What is Search Engine Optimization

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving the organic ranking of a website on popular search engines.

You could be selling a product or providing a service; but what’s the point if no one knows of it? That’s where SEO comes into the picture.  It provides online visibility to your site on the search engine results page (SERP) as a user searches for what you do.

Simple, right?

What SEO means to your business?

A lot if you do it right. The more real estate your site receives on the SERP, the more likely your site is going to receive natural user clicks.

Let’s take an example to understand what SEO is and how it affects your business.

Nearly 80% start their search for a product or service using the internet.  Only 0.78% of these searchers visit the 2nd page.  What does this mean to you?

You’re losing the opportunity to make sales if your site is not on the 1st page.

So, how do you get up there? SEO is the answer. It optimizes your site for what the users are searching for. It pushes your website rank up and garners you more online visibility—and visitors that turn into customers.

SEO is important but how can businesses determine that? That brings us to explain SEO audit.

What is an SEO audit?

SEO audit determines where your site stands. It highlights various performance issues that are stopping your website from ranking at the top of SERPs.The fundamental elements of an SEO audit
  • On-page SEO factors
  • Off-page SEO factors
  • Technical SEO factors

Conduct a site audit for each of the SEO factors to get a comprehensive picture.

Also, SEO audits are not a one-time thing. Schedule it monthly to monitor the progress and introduce changes in your SEO strategies.

An Exhaustive List of SEO Audit Includes

  • Page load speed
  • Duplicate content
  • Missing meta tags
  • Broken links
  • Crawling errors
  • Images and video issues
  • Site security
  • Poor backlink profile
  • URL structure
  • Robots.txt file
  • Missing sitemap
  • 404 pages
  • 303 redirects
  • Canonical tags
  • Site architecture
  • Mobile optimization

The information collected helps in preparing SEO solutions. It ensures your site offers an excellent experience—to users and search engine bots alike.

How does SEO Work?

SEO is one of the most prolific digital marketing practices in the world. At the very core lies a dozen of questions:

  • How does Google ranking work?
  • How does organic search work?
  • Who chooses the rank positions?
  • What should be done to be at #1 on the SERP?
  • How important Google SEO can be?

You can find the answer if we break down SEO into two parts.

How Search Engine (SE_) Works

Search engines have spiders (or bots) that crawl and index each website.  They read through the site content and various other parameters to determine its worth for users.  All the collected information is stored and indexed in a library database. Once a user puts up a query in the search engine, the SE populates the indexed sites that are likely to give the most relevant and useful answer in decreasing order.

How _ _ Optimization Works

The optimization work is about writing content that is
  • The best answer to the user questions
  • Factually right and 100% accurate
  • Optimized for search queries
  • Grammatically correct
  • 100% unique
  • Trustworthy

The race to grab the #1 spot on the SERP is never-ending.

It is a tall feat for any website to outdo tens of hundreds of websites. Not to forget, there are nearly 200 Google’s ranking factors that are to be fought for the best SEO rankings.

Thus, expecting magical results overnight is a mistake. No SEO professional promises instant results;  if someone does, maybe it’s about time to reconsider your choice of digital agency.

SEO is a work of patience and perseverance that ascends your site to premium spots on the SERP and keeps it there for long.

What is Local SEO and how does Local SEO Work?

Local SEO makes your site appears in the 3 Packs of Google Maps that translate into customers rushing or calling your store or local business. Unlike national and international SEO, local SEO works to build the local visibility of your business.

So, how does Google local SEO Work? 

When a user types a query in the Google search bar, it starts shuffling through hundreds or thousands of indexed sites. In the blink of an eye, it will return the results (stored in the indexed database) that best answers the local search query.

Here the search engine lists businesses that are closest to your current location. Even if the user does not mention the geographical location, Google assumes it as a local research query.

For instance, if you are to go to the office, searching for ‘cab service’ on Google will show you results, nearest to your current location. If you type the same search query while sitting at your office, you will get results, near your office.

I hope, you got the gist!

As Google algorithm changes — like hundreds of times in a year —the site rankings are never the same for a long time. Thus, do not stop local SEO even if you’re ranking well.

Continue working on SEO that brings sustainable business results. 

For instance, if you are to go to the office, searching for ‘cab service’ on Google will show you results, nearest to your current location. If you type the same search query while sitting at your office, you will get results, near your office.

I hope, you got the gist! 

As Google algorithm changes — like hundreds of times in a year —the site rankings are never the same for a long time. Thus, do not stop local SEO even if you’re ranking well.

Continue working on SEO that brings sustainable business results.

How to do Local SEO in 2021?

