The world of content marketing, building brand awareness, and engaging with prospects is complicated enough without adding more complex topics on top of it, like search engine optimization. But that doesn’t mean those other complex topics aren’t important to learn and understand. That’s why we’ve developed this SEO made simple guide.
Why Use SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a set of tactics that does exactly as it says: it optimizes your webpages and content to rank better on search engines and target your audience more effectively. That’s because SEO can make your content more relevant, engaging, and useful to your target audience, which shows search engines, like Google, that your content deserves a top ranking spot in the search engine results page (SERP).
In fact, the main goal of using SEO strategies is to potentially rank on the first page of the SERP. That’s because the higher your content ranks on the first page, the more clicks it generates. And if it ranks on page two, it has a click-through rate of less than 1%, essentially making your content useless for generating organic traffic.
Therefore, the more content you have that ranks well, the more organic traffic you’ll bring to your site and the more brand awareness you’ll generate for your business. This, in turn, can help you create more leads and revenue for your business. Afterall, the number one organic result in Google’s search has an average click-through rate (CTR) of 27.6% and the number one organic result is 10x more likely to receive a click compared to one in the number ten spot. SEO strategies help you get there.
How Does SEO Work?
When a business creates a new webpage or piece of content, search engines crawl the page and index it. Basically, they organize it based on keywords and content, so they know if and when to bring it up in a search result. From there, the search engines rank the content based on the searcher’s query and how relevant or helpful they think the result will be to the searcher. As days, weeks, and months go by, search engines continuously scan your content to see how it performs and changes its ranking accordingly.
For example, if a lot of people click on your content in the SERP and immediately bounce from the page, that tells search engines that they probably don’t find it helpful or relevant to their query. So, the search engine will most likely lower your ranking. On the flip side, if people click on your content and stay on the page for a long time or even navigate elsewhere on your website, the search engine will see that as a positive thing and possibly rank you higher.
SEO vs. PPC
SEO is the practice of getting more organic traffic for your business and website by ranking well on search engines. Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are a direct transaction of money for views and clicks, generating paid traffic to your website versus organic. Search engines place these ads at the top of the SERP above the organic results for different keywords or queries that people type in. Basically, SEO helps move your content to the top of the search results naturally while PPC ads almost guarantee you a spot at the top.
Which One’s More Important?
There’s definitely something to be said about generating organic traffic versus paid traffic. That’s because it means your audience came to you versus you coming to them, which helps build relationships with them more easily. But there are times when PPC ads might be more effective. It really depends on your marketing goals and what type of PPC ads you use.
For instance, if you’re trying to boost your brand awareness quickly, you might want to use PPC ads. That’s because it can help people learn more about your business and what it has to offer. Basically, it tells people you exist. The same goes for if you’re trying to generate more clicks and website activity. PPC ads are placed at the top of search results, so it’s more likely that people will click on them and potentially explore more of your site.
However, there are some forms of paid advertising that are more effective than others, like contextual advertising. Contextual advertising is placing targeted advertisements on websites that are relevant to your business, its products or services, and your audience. Compared to search engine PPC ads, it’s often more effective because the content of the website correlates better to what your business has to offer. For example, Randall Reilly has a number of online platforms that give businesses the ability to advertise to their respective audiences in industries like trucking, construction, landscaping,and more.
From Equipment World and Hardworking Trucks to Overdrive and CCJ, Randall Reilly has a number of digital media brands where you can host advertisements your audiences are more likely to click on. Download our media playbooks today to see which platforms are right for your business and industry and how you can use them to target your audience more effectively compared to PPC ads.
SEO Ranking Factors
Here are some factors that search engines take into account when deciding how to rank content:
There are three types of links that search engines use when determining content’s ranking:
- Inbound Links: Inbound links refer to any links that direct people to other pages on the same site. If you direct someone to your homepage, a different piece of content on your site, or a landing page on your site, it’s considered an inbound link.
- Outbound Links: Outbound links are the opposite of inbound. They send people away from your website to other domains.
