If you want your website to gain online visibility, it all starts with having a good presence in search engine results. As they say, if you’re going to hide something, put it on the second page in Google. So how do you make it to the first page? By paying attention to SEO.
What is SEO?
So what is Search Engine Optimization and how is it accomplished? To begin, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the process of optimizing your website so that search engine bots can crawl it more easily and rank it higher in search engine result pages (SERP).
SEO is an essential part of any digital marketing strategy. Without it, customers can’t find your products and services online when they type in relevant keywords — they won’t even know you exist.
Search engines have evolved a lot in the past years, becoming more sophisticated and learning to understand natural speech patterns and user internet. As a result, so have SEO strategies, and optimizing your website now is much, much more complex compared to the first days of the Internet.
How do you accomplish great SEO for your website?
While everyone agrees that SEO is important, there’s a lot of debate on the exact steps you should follow to accomplish it. And that happens for two reasons:
- Search engines are constantly evolving and changing their algorithms, so what is considered a good practice today might not work so well in two years. It can even be considered “black hat SEO”, which are practices that go against search engine guidelines.
- Google does not make its ranking factors public. They give a few hints as to what is considered good and bad for SEO, but what we know is just the tip of the iceberg.
That being said, we have an idea of the general strategies that you can follow to boost your SEO and make sure your website has higher visibility in SERPs. These strategies fall into two categories: onsite SEO and offsite SEO.
Onsite SEO strategies
Accomplishing great SEO begins with optimizing your website and making sure it meets all criteria so that search engines can index it and understand what it’s about. More specifically, here are the factors you should consider:
- Have a fast page loading speed. Google has revealed that page loading speed is a ranking factor.
- Have a user-friendly website.
- Use short and relevant URLs that include your targeted keywords.
- Include your keywords strategically in the page title, headings, meta description, and alt img tags. However, never ever do keyword stuffing because this has the opposite effect and might harm your rankings in the long run.
- Optimize your page content for search intent.
- Use schema markup to increase click-through rates.
- Make sure your content is easy to read.
If we were to build a pyramid of SEO needs, these onsite factors would be the base. They’re essential to rankings and in their absence, you won’t have consistent results. After you cover them, however, you can move on to offsite SEO strategies, which can give your website a competitive edge.
Off site SEO strategies
Off site SEO strategies refer to the action you take outside your website to increase your rankings. The ultimate goal of offsite SEO is to boost your website’s authority and trustworthiness. We don’t know for sure how Google ranks websites, but offsite factors are estimated to account for more than 50% of ranking factors. Here are some ways you can improve your offsite SEO:
- Build high-quality backlinks. By “high-quality” backlinks, we mean links that come from authoritative websites that are relevant to your niche. They’re like a vote of confidence for your website, showing Google that a website they trust vouches for you. These links can be obtained naturally, meaning that sites link to you without you asking, or by asking customers and website owners to share a link to your site.
- Social media marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Brand mentions
- Guest blogging
Naturally, the follow-up question that any website owner will ask is: how do you combine onsite and offsite SEO? What is the ideal ratio for great SEO? Unfortunately, there is no secret formula that can apply to all websites. SEO is a matter of technical expertise and at the same time it’s a matter of experimentation, trial, error, and, most importantly, consistency. What works for one website in one niche might not work for another website in another niche, so you have to be patient and work with a professional to figure out the perfect balance.