There is no one rule to ace SEO. In fact, there are multiple factors that help your site dominate the local search engine results.

Here are free Local SEO tips for Beginners

  • Optimize for Google My Business
  • Social media marketing
  • Ensure consistent NAP (name, address, and phone number) on all the sites
  • Optimize online directories and citations
  • Optimize website content, headers, URL structure, meta titles, and description
  • Mobile-friendly website
  • Gain natural links from sites with high PA/DA
  • Build digital PR
  • Participate in industry and community events

SEO and Marketing: Exploring the Relation

Search engine optimization is an integral tool of digital marketing practices. Although many people confuse it as the same.

SEO and digital marketing are different but how?

Let’s find out: what is SEO in digital marketing

Understanding Digital Marketing

Digital marketing can be considered as an umbrella term that consists of n-number of strategies.

Digital marketing includes:

  • Search engine optimization
  • Social media marketing
  • Pay per click marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Web design and development

Each of it adds contributes to your business growth online.

SEO whereas is a digital marketing practice that’s aimed to drive high-quality organic traffic to your website.

SEO optimization has many benefits that add to the digital presence of your business.

If you are up for the long haul, SEO marketing is the first step that can take you far.

Slow and steady, SEO is one digital marketing strategy that paves the road to increasing your business search visibility and bottom line.

Types of SEO

On-Page, Off-page & Technical SEO

As we understand how SEO works, there are building blocks to its success. Yes, you heard it write.

There are different types of search engine optimizations; each is integral to SEO success.

Without any ado, let’s find out.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO involves optimizing the web pages for improving organic traffic and SE ranking.

What to do
Optimizing website content, meta tags, blogs, articles, and more.

Off-page SEO

On-page SEO involves optimizing the web pages for improving organic traffic and SE ranking.

What to do
Building strong link profile, writing premium content for 3rd party sites, digital part and more.

Technical SEO

As the name says, technical SEO includes all the technical activities performed for website performance.

What to do
Fixing broken links, coding issues, duplicate tags, 404 errors, and more.

SEO Strategies: Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) has come a long way.  Businesses see their perks but patience often run out. The lure of quick gains — by tweaking the rules of the game — is hard to ignore for many.

That’s what introduces us to black hat SEO. Those practicing black hat SEO indulge in unethical practices that manipulate the search engine rankings.

One may wonder if Google is easy to fool. Well, it is not and the search engine has taken prompt actions that include penalizing such companies. So, the black hat SEO may give you results but at a big price.

Whereas, white hat SEO is for brands who go by the rules of the book. It includes those who adhere to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.  Do SEO for users and to satisfy their search intent. You will have Google on your side if you serve the users well.

What are Black Hat SEO Tactics?

  • Keywords stuffing
  • Hidden text
  • Copied Content
  • Cloaking
  • Misleading redirects
  • Link Schemes and farms
  • Doorway pages
  • Buying Links
  • Article Spinning
  • Spam rich snippets
Steer clear of these black hat (or sneaky) SEO tactics that may rub off Google on the wrong side.

What are White Hat SEO Tactics?

  • Proper keyword research that justifies what a business offers
  • Creating content that answers user questions or solves user problems
  • Optimize URLs, website content, alt images, and meta titles for relevant keywords
  • Write and market content that wins you confidence of the industry experts
  • Win natural appreciation of the brand influencers for recommendations
  • Anticipate and pursue knowledge sharing opportunities online

With white hat SEO, you can make users and Google happy. And you get what you want —a boost in the website ranking.

When and How to Report Black Hat SEO?

Black hat SEO is a deceitful practice that should never be ignored. If you suspect suspicious activities that allude to underhand SEO practices, do not deter reporting it to Google.
Report black hat SEO when you notice
  • All or any one black hat tactic listed above.
  • A low-quality and spammy site ranking for your top-ranking keyword.
  • Your site is falsely implicated in black hat SEO.
  • Your site is hacked or attacked by a virus.
How to Report Black Hat SEO?
  • File a complaint through Google’s webspam report that notifies the search engine about spammy results on the SERP.
  • For the sites facing malware attacks, fix the code first and then approach the search engine for a malware review.
  • Use the Disavow Links Tool that tells Google not to associate the selected links with their website.

The takeaway: There’s no prize for guessing which out of the white hat SEO and black hat SEO should you choose.  One may feel tempted to cross the line but remember—there is a price for every action.

Organic vs. Paid Search: Explaining the Difference

Every online experience begins with an online search.  While the search results are important, most businesses are left confused over the difference between organic and paid search.

Let’s find out.

Organic search finds you natural results for a user query. The results are generated out of the search engine’s algorithms and not influenced by any other factor like money.

