What Is SEO And Why It is Important In Digital Marketing
FUN FACT: Do you know that over 2 million posts are published every day by WordPress users. And that comes down to 24 blog posts every second.
The number will surely be higher if we add other blogging platforms.
With the number of posts and blogs published every second, it’s kind of difficult to stand out and dominate Google . But you would want to stand out if you want a successful blog or business online.
And this is where SEO comes into play.
Spending 2-5 hours writing a blog post is important but not as important as that 10-20 minutes you spend optimizing the blog post.
Do you know how many people search for the term “SEO” on Google each month?
Approximately 2 million people daily search for the term “SEO”.
Everyone searching for that term wants their blog to be on page one of google. And this can be a determining factor between a business that’s thriving and one that’s not.
All this is solely achievable if you do SEO the right way
By now you should be asking what’s SEO?
Continue reading to find out
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is an art of ranking high on a search engine in the organic listing section which is also the unpaid section.
In simple terms, it means the process of improving the content on your site to increase its visibility for relevant and specific searches.
The more visibility your pages get in search engines like Google, Bing, etc, the more likely you are to get more attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business, thereby making more money online.
SEO is like a spell you have to place on your website or article for Google and other Search engines to include your post as a top result whenever someone searches for the keyword.
Let’s go deep into the world of SEO
SEO is an important part of digital marketing as we all know and that’s because people perform millions of searches every day to find the information, product, and services they need. Search is primarily the source of digital traffic for brands and it helps complement other marketing funnels. Making it to the front page of a search engine for a specific keyword can make you 10x ahead of your competition.
Google guards its search algorithm and all factors to make you rank are made public. There is detailed research by Backlinko on those factors.
Let’s get one thing straight. There are different sides to SEO and you will probably need one in the digital marketing world.
Like in the hacker’s world, there are The White hat, Black hat, and Grey hat. The same applies to SEO
White hat SEO vs Black hat SEO:
White hat SEO: This refers to the usage of Google approves website optimization strategies, tactics, and techniques. The main focus here is providing users with the best search engine results. Your main goal here is to satisfy the user of your website.
As a white-hat, you are required to
- Create quality content that people or users will want to read and share ;
- Optimize each post for humans, not search engines ;
- Create a website that stands out in your niche ;
- Most importantly play by the rules of Google ;
Black hat SEO: This refers to the use of tactics, techniques that do not necessarily follow Google’s guidelines. They are sometimes even plain unethical. Not going to lie but they still give the desired result you want
As a black-hat, you may:
- Hack into peoples websites;
- Focus on search engine over the users ;
- Deceive users with things like cloaking and doorway pages ;
- Break the guidelines of Google.
Gray hat SEO:
Gray hat SEO is neither black hat nor white hat, but something in the middle.
It’s a blurred line.
It’s not something that you would willingly inform google you are doing. It’s not basically what you will be penalized for.
It’s not totally a bad practice, but it is being done to get ahead in ranking.
The bottom line here is if you want a long term sustainable business, you should consider the white hat SEO. But if you are in it for the quick money then the black hat is the way.
Two main categories of SEO are on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page involves all the google ranking factors that they determine by looking directly at the page you are trying to optimize.
Off-page SEO refers to the variable Google takes a look at and they are most of the time not based on your site. It’s totally out of your hand. They depend on other factors such as other blogs in your industry, social networks, etc.
But are different but you need to get both right to do well in SEO.
Here is an example:
Let’s say you have a car. It has a clean interior but a rugged and dirty exterior. It’s going to be seen as an ugly car. But if both are in good shape, it will be seen as the perfect car.
There are three main categories to on-page SEO
“Content is king.” Bill Gates made this prediction in 1996, and it’s as true as ever today.
Because a Google search engine customer is happy when he finds the result that serves his needs in the best way.
When you Google “quick and easy homemade cupcakes,” Google will put all its energy into delivering to you what Google believes is the best recipe for homemade cupcakes (that takes little time and uses few ingredients) on the entire web.
It doesn’t look for just the quickest recipe, just the easiest recipe, or throw out a bunch of online shops for frozen dinners. It tries to give you exactly what you asked for.
Google always tries to give you the user the best experience possible by directing you to the greatest content it can find.
This means that your number one job to do well with SEO is to produce great and outstanding content.
Quality – Making quality content for your blog is important but that’s just the starting point of SEO.
You all know that coming up with great content is not easy.
Yet, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can often start by piggybacking off of content that others have created and then making it better, longer, and more in-depth.
Once you start writing, make sure you include all the important ingredients of great content in your blog post.
Even if you’re a complete newbie, you can always take a professional approach to great content by simply committing to make writing a daily habit and work your way up in increments from there.
