If you run an online business, you likely know your work is never really done. You can always tweak something to help keep your business relevant, your customers happy, and your revenue stream intact.
The same can be said for your digital marketing and SEO efforts. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into what SEO is, how it works, and how you can set up your website to be as SEO and Google-friendly as possible.
In a nutshell, SEO is the process of optimizing your website to increase organic traffic. This typically begins by looking into ways of boosting your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs), and the added benefit is that your brand gains a boost in exposure.
Right off the bat, your website needs to provide users with what they need as quickly as possible. SEO is just as much about the people searching as it is about satisfying search engines. By understanding who your target audience is, what they’re looking for, and the type of content you can create to help them find it, you can ultimately build a website that accommodates both.
Naturally, this also means you need to understand how search engines work and how they rank different websites. Thankfully, the process is pretty straightforward.
Bigger search engines like Google and Bing use complex algorithms to determine which websites best match a user’s search intent. Google accesses its database of websites to find the one that best fits that user’s query. From there, it ranks the results from most relevant to least relevant.
A successful SEO strategy is one where search intent is the driving force behind every piece of content a brand creates. Its content generates more traffic for their website, builds trust and authority with their target audience, and establishes that brand as an industry expert. Ultimately, this leads to more conversions, greater revenue opportunities, and more growth for that business.
While things can get technical pretty quickly, the process of how SEO works is relatively easy to understand. When you publish content to your business’s website, Google bots or “spiders” crawl your website and review the contents of your pages. Google then indexes your page and if your page successfully answers a user’s question, that page can appear on search engine results pages for relevant queries.
In essence, this means that SEO is the process of convincing Google and other search engines that your content is the most relevant, authoritative, and comprehensive solution to a person’s search query.
SEO typically begins with in-depth keyword research into the terms and phrases that people are using when they search for products or services like yours. These are keywords and phrases relevant to your business, so the general idea is to look for keywords with high search volume (aka enough volume that it would be worth creating content around them). Afterward, you’ll want to work those into your content in a way that feels natural, aka in a way that serves the user intent of your customers, readers, and target audience. Likewise, it’s important to note that your keywords will likely include a mix of branded and non-branded keywords, long-tail keywords, local keywords, and global keywords.
While the process of finding the right keywords for your business is a bit more complex, there are a number of SEO tools (both free and paid) that you can use to make that easier. Some of the most popular include:
Google Ads Keyword Planner: As one of the more widely used keyword research tools, Google Ads Keyword Planner can help your business generate a list of words or phrases relevant to your brand, pulling its search statistics directly from Google. It’ll give you insights into how often those words are searched, along with information on how those searches have changed over time. This should help you narrow down your list of keywords to the ones most worth looking into.
Google Search Console: Slightly different from Google Keyword Planner, Google Search Console (or GSC for short) is used to search for keywords your business already ranks for, giving better insights into the keywords and search phrases people are using to reach your website. Use the data you’ve gathered to separate your keywords into two categories: well-performing keywords and poor-performing (but still worthwhile) keywords. While it’s important to note that Google Search Console can help in several other ways to measure and optimize your website’s overall performance, its use as a keyword research tool is one of its most talked about features.
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing your website page content for factors you can control. Elements of on-page SEO include:
Keywords: By looking at the data on how many people are searching a given keyword and how often, you can get a better feel for which keywords to target.
Title Tags: When you write content, you likely want to organize that content in a way that makes sense to readers. Google works the same way, and its algorithm will naturally seek to understand how you’ve organized your text. Title tags work to make that process easier, as the presence of H1 Tags (the main topic), H2 Tags (subtopics), and H3 Tags (additional subtopics) provide key hints about the material contained within each paragraph. More importantly, Google will always want to prioritize content that focuses on user experience.
Page Speed: Most users expect the websites and pages they visit to load quickly. When they don’t, these same users tend to leave just as quickly. With page speed being a confirmed Google ranking factor, it’s important that your online business does everything it can to ensure your pages load as quickly as possible. Fail to do so, and you risk losing out on valuable conversion opportunities down the road.