Unlike organic, paid search finds you results that are purchased by advertisers from Google. The search engine is paid if a user clicks on the link placed on premium spots of the page.

On a SERP, you can spot paid search results at the top and organic search results on the remaining space.  For a digital marketer, both organic and paid search is important and bring a unique value.

Organic Search

  • Free of cost: No need to pay a penny; SEO brings free organic traffic to your site
  • Does not guarantee the quality of organic traffic: Ranking at the top spots does not guarantee you convertible traffic
  • Long-Term Results: SEO is a long shot; it may take weeks or months to increase the site ranking
  • Builds Credibility: Organic results build genuine interest and increase brand awareness on the SERP
  • Sustainable ROI: SEO may take time but the results are sustainable if you maintain the campaign

Paid Search

  • Marketing budget: Businesses have to pay an upfront cost to place the ad links at the top
  • Gain Convertible Organic Traffic: It runs on Pay-per-click (PPC) basis that drives high-intent traffic to your website
  • Instant Results: Paid ads are posted in 2-3 days, so you gain faster traction and results (views, clicks, calls, etc.)
  • Can’t be trusted: Though paid ads receive privileged spots, users generally do not trust and click on the links
  • Short term Results: Paid ads offer instant results but the results last till you pay

How Organic and Paid Search Results Complete Each Other?

There are some commonalities that make organic and paid search results integral to digital marketing success.
  • SEO and PPC campaigns generate real-time data that gives insight into the behaviour of the users. These vital updates shape the online marketing strategies to push things forward.
  • SEO and PPC campaigns support other internet marketing strategies, like social media marketing, email marketing, and video marketing.
  • SEO and PPC campaigns draw organic traffic with a different intent to purchase but they add to the bottom line. For instance, SEO mostly brings top-of-the-funnel traffic, unlike PPC ads which are clicked by ready-to-buy users.
  • SEO and PPC campaigns require regular account management. From monitoring performance to tweaking strategies and more, the campaigns should be professionally managed to stay on track.

Organic vs Paid Search: Which is Right?

Whether or not to run one or both the campaigns is for the business to decide. Organic search results have a lot to offer but do not expect overnight results. You can boost SEO strategies by starting a PPC campaign that injects instant revenue into the business.

If you do not wish to continue or reduce paid ads, PPC campaigns offer you all the flexibility.  Put your thinking cap and work out a plan of action to move forward.  The good news, consult digital marketers and find out what works the best for your business.

Keyword & Keyword Research

Every campaign, whether organic or paid, starts with a keyword. How important it must be, right? It deserves attention as we understand how SEO works for businesses.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are a word or a bunch of words (phrase) that represent a search query. Typically, anything that you type on a search bar of Google or any search engine becomes a keyword.  It can be a product, idea, or anything that a user is searching for.

Why are Keywords Important for SEO?

Keywords are the means to bring users closer to your website. By including the same keywords in the URL, title tags, headers, and website content, we are telling Google what the page is all about or providing for.

Thus, when a user puts up a search query, the search engine populates the websites that are centred on the search intent or queries ( or keywords). It is organic and no result is coerced into the SERP. That’s how keywords work to gain organic traffic and support SEO.

What are the Different Types of Keywords?

The keywords can be divided into different categories depending on certain parameters.

Based on the target market

Market Segment Keywords: The keywords that can be associated with the market like a product or service. For example, Bags.

Customer-specific Keywords: The keywords that hint toward a specific customer segment. For example, bags for women.

Product Keywords: The keywords that are related to a specific product. For example, Gucci leather handbags.

Branded Keywords: The keywords that mention a brand in addition to the product. For example, Gucci handbags.

Geo-targeted Keywords: The keywords that mention the targeted location of the product or service. For example, Gucci handbags in New York City.

Based on the length of the keywords

Short-tail keywords: They are basic (or generic) keywords that consist of one or two words. They are commonly searched. Thus they possess high search volume and are hard to rank.

For example, women’s handbags.

Mid-tail Keywords: They are similar to short-tail keywords but have a word or two more. For example, luxury handbags for women. As they are a descriptive form of short-tail keywords, you may find them reasonably easier to rank.

Long-tail keywords: They are the longest form of a keyword. For example, luxury handbags for women in their 40s. They have less search volume and can be ranked a lot easier than other keywords.

Based on the User Intent

Informational keywords: Keywords that are intended to find information about a product or service.  For example, which is the best women’s handbag?

Navigational keywords: Keywords that are intended to find a specific brand or company of the product or service. For example, Gucci’s handbags for women.

