The SEO Strategies and Best Practices Every Business Needs to Know
SEO. Maybe you’ve heard the term. Maybe someone told you it needs to be a focus for your business; it’s essential to your digital marketing.
But, even if you know about SEO… do you really know about SEO?
For most business owners, the answer to that question is ‘no.’ They think they know what SEO is and believe they are doing the right things, whether they are or not.
And that’s a problem because the lack of knowledge and know-how affects a business more than you think.
So, to help you get the information you need, this SEO guide will break down this online marketing tactic, so you know how to implement best practices yourself or be knowledgeable enough to hire someone to do it for you.
What Is SEO?
To know how to implement an SEO strategy, you first need to know what the term means.
SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization. It refers to all of the tactics and strategies you can use to get a website to appear organically at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).
You may also hear other acronyms and terms associated with this topic.
SEM is an acronym for search engine marketing. It refers to the strategy of paying to appear at the top of SERPs. SEM differs from SEO because, through this tactic, marketers pay for placement at the top of the search page, rather than earn it through SEO tactics. SEM is delivered through paid ads that appear on SERPs.
Search marketing is the umbrella phrase that includes both SEO and SEM strategies. It lumps the two plans together to refer to both the paid and organic strategies that businesses use to attract attention to their brands through search.
When we talk about SEO in this post, we are talking about the best practices you can use to help your business website show organically in search rankings, meaning it is not a paid placement. So, now that you know how to talk about SEO let’s talk about it.
Why Does SEO Matter?
SEO is an essential component of every business marketing strategy.
Here are a few stats to prove the point.
- There are more than 3.5 billion Google searches per day. Billions of people use search engines to find answers and solutions to their problems. By failing to appear in search rankings, you’re missing out on connecting with this massive audience.
- Eighty-one (81%) of Internet users searched online for a product or service to buy. A large number of online searches are performed by people looking for a product or service they want or need. If you’re selling something, you need to be selling it where people are looking for it -- online.
- Seventy-six (76%) of people who search on their smartphone for something nearby visit a business within a day. Search engine marketing isn’t just for large, national brands. It’s incredibly powerful for local businesses. Google optimizes search results, particularly mobile search results, to connect searchers with businesses near them. Half of those searches lead to customer visits, so you must be visible on SERPs to connect with your local customer base.
If you need new customers to find your local business, you want to be visible on SERPs. Search has become the primary way for shoppers and clients to find new businesses, products, and services.
So, how do you start SEO?
What Are The Biggest Factors for SEO?
It’s important to note that no one knows with 100% certainty what factors Google uses to rank websites. (If someone tells you they know each ranking factors as a fact, they are probably not entirely trustworthy or educated on the topic.)
Google does not explicitly list all of the factors they use because they don’t want marketers using the information to game the system.
They want marketers to follow best practices rather than try to manipulate websites to increase rankings. They want marketers to improve rankings based on two authentic themes:
- Authority: Google seeks to give their highest rankings to knowledgeable and trustworthy sites.
- User-friendliness: Google wants to give the highest rankings to sites offering the best experience to their audiences.
Google does occasionally release details about best practices, and there are hundreds of SEOs and digital marketers who research and make educated guesses about specifics relating to particular matters.
Those are the factors we use to drive SEO strategies, and there are hundreds of them.
SEO experts maintain their consensus on the three most important ranking factors: content, links, and mobile-friendliness. These are the factors you should focus on first.
The content or substance of a website has a direct impact on its rankings in search. It shows that a website is a reliable authority on a topic.
Websites with a deeper index of content (more pages and blog posts) typically rank better than sites with less content. Also, individual pages with developed, in-depth content usually rank better than pages with thin, shallow content.
Freshness and relevancy of content are also important to ranking. Websites that regularly publish content related to their industry will likely rank higher.
To increase rankings by using content, you should regularly post keyword-friendly, high-quality articles relative to your industry, products, and services.
Related: How to Write Articles for SEO
Like content, backlinks are an authority signal for Google. They show that a website is popular, trusted, and a reliable resource and therefore should rank higher on SERPs.
You earn a backlink when a third-party site adds a hyperlink leading back to your website. For example, your site may “gain a backlink” if a local news website reports on your business and includes a link to your site in the article.
There are dozens of circumstances that cause one site to link to another (supporting a directory listing or profile page, citing a source or quote, referring to a resource, etc.). Often, the more links you acquire, the better.
But, not all links are of equal value. Gaining links from sites with high authority carries more weight while gaining links from sites with low-quality or a spammy source can reflect negatively on your rankings.
To increase rankings by building backlinks, you need to focus on acquiring numerous links from a variety of high-quality, authentic and authoritative websites.
Mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor that relates to user experience. Google wants searchers to have a positive experience each time they search. They want to offer easy to consume relevant information. And since most searchers are using mobile search, Google prefers to rank websites providing a positive mobile experience.
Mobile-friendly implies that a website is conducive for use on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Mobile-friendly websites are responsive. They adjust their layout and design depending on screen size. This design function is why most sites look different on a desktop and a smartphone.
To increase rankings, ensure that your website development uses a mobile-first design and incorporates a responsive functionality that provides a good user experience on every screen size.
What Else Factors In SEO?
As mentioned above, there are hundreds of factors that go into SEO rankings. BackLinko outlined 200 of those rankings.
It may be overwhelming for an SEO newbie to embrace each of these tactics. You may want to talk to an expert to help you execute the remaining strategies. But, even if you hire someone to do the work for you, it’s important to understand these concepts.
So here is a broad outline of other SEO factors.
- Keyword Research: Researching terms related to your industry, terms that users frequently use, and terms that competitors use, to create a strategy utilizing popular search phrases.
- On-page SEO: Optimizing content by strategically using assigned keywords in the copy and metadata of each page.
- Technical SEO: Analyzing and improving technical aspects of your site, so search engine crawlers receive position signals from the backend of your site.
- User-Experience SEO: Improving the audience-facing aspects of your site, so your website provides the best possible experience for audiences.
- Schema Markup: Using structured data in your website’s metadata so rich snippets show along with your results on SERPs.
- Local SEO: Optimizing your online presence to tie it to a location where your brick-and-mortar business is located.
As you develop your SEO, ensure that you or the team you hire are focusing on each of these categories to create a well-rounded strategy.
Need Help With Your SEO?
SEO is not a fad. It’s not a trendy term or guru craze.
It’s an essential piece of a marketing strategy that every business needs to embrace.
Billions of people use search every month to find products and services they need. So if you haven’t been putting time, energy, or resources into optimizing your web presence -- you could be missing out on a significant opportunity to grow your revenue stream. Use these tips to create your strategy or to understand how to work with an SEO partner.
Then, learn more about how to start your SEO strategy by scheduling a free consultation with one of our MyArea Network expert digital marketers.
We’ll help you create an SEO plan that will lay out the welcome mat to searchers who need your business, products, and services.