In a never-ending sea of online content, how do you get your brand to stand out? You could spend thousands of dollars advertising on major platforms like Google or Facebook, but if you’re a small business operating on a budget, that’s likely not a viable option.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, focuses on bringing your company’s digital presence to the front page of search engine algorithms. To be clear, it’s both an art and a science, and even those who build the algorithms themselves can’t give you an exact answer on how to craft an ideal piece of content that could be classified as SEO perfection.
With all that being said, there are a few pillars of SEO that you can rely upon. In this article, I’ll explain the most commonly-asked questions on the subject, and answer them as simply as possible.
1. How Does It Actually Work?
For those who still are still unfamiliar with the concept, SEO’s primary function is to get your brand closer to the top when internet users perform a search. Google, Bing, Amazon, YouTube, and countless other platforms are tasked with providing their users with the most relevant result for the terms they search. How are they able to sort through billions of results? Algorithms.
These highly-sophisticated, self-learning programs draw on information within the content of a website or online listing (think Google Maps, Yelp, etc.) . This process, referred to as crawling, delivers the results we see after performing a search. Getting your website or listing near the top of the results is immensely important to driving traffic. By some estimates, up to 92% of web traffic comes from the first page of results. Needless to say, this has made SEO a highly-competitive game. The rules of the game are always changing as algorithms inevitably evolve, which means content creators need to stay informed in order to give themselves the best chance of getting views and clicks.
2. How Long Does It Take to See Results?
Digital marketers are often frustrated by the fact that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Conservative estimates state that it can take up to 6 months to see any type of improvement in search rankings.
Algorithms factor in not just the quality of content, but the length of time in which the content has been produced. The road to the top of the rankings is a never-ending struggle, but one that can quite literally make or break a business that relies on web traffic to generate income.
If you’re just now starting to optimize your content for search engines, keep in mind that you won’t see results overnight, but if you stay the course your efforts will pay off over time. While it can feel a bit intimidating to embark on the SEO journey, patience will be rewarded. Another silver lining is that SEO is a low-cost strategic move, so at least you won’t drain your marketing budget in the process.
3. What Are the Most Important Ranking Factors?
The million-dollar question of “What should I be doing to improve my SEO?” has an answer that’s always changing. As previously mentioned, algorithms evolve as they’re exposed to new data, meaning today’s ranking factors differ from those of five, or even one, year ago. With that being said, there are some tried-and-true things to focus on that could be thought of as “constants” in the world of SEO. These are:
One of the longest-standing SEO factors is the concept of “linking.” This refers to utilizing hyperlinks within your content that can take users to different web pages – both on your site, and others. When other pages link to your website, you’ll get a significant boost, so keep that in mind for potential partnership opportunities.
If you asked five web copywriters what they thought was an ideal length for a blog post in terms of SEO, you’d probably get five different answers. On the shorter end, conventional philosophy has been that blog posts should be around 500 words. Between 500-700 has been the SEO standard, but with today’s increased competition for search engine standing, it’s becoming more popular to be around the 1,000-word mark, with some experts recommending even more.
Obviously length doesn’t indicate quality necessarily, but in the eyes of an algorithm, a 1,500-word blog post has a better chance of being informative and relevant than a 350-word blog post. It’s better to produce one piece of long term content on less-frequent basis than it is to push out short, uninformative content regularly. Search algorithms have improved in terms of recognizing when you’re only posting content for SEO considerations and not to inform, so keep that in mind while you’re creating your content
Incorporating keywords is arguably the most important aspect to writing with SEO in mind. There’s a fine line between using keywords appropriately and “keyword stuffing” – the latter will actually hurt your search ranking, so be careful you don’t go overboard.
To give yourself the best chance at maximizing your keyword utility, do your research beforehand and learn how you can take advantage.
4. Is It Really Worth It?
If getting traffic to your website and its content helps you drive sales, SEO is an absolute necessity. You simply aren’t going to find a more cost-efficient tool in the array of digital marketing products available today. Putting in the time to learn, or bringing in outside help, will pay off over time.
In today’s digital economy, it’s crucial to stand out, and SEO helps you gain an advantage over the competitors in your industry. Increasing your website’s prominence generates brand awareness, which can have a snowball effect and result in exponentially more traffic, and hopefully that translates to increased revenue.
Putting in the time to learn how to optimize your web content for search algorithms is quite literally a job in and of itself. While it’s certainly possible to take a DIY approach, bringing in outside help can be beneficial in terms of saving time, and bolstering results.
If your business could use a partner to help you take your SEO to the next level, get in touch today.