With the SEO landscape becoming more competitive by the day, the pressure is high on companies to resort to all sorts of techniques to boost their search engine rankings. The digital world is constantly evolving, and so is how one can market their business.
As digital marketing gains more popularity than ever, one needs to focus on SEO to improve the visibility of their brand on the internet. SEO can help drive traffic and rank a site higher on search engines, but it is vital to know how to devise an effective SEO strategy.
Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not just about optimizing a web page with relevant keywords. It is so much more than that. Competitor analysis, backlink juice boost, Core Web Vitals optimization, and PPC testing are some of the activities included in an SEO process.
However, if you are not well aware of what you are supposed to do, SEO can become somewhat overwhelming. In this article, we will discuss the process of SEO in digital marketing and what you need to do to make the most of it.
What is SEO?
An acronym for Search Engine Optimization, SEO refers to the process of fetching traffic from the direct, referral, and search results on search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo!. It aims to improve your website’s position on the SERPs against a set of keywords entered by the users.
SEO primarily focuses on injecting relevant keywords into your website content like landing pages, blogs, CTAs, and product descriptions to get more visibility on the Interweb among potential customers.
Being an essential part of a digital marketing plan, SEO involves activities such as:
- Improving site load time
- Adding responsive design to your website
- Creating high-quality content that is useful for the readers
- Optimizing title tags and meta descriptions to improve searchability
- Identifying relevant keywords for the business and assessing their traffic potential
However, SEO is not free from misconceptions. Common SEO myths include:
1. More keywords help your page rank better
Keyword integration is key to improving SEO ranking. However, using a keyword multiple times throughout your content does not help. Adding a keyword too many times in your content leads to keyword stuffing. That is considered a negative ranking factor by search engines, and your website could be penalized for implementing a black hat SEO technique.
2. Content quality does not matter
Optimizing your content for targeted keywords is essential, but that does not compensate for low-quality content. SEO ranking is driven by high-quality content as it engages more leads and reduces bounce rates.
3. Credibility of backlinks is insignificant
Backlinking is a critical part of SEO. However, you must focus on the credibility of the sites you are linking to. Backlinks from untrustworthy sites are bad for your website. According to Google, buying backlinks is considered a black hat SEO technique, and your site may be penalized.
4. SEO is a one-time task
Oh, no! It is a misconception that SEO can be implemented once and reap long-term results. SEO is a long-term process requiring you to optimize your content (and website) to consistently maintain rankings and drive valuable traffic.
How do search engines actually work?
Search engines go through (or crawl) hundreds of thousands of web pages to develop ranking factors used to determine the most relevant content for a search term. Crawling and indexing web pages help the search engines build an algorithm for ranking. Here are the three steps when it comes to SEO:
Step 1: Crawling
The process of crawling is an essential step taken by search engines to discover new pages and record information about them. Crawlers are also known as spiders, and their purpose is to find new web pages and revisit the ones they have visited previously to check if they have changed or been updated.
For instance, you have included a blog post link on your homepage. When a spider crawls your homepage, it will look for fresh links it has not crawled before and may follow the link to your new blog post. That is why SEO experts need to pay attention to creating internal links.
Step 2: Indexing
Indexing is a process where the search engine decides whether or not it should use content that has been crawled. If deemed relevant, a web page will be added to the search engine index and used at the final ranking stage.
However, most web pages are only recorded if they offer unique information, making them valuable for users. Pages containing duplicate or spammy content or having no inbound links are not indexed.
Step 3: Ranking
The ranking process is complicated. There are 200+ different ranking signals that search engines use to rank the crawled and indexed websites. The ranking is done as per the eligibility of a webpage according to the three pillars of SEO:
- Technical optimization involves activities on your website designed to improve SEO but not related to content.
- On-page optimization ensures your website content is relevant and offers a great user experience. This includes the use of the right keywords.
- Off-page optimization enhances your site’s search engine rankings by undertaking activities outside of the sites.
Ordering and ranking results
Google has several algorithms that work together to rank and order search engine results. One such algorithm is Google Hummingbird. It is specifically designed for determining the rank of content on SERPs based on relevance.
In addition, there is a machine learning sub-algorithm of Google called RankBrain responsible for capturing information from internet users and using Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to analyze vast amounts of data gathered over time.
