Search Engine Optimization has been in practice since 1997, and all started when Netscape, American Online, and Internet Explorer were the power browsers (What’s a Google?!?). And the practice of SEO looks about as different as the search engine browser interfaces do.
Gone are the days of just submitting your site to a few directories and calling it good. Today, there are many tactics, and the rules are continually changing.
This resource page is designed to help you understand the current best practices and the different types of search engine optimization.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a website by getting search engines to return your website pages to the top of organic search engine results pages (SERPs). There are on-page and off-page factors for meeting current search engine standards to rank for keywords related to your product or service.
Examples of some on-page elements include:
Examples of some off-page elements include:
The lists above are only a small sample of the (probably) millions of factors search engine algorithms take into account when determining what pages display in what order on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
What SEO boils down to is proving to the search engines that internet users find your website relevant, valuable, and easy to use. And one point to always remember, there is no “first” page of Google!
Technical SEO is like car maintenance. Nothing amazing happens when you do it, but you have to stay on top of it to keep things running smoothly.
Think of search engine optimization like car maintenance. When you change your car’s oil, rotate the tires, and get scheduled mileage-based work done on time, your car is going to last you a very long time. The same concept applies to your website. There are constant updates to operating systems, search engines, and even how users on your site interact with your site. It is your job to make sure your site is optimized to the current standard of the internet building blocks.
On-page SEO is all about optimizing elements on your website. These tactics include (but not limited to):
Title Tags – Also known as H1 header tags, H1s are used to set a page title for individual pages. These are keywords or topics that help identify the subject matter of the website page.
Content Structure – The architectural layout of the page. A well-designed page will let bots easily crawl the pages. Also, you'll want to get an SSL on your site to help reduce the risk of being hacked. SSL certificates are super important to Google now, in case you haven’t heard.
Content Readability – Is your content relevant, informative, or does it solve a problem? Can a user easily skim the page and find what they are looking for? If not, the user is going to leave, or bounce, as Google likes to refer to it, which will ultimately lower the webpage’s authority and Google will won’t serve that page on its SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
Mobile Responsive – Effective September 2018, Google converted to mobile first indexing. That means Google is using the mobile version of your site to index. So, if you remove elements of your site for the mobile version, that content will not be accounted for during indexing.
Resolving Errors – Chances are your current website is not your first website. You’ve probably had several sites over the years and possibly build on different platforms (i.e., Drupal, WordPress, HubSpot, etc.). And even though your domain may have stayed the same, the individual page names most likely changed. Creating redirects from pages that no longer exist lets Google know to de-index those pages. Nobody wants to get sent to a page with a 404 error (page not found).
If you want to actually rank in the search engines, you have to prove that your site offers content and resources that internet users find valuable.
Google’s (as well as other search engines') first priority is the searcher: the human being on the phone, tablet, or computer searching for answers, products, and services. If Google doesn’t continually give the most relevant results for a search query, users will start using another search engine to find what they are looking for.
Off-page SEO tactics are also known as off-the-page factors. These are the elements that help individual website pages get shown higher on Google’s SERP. These are factors that are not controlled directly on your website and take time and consistent effort to build.
Being vigilant in monitoring outside activities that are driving traffic to your site is just as important to what is on your website.
Do you know who is linking to your website pages?
How often your website pages are shared?
Who is commenting on your blog posts? And are you responding?
Link Building – The act of acquiring inbound links to your website for another reputable website. You can passively or actively get links to your website, but one crucial factor is to make sure the links are coming from sites with high domain authority scores. Lower scoring sites with links to your website will bring down your authority, thus jeopardize your ability to be found on search engines.
Content Shareability – Creating content that is informational and relevant is the first to get people to share it. People searching for answers are less likely to share content created three years ago, as opposed to three months ago. Next, do you have share icons on each (or most) of the pages on your site? In today’s world, you need to make it as easy as possible for a user to share your content.
Domain Authority – This is Moz's best prediction about how a website will perform in search engine rankings. Moz uses factors like linking root domains, number of total links, and several other resources to compile a single score. Domain Authority runs on a scale of 1 to 100.
Social media authority is not limited to just the big ones like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and whatever else kids are using these days. It also includes review sites such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Google Reviews.
Building social media authority takes several factors:
“Activate your fans, don’t just collect them like baseball cards.”
Social media is an excellent way of listening to what your customers and potential customers are saying about you, as well an outlet for engaging with them. That alone is worth being on those platforms, but the main point here is that Google also cares about this and it's a factor in how the search engine ranks your site.
We can talk all day about on-page and off-page search engine optimization tactics, but if you don’t track your efforts and results, it could be all for nothing. Here are the big “3” must-have (free) tools for measuring your SEO standings.
Google’s tool has a plethora of statistics that can make even the most seasoned digital analyst's head spin. Everything from where your traffic is coming from, to what the most popular pages are, to where the users are located, and even what devices they are using. It can be overwhelming to a novice. Here are a few of the stats that you should most focus on in the beginning:
Formally known as Google Webmaster, Google Search Console is a lot different than its sister Google Analytics. Search console focuses on:
Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster are the top three free SEO tools that every marketer should know.
Bing’s tool is very similar to Google’s Search Console in that you can see search traffic terms, indexing stats, and issues, as well and crawl stats and issues. While it may seem like a duplicate effort to track both of these tools, it is important to note that Bing is still very separate from Google, and it is essential to keep an eye out for changes in how they are rating your website pages.