions need to be taken going forward?
Industry leaders know that it’s complicated and there’s no one size fits all answer. You can’t take the articles available and follow an exact structure. It’s very important to note there’s a difference between B2B type business and B2C type business and furthermore there are individual results per a particular kind of business (product/service) and geographical area. Look at industry predictions and the exact business’ data and results to optimize content.
Industry experts are always talking about content. As mentioned previously, good content is always key. This is definitely a situation of quality over quantity and user intent. When people go searching the web, what’s the intent of their question and what info are they looking for?
What Are the Focuses in 2020 for SEO?
Always be considering the quality of the content on your website as it pertains to intent and how customers find a business. Stay on top of the updates that search engines push out. A few examples include BERT which deals with user intent and E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness). Remember, different types of content will always be helpful. Not everyone wants to read a long text block and often times that won’t hold attention so consider starting a series of other types of content.
Visual – People like to consume visuals that help with understanding and simplifying complex information. Users want to see images and explanations.
Voice – Voice search has become more widely used. People are asking questions that many industries and are looking for answers through online content.
How Content is Displayed in Search Engines
Zero results are the new norm—60% of the time when a search is done, users don’t necessarily see organic results and listings. Now upon searching, the following are all displayed: answer boxes, knowledge graphs, featured snippets, and local pack. Used to, a list of blue links that were nothing but organic would be displayed. Now we see all kinds of things that sometimes even give quick, direct answers. Organic traffic will continue to decline. Google is providing answers even before getting to an actual website. Think about ways to provide answers because people want to do business with businesses they like, know, and trust.
SEO is About Small Modifications That Lead to a Better Online Presence
Don’t just try to rank organically. Always have an omnichannel approach and look at paid options as well. There are so many places to put work into the content. Don’t 100% rely on any one source. With zero results Google starting to “take your traffic”, you have to pay to play. Considering 98% of Google revenue comes from their own ads, they have challenges ahead as marketers move to outlets where ads might be less expensive.
Overall, when thinking about SEO, focus on the end-user! Look at the data, understand the results, and stay active with all the approaches taken to optimize content.
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