Grow Your Galactic Empire
A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization, a digital marketing strategy that aims to bring in high-quality traffic into your website through organic means.
It’s steady, consistent traffic that brings in new business, and it’s traffic you don’t pay for. You earn it by making your site “friendlier” to search engines, by constantly coming up with high-quality content, and by establishing your authority and expertise within your space.
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Statistics show that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. The use of a search engine has been ubiquitous and so accessible that people today naturally turn to a search engine when they want to buy something, look for answers, do some research, or be entertained.
For business owners, search engine optimization is a relatively easy and sustainable way to not just be visible and easily discoverable, but also somehow stay top-of-mind and relevant with a particular target audience.
And it is for this reason business owners today invest quite a bit on SEO. After all, if your business can’t be found online, it’s as if you don’t exist to your customers!
What Are The Most Important Things I Need To Know About SEO?
Believe us when we say we do get this question a lot from our clients.
Especially for business owners and marketing execs (who will eventually oversee a company’s digital marketing efforts), there are three key things you need to know about the inner workings of SEO, which– in our experience having done SEO campaigns for all sorts of businesses– will help manage your expectations from the very beginning:
SEO is part of your overall inbound marketing strategy as a brand. It helps establish you as an expert and authority in your space, and greatly affects how your clients and potential new customers see you.
This also means SEO is part of a larger marketing mix, one that would typically employ other marketing channels, such as email, advertising, sales and customer service teams, press releases, among other methods with the goal of better connecting with your target audience.
That said, let’s dive right into some of the other topics we’ve lined up for you today.
How Does SEO Work?
One of the reasons why Google has been so successful is because of their fundamental approach on how their search engine indexes and ranks websites.
Remember, at the time of Google’s launch (in 1997), you already had other search engines. You already had big players like Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, Yahoo!, AskJeeves, and others.
Yet after all these years, Google continues to dominate the market.
See, search engines in 1997 already indexed websites from all over, but what set Google apart from everybody else was that Google also looked at a website’s backlinks, and returned search query results (via its prototype algorithm then) on the basis of those backlinks.
So if you ran a search query on the topic, “Star Trek the Next Generation characters”, for example, between two websites that has more-or-less similar content, which site would Google give a better ranking to?
The site with more links pointing to it!
This is because Google might be seeing it as “hey, all these other websites are citing this site as a reference or a resource, so it must be more important than this other one.”
A link to a website counted as a vote for its content quality, in the same way you had citations for academic papers.
Today, while Google has evolved so much, the core principle is the same: it wants to give any user the best possible set of search results given a particular search query.
And that governing philosophy continues to drive what we know today about SEO.
Indexing and Sitemaps
What a search engine really does is index websites on the internet from all over the world. On each website, it crawls through not just what we see as content, but also the site’s code, the images, the information embedded within each image, the links that go in and out of the site and where they go or come from, and so on.
These “crawlers” return to Google with a wealth of information about any given site, with billions of pages from millions of websites. What Google’s search engine has is a massive index of information of all websites– sort of like a library, but with all sorts of data indexed from all the sites that it has found (and crawled) in this manner.
A website’s sitemap helps make it easier and faster for crawlers to do their job, essentially saying “OK, here’s everything you need to know about this website.” The web crawler then goes back to Google with a ton of info about your site, probably even appreciative of the assistance.
Today, good SEO depends not only on you setting up your sitemap properly, but also taking that a step further by submitting it to search engines like Google and Bing, so they can index your site faster.
So back to our example, when someone types into the search window “Lt. Tasha Yar from Star Trek the Next Generation”, Google knows exactly which sites have this particular bit of information and will now attempt to rank all these sites in order– from the highest quality possible resource to the lowest.
For 2020, however, these are the most important items your site (specifically, your posts and pages) needs to cover to have the best possible SEO ranking you can get.
Google has more than 200 ranking factors (by their own admission) by which a website’s place in search results is determined.
Nobody knows exactly what the exact equation is for site ranking, but we do know what the three most important ranking factors are:
- The quality of your content
- The quality of your backlinks
- How well your page matches a particular user’s search intent
On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO
When we talk about search engine optimization, we generally divide the efforts according to whether it’s on-page or off-page SEO.
Any tinkering, additions, or adjustments (i.e. optimizations) done inside a site or on its pages is known as on-page SEO. Those done outside your website is off-page SEO.
What is Covered by On-Page SEO?
At the very least, the keywords you want to rank for should be on your Page Title. More creative content marketers also put a great deal of effort into crafting some pretty good headlines.
Your URLs should also give the readers an idea of what your page is all about. Make sure your slugs use your keywords as well, rather than a random jumble of numbers and letters.
A good meta description gives readers an idea of what sort of content is on your page. Your preferred keywords should also be included. Meta descriptions cap off at about 300 characters, and you can see it displayed on SERPs just under the Page title and URL.
Internal and External Links
Internal links on your page serve to help crawlers determine the hierarchy of content on your page. A few external links help by giving crawlers additional content through other sites you see as references or authorities in your space.
