Three Small Letters that Make a BIG Difference
in Driving Relevant Traffic to Your Website
As a small business owner you probably feel like your head is going to explode with all of the options available to promote your business.
For a while, everyone jumped on the Google Ads bandwagon with its bidding process and inflated prices to ensure you rose to the top of the search rankings. Unfortunately, consumers caught on and realized you paid to be there as opposed to earned your place in the prime piece of real estate.
Then, you used Constant Contact or Mail Chimp to blast messages to all of your contacts, even people you haven’t spoken to or done business with in years. The result was many folk unsubscribing you to your email service, being banished to junk mail never to be heard from again, and a few choice replies telling you what you could do with your business.
So, how do you get the word out about your business without destroying goodwill or your credibility in the world of digital marketing? Repeat after me, “SEO”.
SEO is short for search engine optimization. It’s the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as exposure to your brand, through non-paid (aka “organic”) search engine results.
What is a search engine?
A search engine is a software system that carries out web or Internet searches. The biggest and most popular is Google which accounts for more than 80% of the market share. After a user enters a query such as “best web designers near me,” the search results are presented in a line of results known as search engine results pages (SERPs). The information is an aggregation of links to web pages, images, videos, infographics, articles, research papers, and other files.
To rank high in a search engine, you must understand what people are searching for online, the answers they want, the words they’re using, and the type of content they wish to consume. Knowing the answers to these questions will let you connect with the people searching online for the solutions you offer.
What is Ranking?
Ranking is the methodology search engines use to decide where or in what order pieces of content should be displayed on a SERP. To offer a comparison, think of it similarly to the way the military ranks its personnel. In the military, the generals are on the very top of the pecking order because they are most important. From there, other personnel follow in descending order – generals > colonels > majors > captains > lieutenants > sergeants, then privates at the very bottom.
Ranking works hand in hand with search visibility – how predominantly the content is shown in the results. High visibility content traditionally appears at the very top of the search engine hierarchy and may display a caption from the site to help the reader quickly identify if it satisfies they search requirements. Less visible content may not even show up on the first page of the results. Because of this, those sites are generally disregarded and rarely accessed.
How do SEOs rankings work?
How does Google decide which pages/websites to show in response to a search? How do you get the right traffic to your site?
Google’s algorithm is incredible complex, but at a high level:
- Google looks for pages containinghigh-quality, relevant information related to the user’s search
- They decide which is appropriate by crawling or reading your website’s content and evaluating whether it is what the searcher is looking for; this is mostly related to the keywords it contains.
- They determine quality through using numerous criteria; however, one of the most important is the number and quality of other websites that link to your page/site. i.e. If the only sites that link to your site are blogs no one else has linked to, and my site gets links from trusted places like NYTimes.com, my site will be more trusted and presumed to be of higher quality than yours.
There are hundreds of ranking factors Google’s algorithm considers in response to searches, and they are constantly updating and refining their process.
What are keywords and why should I care about them?
Keywords are a significant feature in an SEO strategy. They are simply words and phrases used in the content of your website, designed to help users find you using a search engine. While the words chosen are purposeful, they should be expertly woven into the content as to not distract the reader from the experience and information being presented. This should be fairly easy to do since the words themselves should be selected because they are also intuitively the same words the visitor is using to find you when doing their search.
The biggest mistake companies make is to only focus on keyword optimization when first building their website. Older keywords must be reconsidered on a regular basis while high-volume, competitive keywords should be updated with longer phrases intended to bring the absolute perfect visitor to your site.
SEO best practices dictate that relevant keywords appear in several eye-catching areas on your site including headers and body content of pages to your URLs to metatags to image file names.
Are Rankings Different on Desktops vs. Mobile Devices?
You wouldn’t think so, but they are! Google looks at desktop and mobile user experiences very differently.
Because of Chrome and Android, Google has more data on mobile devices and can treat them quite dissimilarly. Furthermore, more users are searching using mobile and wearable devices using voice command features to initiate searches. As such, search features are continually evolving to adapt to different ways of searching.
In March 2018, Google moved completely to mobile-first indexing. This adjustment mandated all businesses have mobile-optimized websites so it can rank searches on desktop and mobile devices. Google will evaluate the user experience (UX) and search engine optimization of mobile-optimized user experiences for SERP ranking.
Is there ever a time you shouldn’t strive to rank high?
There is a lie that is been perpetuated for decades that often passes as truth. It is, “All publicity is good publicity.” To be fair, maybe it was true in the early days of mass media when there were merely a handful of news outlets and a bad story could be spun into a positive one by a masterful publicist. However, the game has changed significantly in the age of social media, citizen journalists, and everyone with a device (and possibly an axe to grind) able to annihilate a person or business’ reputation with a few harsh words or scathing review. With that said, is it possible to rebound in the face of scandal?
Yes, but it is not easy.
Removing negative information is not as simple as hitting the delete button on your keyboard. Between the viral nature of the internet and internet guidelines concerning content removal, some result will never go away completely. However, they can be suppressed or buried in the SEO rankings.
Suppression is a key tactic in today’s reputation management toolbox. While it is not an instantaneous fix, suppression effectively makes negative information much harder to come by. By preventing damaging content from achieving high rank, first page SERP status, the odds of anyone finding it are negligible.
In fact, a 2014 study by Advanced Web Rankings showed that 67% of web users rarely go past the top five listings, and almost 95% of web traffic is generated from items on the first page of search results. The means only 5% of all internet users would even think of digging further for the salacious bit of information they seek. Therefore, the individual or entity’s public perception remains in favorable light.
What is an SEO Company?
All of this tech-speak sounds really complicated, right? The good news is that companies like Sasquatch eat SEOs for breakfast.
Sasquatch employs experts in different areas of search engine optimization. These SEO professionals provide a range of services, such as auditing your site, developing a customized SEO plan, and implementing the tactics that will help you’re your business grow.
Click here to rank your business higher on Google and bring more organic traffic to your site today.