Understanding SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and each of its numerous components is key to implementing a successful internet marketing strategy. This can be challenging given the fact that Google's search engine algorithms are increasingly sophisticated and are constantly in flux. Here at NETQ, our greatest strength stems from our extensive experience with constant change in the internet landscape and our ability to learn and adapt to this ever changing marketplace.
Through over a decade of experience, we have learned that there is no single solution and no permanent fix for the SEO equation. We are constantly innovating, developing new strategies based on our close study of and partnership with Google's development team, and years of practical online marketing experience.
Still, the more things change the more they stay the same. A contradiction you say? Not really. The one thing that has never changed is the fact that Google and all other search engines still strive to bring you the highest quality content in the fastest time possible. It's what they do.
WIth this in mind, we simply leverage key SEO principles to develop a high quality and informative product for the user/customer access and utilize, and then make that product significantly more visible to both search engines and consumers.
In theory, website optimization is very simple. Simply maximize a websites visibility and interaction with search engines, Google maps, Google plus, and numerous social media platforms. Then augment that with a targeted PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign, designed to compliment the already visible pages and their target search terms. The basic concept is easily understood and simply executed, as long as you have a solid working knowledge of advanced SEO concepts and the experience necessary to optimize your site for current and future iterations of search engine algorithms.
12 Keys to Successful SEO:
There are literally hundreds of important details which bear consideration when optimizing any website. Countless pages of information and training are available from reputable reference sources such as SEO MOZ, class based training resources such as Udemy, and of course the ultimate resource, Google Ad Words and Google User Content. Ultimately, the wealth of information available is far to great to list here. Therefore, in the interest of brevity, we will list and explain our 12 keys to successful SEO for your review and understanding. They are listed in no particular order as any one may have an increased priority based on the situation and desired outcome. Each is valuable and powerful in its own way but combined they are key to SEO success.
1. Clean Code:
When designing, constructing and or optimizing any website, clean concise construction is essential. The reason for this is the fact that page load times are a significant factor in ranking algorithms. This is not new. Google and all other search engine designers and engineers have understood for some time that there is not only a direct correlation between clean, elegant site construction and better quality sites but they also have inherently faster load times. And so, there is a bit of self interest which drives the prioritization of those sites in the ranking algorithms as well. The simple fact is, with servers, every byte counts. Therefore, pages that take longer to load waste precious resources. Put both of these two facts together and there is no question. It makes perfect sense to prioritize sites with faster page load times. This promotes better quality for the consumer and allows faster delivery, thereby allowing Google and other search engines to more efficiently provide better quality service to its users. Clean code is essential to that end.
2. Original Content:
The internet is an amazing place. It is amazing because there is virtually unlimited information of all concievable types. In 1995 the NSF NET was decommissioned and the last restrictions were removed from the internet to carry commercial traffic; hence, the internet was born. The breadth and scope of the information contained there has multiplied exponentially every year since. Virtually all of this growth is predicated on new and original material. This is the fuel that drives the internet. Given this, it stands to reason that search engines prioritize new and original content. On a more basic level, common sense tells us that the consumer does not want to read old, out dated material. Original content is not only essential from a ranking perspective but also needed to drive engagement from users. This ties to another key factor in page ranking which is bounce rate. In simple terms, if a user clicks on a web page but is not engaged and leaves quickly without searching further within the site, it is an indication to Google that the site does not drive engagement and therefore does not have quality content. Leveraging site analytics and optimizing content to both reduce bounce rate and increase user interaction is key to not only connecting with your customers but ranking more effectively and optimizing conversions as well.
3. Informative Copy:
Consumers research for a reason, information. While they may appreciate entertainment value in the content they are viewing, information is still the key element which drives interest and thereby traffic and customers. It is essential to provide your potential customer with as much quality information relating to the topic that they are researching as possible. It is important that this information is compelling, accurate and usable. Statistics show that, when consumers do not find key information they are looking for or are not otherwise engaged in the first 10 to 15 seconds on a page, they leave. Every second after the first 15 becomes more critical up to about 30 seconds, where statistics show the consumer to become more likely to stay on that page or venture further into the site for more information. Obviously, when the consumer is engaged with the information and stays on site for an extended period, they are much more likely to become a customer. Google looks at this from a unique perspective in that, they do not wish to choose the best sites for the consumer to view. Rather, they enable the consumer to choose the the best sites to view based partly on the site history/user interaction. This is achievable because the algorithms used to determine rankings have become sophisticated enough to actually gauge how informative a page is for the consumer based on site analytics and other more technical factors. This is great news for the consumer and for you as well, if you understand how to leverage quality information to drive engagement and increased conversions on your site.
