When Google launched its search engine in the late 90s, it processed around 10,000 queries per day. Today the same search engine processes almost 3.5 billion queries per day that amounts to 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. With a market share of 64% among all search engines, google was quick to capture the market and ended up dictating the new rules of business.
This rule meant that the world was going to the internet to find solutions to its problems because the average consumer no longer had the time to flip through the yellow pages or other directories. Thus search engines became important partners for businesses to make their web properties visible and reach out to their desired audience.
Now all that business needed to do was to master the techniques of conversing with these search engines and enabling it to help their customers find them sooner. This entire process of helping search engines find and rank one’s site higher than the competition, in response to a search query is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Let’s take a step ahead and figure out what are the essential components that will help you chalk out an effective SEO strategy.
Keywords are at the heart of any SEO campaign. Anything and everything that one does will eventually circle back to these words. While deciding on these, it always helps to think from a customer’s point of view. Which keywords are being used in my industry, what are the common abbreviations and their variations, how is my competition getting found?
For example if you are a dentist and are running a clinic in the city, here are some keywords by which people can search you: Dental care, Orthodontist, Orthodontists, Dentist clinic, Dental surgeon, Dentists around me, Best dentists in the city, etc.There is no one correct method to this and one cannot use all the keywords in their campaigns. But here are some common practices that one can follow when it comes to keywords.
- Answer this-> what do you want to be known for and what is your value proposition?
- Determine your keywords before creation of your website and then map the content accordingly
- For each page, lay out a list of 40-50 keywords and trim it down further to the top 10. Keep the rest of the keywords as backup.
- Choose keywords according to the buyer lifecycle and map them with the pages that are most relevant on your website
- Avoid single word keywords as they get crowded and vague over time. Refine your keywords and replace them with key phrases and long-tail keywords.
At all times closely monitor what your customers are thinking and make use of keyword tools available in the market. Google’s keyword planner tops this list. When getting found becomes tedious companies may explore the paid search option.
Also known as on-page SEO, this is one of the best places to begin your optimization efforts. Your website consists of multiple webpages where each page conveys certain information to both its users and the search engines. For users this information consists of the content on your page in the form of text, visuals, videos and other messages that the user consumes to gauge its usefulness.
Similarly google and other search engines crawl through each page of your website and use certain algorithms to gather information, organize and index the same. While there are a lot of factors at play here let’s look at some of the important ones.
1. The Meta Tags: : Every website must be able to introduce its core purpose effectively to any web crawler that pays a visit to them. Meta tags carry out this function and expand on the key properties of a page. Accordingly search engines store this information and utilize it in its ranking. Meta tags can be found in the html code of a page.
- a. Title tag: This tag serves as a quick overview to the user about the information in a page. They should be clear, concise and accurately written with the end-user in mind. Titles written with less than 60 characters are well received. Each page must have a unique title.
- b. Meta description: This appears underneath the search link in the search engine result page (SERP) giving a short description of the business and its relevance to its user. Ensure to include relevant keywords and wrap this up within 160 characters. Each page must have a distinct description elaborating on the title tag.
- c. Keyword Tags: Every page usually consists of eight to nine keywords that are called out within the meta tags. These can include common variations and even misspellings of a keyword too. It doesn’t hurt to have them in there though their contribution in increasing your ranking is debatable. Each page must have some unique keywords.
2. Webpage Content: Crafting good and valuable content is the key to any page’s success. The copy on your site must be sprinkled with keywords that your target users might be searching for. Use acronyms, synonyms and long tail keywords when appropriate, that flows naturally with the content on your page. Quality, relevance and freshness of content still remain key drivers to your page visibility.
3. Site Architecture: This considers aspects such as your site-crawlability, mobile friendliness, page loading speed, website mapping, internal linking and other behind-the-scene factors that have a direct bearing on your SEO streamlining efforts. Hire an adept developer or designer who can help you code and design a site that adheres to the standards expected out of a new-age website.
4. Localization: Last but not the least if you have a product or service that is more suited to an audience in a city or region or if you have multiple offices located in more than one country then it’s best to lean in to the localization aspects to make yourself more visible. Localization does not mean literal translation of your pages and keywords, but to work towards understanding the finer nuances of the language and keywords used around your products in that region.
While on-page optimization looks at a lot of internal factors, off page SEO looks at external factors that add more repute and authority to your website. Though on-page optimization is more manageable, off page optimization gathers social proof and validation from the outside world in the form of backlinks, which is essential to drive targeted traffic to your site and thus increase your ranking.
Here are some common measures employed by businesses in their off-page optimization efforts.
1. Writing blogs or Guest posts:
Blogging on one’s website with unique content gives reasons for your audience to keep coming back for more. At the same time one can also write a guest blog on a reputed website, find new converts, earn more inbound links and gain credit in the eyes of search engines.
2. Social Networking Sites: With its large reach, social media sites are gaining popularity for businesses to advertise and talk about their expertise. By promoting one’s content through these forums, one can create buzz, drive audience to their website and build more online reputation.
3. Community Marketing: One can actively participate in a lot of conversations happening in online communities with shared interests such as ehow, quora, yahoo, etc. Answering questions in your niche and establishing oneself as a subject matter expertise will only add to your reputation.
4. Directory Submissions: Submitting your website link in the right category of an online directory in one of the basic steps to improve popularity of your website. Though in existence, it’s a short-term SEO strategy that is being superseded by other SEO techniques such as Article, image, infographic submissions.
5. Video Submission: Creating educative, entertaining or quality video pieces is becoming one of the easiest ways to gain high PR. One can popularize their videos in places like YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, ustream etc which are popular with users and can gain quality backlinks.
Building reputation online or offline is a time-consuming task that calls for a lot of patience & hard work. In summary SEO is a process in evolution and one that will need a lot of sophistication in the near future. Mastering the art of producing quality content, building reputable backlinks and frequent experimentation with keywords will help you sail through this terrain smoothly.