What is SEO?
I remember asking that question back in 2016 too.
That’s why today I’ll explain everything you’ve ever wanted to know about SEO in 2019.
Let me ask you:
Did you know that 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine?
That means that your target customers are searching for solutions to their problems. Fortunately, SEO gives you the opportunity to get in front of these potential customers.
There’s more to SEO than Google
Google is a huge player in the SEO world. Their search engine was ranked as the most visited multi-platform in the U.S., with almost 246 million unique visitors in 2018 alone.
…It’ll come as no surprise to learn they hold 92% of the search engine market share:
But while Google is a huge platform, SEO tactics can be applied on a number of different search engines-something Merriam Webster defines as:
“a site on the World Wide Web that uses such software to locate key words in other sites”.
Any website that allows users to type something into a box, and fetches a list of web pages the engine believes will be helpful to the user, is a search engine.
The act of SEO is optimizing a website to rank higher in search-but that doesn’t always mean Google should be the only platform you think about.
Why is SEO important for businesses?
There are 40,000 search queries every second on Google alone. That equates to more than 3.5 billion every single day-and a strong chance your business’ ideal customers are using search engines to find products, services or information.
1. More website traffic
A report by BrightEdge discovered over half of all website traffic comes from search engines. That’s impressive considering paid advertising accounts for 10%, and social media just 5%:
2. More revenue
81% of consumers, and 94% of B2B customers, perform online searches before making a purchase: The people you’re driving to your site through organic search could turn into paying customers. Yet to be one of the businesses who see 40% of their average revenue derive from search engines, you’ll need to have an SEO strategy in place.
3. More in-store visitors
Having a search engine presence can help to drive local customers to your store or business address. Smartphones give people the chance to browse the internet at their leisure–including the 82% of users who conduct “near me” searches when they’re looking for a service or product in their current location.
What’s included in an SEO strategy?
You’ve seen the opportunity in organic search, and decided to start optimizing your site.
But you might be left questioning which SEO techniques should you be using to reach the top of Google.
The answer isn’t a short one; over 200 different factors are known to impact how your website ranks in search engines, and each ranking factor can be built upon using several tactics.
1. Keyword research
When a user searches using words related to your business, you want to show up… Hence why keywords are the lifeblood of any SEO strategy.
You shouldn’t guess the keywords your audience are using, though.
Instead, investigate which search terms are being used by your customers, and target audience online, through doing keyword research. Then, when you’re using these on your website, Google can connect the dots. They understand the topic you’re talking about, and encourage users who’re searching for them to find your website.
That’s bound to equal more search traffic.
2. On-page SEO
You’ve found your keywords, and you want to start ranking for them.
But to reach the top of the SERPs, you don’t just sit back and pray; you need to take the findings from your keyword research and use them to optimize your page. This tells Google that your content is relevant to the phrases-and therefore, you should be ranking for it.
This form of SEO is called “on-page optimization”; a group of techniques used to maximize the chances of a single page reaching the top spots in Google.
Here’s an on-page SEO checklist you can use to optimize your page for SEO:
Meta tags: Meta tags are the first things a person sees when your page is shown in search engines. Encourage people to click through (organic CTR is a known ranking factor) by: including the page’s main keyword; using power words like “ultimate”; and explaining the value you’ll give if they click through. Tools like Yoast are on-hand to edit these tags.
URL: Avoid long and complicated URLs when publishing your content, and stick with your page’s main keyword. For example: Use /blog/what-is-SEO, rather than /SEO-b25-xbrg.html. Google consistently ranks pages with shorter, cleaner URLs higher in search because they look more trustworthy.
Page title: This field is similar to your meta title, but is visible to people when they click on the page, rather than view from SERPs. Again, you’ll want to convince people to click-through to read the content, and encourage people who have landed on the URL to read the content. This will boost time on site (also known as “dwell time”)–another ranking factor.
Heading tags: Each page on your website should follow heading hierarchy, with the page title being and subheadings using. These tell Google spiders what the page is discussing without reading the entire thing. Include your secondary keywords here to build relevance.
Body text: You should mention your page’s keyword naturally throughout the content. Various studies have proven that long-form content generates more backlinks (another ranking factor), but don’t sacrifice quantity for quantity. Always discover the search intent behind each keyword before committing to a 2,000-word article. A short, to-the-point piece of content might be more beneficial for your target audience.
Internal and external links: Adding links within your page’s content helps to improve the time people spend on your website. Plus, search engines view your website as contributing value if you’re associating it with others–hence why pages with internal links have been proven to rank higher than those without.
3. Technical SEO
Your website might be the prettiest thing in the world. But if it’s not built on good foundations, it ain’t gonna rank in search engines.
Technical SEO is the process of making sure:
- Search engines can find (and understand) your website
- Website visitors can get value from your website
Think about it: If you’re landing on a website that takes 15 seconds to load and is littered with glitchy GIFs, you won’t be impressed.
Google won’t rank you highly because of it either, purely because they want to make sure they’re referring people to websites that provide value. Otherwise, people would use a different search engine.
A technical SEO strategy covers many things, including:
Page loading speed
You open up a website and see the winding circle spinning in your browser tab. Seconds have passed and nothing loads. No content. No text. You wait and wait. And you wait some more. Then you leave because you’re fed up.
Make sure people aren’t having the same experience on your website. Not only is it massively frustrating for them, but page load speed is a ranking factor confirmed by Google themselves.
Start by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check how your load speed compares:
You can check the page speed time on the mobile version of your site here, too. A slow loading mobile page causes a 38% increase in heart rate. (That’s more stressful than watching a horror movie.)
If you’re worried your pages are slow to load, Google will recommend some tweaks. Your developer should be able to resolve these.
Did you know that 52% of all web pages served were on a mobile device in 2018?
Search engines are changing to meet this demand, with many platforms taking a mobile-first approach. They’ll look at how your website performs on mobile and determine rankings from there, as opposed to traditional desktop performance.
It’s massively important that your site is mobile-friendly, and uses a responsive design–meaning your website adapts to suit the screen size of the device it’s being viewed on.
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test will show whether your website is responsive:
Again, If you’re not tech-savvy, don’t panic. Your developers should again be able to help make your website mobile-friendly using the recommendations given by Google.
Secure site (HTTPS)
Privacy is a serious concern for internet users, your technical SEO strategy needs to prove you’re a secure and reliable website.
The easiest way to do that is through SSL certificates-a small file that encrypts information being passed through a website.
Google will show a warning on websites without a SSL certificate before loading the page:
It’s no surprise why 61% of customers would avoid purchasing if a site was missing a trust seal, such as the SSL certificate.
Why would Google want to point their searchers in the direction of an unsecure site?
How long does SEO take to work?
The great thing about SEO is that once your efforts begin to take effect, you’re essentially getting “free” traffic.
However, there is a downside: It can take a while for your SEO strategy to pay off.
In fact, only 5.7% of newly published pages rank in Google’s top 10 within a year, yet there’s no concrete calculation you can use to determine how long you’ll need to wait to see results. The average consensus rules 4-6 months as the average.
Why’s it take so long? The speed at which you see SEO results can depend on a few factors:
- The competition in your industry
- The amount of time you spend on it
- Your budget
- The history of your website
- The age of your domain
If you’re a small business, you might consider hiring an agency or an internal team to help you goals quicker. However you choose to do it, one thing’s for sure:
If you get started now, you’ll see results sooner rather than later. Do check out our SEO Services for Malaysia large and small company.