Transactional keywords: Keywords that are intended to make a transaction to buy a product or service. For example, buy Gucci handbags for women online.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a fundamental SEO task that generates a list of keywords a business site can be targeted for.  It could be product-or-service-related keywords that bring us closer to what users are searching for.

Not every keyword holds value for your website’s SEO. They must be studied and analyzed on the basis of

  • Monthly Search Volume – how often the users search for it on the Internet in a month
  • Difficulty Level – how many sites are ranking for the keyword

There’s more to it that we will discuss next.

How to do Keyword Research for SEO?

It starts with the basic steps mentioned below.

1. Prepare a list of topics you want your business to be known for

Discover a handful of topics that form the core of your business. It includes the products and services listed on your site. They may form the seed keywords for the SEO campaign.

2. Determine sub-topics that define the main topics selected in Step 1

Use the Google Keyword Tool to find the subtopics ( or keywords) with respective search volume and level of competition. These metrics give a sense of idea about their popularity.

3. Filter down the keywords for targeted keywords

Analyze the extensive list of keywords ( from Step 2) and prioritize them as per your SEO campaign.  Categorize the keywords for different business products and services.

4. Discover targeted pages for keywords

Map the keywords for different pages of the website. Some pages may need only optimization but one may have to create landing pages for other keywords.

5. Review keywords again

Keyword research is not a one-time thing. If your targeted keywords fail to provide traction, review them again. Keywords reflect the seasonable behaviour of your users. So, discover the new keywords as an opportunity to improve your website’s SEO.

SEO-Friendly Content

What is SEO-friendly Content?

Content that’s created for SEO and to attract maximum organic traffic to your site.

For SEO, it is important that the search engine understands the content and rank it higher for users to click and visit the page.

The type of content that comes under SEO friendly content writing

The most common form of SEO-friendly content includes

  • Web copies
  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Listicle
  • User Guides
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Slideshows

Study your business well and find out what works the best for SEO.

What makes a good SEO-friendly article?

1. Write an SEO-friendly title
Search and create a title that includes one or two targeted keywords for SEO. It is likely to find more SEO real estate than the one with no keyword.
Try to fit the keyword in the beginning and not the tailing end.

2. Abstract
An abstract is a short summary of the article that helps to decide if it helps or not. Keep it crisp and clear. Try to include a couple of keywords in the first few lines.

3. Keyword-rich content
Sprinkle the keywords, not an exact match, in a natural manner throughout the copy. Do not compromise on the information for including keywords.

4. Internal and external Links
Link your article to relevant sites that support your argument and have high page/domain authority. Do not forget to link the article to the internal pages of the site.

5. Promote
After publishing the article on the website, promote it on your social media pages, company forums, and other platforms.

10 Tips for writing content for SEO

Content continues to be an important SEO ranking factor. Digital marketers say write better content, time and again. But what’s better and how exactly you can do?

Let’s find out smart tips to write SEO-friendly content.

1. Research
Writing content for SEO starts with comprehensive research. Be it Google, social media sites, discussion forums, online surveys, books, or any other platform, find topics that your audience love.

Ask for trending or emerging topics that generate curiosity and are relevant to the current market. There are many content ideas generation tools out there. Surf the internet to use a few.

2. Keyword Research
Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day. Finding a spot for your site is not going to be easy if you do not perform keyword research. Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends to find out what users are searching for.

3. Include keywords in headers
A web copy or blog post can have one H1 and multiple sub-headers like H2, H3, and H4, and so on so forth. Adding the main keywords in the top header helps Google’s crawlers understand the content and its depth.

4. Optimize the content for users and not search engines
We can not stress any less, on that. Do not write content for SEO. Instead, focus on your users and their intent to search on Google. Avoid forcing keywords into the content. Instead, focus on writing content that helps users find a solution to their problem.

5. Add keywords into the page title and tag
Meta information is important for SEO. Include main keywords in the Meta title and description (or tag). It must be organic and relevant. Do not overdo with illogical inclusion of keywords. The Meta information should be crisp, clear, and compelling for Google’s bots to crawl and users to click on the page.

6. Content Depth
How much content is good for SEO? It is a subjective assessment that a content writer has to do. Find relevant information about the main topic and discover sub-topics (H2, H3, etc.)

Studies say content that goes up to 2000 words has a higher chance of ranking higher.

We say, if the topic deserves an in-depth explanation, do not hold back. Write content that covers all the important areas so that users do not have to look beyond the site.

7. Optimize Images for SEO
Visuals are a plus for SEO. Add images that support your content. Do not forget to add alt text to the features or body images.

It tells Google bots about the image and its purpose on the page. We suggest, make it interesting and add a keyword, if possible, for user engagement.

