What is SEO and how does it work? SEO can be a very powerful tool when it comes to your marketing stack. The goal of this article is to show you how to apply SEO to your brand’s marketing. We’ll also cover SEO optimization, SEO marketing & the definition of SEO. The most important thing when it comes to SEO is the fact that SEO is a long term marketing strategy.
Most of our clients at SH1FT wonder what the benefits of SEO optimization are. SEO allows your company to rank in search engines such as Google which in turn can bring extremely relevant traffic to your website. If your website is optimized for conversions, you can then generate sales or leads.
If you are doing a website redesign or have just created your website, SEO is very relevant to your company. It might seem like SEO is extremely complicated and competitive but while it is, the basics are quite easy to understand. While you might not rank number one from day one, you can still have a positive effect on your SEO ranking.
By understanding the definition of SEO, you’ll be able to understand the benefits and how to create an SEO strategy plan that yields long term results. You don’t need an SEO expert to start having a positive impact on your SEO. By reading this article, you’ll have enough SEO knowledge to start taking action. You’ll also be able to decide if SEO is the path for your company to reach its goals.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:
- What is SEO and how does it work?
- What are the benefits of SEO?
- What are the factors affecting SEO?
What is SEO? What does SEO mean? How does SEO work?
I know this might sound like a lot of questions in one, but it’s not. When it comes to SEO, there are numerous ways to break the concept down. In this section, we’ll cover the definition of SEO, the meaning of SEO and how SEO works for your business. The most important concept is that the better your search engine ranking, the more money your company will make. It’s why it’s important to truly understand the importance of SEO optimization, but let’s first take a look at the basics.
What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the process of optimizing your website to rank your website in search engines in order to receive highly relevant traffic to your website.
For instance, if your company ranks first when people search “pillow sets” on Google and you sell pillows then you’ll be able to generate high quality traffic to your website. Since people that visit your website are likely to want to buy pillow sets, you’ll make sales.
SEO is the process of modifying and adapting your website to rank on search engines. This can range from adding more content with relevant keywords, optimizing the speed of your website, improving the user experience or making your design look way better. If you want to rank, people must love your website and web design is extremely important for that.
If you are looking for a web design agency, don’t hesitate to request a proposal. It’s free to ask and we’d love to hear about your business!
By leveraging strong SEO practices, you’ll be able to generate lasting results for your business. The meaning of SEO & SEO marketing is simple but the process can seem daunting. There are hundreds of factors that affect SEO. The goal here is not to be an expert but to understand the basics to be able to have a positive impact on your brand’s website.
Let’s backtrack a little bit here. Search engines such as Google want to provide the best content based on people’s research. If you have created content for a specific query from people, then your content should appear first for that query. It’s not the only factor, but the essence of SEO is that.
Search engines crawl websites online to match your content with queries on their search engine. With the same methods, search engines then determine how easy it is to navigate on your website and how fast your website pages load. The more user friendly your website, the higher you will rank in search engines.
It’s often why SEO is a long term strategy for most companies compared to Facebook ads or Instagram ads. It takes time to start ranking and gaining the trust of those search engines, but when you do, it provides a constant stream of highly relevant traffic with a barrier of entry from competitors.
What is search engine optimization? Well it’s the process of making all those modifications to your website and content to start ranking for search engine queries relevant to your business.
For instance, if you would like to rank for guitar classes on Google then you would create content around the keyword “guitar classes” while improving your website speed and making it easier to navigate in your website. You could write articles, integrate videos, minimize the image size and so on.
Without getting into the details, I’m sure you can see how Search Engine Optimization can be beneficial for your business. It can allow you to gain more visibility for your website in one of the most sought out place on the Internet. It’s no wonder every brand out there wants to rank on Google, the traffic quality is exquisite.
All you have to do is get started on making those adjustments to your website design, website speed and start creating highly relevant content that ranks for your desired keywords. Again, SEO is a long term game but it’s not so long term when you realize the compound effects it can have on your business.
If you are looking for an SEO agency, I recommend taking a look at our SEO agency! We’d love to help your brand reach new heights in terms of sales & leads from search engines.
What are the main SEO factors?
