Poster Child of Digital Marketing
It’s almost impossible to have a conversation about digital marketing without mentioning SEO, the current poster-child of digital marketing. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is used to increase the visibility of websites and spike traffic by improving site content in order to rank higher in search engine user queries.
Search Engine Optimization
Put into the simplest terms possible, search engine optimization serves the purpose of communicating with search engines so that they can match website content with relevant queries. Understanding SEO and what it does requires understanding SEO’s five main components: content, keywords, linking, social media and strategy.
Optimizing a website to increase traffic means that generating high quality content is essential. There are two important components involved with generating great content: content relevance and quality. Search engines are becoming more and more sophisticated in the way they qualify content that appears as a result of users’ search queries. Providing relevant content will establish credibility on the part of the site generating content and will reflect the expertise of the brand or author. In addition, it will also improve the verifiability of content on a site that search engines will be more likely to present in query results. This in turn has a higher probability of generating increased traffic. Producing high quality content is another way to strengthen the possibility of increased traffic through search queries by establishing the authority of the brand or content author. For successful SEO results, it is essential to master high quality writing, site design, layout, organization, and association. Once a site is able to establish a solid content blend of relevance and high quality, chances of achieving SEO success are greatly enhanced.
Most of the research I reviewed shared similar opinions on the importance of main elements in successful search engine optimization. Keywords, however, is the one area that produced conflicting opinions among experts. Many think using keywords is the absolute best thing invented since buttered bread. Others feel using keywords can actually damage a site’s optimization chances by overusing certain phrases, causing their ranking to decrease in search engines. Here’s what I’ve learned: Keywords are a must, but should be used wisely. Search engines pull keywords and phrases from site content to match results with relevant search queries.
For example: Suppose Samsung talked about their tablets on their website without calling them tablets, instead describing them as “flat, light, keyboard-less computers”. Users looking for tablets would enter search queries with keywords such as tablet, pad or touchpad. Search results would effectively exclude Samsung’s website due to the lack of content relevancy, quality and product understanding.
Without relevant keywords to pull from, a search engine will exclude a site from search results. Most search engines will reduce the ranking of a site that uses repetitive content because they consider it as less relevant and low quality. Thus it is important to use keywords and phrases wisely to avoid repetition and increase content quality as much as possible.
There are two kinds of links to consider in SEO: paid and unpaid. Paid links should be avoided as much as possible, and can even qualify a site for exclusion by some search engines. Advertising, anchor text, and even press releases
can be considered forms of paid linking. Unpaid links are much more valuable for search engine optimization and can help demonstrate the quality of a site’s content. These types of links are generated by external users that believe there is a benefit to be gained from the site and are often referred to as backlinks. Backlinks are possibly the most valuable asset to successful search engine optimization. The most backlinks a site has, the more verified, trustworthy and respected a site appears to search engines. According to Google, popularity and relevance are two of the most important aspects of SEO, so the more backlinks you have the better.
Social media’s role in the SEO picture combines the elements of content, keywords, and linking.
For example: Google’s search engine creates an index of web pages based on content that matches search queries and then chooses the most relevant content to appear in results based on ranking. The index creation begins with what is known as the crawl process where Google bots find relevant content by “crawling” through billions of webpages, filtering out unqualified leads. This process includes scouring social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Relevant content is partially determined by the number of backlinks leading to the original site as well as shares, retweets, endorsements, and other forms of social content verification.
The more shares and backlinks found through social media the better than chance for higher ranking by the search engine. Social media’s SEO effectiveness can be summed up with three terms: the popularity, relevance, and credibility of the site’s content.
Search engine optimization strategy is the most straightforward of SEO’s five main components. It requires combining all the prior elements into one cohesive approach that will enhance the optimization of the site. Individually each component can help increase a site’s traffic, but as a whole they operate most effectively. Generating great content will establish credibility, but when supported by relevant keywords, earned links, and social platforms will lead to higher search engine rankings which increases traffic, visibility and SEO success.
Scratching the Surface
Search engine optimization is far more complicated than I realized and a more thorough understanding will require more work on my part. This post barely scratched the surface of SEO, so rest assured there will definitely be related posts down the road. Everyone uses search engines to some extent so learning about SEO is not only informative and relatable, it can also be fun.