Helpful Original Content
We can actually dedicate a separate section just on the topic of content. But for now, all we need to know is that your content should be:
Page Load Speed
Slow sites turn off visitors, which means a sluggish website can lose you a lot of potential business. due to people leaving your site in search of other vendors. So don’t bloat your site with unnecessary plugins or huge media files.
Given that more than half of online searches are now done on smartphones, sites today have to look absolutely great on mobile. That means large enough and readable fonts, buttons that are easy to click, and navigation to help folks find what they’re looking for.
What is Covered by Off-Page SEO?
Remember, not all backlinks are the same! Google places a great deal of importance on backlinks, and so some links to your site might be better than others.
Here’s what Google looks at when it comes to backlinks to your site:
Note: in the same way some On-Page SEO can overlap with Technical SEO (see below), some Off-Page SEO also has this same overlap. All three– On-Page SEO, Off-Page SEO, and Technical SEO– synergize well, forming a comprehensive SEO strategy that will make you the envy of your industry!
What is Content Marketing?
Here at LOJO, we talk about inbound marketing a lot. It is, after all, our way of life.
Content marketing is how marketing is done on the internet today, and quite possibly, how it will be done for years to come. It is a more holistic approach, and includes several marketing methods besides digital marketing.
The goal of content marketing is, of course, to generate high-quality leads for your business to convert ultimately into sales. And it accomplishes this goal with the use of awesome content created specifically to educate, inform, and even entertain your target audience.
Some commonly employed content marketing end-products can include (but are not limited to):
SEO synergizes very well with all this great content, as many of these can be used to generate genuine interest in your brand and business.
You not only get great content which you can adapt, include, or repurpose into your site, but you also have a great deal of material with which to do outreach and probably earn yourself some backlinks in the process.
What is Technical SEO?
Earlier, we talked about how crawlers go into your site and do all that indexing for search engines.
Technical SEO is that part of your optimization efforts that make your website more accessible and “friendlier” to crawlers so they can index your site without any difficulty.
So while On-Page SEO deals mostly with content, and Off-Page SEO with promoting your site (to get backlinks), Technical SEO includes just about any relatively tech-heavy processes meant to improve your search visibility.
That said, Technical SEO commonly deals with:
Without getting into too much detail (we have a section dedicated to just Technical SEO), it’s important to know that you need to give your site a Technical SEO audit regularly every now and then
This way, you can give your site a thorough check-up under the hood and see if everything’s working the way it should, or if there are any crawl issues that need to be addressed.
How Does Social Media Fit Into SEO?
There used to be a time when a brand’s social media carried more weight when we’re talking about SEO. Today however, social media has no direct impact on a site’s SEO rankings.
It does affect SEO indirectly though:
What this means is: it doesn’t matter to Google if your Facebook or Instagram page has thousands (or millions) of followers– it won’t affect how your site ranks on search. But the activities of your fans and followers do when they engage with your content, come visit your site, and share it with others.
So even though social media doesn’t directly affect SEO, the two go together hand-in-hand as part of a solid inbound marketing campaign. See our SEO add-on section below for more info on Premium Social Media Activities.
What SEO Plans Do You Offer
(and How Much Do They Cost?)
(Local SEO Focus)
(Content Marketing Plan)
This plan is all about attracting the right kind of customers with targeted content. Give them what they want!
(Super Charged Content Marketing)
Key Word Audit & Optimization
- Competitor analysis and utilization of Marketing Software/keywords tools to detect attainable ranking opportunities and strategize long-tail/short-tail keywords.
- Ongoing local SEO tasks are performed as needed.
(Tasks include items such as Google My Business and directory listing optimization.)
- Ongoing on-page SEO tasks are performed as needed.
(Tasks include, meta tag, title tag, and internal linking optimization.)
- Ongoing off-page SEO tasks are performed as needed.
(Tasks such as link building and content syndication are performed.)
- Ongoing technical SEO tasks are performed as needed.
- Monthly website audits are performed and used in planning out applicable SEO tasks.
- Amount of blog articles / month varies upon plan.
(Each article is fully keyword optimized and contains citations and internal links as applicable. Each article is run through a software to check for spelling and grammar.)
- Editorial calendar creation and management
Social Media Content Posting
- Basic posting of content created as part of the overall marketing campaign.
Monthly planed activities/performance reports.
As we mentioned, there’s a good chance you know how to do your own SEO.
But if you want to achieve results faster and a lot more efficiently, have a talk with our Inbound Marketing team over here at LOJO.
Our top-notch team of SEO space cadets have not just mastered the basics, they’re also up-to-date when it comes to SEO best practices and other tricks of the trade.
Our confidence in matters of search engine optimization is borne out of years of marketing experience for all sorts of clients, brands, and businesses.
With an inbound methodology in our hearts and minds, our SEO and content marketing services have been consistent as far as results go, resulting in increased web visibility, high-quality traffic, and conversion rates among nurtured leads.
Get in touch with Team LOJO today, and let’s talk about how our SEO services can work for you.
Want the best organic search campaigns for your brand?
We are here to help. Let us know your goals are and we are happy to advise which SEO campaign will help you reach them.