What is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of using different techniques and strategies to enhance a website’s performance and, consequently, advance its rank in search engine results pages like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
Effective SEO strategies can potentially land your website on the first page of a search engine, which, in turn, benefits your brand’s online visibility. Websites that appear as top results for relevant keywords have a higher chance of getting clicked on and visited by users, thus increasing traffic and conversion rates.
Three Types of SEO
Any entrepreneur looking to boost their website’s SERP ranking should work on improving their overall SEO strategy. This means that website owners should focus on creating a well-rounded approach to SEO that boosts all three aspects – on-page, off-page, and technical.
● On-page SEO
On-site SEO involves the implementation of specific techniques within a website to optimize pages and increase organic traffic. These techniques include keyword research, creating meta-descriptions, optimizing HTML tags, and publishing original content, among others.
By optimizing all these internal aspects, you’re helping the search engines understand what the website and its pages are all about. If a search engine recognizes your site as a valuable source of information, it will rank you higher in related keyword searches.
● Off-page SEO
Inversely, off-page SEO refers to optimization techniques that take place outside of your website, but still have a significant influence on its performance and visibility.
Off-site strategies focus on directing high-quality backlinks from authoritative sites to your website. Social media posts, guest blogs, and claiming business listings are some of the more common off-page strategies that webmasters implement to influence trust signals and establish a site’s online credibility.
● Technical SEO
While on-page and off-page strategies are involved with improving the front end aspects of your website, technical SEO is geared towards boosting its back-end structure. Technical SEO strategies involve non-content related elements like site-architecture, security, page speed, and mobile-friendliness.
Optimizing the technical end of your website helps ensure that your website looks and runs like a charm. Consumers nowadays will hardly give the page a second look if it takes ages to load. Thus, excellent user experience is essential in increasing your site’s rate of traffic and engagement.
White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO
There are several ways to approach site optimization – and plenty of opinions on how to, as well, but most of these strategies can be classified into two categories: white hat and black hat SEO.
● White hat SEO
Search engines have guidelines and ethical practices that websites must follow when improving their SERPs ranking. All SEO strategies that abide by these conditions set forth by Google and other search engines are considered white hats.
The goal of white hat SEO is to improve a site’s position in search engines through techniques that elevate website credibility, performance, and user experience.
● Black hat SEO
On the other side of the coin, there’s black hat SEO, which – as the term suggests – is the exact opposite of white hat strategies. Black hat SEO involves the aggressive use of unethical practices and they do not play by the rules set by Google and the others. Some of the most prevalent black hat techniques are keyword stuffing, using duplicate content, link-buying, and spam comments.
While these techniques often work and generate faster results than white hat strategies, they can get you in trouble. Grave sanctions befall websites that are caught using black hat methods, which usually end in a massive decline in traffic and SERP ranking.
Use of High-Quality Content
There was a time when content didn’t play that-crucial-a-role in securing a good spot in SERPs. Nowadays, however, content has become the beating heart of a website and, thus, plays a massive role in the success of SEO strategies.
Ever since Google began implementing continuous updates to its algorithms over the last decade, the use of quality content has become the cornerstone of most website optimization efforts.
Google can differentiate between good and subpar content, and ranks them appropriately. You can publish any type of content on your website – blog posts, how-to articles, infographics, and videos – as long as they’re well-optimized, original, relevant, and actionable. These factors are a must if you want to be rewarded with a high ranking on search engines.
With more than half of users worldwide accessing search engines through their smartphones instead of laptops and desktop computers, it’s not at all surprising that Google, the world’s leading search engine, switched to mobile-first indexing the previous year. This is such a big leap because the shift has made it imperative for online entrepreneurs to optimize their websites for mobile devices.
Mobile-first indexing basically means that Google indexes and ranks websites based on the performance of their mobile versions. The indexing method applies to both mobile devices and desktop computers. The site with a better mobile experience is likely to rank higher in searches, regardless of whether the search is performed on a phone, tablet, or desktop.
Ever since Google carried out the mobile-first indexing system, entrepreneurs and their respective SEO agencies were compelled to make websites more accessible to the mobile user. If you wish to make your site more mobile-friendly, you can start by using a responsive web design and enhancing its mobile page speed and load time.
SEO can turn things around for your business
What makes SEO such an effective marketing strategy is its inbound nature. A well-designed SEO strategy can continuously bring in traffic to your website. And the best part is that you don’t have to spend too much time or effort in convincing these people to purchase your products or avail of your services because they were already actively searching for them.
The thing is, it’s near impossible to achieve instant results with SEO. Reputable SEO professionals will never sway you with offers of quick turnarounds because there is no such thing. SEO is a long term game, and you have to commit time, effort, and money if you’re serious about achieving your target outcome. Even when you hit your ranking goals, you need to continue optimizing because your competitors are optimizing too.
SEO may take a while to deliver, but it works. And the results speak for themselves. SEO has saved countless businesses from going under and helped many small entrepreneurs surpass their goals. It’s a cost-effective way of marketing and brand promotion that allows small and mid-sized ventures to compete with industry giants and achieve success.
Shawn Byrne is the founder and CEO of SEOPhoenix.net. Shawn started his career in I.T. troubleshooting workstations, servers and networks, then went on to doing SEO as a side project and quickly found success in ranking websites. It was easy for him to grasp not only the algorithms but also the technical side which most SEO strategists miss and neglect because of its complexities. SEO Phoenix then grew based on its own rankings and referrals.