Keyword research up-front is a crucial part of great content.
Since you ideally want to include your targeted keyword in your post’s headline and throughout the article, you need to choose your keyword before you start writing.
Out of all on-page SEO factors, this is the one you should spend the most time learning. You don’t even need to buy a book. Backlinko’s definitive guide to keyword research will do.
Use of keywords – Google has gotten smarter over the years. While you should, of course, use your keyword throughout your content, jamming your keyword into your text as much as possible will hurt your rankings rather than improve them.
Keyword stuffing is an absolute no-go these days.
Google has gotten so good at interpreting the meaning of searchers’ keywords that it’s creepy.
It not only looks at your keyword but also synonyms of it to understand what you mean when you type in something.
As long as you make sure your keyword is present in strategically-important places (like headlines, URL, and meta description), there is no need to mention it tons of times in your text.
Just focus on the reader and seamlessly integrate your keyword a few times.
We just briefly touched on keyword research.
But it’s such a massively important topic that it deserves its section.
The reason is that something like 90% of SEO often revolves around keyword selection.
I just made that stat up, but you get the point.
Keywords dictate what each piece of content is about.
It dictates what you call your site or how you describe your brand online.
Keywords even dictate how you build links, including everything from the tactics you choose to how you plan on implementing them.
Another common mistake people make is that they stop.
Maybe they redesign their website or come out with a new marketing campaign.
They do it for a week or two, update their pages, and then stop.
The best SEOs are constantly doing keyword research.
They’re also constantly reevaluating if the keywords on their existing content still make sense.
Common keyword research mistake 1
: Picking the wrong keyword
Let’s say you sell consulting services.
Your service might cost customers $10,000 for a year.
That’s a little less than a thousand bucks a month, so it’s not out of the question.
But it’s still fairly expensive.
Now, if you’re ranking #1 for “free business growth tips,” guess what kind of audience you’re going to attract?
You’ll bring in people looking for free stuff! And that means that they probably won’t hand over their credit card the moment they hit your site.
That one keyword could send your site thousands of people each month.
However, it’s probably the wrong audience. So it doesn’t make sense to rank for it!
You’d be better off picking a different keyword even if it means giving up 990 visits a month.
Think about it: if just one or two people read that convert, you’re already ahead.
This next one is even more common.
Common keyword research mistake 2
: Ignoring the competition
You’ve selected the right keyword from the get-go.
It’s contextually relevant to what you do. And it better aligns with what you’re trying to sell.
So what is the very next thing you do?
You type in a few ideas and get the results back.
Naturally, you start gravitating toward the ones with the highest number of searches.
But here’s the thing you’re missing.
Your ability to rank for a keyword often depends more on the competition you’re up against.
Check out the keyword “content marketing,” for example.
It gets around 6.5-9.5k monthly searches. That’s pretty good!
It’s not one of the most popular on the web by any stretch. But it’s a good start.
The problem happens when you compare your site to the ones currently ranking.
Do you see the domain and page authorities for those sites?
Do you see the number of linking root domains they each have?
It would take most websites months (if not years) to get anywhere close.
That means that your chance of pushing one of us out of the top three is slim to none.
So what happens next?
People go straight to long-tail keywords as a result.
They assume that just because the volume will be much lower for these, the competition will be, too.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Check out the “content marketing agency” search query to see why.
The volume is way less at only around 100 visits. It seems like the perfect long-tail keyword.
Except, there’s just one problem. Check out this competition.
All of these sites have been around for years.
They all have hundreds (if not thousands or tens of thousands) of links.
The competition for this query is just as competitive as the first popular one.
So this one is worse than the first one. If you were to somehow rank at the top of this one, you’d barely get any traffic!
The demand for this query is just too low given the high competition level.
So once again, it doesn’t make sense.
What do you do next?
How can you possibly find keywords that are:
- Relevant to your business
- Not too competitive
- But still, provide enough traffic to be worth the effort?
That’s the golden question.
The answer is that you have to think outside the box. Here’s how.
Keyword research tip #1: Focus on search intent
Most people focus on keywords.
Counterintuitively, that’s now what you want to do.
Instead of looking at what people are typing in, you should be trying to identify what they’re searching for.
This is what “search intent” refers to.
And it’s the difference between getting a tiny bit of traffic and driving real revenue.
Let’s kick things off with a basic scenario to highlight the difference.
You own a job site.
You make money by getting companies to run job post listings on your site.
That means that you need to get job pages ranking well so that people come to your site instead of Indeed or somewhere else.
The more people who find jobs through you, the more you’ll get paid.
But watch what happens with a keyword like “engineering jobs.”
