If you want to double your site’s organic traffic, you’re going to need more than just keywords.
Continued Google updates have all but eliminated any benefit gained from relying solely on keywords to rank well. Keyword stuffing for the purpose of ranking does nothing to enhance user experience (UX), and has led to a bad rap for legitimate search engine optimization (SEO) strategists.
The usefulness of these practices is long gone, but SEO misconceptions still abound.
So, if it isn’t about keywords, how does SEO work?
Take a look through this guide to find answers to these questions and more:
Search engine optimization is a fundamental grouping of best practices and actionable strategies that ensure your site receives the traffic it merits. Google uses advanced algorithms to deliver search results that their users are most likely to find relevant and useful.
The algorithms are designed to favor sites that provide better user experiences.
SEO is a tool that helps to improve your entire site including its speed, content, architecture and functionality so that it:
As long as search engine algorithms keep changing, SEO remains critical.
Algorithms frequently change in an attempt to keep up with current trends. Changes typically have one overall objective:
The changes can impact any number of elements such as content, speed or structure. Following strong SEO practices and staying current with algorithm updates helps protect you from decreased traffic.
To illustrate the changing updates, consider the recent mobile-first indexing change.
In a nutshell, mobile-first indexing means that if you have a mobile site, that’s what Google will index for your business not your desktop site. For companies using certain mobile architectures, this update spelled significant traffic drops.
Ongoing SEO strategy helps to make sure that your site not only performs well in the present, but also evolves with the coming changes.
Blackhat and outdated SEO practices are ineffective and could result in considerable penalties. These tactics include:
Pro tip: If you’ve worked with an agency that may have purchased backlinks for your site, they could be hurting your rankings. If you can’t get the backlink removed, try disavowing it.
Google’s intentions are pretty clear. They want their users to get the best results possible when performing a search. They want high-quality sites with high-quality content.
Sites using black hat or outdated SEO to manipulate the search rankings subject themselves to penalties.
There are two types of penalties:
Search algorithms do not take intent into account. Well-intentioned mistakes are just as likely to draw a penalty as deceitful strategies. Without search traffic, your business suffers. Getting your site’s reputation back is difficult.
Some possible penalty triggers include:
There are hundreds of SEO factors relating to your site and its content. SEO factors change as new updates occur. When considering your site’s SEO, pay attention to:
The best way to evaluate your site’s SEO factors is by performing an SEO audit.
An audit involves using a specialist to examine your site’s effectiveness and adherence to best practices. Audits are useful for identifying problems that are hurting your ranking and for identifying opportunities to improve.
They produce the foundation for any new SEO campaign or overhaul, offering an assessment in areas like:
As you can see, SEO is more than just keywords. SEO covers a range of factors both visible and behind the scenes. However, your website or page ranking isn’t determined solely by its inherent properties.
Factors outside of your direct control also impact your performance.
On-page SEO consists of measures taken within the structure and content of your site and its pages.
Off-page SEO involves factors outside of your website, such as backlinks and brand mentions. These factors weigh heavily on your ranking.
Search engine algorithms are proprietary and secret, but most agree that off-page SEO is just as (if not more) important than on-page SEO with estimates of its algorithm weight ranging from 40 to 70 percent.
On-page SEO is under your control. It involves factors that you can implement and adjust. On-page SEO focuses on functionality, content, and keyword research.
While keyword stuffing is highly discouraged, keyword research and proper usage are crucial to a successful SEO campaign. Whether it’s for pay-per-click (PPC) ads or organic ranking, keyword research enables you to provide relevant information to the searchers that need it most.
Keyword research can also show you what your competitors are doing and what may or may not be working for them. For PPC purposes, talented SEO keyword analysts can identify the most cost-effective, likely-to-convert search terms to maximize your marketing dollars. They can even exclude your ad from showing up when searchers use phrases that are less likely to convert.
Other on-page SEO factors include:
Strong on-page SEO cultivates off-page SEO, but you can still give it a boost.
By providing searchers with engaging, shareable content that serves a purpose, you gain backlinks. They’re the crown jewel of off-page SEO.
Backlinks are links on another website that lead back to your page. They’re like reputation points in a credibility-building game.
The more respected the site giving you a backlink, the more valuable that backlink is. Having higher backlink credibility gives you a ranking advantage when compared to other sites with similar services.
Blog posts filled with useful information earn more clicks by helping you to rank higher.
Do not buy backlinks. It can lead to penalties and hurt your ranking. The best backlinks are organic. Try these methods to increase your organic backlinks:
Pro tip: An excellent way to build backlinks is by offering to guest-post on industry-specific and credible blogs, like trade publications or industry journals. A link back to your site in your author’s bio carries backlink weight, so provide useful content to ensure that the post is shared or sourced.
Backlinks carry varying value, depending on the source. Some factors that contribute are:
Local SEO helps you compete with the big guys. By combining data like long-tailed keywords with geographic and demographic targeting, any business can compete on a local scale.
With searchers commonly using mobile devices to locate and contact local businesses, launching a local SEO program is a great way to earn customers.
Optimizing for local searches is also an effective way to grow organic traffic for queries within your geographic service area.
Optimizing your site for search ranking isn’t an overnight fix. You should see noticeable effects from your SEO campaign within 4 to 6 months, and maybe a couple of years to fully take hold depending on the competition in your niche.
On-page SEO is effective quickly, but off-page SEO takes time to build. Shortcuts on off-page SEO lead to penalties.
Other time-influencing factors:
So, how does SEO work? SEO combines impactful practices, content, and analytics to grow site traffic and conversions.
Search engine algorithms change, and your site must change with them. Book your free breakthrough strategy session with us to discuss your SEO options today.