With many businesses seeing the benefits of search engine optimization (SEO), it is not a surprise that major companies are now on the hunt for SEO experts to build their online presence. SEO has been used by businesses to generate more leads, improve their sales conversion, and drive more sales. According to reports, around 61% of marketers prioritize their SEO strategy over anything else. That’s because it works. And about 70% of marketers can attest to this, claiming that SEO is more effective than PPC.
But learning SEO can be intimidating especially for beginners, especially when it involves so many technical words. That’s why in this post, we break down the entire SEO process into four simple steps that are easy to follow:
- Learn how search engines like Google work
- Learn what is “digital marketing” and what is SEO’s role in it
- Understand the different SEO processes and their business relevance
- Learn what are “keywords” and how to identify them for the client
How search engines work
Search engines are an important tool in modern man’s life. It helps them instantly get answers to their questions such as “list of restaurants nearby” or “adobo recipe” or “best clothes for summer.”
But how do they work? Well, search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, and AOL work by scouring hundreds of billions of web pages for relevant content based on the keywords typed in by the user. After a keyword(s) is typed in, the search engine will then come up with a list of web pages that may provide the information the user needs. The page where this list is displayed is commonly known as the search engine results page (SERP).
Search engines also use algorithms to determine whether a website has quality content or not, and may “penalize” websites that don’t match these algorithms. This is to prevent users from getting irrelevant content.
Digital marketing and role of SEO
The world has now evolved and, thanks to the internet, businesses today can reach those that they previously couldn’t. They can also put all of their business online even without putting up a brick-and-mortar store.
This helped shape consumer behavior. According to research, around 55% of consumers will first search online for reviews and recommendations before making a purchase— 47% visiting the company website and only 26% checking out the physical store.
But this also made the online business landscape hypercompetitive. With millions of businesses online competing for online presence, it’s easy for users to get lost in the internet’s sea of information. This is why search engines have to come up with algorithms to ensure users’ experiences are smooth and their needs constantly met.
And the role of SEO in all this is to “guess” what these algorithms are. This can be a bit difficult to do as Google has been reported to change its search algorithm around 500 to 600 times a year.
But if the brand’s SEO strategy works, then they’d be able to beat their competitors in terms of search rankings and may capture leads in the market first before their competitors do. This helps them cement their position in the competition, secure a higher market share, and drive sales growth over time.
Relevance of different SEO processes
So how do these algorithms work? What makes an SEO strategy effective?
SEO consists of different processes and there are more than 255 SEO factors to take note of. But remember these three major concepts:
- Technical SEO – From the words themselves, this part refers to the technical aspects of SEO, such as factors that make a website faster and easier to crawl and index. It deals with questions such as:
- Does your website have any broken links?
- Does it load fast enough?
- Are your images formatted for optimization?
- Is your website mobile-friendly?
- On-Page SEO – This part of SEO is what most freelancers are familiar with. It includes factors such as content, keywords, meta description, internal linking, title tags, and alt text, among others.
- Off-Page SEO – From the words themselves, this part of SEO is concerned with everything outside of your website. It deals with factors such as local SEO, backlinks, domain authority, social signals, and pay-per-click.
In short, Technical SEO refers to any work done outside the content, On-Page SEO refers to anything you do on your website or content, and Off-Page SEO means everything beyond the website or content.
Knowing and mastering these three factors is essential in boosting SEO performance. And any freelance SEO professional should familiarize these concepts before doing any SEO work.
Keywords and how to identify them
Keyword research includes analyzing and creating a list of keywords that will direct your content and marketing strategy. Having a proper keyword research strategy is important to make any SEO strategy work.
To identify keywords correctly, first, study your niche or topic. It helps you make your SEO strategy more effective. You can start by identifying the terms your existing customers used when they found out about your brand. You can also put yourself in your prospective customers’ shoes to find out about their pain points, what more they look for, and their preferences and other interests.
Then, just like in any other plan, start defining your goals. What do you want to achieve at the end of the day? Your goals will determine how your overall SEO strategy will be implemented, including the search terms that you will use.
Next, make a list of topics that are related to your customers’ buyer personas. What kind of topics will your target audience type in when looking for answers on Google? You will be breaking down these topics into keywords later on.
These keywords (or focus keywords) will be the basis of your keyword research. And with the use of keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Keyword Tool, you can identify your search terms. Tools like these will also provide alternative keywords to give you more options for your SEO strategy.
Next, learn about your search intent. This is crucial as Google’s algorithms now compare search terms with user queries and will be a huge factor when determining SERP rankings. Keywords that match the search intent will help bump up your rankings easily.
Then identify your long-tail keywords. These are, as the name suggests, longer and more descriptive versions of your keywords. For example, if your keyword is “dog food” then your long-tail keyword can be “what is the best dog food for shih tzus.” Obviously, long-tail keywords will get you fewer clicks as they are too specific. But they can convert leads better than regular keywords.
Last but not the least, find out what your competitors are doing. This will help you check how “competitive” a keyword is, meaning, how hard it is to rank up using that keyword. It will also allow you to find keywords that not many of your competitors are using, which makes it easier for you to rank up by using such keywords. Performing a keyword search on your competitors usually requires you to subscribe first to the paid versions of keyword research tools.
- Study your niche or topic
- Define your sales or marketing goals
- Make a list of topics related to your buyer personas
- Break down these topics into keywords
- Use keyword research tools for your keywords
- Learn about search intents
- Identify long-tail keywords
- Find out what your competitors are doing
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