As you’ve read so far, SEO is about growing your business by appearing in search engines such as Google, but how do you start ranking? Your website is ranking by the search engine analyzing it based on SEO factors. This what we call the process of optimization in SEO, it’s about making the correct modifications to enable your website to start appearing in search results.
There are hundreds of SEO factors but by understanding the two main following factors, you should be able to have a positive impact on your rankings. Your goal here is to take those SEO factors in consideration when optimizing your website to appear in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
In the SEO world, you’ll often hear the words “on page” and “off-page”. On-page SEO is the process of optimizing what is on your website and its content while off-page SEO focuses on generating links back to your website. Without further due, let’s dive into the three main SEO factors.
SEO Factor #1 – Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the most important SEO factors when it comes to on-page SEO optimization. Content is a great SEO marketing strategy because it allows you to write about specific keywords to start ranking for exactly what you want. It will allow you to be laser focused in attracting the right people to your website. We recommend creating written but also visual content. The goal here is to make it interactive and fun to read.
There are a lot of things that affect how your content is ranked in search engines but always think quality over quantity. Creating relevant articles that fit the search intent of the search engine query you are trying to rank for is essential. The more relevant you are, the higher you will rank in search engine results.
It doesn’t stop there. Your SEO content also needs to be efficient and well designed. The experience visitors have on your website has a huge impact on your SEO score and thus how well you rank in search engines. Not only that but by having a website that loads fast and content that is easy to read, you’ll be able to generate more sales or leads from your SEO efforts.
A good SEO trick to create relevant content for what your target market is searching is to make the research yourself. Try typing in for instance “what is SEO” and see the results that come up. Pay close attention to what people seem to be searching for based on the results.
You might be surprised sometimes of what people expect when they search for something on Google for example. Remember, Google is showing the content that people seem to prefer when they search for a certain keyword.
If you need some content marketing ideas, here are a few formats in which you can create pieces of content:
- Articles (like SH1FT blog)
Always keep in mind that you want to create original and unique content. With the amount of content produced everyday, it’s obvious that doing what I stated above is extremely hard but it’s worth it.
Additionally, make sure you create content around the keywords you want to rank for. You can add your keyword inside paragraphs, your meta tag, your titles and so on. One word of caution, don’t include your SEO keyword in places where they don’t make sense. Search engines have became good with what we call “keyword stuffing” and it will have a negative impact on your SEO results.
By creating content around those keywords, you are putting all the chances of ranking for the topic you want to rank for. In fact, the more content you’ll create around a keyword, the more likely you are of ranking for the keywords you wish to rank for.
Another important SEO factor is what we call content recency. The more recent your piece of content, the more likely you are of ranking on Google. It’s not to say that any new piece of content will outrank old pieces, but if your content is better and recent, then you are more likely to rank for the specific keyword.
There are multiple ways to keep your content fresh and updated. You can either create a new piece of content around a certain topic or you can take an old piece of content and update it with relevant information. You can add a section, integrate quotes from experts, add more visuals, leverage new statistics and so on.
The biggest objection most companies have when creating content is that it takes time and when starting the return on investment isn’t amazing. our response is that the fact that it takes time is exactly why it’s important. Most other brands won’t take the time to create content so by creating tons of content you are making sure your business stays alive.
Anything that your customers see online is content in one form or another. It can be as text, video, audio or even images, but it’s still content. In a way, content is the only way to attract new customers and engage them so that they become your customers. This marketing strategy is what we call the inbound methodology. It’s often explained by a marketing wheel such as the one below.
To get started on content marketing in order to improve your website’s SEO, you should first find which keywords you want to rank for. Those keywords should be around what you are selling. After, start by writing articles around those subjects and share them on social media to your audiences.
If you need any help with content marketing, don’t hesitate to reach out to our content marketing agency. We’d love to help to grow your business!
SEO Factor #2 – On-Page SEO Optimization
On-Page SEO optimization is about making modifications to your website and its individual pages. It’s often a good place to start because you can’t easily make modifications to your website rapidly. There are numerous rules you might want to abide to in order to make sure your website ranks on Google for example.
Those modifications go from leveraging basic HTML to changing the keywords in your article to make sure they rank more. It’s not only about your content marketing, it’s about creating a structure to your website pages to make sure they rank on search engines.