- Backlinks: Backlinks are links on other domains and websites that link back to your own. Generally, the more backlinks from high-authority sites you have, the better your content will rank on search engines.
Though each type of link is important for your overall SEO campaign, the only ones that search engines really care about and track are backlinks. But the balance of inbound and outbound links is still important. You want enough inbound links to keep visitors on your website and direct them to your products and services.
But it’s also helpful to have outbound links that direct people to high-authority sites. This helps to increase the satisfaction of your readers by sending them to sources on the information you share, like for statistics and other facts. The higher the satisfaction of the reader, the longer they’ll stay on the page. The longer they stay on the page, the better your ranking will be.
Keywords represent the main topic of the article or piece of content you’re creating. It’s what a lot of search engines use to index your content and ensure it’s relevant to the searcher’s query. It’s important to target specific keywords in your content and use them sparingly throughout your webpage. For example, if you were writing an article on changing the tire of a semi-truck trailer, some keywords you might target include “how to change a semi-truck tire” and “semi-truck flat tire”. Including those exact keywords in your article, including in the headings and title, can help you rank better.
But don’t overdo it! Years ago, whoever had the most keywords in their article or webpage would soar to the top of that search query online. But nowadays, “keyword stuffing” might lower your ranking because it gives your audience a poor experience. That’s because, it’s not helpful to the reader and can make the flow of the content feel stifled or awkward, which can cause them to feel dissatisfied with your content.
A good rule of thumb for adding keywords to your content is to include it once for every 200 words that you write. But even less is okay. This can help you space it out and ensure you’re not using it too often.
There’s a phrase that was first published in 1974 by Sumner Redstone which said “Content Is King”, and it’s currently the biggest reason that search engines now penalize websites for keyword stuffing. Basically, the quality of your content is, first and foremost, the biggest factor when it comes to search engine optimization. Searchers want to get accurate information as quickly as possible. That’s why it’s crucial to include as much information in your content as you can, while making it skimmable, engaging, and straight-to-the-point.
Now, it’s important to understand that search engines aren’t the ones in charge of judging if a piece of content is high quality or low quality. They aren’t sophisticated enough yet to judge a piece of content by writing alone. Instead, they use other metrics and stats to determine if the users think your content and webpage is helpful. Those metrics include things like the number of page visitors, the bounce rate, and the on-page time. The more engaging and helpful your content is, the better those metrics will perform.
Going hand-in-hand with content quality, general user experience is very important to SEO. If your page takes too long to load, it has a confusing layout, or it’s bogged down with advertisements, people might feel more inclined to click away. If this happens a lot, search engines might lower your ranking because people aren’t finding it easy to navigate or consume. Ways to improve your user experience include:
- Focusing on your website’s design, including colors and aesthetics
- Ensuring your website’s navigation is understandable
- Using smaller images to decrease load times
- Writing engaging content and copy
Now comes the more complicated – but still not difficult – part of SEO: The technical side. There’s more to SEO than simple front-end factors, like eye-catching design and good writing. There’s also back-end factors such as:
- Meta Description: Meta descriptions are basically little blurbs that tell readers what your webpage is about. It’s often the gray, smaller text that appears underneath the result on the SERP.
- Structured Data: Also known as schema markup, structured data is code that helps search engines better understand your content and webpages. Unlike meta tags, this code is never seen by the viewer or reader. You don’t need to implement structured data to have your site indexed by search engines, but it does allow your content to be featured in rich snippet sections on Google, which can be a huge boost to your SEO.
- Indexing: If your webpage isn’t indexed by Google, it’s not going to do anything for your SEO. That’s because Google dominates 92% of search engine traffic. Though Google eventually crawls and indexes your page automatically, it might be helpful to request Google to crawl your site, which can speed up the process.
Expert Marketers for Your All Your Needs
Looking for even more help or guidance with your SEO and content marketing? Randall Reilly can help with all of your sales and marketing needs. From our insights on current market trends and buyers to our programmatic marketing campaigns, we can deliver expert advice and back it up with expert data. Contact us today to see how we can help boost your marketing efforts and attract your target buyers.