Internal Links: Internal links help Google better understand the navigational structure of your website, signaling to Google what those pages are about and why they’re important. Focus on quality above quantity when link building, as well as providing Google with descriptive anchor text.
Images: Those familiar with content creation might have also heard the term “image SEO.” While it’s a fairly blanket term encompassing a lot of technical concepts, the primary focus is ensuring you optimize your images in a way that stands out to web crawlers. Concepts like proper use of alt text, giving your images proper file names, and using high-quality images all qualify as image SEO best practices. Likewise, sizing your images correctly, and using proper URL paths all qualify as important considerations.
As the opposite of on-page SEO, off-page SEO describes all the actions taken outside of your own website to impact organic search rankings. These include the following:
Social Media: While social media doesn’t directly affect search rankings, that’s not to say it doesn’t have a place in SEO best practices. In fact, your social media strategy is an incredibly important part of helping your business gain valuable exposure, as it amplifies your content for possible backlinks and helps to establish brand awareness.
While each platform has its own benefits, most eCommerce businesses will want to have a healthy presence on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and even YouTube. Similarly, B2B businesses would do well to leverage the marketing power of LinkedIn and Twitter, though they can find just as much success maintaining a presence on the other platforms as well.
Link Building: Your external link building strategy is an integral part of SEO. It helps establish your brand’s authority in your chosen industry, boosting visibility and increasing your site’s organic search rankings. With Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines paying close attention to how many links are leading back to your site, ensure those links are high-quality, authoritative, and trustworthy. Do this well, and you’ll bring in more valuable, conversion-friendly traffic to your website.
SEOs love to quote Bill Gates when he said “content is king.” Cliché or not, it rings just as true today as it did in 1996. Whether you’re selling rollerblades or Range Rovers, the right content can draw in customers at every stage of the sales funnel, as shoppers are just as eager for more information as they are for new products. Additionally, there are tons of conversion-friendly content types your business can work with. These include:
How-to Guides: Depending on what your business is selling or offering, there’s a good chance that consumers might benefit from a step-by-step approach to using your products. Businesses in the beauty and skincare industry can especially benefit from this type of content, as consumers for these products often take to Google and other search engines to ask questions related to application, ingredients, etc.
As a digital marketing agency, our team often uses how-to guides as a way to promote our SEO services to businesses in industries we specialize in. These might include a guide on how to choose the right SEO keywords for your fashion business or a beginner’s guide to Google Merchant Center. Whatever the content may be, we try to target long-tail keywords, as this allows us to craft content that provides our target audience with specific answers to their questions.
Lists: People love lists, and Google loves them too. They’re easy to read, easy to skim through, and often super engaging. Best of all, this type of content is great for mobile users, giving your content an added boost in user-friendliness. If you can list out your brand’s accomplishments or the benefits of your products, add these lists to your website.
To give an example, as part of our own marketing strategy, VELOX Media wants potential clients to know which brands/industries we’ve worked with in the past, as this helps to highlight our expertise across competitive industries like fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and more. To make that easier, we make sure to keep an updated list of our client success stories, with engaging statistics that business owners will be eager to read more about.
Long-form Guides/Blog Posts: Long-form guides and blog posts are perfect for helping your target audience understand a broader topic, especially if your posts are designed to answer common questions or address customer pain points. While the format and length of your long-form content might change from piece to piece, you’ll want to include this type of content in your overall SEO strategy whenever possible. As an added bonus, long-form content is a great way to improve your business’s link building efforts, providing plenty of opportunities to beef up your internal and external links.
Tables: Like lists, Google loves tables of data, as they’re easy for the search engine to understand. This applies to your target audience as well, as the process of breaking down information into easy-to-read numbers helps to process that information much more quickly.
Graphics/Images: Whether it’s images, photos, or illustrations, Google has also been pushing imagery higher up the ranks of SERPs, and more often. The right imagery can also drive valuable traffic to your website, as Google’s Image Search is especially popular with visual industries like fashion, beauty, skincare, etc.
