What is SEO?
SEO or search engine optimization is one of the many digital marketing approaches. It is the process of increasing visibility of your website on the search engine results pages (SERPs) to drive people to visit your website. SEO is an organic approach to search engine marketing, so there are no hidden costs except for your manpower. The counterpart to SEO is Search Engine Marketing (SEM) which is essentially online advertising on search engines. These two have different approaches but serves the same ends – to achieve ranking and get more publicity for your website on search engines.
The most important SEO success factor normally involves the quality of your website’s content which will require your time and devotion more-so than SEM where you can just pay to get ranked. But once you rank well organically, your ranking will likely be sustainable as long as there is some maintenance. Although “Content is King” is not the only success factor for SEO. More than 200 factors were built and the numbers are only predicted to grow! At a glance, ensuring compliance with all of those factors may seem impossible. However, if you have a basic understanding of why these factors were developed – you will likely be able to predict new factors on the horizon.
The development of SEO through history.
The World Wide Web (WWW) was created in 1991 by Tim Berners-Lee, a British Physicist while he was working for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Back then the web is used by scientists from around the world to share information with one another. Then, data mapping was created to categorize websites making web searches much easier. So the question arises – is categorizing the website enough? This is when search giants like Google saw an opportunity to deliver relevantly and quality content in addition to delivering the right search results. Many algorithms have been developed to show more relevant content on the website to serve the user’s search. Those algorithms work by detecting the quality of content and its relevance, each algorithm also has its own factors (SEO factors) to determine a good website from a great website. I’m quite sure you don’t want to be one of the bad websites!
So, let’s get to know some of the many Google algorithms and their functions.
Backlinks, backlinks, backlinks. Having backlinks is one of the SEO success factors. It means someone else linking to your website signals to “Penguin” that your website is getting mentions. Translated to the offline equivalent of “word of mouth”. At this point, you might think of getting all your friends to link back to you; STOP your thoughts!. Because the Penguin algorithm has a huge focus on the credibility of your backlink. Google knows if you buy a chunk of backlinks to your website or over exchanging links to your inner circle of friends and partner sites. Therefore, it’s important to make the link more natural by linking to another website out of your circle which is not the only website that links back to you. Secondly, the credibility of the website that links to you is also taken into consideration. If the website is considered as a “Your Money Your Life” (YMYL) website – such as banks, hospitals, educational institutions, well-known organizations or anything that involves your actual well being. Now that that’s out of the way – let’s look at Panda.
Good quality content is extremely important but you might wonder as to how Google determines the quality of web content. Panda algorithm focuses on the quality of your site content – like how long is the content. Normally you should aim for content with at least 1,500 words. Writer’s authority is also a crucial factor. It’s important to show that the writer is specialized in the topic they are writing – add a writer profile if you’d like. Grammar, spelling, and the language level of your content are also some other important factors you shouldn’t overlook. Make sure that it fits your audience. Oh and – remember duplicate content is a no-no!
3. Rank Brain
This algorithm is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that evaluates how people interact on your website. And, it will check how long people stay on your website to see if the users did not just click and bounce from your website because they couldn’t find what they were looking for.
Now that we’ve briefly talked about some core algorithms. Please avoid doing the following. You know Google and other search engines like Bing and Baidu are watching.
Stuffing words to make it appear like your website has more content. For example, your website is about cake and you just write your article with tons of words relating to cakes like“cake is good. Pie is good. Cake Pie is good.”. Imagine how annoying it is as a reader. If the reader doesn’t enjoy it – neither will Google.
Paying other websites to link to your website when a lot of times the content is not even relevant. Bottom-line? Just don’t buy backlinks. Go the route of PR and branding to get your online mentions.
After all, you should create content for the reader and not for Google bots.
What factors make for a successful SEO strategy?
The above algorithms are just the basic SEO fundamentals for online marketers to follow through. There are more factors to make your SEO strategy more effective. So, below are some of the most important factors that will make you rank better by using a periodic table. It will be easier for you to put those factors into groups and understand the importance of each factor.
As you can see, this periodic table has 6 columns and 2 sections on the right-hand side. You should think of each factor as a score that will add up to determine your ranking position, so naturally the higher the score, the better.
The factors which are on the top of the column mean a higher score and the factors which are at the bottom will give you lower scores. Don’t panic yet! I will give you an overview of what each row is about.
1st Column – Content
This column is about your website content. You can see that the highest score you will get is by having quality content that is well-written, well-researched with new and relevant information. It’s important that your content provides an answer to your audience. Other than that, having pictures or videos that users can interact with is good too. Just remember to create quality content for the reader, not the search engine.
2nd Column – Architecture
This column is about how you construct your website. The first factor is crawl ability, which means how easy the search engines know what your website is about. You can use easy programing language to create your website, for example, HTML and CSS to make the search engines recognize you easily. Another high score is how friendly your website looks on mobile content because people search on smartphones more and more.
3rd Column – HTML
It is how you structure the description of your content to make it easier for search engines to understand what your content is about. Building keywords into your title, writing a meta description telling the search engine what your content is about, and identifying headlines using HTML is what you should always keep in mind.
4th Column – Trust
This how-to makes search engines trust your site is by having authority link into your website by having quality backlinks, comments about you and sharing your content for example. Other than that, how people engage with you if they stay long is better.
5th Column – Link
Having links from trustworthy sources will give you a higher score because it means you are trustworthy.
6th Column – User
The country of the users, as well as specific locality such as city, region, etc, also influence ranking. User experience is also important because you won’t stay long on a bad looking website. History of what they like on your website and the last one is the intent which means why they are searching and what they want to achieve.
1st section – Toxin = Don’ts
Remember what I told you not to do? These sections add a bit more. Firstly, don’t do cloaking which means showing different pages than users expected. And again, don’t buy backlinks. Well, other than that if you are a good person you will know what not to do. It is all about common sense.
2nd section – Emerging verticals = Detail search
It is 2020, people are getting lazy. They’re even lazier to type and read the text, and they want fast information. They just use their voice to search for something. Siri this, ok google make appointments or Alexa sing me a song. They want fast information which is pictures and videos because we all know these are easy to digest as information
I know It is so overwhelming to follow SEO success factors but there are tools that you can use to analyze data and improve your SEO strategy by knowing which factors you may need to improve, so I put some of the effective tools and explain how each can help you.
This tool is used to provide an overview of data to create SEO strategies. It will provide organic search report to see the source of traffic records of your website and backlinks, for example, the tool can also provide an overview of your site’s organic keywords, organic traffic so you know the best place for generating traffic to your website. As you know from the Penguin algorithm that backlinks are important. Ahrefs can help analyze your backlink performance and provide competitor insights
This tool, in my opinion, doesn’t look that… attractive but many professionals use this for basically the same purpose as Ahrefs. It provides an overview of SEO. But this screaming frog is well known for in-depth details about links and also analyzes your page title and metadata if it is too long or too short to make it fit into keywords.
Good and Bad things about SEO
All things have a good side and a bad side. I’m going to start with the bad side… because I’m – you know – really optimistic! With the ever-changing landscape – you can see how exhausting it can be to make SEO work – it is also unlikely that you’ll see the instant results as it is considered a long term approach. If you’re looking for fast results then it makes sense to use SEM which is paid marketing. The trade-off is that with SEM – you stop ranking once you’ve burnt your marketing budget. On the other hand, SEO is good for building real relationships among your fan base which means it is a more sustainable approach for the long term.