Here are a few on-page SEO best practices to ensure your website ranks in search engines:
- Internal Link: internal links are links on your web pages that link to other web pages on your website. They are important for search engines to crawl your website but also give more importance to certain pages. This can drastically help your SEO optimization!
- Title tag: your title tag should be clear and attractive to tell the search engine what your content is about but also attract your readers. It should be 70 characters or less total. Most companies like to put their company name at the end but make sure you respect the maximum characters count.
- ALT Tags: those tags are very important to help rank your web pages and the images on your website. It’s another place to add relevant keywords to help you rank for keywords you are already working on. It can also allow you to rank your images and get people to use them while giving you backlinks which are good for your SEO optimization.
- URL: this is the text that appears after your website and the slash blog. We recommend to always keep it as simple as possible. For instance, if you write an article on Facebook’s Power 5 (like we did), then it could just be facebook-power-5.
- Meta description: the meta description should compel people to click on your article when it appears in search engines. It has to spark curiosity, trustworthiness as well as clarity. You should also add at least once the keyword you are trying to rank your article for. Make sure the phrases make sense!
- Header tags: in your article, you’ll have different titles such as a paragraph as well as H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and so on. H1 is the largest title you’ll have and usually only used for the article’s main title. H2 is the second biggest used generally for section and the other ones are smaller and smaller in terms of the font.
You want to be strategic when using SEO keywords in your articles. It has to make sense in your sentences, don’t do things such as keyword stuffing as it would hurt your SEO optimization results. Just as the word suggests, keyword stuffing is about adding too many times your keyword in the article in places that don’t even make sense. Most search engines will penalize your website if you use such a strategy.
We also recommend optimizing your content on one keyword at a time. You’ll end up ranking for much more than one keyword, but you should put more attention on making amazing content rather than stuffing your keyword in as many places as possible. Generally, you want to pick a topic for your article around a keyword this way while you write you think of adding your keyword in places that make sense.
Inside on-page SEO optimization, it’s also important to have a strong site architecture. You want your website to allow search engines to easily navigate it with links to the most important pages in your footer and so on. Another great way to do this is to leverage internal links as mentioned above. Your website design should also make it easy for people to read and find the links they are searching for.
The goal with your site architecture is to create a sitemap so that search engines can crawl your website faster & with more efficiency. We also recommend having a strong mobile-friendly. It’s not only for SEO but also to generate results for your website. More and more people visit websites from their mobile phone and if your website isn’t optimized, it’s not good news.
Mobile optimization should be a very big part of your SEO optimization practices as they can have a big impact on your user experience. They should be able to read easily & navigate throughout your website with ease.
SEO Factor #3 – Off-Page SEO Optimization
Apart from writing amazing content and doing on-page SEO optimization, it’s also important to have a strong off-page SEO strategy. While you generally don’t have as much control over the off-page ranking factors, you can still greatly influence them positively to generate good results. As the word says, these are factors that are not manageable on your website but rather emerge from other websites.
Here are the main off-page SEO factors that can have a great impact on your search engine rankings:
Backlinks: backlinks are the bearer of trust for your website. These are essentially other websites linking back to your website by adding a link on words in their content. The more backlinks you have from high authority websites, the more you will rank. Authority websites are those that have strong SEO presence. In general, we advise against buying backlinks as those can end up truly damaging your SEO results since search engines can penalize you.
A great way to generate backlinks is to do what we call guest posting. You write an article on someone else’s website and in exchange they link back to your website. You can search on Google keywords such as “write for us” to find blogs that accept guest posts. Here’s a guest post we did on Jump Story.
Social signals: if you thought about adding loads of links on Facebook and other social media, it’s a good idea but it won’t count as an actual backlink. Search engines are analyzing how many shares & engagement your content is receiving on social media to enhance your SEO ranking. If you get influencers to share your content and create a ripple effect, then it will have a strong impact on your results.
As you can see, although you have the ability to improve your off-page SEO, you can’t fully control it. The best-kept secret to generating strong off-page SEO is to create amazing content and strong on-page SEO so that you rank. Slowly but surely, you will get other websites to talk about your website.