4. Correct Key Words:
Original material and Informative copy are not of value on a page if it is not optimized to draw the right consumer. For instance, if a page is focused on recent manufacturing innovations, it is important to manage the content such that the topic does not become convoluted or obscured by other information. A common mistake on many web pages is to place too much emphasis on sales, dedicating most of the copy to that end instead of providing the consumer with the key information needed to reach an informed conclusion or make an informed decision on the topic. The fact is that no one likes adds and sales pitches and they generally do not tend to drive engagement when consumers are actually seeking information. It is important to understand that Google and other search engines realize this as well. Key word placement and emphasis are critical in the presentation of a web page for this reason. The key words should always be an accurate representation of the information available on the page and never manipulated to cover for sales pitches or other gimmicks. Another common mistake is to haphazardly throw the content together, simply to have a page posted. This leads to content that is not well thought out and does not provide concise, accurate related to the key words for the consumer. This can cause confusion with search engines as they may have difficulty ascertaining the actual purpose or value of the site for the consumer, severely curtailing the pages chances of tactfully ranking for any meaningful key word. Conversely, it may cause the page to rank for an undesired key word, driving consumers to the site that do not have an interest in the material there. When this happens, the bounce is generally swift and so the the page is marginalized damaging the page rating. This is a critical error as the quality of each page factors in the sites authority overall and can cause significant damage to future ranking prospects. The key is in the design. A thoughtful, well balanced, concise and informative site and page design is key to ranking effectively. Correct key word utilization is integral to success.
5. Interactive Imagery/ Infographics:
Since we now know that user engagement drives both better rankings and increased conversions, it follows that every component of page construction must be used to optimize messaging efficiency and increase user engagement. Key tools in engaging and informational pages are interactive imagery/infographics. These assets can be flexible, concise, informative, and drive ranking power by not only increasing engagement on page but promoting link sharing in social media and on other sites. According to Wikipedia, the first recognized use of info graphics in the media were by a Jesuit priest named Christoph Scheiner. He published Rosa Surva sive Sol, a scientific journal of his research illustrating the rotation of the sun. While this is a completely obscure fact, it is not without significnat merrit. The truth is, infographics have been a major part of nearly all media communication since the outset of publishing. This is because they are one of the most effective methods of communication in existence. Statistics show that 65% of humans are visual learners. In addition, information presented in graphical form is assimilated 60,000 times faster that information conveyed by text alone. This means that web pages that utilize quality infographics have a decided advantage in the internet marketplace. They communicate ideas more effectively, drive more frequent and sustained user interaction and thereby rank more effectively and get more consumer traffic.
6. Strong Internal Link Structure:
Internal link structure is the placement and utilization of links from one page to another within a domian. It is most often used for main navigation throught the menu bar. That said, there are important structure practices that are key to SEO success. The most important part of internal link structuring is to insure that all of your internal links are connected. This is critical because the Google bot or "Google spiders" crawl each website on the internet with more and more frequency for evaluation and ranking purposes. It is critical that all pages on your site are interconnected so as to offer the spiders easy access and to demonstrate to google that your site is easy to navigate for users and has valuable information that is readily available. The representation of a Google spider, on the left, illustrates what happens when the spider does not recognize links to pages within a site. Note that pages 1 thru 6 are seen and indexed by the spider, while pages 7 thru 13 are not. Therefore, for all intents and purposes, those pages do not even exist. It is also important for site analytics data. The more pages that users access on your site per visit, the better page rankings you will experience. In addition, your site will then have a higher trust factor.
- Directory Links: These are links to websites that categorize and list different types businesses, services, or resources. They are one of the most common types of links, though not generally the strongest or most effective.
- Social Media Bookmarks: These are links to social media pages on sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Social Media networking and advertizing has become a key component of any succesful web marketing campaign.
- Resource Links: These are links which can be one way or two way (reciprocal). They are links which are deemed to be relavent, useful and or beneficial to the users of the site being visited.
- Reciprocal Links: These are links that are intended to mutually benefit two sites by providing a two way connection so that user traffic can flow both ways. While it can be a valuable tool to drive user traffic, this linking technique is no longer considered to be be effective for SEO purposes.
- Editorial Links: These are links that are not purchased or bartered for. They are given by site devlopers that recognize relevant, useful, high quality information that is benficial to their own site and to their users. These types of links are very dificult to to cultivate as any high quality editorial product is both difficult and time consuming to produce, That said, they are the single most important link type to have within your site. As previously mentioned, quality is always a sites most important attribute.
- Blog Comment Links: Blogging has become both a significant and effective source for both external and internal links. The quality of the links vary and will depend priamrily on both the quality and originality of the copy. An interesting blog that dirves significant user interest can provide extremely strong links.
- Image Links: These are links that are attached to images such as educational images or infographics, A quality inforgaphic that is recognized in a genre and shared multiple times is another extremely powerful link tool. As always, its the quality of the information represented and its presentation that is key and infographics are one of the most effective ways to convey complex and and detailed information qickly and concisely.
- PPC: While links through Pay Per Click advertizing may or may not enhance off page SEO, they definatley do enhance user engagement. It is important to note that PPC ads for a website, seen above the organic listing can increase the likelyhood of the user clicking on the listing by as much as 35-40 percent. This has been studied widely and is thought to come as a result of authority validation. Since the consumer see's the add, they assume that the company has a good budget to advertize. When they see the company listed highly in the organic rankings, they assume the company is highly regarded by Google and other search engines. The conclusion is that, if they are highly regarded by Google and have a good budget to advertize, they must be a legitimate company and therefore merit consideration. This is not theory. It is fact.