If RankBrain discovers a word or phrase it is unfamiliar with, it uses AI to understand it by connecting it to similar search queries. RankBrain determines the most relevant results to search engine queries.
Setting SEO objectives
It is crucial to set SEO objectives and align them with your overall business goals. Having a proper SEO campaign process in place ensures:
- Buy-in from key stakeholders
- Formulation of a strategy to achieve the targets
- Assurance of end goals being met
What should you measure in your SEO process in digital marketing?
Measuring your SEO efforts will help you keep track of your progress over time and provide you with valuable data for future strategies. You must, therefore, measure:
- Market share
- Lead generation
- Brand reputation
- Brand awareness
Top examples of SEO objectives
To ensure you are on the right track when undertaking SEO activities, you have to narrow down your objectives. Suitable examples of relevant SEO objectives are:
If you are focusing on keyword ranking, you can target moving 30% of your top 10 keywords onto the first page of Google within eight months.
Similarly, to increase the organic website traffic, you can set an objective for growing the year-on-year organic traffic by 15% in one quarter and 25% in the next one.
Another objective could be growing the market share from the current state to a predefined figure by the next financial year. For instance, you may want to increase your SEO market share from 2% to 6% in the next financial year. Therefore, have a sit down with your team to define relevant SEO outcomes for your website.
How to set SEO goals?
“Getting more traffic” is an arbitrary goal you might set for yourself as a marketer, but it is not achievable unless you know what to do and how to do it. Let us dive deep into the SEO goal pyramid that can guide you through setting achievable SEO goals:
You must first start by stating an outcome goal. Set a goal you want to achieve and specify the time frame. Break down the overall outcome into performance goals. These are the SEO process steps you must take towards your goal.
Next, define even smaller process goals that can lead to your performance goals. The SEO development process goals are under your control, and working on these consistently will take you closer to the desired outcome.
All SEO implementation steps ensure you are positioned to meet the outcome goal. You can create a framework using the following strategies:
1. Define an outcome
You should have a clear, targeted goal for your SEO efforts. The outcome of your SEO strategy must align with your organizational goals. The goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based, instead of being too broad or unrealistic.
For example, if your company wants better rankings for specific keywords on search engines, you should set a time-based target instead of focusing on “simply fetching higher traffic.”
Define a SMART goal by shortlisting specific and relevant keywords you want to rank for to increase your revenue. It could increase the year-on-year organic traffic by 15% in one quarter and 25% in the next one (as mentioned in the section above).
Keep the goal measurable by tracking keyword rankings and assessing the keyword difficulty to ensure it is achievable. Specifying a timeframe for meeting the objective makes it timebound. Do not be impractical.
2. Set performance goals
Setting goals is one of the most important things you can do to improve your business. You must set growth-oriented performance goals that will guide and inspire necessary actions for success. Accomplishing these goals must lead to the desired outcome you wish to achieve.
The same is the case in SEO. For example, increasing backlinks to improve SEO ranking lacks specificity, making this performance goal challenging to measure. Instead, set more specific targets that clearly state the number of backlinks built in a quarter or six months.
You may have a hard time setting performance goals if your desired outcome is too broad and unrealistic. Narrow down your outcome to ensure you can achieve it with less than four performance goals.
3. Set process goals
The process goal is an integral part of achieving your performance goals. You must answer the question, “What needs to be done to achieve the performance goal?” It can be anything from running a paid campaign to sending a newsletter every week.
If you achieve a process goal, then you are putting your efforts correctly towards achieving your performance goals and, in turn, fulfilling your outcome goals.
Creating multiple process goals is an excellent way to help you strive toward achieving your performance goals. For example, sending a newsletter to prospects and integrating it with link-building tactics can help you achieve two performance goals. Choose wisely.
Over to You
Do not get distracted by the myths and misconceptions around SEO. Instead, draw a blueprint of your SEO strategy, list all the activities you want to undertake, and set timescales against them. Start small but make every step count.
SEO is a continuous process, and the outcome of your SEO strategy will become apparent over time. As you continue implementing the proper techniques, it will lead to a better user experience for customers and drive higher conversions for your business.
The views included in this article are entirely the work and thoughts of the author, and may not always reflect the views and opinions of Regex SEO.