Videos: Users’ attention spans are getting shorter, and the need for focused and easily digestible content has never been more necessary. For this reason, quality video content can often be the difference between an average landing page and one that really converts. Not only do videos help break up the copy on your website by adding more white space, but they’re fantastic tools for boosting engagement.
Whether it’s user buyer testimonials, product tutorials, or demonstrations of your products in action, videos enhance your call to action, especially if they’re created for your company’s social media channels. That being said, remember that there are best practices and limits when it comes to adding visual elements to your pages. After all, you don’t want to slow down the loading times of your pages by adding too many unoptimized elements.
Infographics: As one of the more popular forms of content marketing (especially for B2B companies), infographics do a fantastic job of breaking down complex concepts and information into something that’s easy to read, easy to understand, and easy to share.
They’re great for health companies wishing to educate consumers on the benefits of their products or the types of ingredients being used. At the same time, fashion and beauty brands can use infographics to help consumers choose products based on factors like body type or skin color. While these are just a few examples of many, using infographics in your website’s content marketing strategy is an excellent way to keep readers engaged.
Your website’s infrastructure is just as important as the content you create for it, and a solid understanding of technical SEO will ensure your website can be easily crawled and indexed by Google. Core concepts of technical SEO include:
User Interface: No matter what, Google wants to recommend websites that appeal to its users. When you design your website, make sure that your design is attractive and user-friendly, with a navigational structure that makes sense. After all, if users can’t find the information they’re looking for quickly, they’re less likely to stick around and much less likely to convert. Your menus and navigation options need to be clear and easy to follow. In most cases, including a horizontal navigation bar across the top of your home page with straightforward categories is the best method.
Additionally, your headings should be simple, divided by product type, services, or any other category that makes sense for your business. Dropdown menus might even streamline the experience. The goal here is to think like your audience and consider how you’d want to seek out information were you in their place. This will work to keep your visitors engaged with your content and expertise, guiding them effortlessly down the sales funnel.
Schema Markup: Schema, otherwise known as structured data or “the voice of search engines,” is a form of metadata that helps explain your content to Google in a way that it understands. In turn, this helps inform users of important information faster, adding to user experience.
One example might be the rating/review of a product or service directly in search results. Another might include news articles that appear directly in Google based on certain search queries. While there are different ways to implement schema based on which platform your website is built (i.e., WordPress, Magento, Shopify), they’re an important part of ensuring your website is as SEO and Google-friendly as possible.
Page Speed: As highlighted above, page speed is one of the more important metrics you should be keeping track of. It directly affects user experience, and slow-loading websites or pages tend to have higher bounce rates. While there’s no magic number to focus on for page speed, top-ranking pages tend to load in three seconds or less.
Mobile-friendliness: By ensuring your website is optimized for smartphones and tablets, your business can tap into today’s mobile-first environment. Best of all, the process of doing so is relatively easy.
Start by making sure you’re providing sensible menu and navigation options. If you’re in eCommerce, these also serve to make the mobile shopping experience effortless. Secondly, make sure you’re using high-contrast CTA buttons, as these can work to draw the eye of your customers during the conversion process.
If you want to go the extra mile, consider the size of your text, use of pop-up ads, or other page elements that might affect scrolling or page speeds. While these are just a few tips in the grand scheme of things, you can streamline the process by using Google’s own tool to test your website’s mobile-friendliness, using the insights gathered to make any needed changes.
At the end of the day, setting up your website for SEO success requires a deeper understanding of how Google works, what its expectations are for your content, and what you can do to ensure your content and site structure are aligned with current ranking signals.
Thus, the best thing you can do to ensure SEO success for your business is to partner with the digital marketing experts at VELOX Media, as these are all concepts that our team is familiar with. As a Google Premier Partner with over 13 years of experience in content marketing, link building, web development, and more, we’ll work with your brand to create an SEO strategy tailored to your KPIs. Best of all, our approach works locally and globally.
Contact us to learn how we can help your brand climb the ranks of organic search and drive needle-moving revenue for your online business today!