SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of improving the performance and experience of your website so it can gain better visibility in search engine results. Specifically, SEO is all about improving your website ranking in the organic search results.
Google’s search results are split up into two sections: Ads and organic results. Ads (as the name suggests) are results that businesses pay for via Google Ads. Organic results are based 100% on quality. It’s the organic results where SEO becomes important.
SEO is a great way to bring more traffic, leads, customers, and revenue to your business without buying Ads to drive traffic. And when SEO is done right, the results can add up fast. For example, Amazon gets over 386 million organic visitors per month from Google:
If you add up how much it would cost Amazon to get the same traffic via Google Ads (known as “Traffic cost”), that comes to $1.8M/month.
And unlike paid traffic, these organic visitors come in whether or not Amazon is actively running ads.
SEO is an ongoing process that takes work. But once you rank for a set of keywords, your rankings typically remain stable over time.
The main benefits of SEO include:
Making your brand more visible when your potential customers search on Google.
Driving targeted traffic to your website from people interested in your product or service.
Increased organic revenue.
Competitive advantage by ranking higher on a search than your competitors.
Search engines follow links . Links connect pages and documents to each other, much like roads connect villages and cities. By following these links, search engines collect data to show to their users. They do this through crawlers, indexes, and algorithms.
Crawlers – A crawler is also called a robot, bot, or spider. It goes around the internet 24/7. You can think of a crawler as a
little, curious explorer. It collects content such as text, images, videos, news items and anything that’ll be interesting for a search engine to show.
Index – Once the crawler lands on a webpage, it saves the HTML version of that page in a gigantic database called the index. This index is updated every time the crawler comes around your website and finds a new or revised version of it. Depending on how important Google deems your site and the number of changes.
Algorithm – After indexing your website, search engines can show your website in the search results. But how do they decide what goes where? Well, search engines have an algorithm that does this for them. The algorithm takes the data from the index and calculates which site the user would most likely want to view based on their query.
Go To “site:yoursite.com” and search for your website.
This will show you whether or not Google has already crawled and indexed your site. If it has, it will tell you around how many pages are indexed so far. If your site shows up in the results, you’re all set.
If not, it could just mean that your site is new and Google hasn’t found you yet. It could also mean that your site has inadvertently blocked search engines from crawling it (which is surprisingly common). Either way, you want to get this fixed ASAP. Here are a few things to check:
Make sure there is no code blocking directives. Code examples include “robots”, “noindex”, “nofollow”,”disallow:/” These are generally codes to prevent crawlers from indexing pages you don’t want indexed.
Check for broken links, URL errors, outdated URLs, or issues with internal linking.
Make sure there are no server related problems or slow load speeds.
Make sure there are no issues with Sitemap XML.
There are a range of reasons the Google crawler isn’t indexing correctly. One free Google Tool for checking performance on Google Search in the Google Search Console. Sign in and connect it to your website.
Specifically, it lets you know things like:
How often your site appears in search
Which keywords you rank for
How many pages from your site Google has indexed
Issues crawling, indexing, or rendering your pages
Create and submit a sitemap.
A sitemap is just like it sounds: a “map” of your site. Google and other search engines use sitemaps to find all of the pages on your site. This helps ensure that they’re crawling and indexing all of your important pages. How you exactly create a sitemap depends on what your site runs on (WordPress, Shopify, etc.)
When people type words for a Google search, Google returns specific results on the page based on an algorithm of what content it thinks would be of highest value to you. Those are keywords.
Keyword research means that you find the words your audience uses when they look for products or information you offer. When you know which words your audience uses you can integrate them in your copywriting. This way, your audience will literally find what they’re searching for.
Before you write your website content, you need to think about which search terms you want to be found for. You need to determine what your site should be ranking for. This means getting inside people’s heads, to find out which words they use when searching. You have to come up with an extensive list of keywords that you want your site to rank for.
You can’t devise a proper keyword research strategy without taking your competition into account. It’s quite easy to get a general idea of your SEO competition. Just google some search terms you would like to rank for, and see what companies show up and where you rank. How big are the companies you are competing with for top three rankings? Would your company fit between these results?
The first step you need to take when researching your keyword opportunities is opening a browser in an incognito screen. Searching incognito prevents Google from taking previous searches into account. Google’s algorithm tends to show you results based on your preferences. You probably visit your own site a lot, so when searching for a keyword, the chances of your own site popping up might be much larger based on your search history if you are not using an incognito screen. This will skew your idea of how high your site is actually ranking for this particular keyword.
Don’t pay attention to the Ads. They paid for those placements.
Know that big companies and big budgets for things like SEO. Don’t try to compete with them.
Once you’ve determined what you have to offer and what makes your company stand out, it’s time to consider your audience. With your mission in mind, try to get into the heads of your potential buyers. What will these people be looking for? What kind of search terms could they be using while looking for your service or product? Ask yourself these questions and write down as many answers as possible. If your mission is clear, you’ll have a pretty clear image of your niche and your unique selling points (the things that set your business apart from others). These are the terms you want to be found for.
You can use the Google Ads Keyword Planner to find new and related keyphrases. However, you should ignore the search volume data because this is really only useful for keyphrases that you’re actually spending money to advertise on. Another free online tool is Keyword Generator.
To research traffic potential is to look at what words are searched for most in your market. It’s important to keep in mind that it has nothing to do with whether people will actually reach your page. If you have a website where you sell shoes, the keyword “shoes” has a sky-high traffic potential because a lot of people search for that term. However, the chance that people will reach your site through that search term may be a lot lower, because there are a lot of competitors. A keyword like “silver ballet shoes for toddlers” will have a lower traffic potential but there will be less competition as well. So, traffic potential gauges the potential market if you could rank for that keyword.
