Your Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Your Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Understanding and Using SEO To Grow Your Brand

We use the internet to search for various products, services, or find general information. On Google alone there are about 8-billion searches a day, with other platforms like Bing garnering an estimated 900 million a day. The results that each online search yields are guided by Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

When you look at a search engine results page (SERP) you’ll usually see paid ads at the top, followed by the organic search results that best match the user’s query. Those organic search results are heavily influenced by SEO tactics and the use of SEO keywords.

So, here’s a question: Are you setting your content up with the right SEO tactics to ensure it is seen? Learn more about using SEO to make sure your audience sees you right when they need to.

Are you setting your content up with the right SEO tactics to ensure it is seen?
What Exactly is SEO?

Telling you that “SEO” stands for Search Engine Optimization doesn’t mean much unless you are already well-versed in marketing concepts. A good amount of people have likely heard the term “SEO keywords” without fully understanding what in the world they are.

Let’s break it down.

SEO is about helping search engines understand and present content.

Search Engine Optimization is a marketing strategy you can use to enhance or optimize your online content in a way that increases your website’s visibility on search engines such as Google or Bing, leading to a better ranking on the Search Engine Results Page.

The idea behind SEO is that you’d create high-quality content that is relevant to what your ideal audience or customer base is looking for and then enhance its visibility using SEO tactics such as keyword usage, link-building, etc.

An effective SEO strategy can improve the quality and quantity of your website traffic—good news considering that over half of organic website traffic comes through organic search results. With a better ranking and better visibility, you are more likely to enjoy increased purchases and conversions from your audience too.

How Search Engine Rankings Work

What does it mean to rank on Google or Bing? Your “rank” is your page’s placement on the SERP when someone searches for a related term online.

Here’s how it works. Different search engines will assess or “crawl” each page of content that you produce and then index them in a database, usually categorized based on factors like keywords, on-site links, content quality, tags, and more. This allows those pages to be shown in relevant search queries according to how helpful they may be.

It may help to consider a quick example. Say someone searches for the term “banana pancakes” on Google. A page for a recipe from a cooking website may show up on the SERP page based on how well it matches that search query and how “healthy” the website is. The safer and more legitimate a website appears to the search engine, the higher it will be placed on that initial search results page. Add in the right keywords to match and you may be able to get up into that top 5 (after the paid ads of course).

How Search Engine Rankings Work
SEO Factors That Impact Your SERP Ranking

We’ve briefly touched on some of the factors that may impact your website’s ranking on a SERP. Allow us to break down some of the factors you’ll want to pay the closest attention to.


SEO Keywords

The use of SEO keywords is just one part of your website’s SEO strategy, though it is an extremely important one.

These are single words or longer phrases used throughout your content with the goal of increasing relevant traffic to the page. So, if we were talking about that recipe blog page focused on “banana pancakes,” you might you use SEO keywords like “banana pancake recipe” or “two-ingredient banana pancakes.”

When you research keywords, you will need to consider
their relevance to both the content on the page and your audience.


Link Building

Link-building is an effective way to increase the authority of your website, meaning that it can help improve your ranking on that search results page. Links used within your content can give credence to whatever you are talking about.

If the website that you link to is legitimate (and it should be) then it can help to increase the authority of your website. Think of links or backlinks like a referral system—the more you have and the more legitimate they are, the more Google, and your audience, will trust you.


Content Quality

Yes, search engines will judge the content on your website. They aren’t going to be looking for flashy word choices in the way a literary panel might. These are machines, so the analytics are limited to assessing aspects like how original your content is, if it makes sense, how relatable the keywords are to different search queries, and other key details.

Every piece of content you publish online, including webpages, infographics, PDFs and more, will be assessed for the quality of content that it contains. Content that is judged to be readable, relatable, and original is likely to rank well.


Page Layout

You can have the best content in the world but if you publish it in one massive block of text no one, not even Google, is going to want to spend much time on it.

Page layout is extremely important. This is a detail that allows Google, Bing, etc. to assess the readability of your page. These search engines will look at the length of each sentence, the number of sentences in a paragraph, how many paragraphs you have, and how many sub-headers or subtitles there are on the page.

A page that is laid out well is easily readable and scannable for people and search engines alike, increasing the chances that it will rank well.

On-site vs. Off-site

An effective SEO strategy needs to take both on-site and off-site tactics into account. These should work together to optimize or enhance your page to the max, ensuring it ranks well and yields the best results (plenty of people clicking on it).

On-site SEO includes your webpage content, your external and internal links, your meta title and description, your page layout and headers, and more. Off-site SEO includes the larger efforts outside of your website to improve your online presence, such as link building, guest blogging, and even your social media efforts.

White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO

You may be familiar with the old tactic of meeting an essay word count by typing in extra words at the end of the essay and then making them invisible. This is the kind of thing that would fall into a Black Hat SEO category. Much like get rich quick schemes, Black Hat SEO will almost never yield the results you want but will always come with unwelcome consequences like Google flagging your website.

Black Hat SEO is penalized by every search engine. And yes, adding in invisible text or keywords to try to rank better is a real thing people have tried. You are always going to be better off using White Hat SEO tactics because, while they take time and effort, they actually pay off.

Everything we’ve already talked about is called White Hat SEO. These techniques, like keyword research, creating relevant content, and good backlinks, legitimately improve your ranking online.

White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO

In following the rules of the search engines, doing things properly, and not trying to deceive search engines, you’re far more likely to see your efforts pay off—plus, you won’t have to worry about being caught.

Varga Helps Create Effective SEO Strategy

There is a lot to remember when you try to use SEO to improve your website’s rank and your overall visibility online. Varga, Inc. offers effective SEO services to help you create an effective strategy that takes the hard work off your plate and gets you the results you are looking for.

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