Search Engine Optimization

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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! 

I

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:

  • There is no magic to SEO. There are very specific and actionable things you can do to improve your rankings, as others have also successfully done.
  • The key concepts of SEO are easy to understand. But it does take a LOT of work. You must be strategic, methodical, and probably most importantly, consistent in your approach.
  • SEO is a long-term play. Success does not happen overnight. In fact, it might take any one of your optimized web pages anywhere from two to six months (maybe more) to achieve a decent ranking
  • SEO is ever-changing and ever-evolving. Search engines can change or make adjustments any time they feel they need to. Even among the top executives of, say, Google, no single person knows EXACTLY what's in these search algorithms-- it's the elusive Colonel's recipe of the digital marketing world.
  • Ultimately, however, SEO is all about quality. Search engines have this need to serve users the best possible search engine results (i.e. websites) for any given query. Truly helpful websites will always trump sites that are spammy, shady, or just otherwise lacking in terms of anything useful.

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.

II

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.

Ranking Factors

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 2019, 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. 

  • How helpful is this content to the user’s search query?
  • How have other users previously interacted with this particular site? (i.e. have they stuck around and read what’s on the site, or did they just bounce right out after a couple of seconds?)
  • How long is this content? Does it have answers to the user’s query?
  • How many other sites link back to this page?
  • How is this site’s reputation and authority in the online community?
  • Does this page have photos? Videos perhaps?
  • Is the URL relevant to the search query? Is it long enough? Does it help with the query?
  • Does this page have other links to other relevant pages within the site that might help with the query?
  • Does the page also cite other high-quality references on the topic?
  • How is the site’s author in terms of reputation?

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: 

  1. The quality of your content
  2. The quality of your backlinks
  3. How well your page matches a particular user’s search intent
III

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?

Page Titles

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.

URLs

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.

Meta Descriptions

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:

  • Genuinely helpful
  • Has minimal fluff
  • Shouldn't be auto-generated or spun
  • Well laid out so it's easy to read
  • Engaging

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.

Mobile Friendliness

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?

Organic Backlinks

Brand Mentions

Deep Backlinks

Places Backlinks

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:

  • Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA). Simply put, links coming from sites with higher DA's and PA's carry more weight than others.
  • Relevance. Are the sites linking back to you also within your same space? The more relevant those sites are, the better the quality of those backlinks.
  • Links from spammy sites. Similarly, if you're getting links from low-quality websites, this can also hurt your rankings as you're getting low-quality links.
  • NOFOLLOW links. Sometimes a link might have the "nofollow" attribute within its HTML. This tells search engines not to follow that link to the destination website. These links are considered to be less valuable than "follow" links.

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!

IV

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):

  • Blog posts
  • Email blasts and newsletters
  • eBooks
  • Podcasts
  • Video series
  • Blog posts
  • Guides and how-to's
  • Resource pages
  • Surveys, reports, whitepapers, and case studies
  • Research papers
  • Infographics
  • Webinars
  • Interviews and transcripts
  • Press releases
  • Advertisements (on radio, TV, film, or print, as well as online)
  • Magazines and other trade publications
  • Brochures, flyers, leaflets, and pamphlets
  • Outdoor signages
  • Direct mail and door drops
  • Branded merchandising

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.

V

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:

  • Domain and hosting setup/issues
  • Sitemaps
  • Robots.txt files
  • URL structures
  • Redirects
  • Schema, structured data, and rich snippets
  • Site navigation and architecture
  • Meta tags
  • JavaScript indexing
  • Link structures
  • Keyword research
  • Analytics
  • Among others

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.

VI

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:

  • Increasing your online visibility, keeping your brand top-of-mind
  • Serving as channels to distribute all your great content
  • Bringing in high-quality traffic to your website
  • Building your perceived expertise, authority and trustworthiness
  • Improving your Local SEO rankings

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.

VII

What SEO Plans Do You Offer
(and How Much Do They Cost?)

PLAN - VENUS

$275/month

(Local SEO Focus)
  • Local SEO
  • On-Page Optimization
  • Off-Page Optimization
  • Technical SEO
  • Website audit
If you are getting started and want to show up on map (Google Maps – Google My Business)? This is the plan for you!
PLAN - SATURN

$499/month

(Content Marketing Plan)
  • Local SEO
  • On-Page Optimization
  • Off-Page Optimization
  • Technical SEO
  • Website audit
  • Content development: 2 blog articles/mo

This plan is all about attracting the right kind of customers with targeted content. Give them what they want!

PLAN - JUPITER

$899/month

(Super Charged Content Marketing)
  • Local SEO
  • On-Page Optimization
  • Off-Page Optimization
  • Technical SEO
  • Website audit
  • Content development: 4 blog articles/mo
Bring the visitors in and give them a content feast! That is what this plan is all about. 

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.

Local SEO

  • Ongoing local SEO tasks are performed as needed.

(Tasks include items such as Google My Business and directory listing optimization.)

On-Page Optimization

  • Ongoing on-page SEO tasks are performed as needed.

(Tasks include, meta tag, title tag, and internal linking optimization.)

Off-Page Optimization

  • Ongoing off-page SEO tasks are performed as needed.

(Tasks such as link building and content syndication are performed.)

Technical SEO

  • Ongoing technical SEO tasks are performed as needed.

Website Audit

  • Monthly website audits are performed and used in planning out applicable SEO tasks.

Content Development

  • 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.

Reporting

Monthly planed activities/performance reports.

Content Offer Creation:

$250 Per Occasion

Content offers are a prominent lead generation tool that helps your users solve a problem.

Content Offers Include:

  • 1 new (Minor/1-page) content offer (tip sheet, checklist, etc.)
  • All content offers come with a support blog:

(1 Blog post – 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.)

 

Content Development/Blog Writing:

$100 Per Occasion

Many times, new visitors will find you through blogs. Blogs ensure SEO juice is constantly being added to your website through indexed pages and keywords.

Blogging Activities Include:

  • Per Blog Post (These are in addition to any SEO plan that is selected.)
  • Editorial calendar creation and management

(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.) 

All ad-ons are performed and billed on as as needed basis.

Premium Activities – Social Media

Pricing As Quoted

Premium service are available on request and would be an additional cost.

Premium Social Media Management Includes:

  • Contest creation
  • Social media account moderation
  • Social media specific content
  • Social media specific offers and promotions
  • Social media account augmentation
  • Special requests
  • Multiple social platforms

 

Premium Activities – Content Offers

Pricing As Quoted

Premium service are available on request and would be an additional cost.

Premium Content Offers Include:

  • White Papers Creation,
  • 10X landing pages.
  • Video Creation
  • Complex Info Graphics
All ad-ons are performed and billed on as as needed basis.

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. ​