You can use Google Trends to give you traffic potential estimates.
Being at the top of the search results is hugely important. Research shows that as much as a third of the total traffic comes from the number one result, and 17% from the second result. That means that about half of the searchers click one of the first two results (see Image 1). Moreover, 90% of the searchers doesn’t get beyond the first page of the search results.
Your goal is to find keywords you can rank in the top three. When researching your competition, the position of your competitors in the market, the quality of the content on the page and links can give you an idea of your chances of successfully competing.
Whenever someone enters a search query into a search engine, they are on a quest for something. This is called search intent. Why are they searching? What are they looking for? Do they have a question that they want answered? Or are they looking to buy something?
Google wants to rank pages highest that fit the search term as well as the search intent of a specific search query.
Now we know what search intent is and why it is important for SEO, let’s dive into the different types of search intent.
Informational Intent – This type of intent applies when people are trying to find information on a specific topic. This could be information about the weather, information about educating children, or information about guitars.
Navigational Intent – People have a navigational intent when they want to access a specific website by entering the term in a search engine. If people search for “Facebook” they are usually on their way to the Facebook website. Ranking high on a navigational term is only beneficial for your
organic traffic if your site is the site people are looking for.
Commercial Intent – When people have a commercial intent, they want to buy something sometime soon and they are doing research before making a purchase.
Transactional Intent – People have a transactional intent when they are looking to buy something after doing their commercial intent searches. Lots of
people buy stuff on the internet and browse the web to find the best purchase. This search is for the product purchase page.
From search intent, it’s only a small step to content intent. Content intent is all about lining up your content with your audience’s expectations. When creating your page, it’s vital that you are conscious of what you’re trying to achieve with that page. Before you start writing, carefully consider what you want that particular page to achieve. Should it be focused on providing information? Should it be optimized to convince potential customers to buy? Should it mainly engage users with your brand? Only when you have a clear idea of the goal of the page, you can start working towards achieving that goal.
Landing pages are the pages you want your audience to reach when they are searching for a keyword. This means that you need to have good landing pages for your most important keywords. This is important to rank well in the search engines; to make sure visitors can find your landing pages; and to make visitors convert.
With a good landing page, you keep your visitor on your site, and you increase the likelihood of them taking the action you want them to take, whether it’s buying a product or any other type of conversion.
For each keyword, you want to identify one page you want to rank with. You don’t have to create landing pages for all of your keywords immediately. Creating landing pages for your keywords can be a long-term project. The more specific your term is, the further down into your site structure the term’s landing page belongs.
Cornerstone content, also called cornerstone articles, are the most important articles on your website. These articles directly reflect the mission of your company, and you definitely want to rank for them. You usually want to rank for your most important keywords with your cornerstone articles.
Think of four or five pages you would like someone to read if they first visit your website. These articles should be the cornerstones of your site. In other words, they should form the basis of the topics you discuss on your site. It will play a significant role in any SEO strategy. It can be rather hard to rank for
search terms that are very popular. A cornerstone approach could help you tackle those competitive search terms. If you write a lot of articles about similar topics, you need to tell Google which one is the most important.
Keep in mind what we’ve told you about search intent. People looking for products usually have a transactional intent: they are looking to buy a product.
This means that a product page should differ from an informational post on your website. Product pages should help your visitors to get the product information they need and to make them want to buy your product.
Product pages should always contain:
Clear call-to-action, which brings your visitor to the cart or checkout.
Other elements to consider including are testimonials or reviews and unique selling points in a prominent position. Consider adding tables which compare products if that makes it easier to compare.
Make sure the names of your products are also the name people are using in the search engines.
Another thing you should always do if you want your product pages to rank, is to optimize the page title and meta description of your product page. Page titles are a ranking factor, so add the product name to the page title. Your product name should preferably be your keyword, or at least very similar to your keyword. Also, don’t forget to spend some time on writing a good meta description. Meta descriptions are not a ranking factor, but can convince people to click your result. For example, adding ‘free delivery’ could make people click on your result quicker.
As we’ve seen earlier, search engines use search intent to determine what a user wants to know. Because of this, you shouldn’t be writing to satisfy the search engines. You shouldn’t be writing for SEO, but for your audience. This is especially true for blog posts. To make sure you’re writing for your audience, ask yourself the following question:
“Does my text provide my visitors with the best possible information about the search term they entered?”
It’s also important to keep in mind that simply using your keyword is not enough. Search engines have become too smart. These days, context is one of the most important words in SEO. Yes, you need your keywords to target audiences and you need related keywords to build topics to write about. However, search engines increasingly use context to figure out what a piece of content is about and how it fits in the grand scheme of things.
Remember to check which sites are ranking now for your keyword : these are the competitors you must beat. Uncover why Google thinks these results are the best and improve on that.
Cover the topic completely and naturally include words that are related to the topic.
Make it unique by coming up with an original angle.
Start building trust and authority.
Search engines are becoming smarter and can recognize synonyms. You can make the topic of your article clearer by using synonyms often. So if you’re selling bicycles, it’s perfectly fine to use the synonym “bike” and treat both as your focus keyword.
You should never optimize different articles for one keyword, as you’ll be competing with your own content in that case.
Google pays special attention to some places in your text, and that’s why you should include your keyword in these areas. You should add the keyword to the post title, URL, headers, body text, image file names, alt tags, and anchor texts. But remember: no spamming or keyword loading. This will negatively impact you.
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