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  • Writer's pictureJenna Miller

What is SEO and How to Improve It

Updated: Apr 11

What is SEO?


SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the process of improving the ranking of a website or web page in search engine results pages (SERPs). This can be done by optimizing the website's content, structure, and code.



66% of web traffic referrals come from Google

Source: Semrush



How Search Engines Work


An info graphic showing how Google crawling and indexing works















Search engines like Google act like tireless librarians for the vast world wide web. Imagine a team of digital researchers constantly exploring the internet, following links and scooping up information. These tireless workers are called "crawlers" or "spiders," and their job is to find and store webpages in a giant digital library known as the search engine index.


The indexing process is akin to meticulously cataloging all the books in a library. Search engines don't just store the raw text of webpages, they also analyze the content, uncover the main topics, and identify connections between different pages through the links they contain. This indexing allows the search engine to understand the web's vast landscape and how information is interconnected.


Now, when you enter a search query, the search engine doesn't have to sift through the entire internet each time. Instead, it pulls potentially relevant webpages from its already categorized index based on how well their content aligns with your search terms. But how does the search engine decide which webpage deserves the coveted top spot on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)? Here's where the complex world of ranking algorithms comes in.


These algorithms are like sophisticated judges, evaluating the retrieved webpages based on a multitude of factors. One of the most crucial factors is relevance. Does the content of the webpage truly address the user's search query and provide valuable information? Search engines analyze the webpage's content, including keywords, overall subject matter, and how well it aligns with the user's search intent.


Another critical factor is authority. Search engines consider a website's trustworthiness and credibility. This can be determined by the quality and relevance of backlinks (links from other websites pointing back to yours) and the overall reputation of the website itself. Imagine a website vouched for by many reputable sources; that's the kind of authority search engines value.


Finally, search engines prioritize a positive user experience (UX). They consider factors like how mobile-friendly a website is, how quickly it loads, and how easy it is to navigate. In essence, search engines want to deliver the most relevant and user-friendly results possible. It's important to note that these ranking factors are constantly evolving as search engine algorithms are refined, making SEO (Search Engine Optimization) an ongoing process of adaptation and improvement.


Benefits of Good SEO


Increased Organic Traffic: The ultimate goal of SEO is to improve your website's ranking in search results for relevant keywords. When your website ranks higher, it becomes more visible to users searching for those terms. This translates to more organic traffic, attracting potential customers who are already interested in what you offer.


Enhanced Brand Awareness:  Higher search engine ranking means your brand appears more frequently on search result pages. This increased visibility strengthens brand awareness, making your brand more recognizable to a wider audience. Over time, this can lead to improved brand recognition and a stronger brand reputation.


Improved Lead Generation and Sales: More organic traffic often translates to more leads and potential sales. When users with a buying intent discover your website through relevant searches, they are more likely to convert into leads or paying customers. Effective SEO helps attract qualified leads who are actively searching for products or services like yours.


Cost-Effective Marketing Strategy: Compared to paid advertising methods, SEO offers a more cost-effective approach to reach your target audience. While there might be initial investments in SEO optimization efforts, the ongoing benefits of organic traffic can be significant, providing a return on investment over time.


Credibility and Trustworthiness:  Websites that rank well in search results are often perceived as more credible and trustworthy by users. This is because search engines prioritize high-quality websites that offer valuable content. Good SEO can position your website as a reliable source of information, fostering trust with potential customers.


Competitive Advantage: Good SEO is crucial for staying ahead of the competition. By optimizing your website for search engines, you increase your chances of outranking competitors for relevant keywords, attracting more organic traffic, and ultimately achieving your business goals.


Targeted Audience Reach:  SEO allows you to target your ideal audience through strategic keyword research. By understanding the search terms your target audience uses, you can optimize your website content to attract those users. This targeted approach allows you to connect with the right people who are genuinely interested in what you offer.


Long-Term Benefits: SEO is a long-term strategy, but the benefits can be substantial and sustainable. Unlike some marketing tactics that offer temporary boosts, SEO focuses on building a strong foundation for your website's organic visibility. By continuously optimizing your website and staying updated with SEO best practices, you can enjoy the long-term benefits of attracting qualified traffic and achieving your business goals.



Common Reasons Your SEO is Bad and How to Avoid Them


There are a few common reasons why your SEO might be bad. Here are a few tips to avoid them:


  • Not using keywords: If you're not using keywords in your content, you're not going to rank for anything. Make sure to include keywords throughout your content in a natural way.

  • Using the wrong keywords: Not all keywords are created equal. Some keywords are more competitive than others. Make sure to choose keywords that are relevant to your business and that you have a chance of ranking for.

  • Not optimizing your website: There are a number of things you can do to optimize your website for SEO. This includes using the right keywords, creating high-quality content, and building backlinks.

  • Not updating your content: Google loves fresh content. If you're not updating your content on a regular basis, you're going to lose out on search engine traffic.

