SEO is quite broad and can get really overwhelming. For starters, there are different types of SEO including the on-page and off-page SEO, and one of the major concerns for businesses out there is knowing which to focus on.
Google, the biggest search engine in the world has over 2,000 algorithms. Now 2,000 is quite a huge number of factors for anyone to work with it. However, the 2,000 algorithms have their roots in certain elements of SEO. Therefore, if the elements are understood, then businesses don’t have to bother about understanding 2,000 algorithms.
The point here is not to suggest that these 5 elements are all that SEO involves. Rather, it is to highlight the main elements of SEO that once covered, the other elements become less of a challenge.
These 5 major elements of SEO, if utilized properly, will help businesses improve their performance on search engines.
Any effort put into SEO without great content will only end up being a waste of time since content is actually the bedrock of SEO. Therefore, creating great contents is a good place to start when trying to improve SEO.
Search engines are all about satisfying their users and would only rank high quality contents that would be helpful to them (users). So, businesses that do not have quality contents can as well forget about SEO.
Quality contents are contents that add value to users by:
- Educating them
- Providing answers to their questions
- Providing solutions to a problem they may have
- Giving them additional information about a product, service or event
Search engines are not humans looking through each content one by one to see if they do any or all of the above. Instead, they have bots crawling through every content on the internet. Basically, some of the factors these bots look out for in contents are:
Majority of the contents on the first page of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) are usually 800 – 1000+ words. Coincident? Absolutely not. Search engines love lengthy contents and it’s one of the ways they tell a content’s quality.
However, it’s important to note that emphasis should be placed on quality over quantity as length is not all there is about content. Going ahead to create lengthy content filled with repeated points won’t cut it.
Who doesn’t like new things? Absolutely nobody, search engines inclusive. Search engines love brand new contents and love to refer it to their users. Hence, businesses must learn to constantly update their sites with fresh contents.
This is why every business needs a blog. Even if it will be updated once a week, it’s enough to show search engines that the site is active and it’s being maintained.
This is another point to take note of when creating contents. External linking helps build backlink, but internally linking contents gives google an idea of the structure of the site. Internally linking contents together is definitely an amazing strategy to improve SEO.
Next to content is keyword. The importance of Keyword research and appropriate use cannot be overemphasized.
Internet users come to Google for different reasons, so do the keywords they use differ. It’s therefore important for a business to know the keywords used by their target audience and effectively use them in their contents.
By doing this, it becomes easier for search engines to recommend their website to their target audience whenever they search using the keywords.
When choosing keywords for SEO, some of the factors to bear in mind include:
Must be keywords related to the business and what the potential customers are searching for. For instance, an SEO company in Canada may target such keywords as what is SEO? SEO company in Canada, how does SEO work? Types of SEO and so. All of these are possible questions their target audience is asking and they would be positioning themselves to be found by using them.
SEO is competitive and that’s no news at all. When researching for keywords, businesses need to avoid highly competitive keywords. Using competitive keywords make it more difficult for them to be found. Instead, they should rather use long tail keywords.
For instance, a new food vendor in Canada may be tempted to use the keywords Buy food in Canada. Great. But the problem is the biggest food vendors that existed long before this new one would have already hijacked the keywords.
Such business may then settle for long tail keywords such as Buy affordable Nanaimo Bars in East York.
An attempt to avoid highly competitive should not lead to using keywords that no one is searching with. This is why keywords research is important to understand demand, competition and relevance of keywords. Some popular keyword research tools are Google Search Console, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, SEMrush among others.
Meta Title and Meta Description
Page titles or meta titles and description are also key elements for successful SEO. The fact that titles are the first things both humans and search engines would see about any website says a lot about their importance.
For humans, it has to make a promise and it should be emotionally appealing. To search engines, it should contain the keywords and shouldn’t be more than 70 characters. In all, page titles are really crucial to SEO.
Meta descriptions are the short snippets under search results that tries to further explain what the page is about. It’s an additional opportunity for businesses to further convince users that they are the most relevant to a search.
This is where some businesses get it wrong. They may have gotten everything right and search engine is showing their content in results. However, their Click-through Rate (CTR) would be extremely low. In other words, users are not clicking on the result because the meta description is not convincing enough.
The recommend length for meta description is 158 characters or less. It’s also important that the keywords are captured in the meta description.
Backlinks are clickable links on a website pointing to another website. This is one other element that’s really crucial to SEO, especially Google SEO. When a reliable source links to a site, it boosts the site’s authority and may have positive impact on its position in SERP rankings.
Similarly, sites with outbound links to credible sources online also benefit. This means backlink can work in two ways for businesses – they can get credible sources to links referencing them or better still, create contents and link to credible sites.
So, reaching out to authoritative and credible sites to work together on mutually benefiting backlink building should form a major part of a business SEO strategy in 2020. This will not only drive traffic to all the sites involved, it will also help improve their rankings on search engines.
Guest blogging or guest posting is another way to increase traffic and build backlinks. Businesses should take advantage of any opportunity to create contents for another website.
Smart phones are here to stay. A significant number of people would be reading this on their smartphones, as against PC. The number of smart phone users in predicted by studies to hit 4.7 billion this year. More than half of the world web traffic is currently attributed to mobile devices. It’s therefore no brainer for that every website should be optimized for mobile experience.
Google has updated its algorithm to place priority on mobile-friendly search results. To create an SEO strategy that prioritizes this, a website should have:
- Fast mobile response times
- Texts that are formatted to change size according to screen size
- Images that don’t delay the site responsiveness
Any site with these extra features would be seen as mobile-friendly by search engines. This would therefore significantly increase ranking on search engine, especially above sites that don’t meet up with the mobile friendliness requirements.
All of these elements are essential in improving SEO. If done correctly, it would significantly improve a site’s ranking on SERP.
The most important part of SEO is evaluation. It’s not worth it putting in the work and not checking to see the impact. Businesses should therefore spare time to constantly monitor their progress and note where to improve.
There are a number of tools for monitoring the performance of SEO efforts, some of them are:
- Google’s Webmaster Tools (Free)
- Hubspot’s Website Grader (Free)
- Check My Links (Free)
- Ahrefs (Paid)
- Woorank (Paid)
- BuzzStream (Paid)
- Moz’s Pro Tools (Paid)
There are so many of them and they all have their different uses:
- Monitor the increase and decrease of web traffic
- Compare web presence to that of competitors
- Monitor the improvement of search engine ranking for different keywords
- Display which types of content are performing well so similar contents can be developed
Detailed analytics like these are essential in the continued effort to stand out on search engine. SEO is ever changing and the collection of data helps to know what’s working and what needs to be changed.