Today we are starting a journey exploring Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and its ever growing evolution.
As a business, you are offering products and services to address the needs and wants of your customers. As an individual, you have a passion for an activity or topic and enjoy talking about it with your family, friends, etc. Whether you are looking to share a personal interest or promote a business, you are a marketer of your brand. In both instances, you want to share and communicate about your passion and promote your brand to a broader audience. Fortunately, the Internet and websites have made it easy to potentially extend your reach to the global population.
Now that you have a website with great quality content, you need to let your audience know of your existence hence gaining visibility. Most of the time search engines constitute the gateway to your website and that is where Search Engine Optimization kicks in! A facet of marketing dedicated to improve your online visibility.
You can think of a search engine as a mediator between your audience and website, so you’d better understand its role and key features.
How does a search engine work ?
There are many search engines out there. Some are multi-purpose such as Google, Bing, Yahoo! or Baidu. Some are specialized for a category of contents or behavioral traits. For example, Indeed or Monster.com are offering contents about jobs and job search whereas DuckDuckGo or Qwant are focusing on privacy. No matter what their specialization is, their common objective is to organize all web contents and help users find the most relevant information to their search queries.
They are investigating for signals of :
Imagine that search engines are following a recipe, technically it is called an algorithm. For example, Google is currently using an algorithm named rankBrain. While exploring websites and gathering information, search engines are looking for ingredients of success and how you combine them in order to serve an outstanding dish to your customer, hence ranking higher. In SEO, ranking is synonym of visibility. The top 5 results on a search engine results page (SERP) funnel more than 75% of traffic, with the top 2 results weighting 50% alone.
You may not actually understand the recipe but you know the ingredients. First, you need to know and focus on your audience, providing them with quality content and enjoyable experience. Each individual search engine result or snippet is there to peak your audience interest or curiosity to start a conversation. By creating a valuable interest through the search engine results, your ultimate goal is to build a rapport. Once the rapport is established, your objective should be to convert this rapport into a relationship, primordial component toward building a community. A community is defined as a group of people sharing a common interest. Just as with any relationship, it will take time and trust.
We can distinguish two main SEO strategies :
- On-page optimization
- Off-page optimization
On-page optimization implies organizing your website in terms of structure and content using HTML code.
HTML is the language powering the Internet.
Structure encompasses titles and clues of navigation throughout your website. It includes header, footer, breadcrumbs which help the search engine to build a table of content.
Content is all unique information about your activity or business, each content has purpose. A structured text – using words and keywords – coupled with media are the building blocks of your content.
Most importantly your website needs to be organized and accessible for both your audience and search engines. Frequent updates of your contents is essential to your online presence. By updating your webpage, you not only fulfill your audience’s appetite for additional information but you also let search engines know you are active. Both work in symbiosis towards you achieving a better ranking.
Off-page optimization focuses more on your website surroundings such as building links to your website, covers activities like social media and digital PR.
Keep in mind that SEOs are constantly evolving, mimicking and adapting to users habits and behaviors. Even though quality content will remain a preponderant ingredient of success, the way you structure and display the information will need to adapt to behavioral and technological trends such as mobility (phones, tablets, wearables) and natural interfaces (voice, gesture).
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