8. Outbound Links
As you write content for SEO, do not hesitate to link it with high authority sites. They give an impression that the SEO writer has done the homework well and the content is well researched. Include stats, case studies, and other relevant resourceful links that aid your argument to win the confidence of readers and convince Google bots.

9. Internal Links
Connecting the content of one page to other pages adds to the SEO. It tells Google bots that all the pages are linked and improves the time a user spent on the website.

10. Content Representation
We are living in impatient times. Just writing long content, rich with keywords, would not do the trick for you. The content should be structured well.

Break down the content into different sections, in a logical sequence. Provide ample blank spaces that give room to breathe. Use bullet points, create lists, and other scannable representations.

On-page SEO basics

What is On-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

On-page SEO refers to optimizing the site for a unique set of keywords that attract organic traffic and improve ranking.

Anything and everything that’s done on the website comes under on-page SEO.

On-page SEO activities
  • Keyword research: Find relevant and competitive keywords to target different web pages.
  • Content creation: Write high-quality content for meta tags, web pages, landing pages, blogs, articles, and more.
  • Keyword optimization: Optimize the URLs, meta tags/descriptions, website content, images, and videos for selected keywords.
  • Internal linking: Link different but relevant pages together. They should reflect on the relationship and add value to Google Analytics SEO metrics.
  • Improve load time: Users have no time for your page to load. Make it quick to scan and get answers to common questions.
  • Responsive design: Make the site responsive for devices with different screen sizes.

Off-page SEO basics

What is Off-page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

What you do beyond working on your website is off-page SEO. It focuses on building the relevance, trustworthiness, and authority of your site for search engines and users alike.

There are various SEO activities performed that build an opinion about your site. Whether positive or negative, it depends on how much you invest in off-page activities.

Off-page SEO activities include
  • Creating Quality Content: Develop high-quality content ( blogs, articles, and web copies) that gets multiple links from sites with high PA/DA. It helps improve site authority and attract high-quality organic traffic.
  • Guest outreach: Write and publish premium-quality, detailed blog posts on 3rd party websites. The sites should be relevant and must have high page authority.
  • Influencer Outreach: Connect and engage with public personalities who hold the power to influence your target audience.
  • Social Media Marketing: Write posts, run online surveys, do online contests, and more. Whatever it takes to rack up your social media followers’ interest.
  • Social bookmark submission: Store your links on free online bookmarking sites like Twitter, Pocket, Digg, and Reddit. It will transfer the link juice and hence aids SEO ranking.
  • Forum postings: Participate in discussions via forums, groups, and bulletin boards. They generate user curiosity, comments, replies, and more traffic for your website.
  • Directory submission: Submit your site URL and the business information in a directory relevant to your industry. Aids in branding and organic traffic growth.

Technical SEO basics

What is Technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Technical SEO fixes your site for crawling and indexing errors. It helps Google bots and users find and read through the site. Free from any technical glitches, the site is optimized for technical performance.
Technical SEO techniques include
  • Robots.txt: Helps Google bots to crawl and index the right pages.
  • Website’s URL structure: Helps Google bots understand what to expect from the page.
  • Website’s navigation: Find the information, easily and in less time.
  • XML sitemap: Helps Google bots to index updated pages on your website.
  • 404 pages: Helps users find a link to alternative pages or redirection to the home page.
  • Page loading speed: Helps saving the users time and cuts down on their frustration.
  • Add Breadcrumb Menus: A breadcrumb menu enables users to easily navigate the site without feeling the need to click the back button. The search engine bots get an extra clue about the website structure.
  • Include Structured Data Markup: It is a code that helps search engines to understand the context of the content.
  • Fix canonical URLs: It tells Google bots which page to index among different versions.
  • Add SSL to Make Your Website HTTPS: The presence of HTTPS establishes trust with your site visitors.
Advanced technical SEO Techniques
  • Pagination- Pagination is used when a piece of content spans multiple pages for a better user experience (UX).
  • Multi-Lingual websites- Use the ‘hreflang’ attribute to tell Google that which language to consider for the specific pages.

The Takeaway

SEO has evolved over the years, not more than Google’s algorithms though. Businesses have to change the way they practise SEO to get the desired results.

So, what’s new in SEO for brands and businesses for 2021 and beyond?

  • Core Web Vitals
  • Google’s BERT
  • SEO Content
  • Voice search
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Video marketing
  • Influencer SEO or anything else

Does it drive you to review your business SEO or you’re going to risk your site’s ranking? Well, the best way to find out is to consult Vancouver’s expert SEO company. They have the acumen, skills and tools to help you through.’