  • Not tracking your results: It's important to track your SEO results so you can see what's working and what's not. This will help you make necessary adjustments to your SEO strategy.




On-Page Optimization


Keywords


Keyword Research


The foundation of on-page SEO is understanding the keywords your target audience uses to search for products, services, or information related to your niche. Conduct keyword research to identify relevant keywords with a good search volume but manageable competition.


2 Free Tools to Use for Keyword Research


There are many free tools available for keyword research. Here are two of the most popular:


  • SEMrush: This tool offers a variety of features, including keyword research, competitive analysis, and backlink analysis.

  • Moz: Enter in base keywords and discover more specific keywords that you can incorporate into your site.

7 Ways to Include Keywords into Your Content to Increase Your SEO


When you're writing content for your website, it's important to include keywords in a way that is natural and relevant. Here are seven tips for including keywords into your content:


  1. Use keywords in your title tag: The title tag is the most important part of your SEO strategy. It's the first thing that people will see when they search for a keyword, so make sure it includes the keyword you're targeting.

  2. Use keywords in your meta description: The meta description is the short blurb that appears under your title tag in search results. It's not as important as the title tag, but it's still worth optimizing.

  3. Use keywords throughout your content: Don't just stuff your keywords into your content. Use them naturally and in a way that makes sense.

  4. Use long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are more specific and less competitive than short-tail keywords. This means that it's easier to rank for them. Example: Short-Tail Keyword: Digital Marketing Long-Tail Keyword: Digital Marketing Services for Small Business

  5. Use keywords in your images: The alt text for your images is also indexed by search engines. So make sure to include keywords in your alt text.

  6. Use keywords in your headers: Headers are important for SEO and readability. Use keywords in your headers to make your content more scannable and to help search engines understand your content.

  7. Link to other relevant content: Internal linking is a great way to improve your SEO. When you link to other relevant content on your website, you're telling search engines that your content is authoritative and relevant.



Content is Queen


Create high-quality, informative, and engaging content that truly addresses your target audience's needs and search intent. Ensure your content is relevant to the chosen keywords, but avoid keyword stuffing (unnatural placement of keywords).




Title Tags and Meta Descriptions


An example of a title tag and meta description that would show up in search engine results
  • Title Tags: These are the clickable headlines that appear in search results. Optimize your title tags to be clear, concise, and include your target keyword naturally.


  • Meta Descriptions: These are the brief descriptions that appear under the title tag in search results. Craft compelling meta descriptions that accurately reflect your content and entice users to click.



Optimize Headers (H1, H2, H3)

An example of aa website heading being labeled with an H1 tag for SEO


















Structure your content using Header tags (H1, H2, H3) to break down the information and

improve readability. Include relevant keywords naturally within your headers.



Image Optimization


Images can enhance your content, but large files can slow down loading speeds. Optimize image sizes and use descriptive alt text that includes relevant keywords to improve accessibility and search engine understanding.



Internal Linking


Link to other relevant pages within your website to improve user navigation and help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your content.



Mobile-Friendliness


Ensure your website is mobile-friendly, as many users browse the internet on smartphones and tablets. Search engines prioritize mobile-optimized websites in search results.



Page Speed


Fast loading speed is crucial for a positive user experience and SEO. Optimize your website for speed by minimizing image sizes, compressing code, and using a reliable web hosting service.





Off-Page Optimization


Link Building


  • This is a core aspect of off-page SEO. Earning backlinks (links from other websites pointing to yours) is like getting positive recommendations. Search engines consider backlinks a sign of trustworthiness and relevance.

  • Focus on acquiring high-quality backlinks from reputable websites within your niche. Earning backlinks naturally through creating valuable content that people want to share is ideal.

  • Guest blogging on relevant websites, creating infographics or other shareable content, and directory listings are some ways to acquire backlinks.

Social Media Marketing


  • While social media links might not directly impact search engine ranking, a strong social media presence can contribute to brand awareness and potentially drive more traffic to your website.

  • Share your website content on social media platforms, engage with your audience, and participate in relevant conversations to build brand loyalty and potentially earn mentions or backlinks.


Online Reviews and Ratings


Positive online reviews and ratings on platforms like Google My Business or Yelp can improve your local SEO and demonstrate trustworthiness to potential customers. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and respond to both positive and negative feedback professionally.


Emerald Strategic Marketing Google Reviews





















Broken Link Building


Identify broken links on relevant websites within your niche. Reach out to the website owner and suggest your website content as a replacement for the broken link. This can potentially earn you a valuable backlink.

Influencer Marketing


Partnering with influencers in your industry can help you reach a wider audience and potentially earn backlinks or brand mentions on their websites or social media channels.


3 Tools to Manage Your SEO


There are a number of tools available to help you manage your SEO. Here are three of the most popular:


  • Google Search Console: This tool allows you to track your website's performance in search results and to troubleshoot any SEO issues.

  • Semrush: This tool offers a variety of features, including keyword research, competitive analysis, and backlink analysis.



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