What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be confusing, for years so called “SEO professionals” found ways to game the system into higher rankings, and for a time it worked. Buying links and keyword stuffing became industry standard along with charging a monthly fee to customers which was nothing more than a retainer fee, because proper onsite SEO requires little upkeep once completed.
In 2011 everything changed, Google took action to discourage manipulating data and their algorithm began to identify and punish websites using “black hat” (tactics that are used with the specific intent of deceiving Google’s algorithm into achieving a higher ranking not based on real data.) SEO strategies. Since then, Google has become even more strict regarding false data.
If you want to rank well on Google as of 2018 you must truly represent the best search result. Google’s algorithm is proprietary, so regardless of what some SEO “experts” may claim, no one knows all the ranking criteria, but some of it is public knowledge.
- Relevance of webpages – Google crawls your website automatically and analyses the content of the webpage to determine its relevance. It looks at the keywords & phrases within the published content to define its significance. This helps Google to categorize the webpage correctly.
- Quality of content – Google looks for signals within the webpage to determine the level of expertise or relevance regarding the keywords & phrases being used. Things like inbound links and user behavior help Google determine the page’s veracity.
- Usability of webpages – By inspecting the structure of the webpage and its user signals, Google can calculate how user friendly the webpage is. Things like broken links, slow load times, lack of screen optimization and high bounce rates tell Google whether or not the page’s interface is user friendly.
- Context and settings – Using data points such as location, as well as search history and settings, Google can determine how relevant a webpage is to a specific user. Things like local searches or previous website visits will skew search results.
What does it all mean?
The goal of Google’s search engine is to display the best result possible, based on a webpages relevance, popularity, and ease of use. There are other factors that come into play but those listed above are the most important factors when optimizing your website. Because “black hat” tricks now harm your ranking you must approach your SEO holistically.
6 Elements of Holistic SEO
- Keyword Research: Good keyword research requires you to consider your mission, core values, unique selling points, informational intent, keyword density and unique service.
- Technical SEO: Google has only officially acknowledged a few key factors their algorithm uses, one of the biggest being site speed. Good technical SEO means a fast site, clean crawlability, and no broken links.
- User Experience: An enjoyable UX is also one of the most important pieces of any website. A quality user experience means exceptional site speed, mobile friendliness, intuitive page structure, and relevant content.
- Social Media Strategy: Social Media used correctly will increase site traffic, profits, and SEO. The more traffic a site receives, the higher its ranking, and nothing brings more traffic to a website than a well implemented and managed social media strategy.
- Mobile Optimization: Mobile site traffic already accounts for over half of all internet searches, and that number continues to grow as of 2020. Ensuring every page of your website looks and performs well on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone is now a requirement in order to rank well.
- Webpage Content: This one is the easiest to understand and the hardest to accomplish. Quality content is exactly what it sounds like. Your webpages need to have engaging copy, stunning visuals, sleek animations and if possible, a unique point of view.