It’s not easy to create relevant, entertaining and easily digestible content. You don’t want to be too funny, but not too serious. In essence, you want people to read your article seamlessly with just enough images and just enough words & titles.
Hot tip?️: you can use the backlink checker from AHREF to find the backlinks your website already has. You can even check out on your competition!
If this just sounds too complicated, don’t hesitate to visit our SEO agency page. We’d love to either help you reach better results through our SEO services or even just consult you if your budget is tight to help you avoid costly mistakes.
Black ? SEO optimization vs White hat SEO optimization
At this point, you should understand thoroughly what SEO is. You should also know why doing SEO can be extremely beneficial for your business in terms of visibility and revenue. You should also be able to create a sub-optimal SEO strategy to generate results for your brand.
The next step is to understand the difference between black hat SEO and white hat SEO. First, it’s important to understand why black hat SEO emerged in the first place. Black hat SEO arrived because some companies were starting to want SEO results too fast while breaking the rules. The problem is that there’s a high risk that Google catches you and penalizes your website.
Companies, or shall I say websites that leverage black hat SEO usually create sites with tons of keywords stuffed in the most random places. Their websites are also generally ugly but with full of backlinks from sketchy sources and so on. One of our clients had a black hat SEO agency before us (they didn’t know), and we had to remove thousands of spammy backlinks.
In general, we think this strategy is not worth it for most companies because Google is becoming better and better at penalizing websites. Once you are penalized, it’s very hard to get back up and you can go from 10,000 visitors per month to only 100. Our advice? Do not engage in black hat SEO. What’s the worst that can happen, your website can be banned from search engines.
The essence of SEO is to bring quality traffic to your website month after month. It’s a quality traffic source your brand can rely on to grow overtime. Yes, it is difficult to rank on Google but the only reason it’s difficult is because the traffic is of high quality. It’s not an opportunity to try to hack Google and get your website to rank faster while risking getting banned.
On the other hand, white hat SEO promotes respecting the rules of search engines while ranking your website. It does take more time, but it can take you further. The focus here is on creating content that answers precisely what people are searching while providing an amazing experience on your website (speed, design and so on).
I’d also like to add that SEO is not about tricking search engines but actually creating a website that is a reference in your industry. You can do that by creating amazing content, having an amazing tool or software, scale your traffic and so on. It’s also about giving an amazing experience to the users reading
The goal of this type of search engine optimization is to produce the best content possible on a site that’s easy to read and navigate while also following the search engine’s rules for optimization. When you do black hat SEO, you run the chance of getting your website banned for a few quick visitors.
In our experience, it’s not if, it’s when search engines will catch you. When they catch you, it might be impossible to bring your website back to its original amount of traffic. It’s why, again, we insist that you build a website using white hat SEO strategies. You’ll get a slow start but afterwards, the sky will be the limit.
What can you do for your SEO?
Now that you’ve read a pretty complete article on SEO, it’s time for you to take action. You’ve learned what SEO is and which factors affect SEO. You’ve also learned the difference between the dangerous black hat SEO and white hat SEO.
You’ve probably seen the words SEO optimization throughout the article and maybe you are wondering why using twice the word optimization since SEO already means Search Engine Optimization. Well, it’s because most of you search that on Google and we want our content to appear in your search result.
The essence of SEO is creating a great experience on your website. It’s why things like website speed, design, colours, fonts and images, can have a big impact on your rankings. It’s also important to not forget the mobile experience of your visitors as most people look at websites on their phones nowadays.
Last but not least, remember that SEO takes time. You won’t create a site, write an article and have 10,000 visitors per month. It’s a long term process that compounds over time. With continuous efforts, you can go from 100 visitors per month to over 100,000+ visitors.
The more you take SEO actions that are beneficial for your website, the more your website will rank. The first step is generally to start creating content around the keywords your target audience uses when searching on Google. You can start typing the name of your industry and see Google’s suggestions of common search queries.
If you want to take your SEO to the next level, I recommend you reach out to us for a proposal or a consultation package from SH1FT Consulting. Your SEO is a very important part of your digital marketing strategy and doing it right can bring tons of consistent additional revenue. There is an initial investment, but if you are in the long term game, you will dominate your industry with strong SEO optimization!