Search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex subject. At heart, it’s a series of online marketing techniques used by marketers and business owners to increase the visibility of their website in the search engines and to drive targeted traffic to in the hopes of building a sizable online audience.
To many, SEO is a piece of cake. All you have to do is throw in some keywords and some well-written blog posts. To others, it’s a huge, involved subject that’s too time-consuming to learn and apply with no immediate guarantee of results.
The truth is that SEO is somewhere in between those two schools of thought.
There’s so much information available online about SEO that it’s hard to know where to start. When it comes to SEO, what do you really need to know? Once you understand a few key essential concepts, you can take that knowledge and expand on it from there. Here are five SEO concepts that are important to know for successful online marketing.
Avoid Black Hat SEO Tactics
Search engines hold all websites to certain standards. Websites that provide their human audience with accurate, current and original information do very well. Search engines aim to be a valuable reference for their audience.
Programs called spiders are used to crawl websites for the content people want. With the site’s keywords as a guide, the spider bots index the sites and list them for searches.
SEO Expert Brad explains that black hat SEO methods are techniques meant to manipulate search engine algorithms into giving a website a high rank quickly and with little effort. These unscrupulous methods are meant to deceive the spider bots with the goal of achieving a rank that wasn’t earned.
Black hat SEO tactics include, but aren’t limited to, the following:
- Comment spam
- Domain name squatting
- Duplicated or low-quality content
- Hidden links and text
- Irrelevant keywords
- Keyword stuffing
- Paid links or link exchanges
Most search engines, including Google, not only have many ways of detecting such practices, but they also impose penalties for websites caught using them. They can lower the rank of the offending site or they can ban the site entirely.
Make Reviews Work for Your Business
Online business reviews are the written opinions of customers left on your website, social media or on popular review venues like Facebook, Google, Yelp and more. They can be thought of as conversations about your business on the web. Reviews are key to local SEO. Podium explains, “some may not be as concerned with local SEO, but brick-and-mortar businesses rely on it. While organic SEO is based on relevant search terms, local SEO takes proximity into account (how close a consumer is to your store). Managing online reviews is one of the best ways to improve your local SEO ranking because good reviews will ensure Google sees you not only as a real business but also as a quality resource for your community.”
It’s one aspect of online marketing that we can’t control, but we can influence it by building a positive reputation within your given field. By tracking reviews for your business and responding to them quickly where you can, you’ll be able to start building relationships with your consumers. Also, if you’re wise, you can use them to make corrections where needed to improve your business and customer service.
Quality Content is Essential and Variable
Top-quality, informative content that tells a story with relevancy while eliciting emotion or engagement is a key factor in SEO. Many know this. What most don’t know is that content isn’t limited to just text. The quality content you use to build your website and audience can also be expressed in other formats like audio, images, video and more. It should enlighten, entertain, or in some way teach those who visit your site.
Crafting relevant content on a consistent basis that is meant for searchers can be a time investment. To be of real benefit, both to your visitors and in your SEO efforts, it needs to meet certain criteria and then be properly optimized. If done right, in time you’ll definitely see the increase in visibility and exposure.
Keywords are Relevant but Shouldn’t be Your Primary Focus
The algorithms used by the search engines, Google in particular, does far more than merely count how many times your keywords match a page or track their density. Using the powerful RankBrain, machine learning that helps Google to understand the intention behind a search term, the search engine uses a more discerning method of ranking than just matching important keywords.
It’s important to wield keywords correctly using current SEO standards to help boost your visibility and audience. You also need to create content for your human visitors that’s easy to read, engages them in some way, and provides real value to them that’s relevant to your products or services.
Measure Your Results
Measuring the results of your online marketing efforts is one of the most important things you can do. If you don’t know the results of your efforts, you’re wasting your time.
How do you do that exactly? First, you need a great metrics tool like Google Analytics which is free to use and incredibly powerful. Then, you’ll need to identify some key performance indicators (KPI) and use them to track your success and improve the performance of your SEO campaigns.
Using SEO effectively will require that you study SEO and keep up with the changes. In applying only the white hat SEO tactics, crafting high-quality content of value for your audience, and harnessing the power of reviews, you’ll see an improvement in your search engine rankings and enjoy the benefits that come with it. Carefully research keywords and use them properly. Monitor your results and make adjustments to improve your efforts when needed. In time, and with a little patience, your visibility will be boosted and your audience will grow.
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