The results are all over the place!
Some refer to mechanical engineers while others focus on software or entry-level positions.
The intent behind each search is completely different.
That’s what you need to pinpoint.
What exactly is this user looking for? Which type of engineering job are they interested in?
Fortunately, this problem highlights how we can eventually solve it by coming up with good keywords that aren’t too competitive.
Indeed.com might be a tough competitor right now. So you need to find different alternatives based on search intent.
First, look at Google’s suggested searches for that query.
These are other common searches that people perform.
Already, you have a few potentials.
“Mechanical,” “civil,” and “industrial” might be highly competitive. But what about “environmental” or “audio”?
Scroll down to the very bottom of the SERP to get even more suggestions from Google.
The “aerospace” one is especially interesting.
Let’s look at one last example to see the role search intent plays in keyword selection before moving onto another tool.
But let’s start this one with a question:
What is someone looking for when they type “best marketing automation tool” into Google?
Yes, they’re looking for a marketing automation tool. Except, they aren’t ready to commit to one just yet.
Instead, what they’re doing is looking for a way to evaluate alternatives. They’re looking for a side-by-side comparison so they can compare apples to apples.
Now, watch what happens when you run that search query into Google.
I highlighted the first paid result and organic ranking because they’re going after search intent.
They’re trying to understand what people are looking for and not just what they’re typing in. Then, they’re giving it to them.
The other paid results in the middle are just trying to sell you a tool even though people searching here want to look at multiple options.
Those companies are looking at a list of keywords without considering the underlying motivation of each user.
It’s like tunnel vision.
You pull up a list of keywords in some tool, rank by search volume, and run down the list.
Instead, you need to expand your options as you saw a second ago with Google’s suggestions.
AnswerThePublic is another of my favorite tools to do this because it uses actual search queries to build a list.
For example, the following people are searching for “best marketing automation tools”:
- WordPress users
- B2B professionals
- Small businesses
Each of these is a completely different audience.
Each might have its budget.
A venture-backed startup is willing to pay more than a small business, for instance.
Each also has its own needs.
WordPress users will want a simple plugin to run campaigns directly from inside the application, whereas a B2B professional might be platform agnostic.
Or, they might want to run their website through the automation tool so that there’s less to manage.
See the implications of that?
It changes which keywords you target.
The pages you build or the blog posts you create will address subsets of each one to compete for the best keywords in each space.
But it even impacts the campaigns you’re eventually going to run.
If you’re trying to get press mentions and you’re going after WordPress users, that means you’re going to target WordPress-specific sites and bloggers.
You’re going to pitch or advertise on WPBeginner instead of Inc.com even though their readership is less.
Your odds of success will be higher due to less competition. And the site’s audience will be far more interested in what you have to sell.
That means that you’ll not just get better links or search rankings, but also a lot more revenue.
Other on-page SEO includes
Remember how angry you were the last time the WiFi took 20 seconds to load a page?
Today, we value our time more than anything. Long loading times can kill your conversions.
Over 54% of Facebook users access the network exclusively on their mobile devices. Considering that Facebook now has 1.65 billion monthly active users, that number represents nearly 900 million mobile-only users!
You simply have to keep mobile devices in mind these days.
Off-page SEO is about everything that doesn’t happen directly on your website. Optimizing your website is called on-page SEO and includes things like site structure, content, and speed optimizations. Off-page SEO is about, among other things, link building, social media, and local SEO. Or in other words, generating traffic to your site and making your business appear like the real deal it is.
It’s not only important for you to rank high for your search term, but also to create trust and a sense of authority. You must appear to be the best search result, not just in a technical and content sense, but also in reality. Popularity, quality, and relevance are everything.
Links are the glue that keeps the web together. Search engines use links to determine how valuable a piece of content or a particular site is. Getting quality links has always been a great tactic if you’re serious about ranking. And who isn’t? Recently, however, some people seem to debate the relevance of links. We firmly believe in the importance of links. Of course, you need good ones. Don’t buy stuff, and keep a close eye on where and how you’re being linked to.
social media is not essential for ranking well in search engines. It does, however, give you a unique opportunity to get in touch with customers and potential visitors.
You can optimize your site all you want, but if it isn’t perceived as a quality destination for people, you won’t do well. Both on-page SEO and off-page go hand in hand.
Let’s be honest with ourselves search engine optimization isn’t optional anymore.
Just commit to getting started today as it can take you 6 months to a year to see results.
Do your keyword research before you write your next blog post. Then, use your keyword data to optimize the basics, such as your title tags and descriptions.
And who knows – maybe the next time you press publish, you’ll stand out.
Hope this post was helpful?
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