Every business loves potential client leads to hit their sales pipeline. In the current age, getting potential clients to reach the sales team through searches on Google, Bing has been among the top sources of leads for most businesses, if not all. Well, then the question is – Would listing on search engines ( Google, Bing, etc.) suffice to open the flood gates to client leads? The short answer is a straight and obvious NO. So, what more? The next leading question will help answer this:
If you were looking for a product or service, would you bother to go beyond the first page of the search engine?
We will answer this question based on research. Based on Backlinko’s analysis of over 5 million searches, below 0.8% of potential clients look beyond the 1st page of search engines, and as a positive, more than 30% click on the website if you are ranked first on search engines like google. So you can expect anywhere between 30 – 300 clicks on your website even if just 1000 potential customers search for the focussed keywords. In our experience as a reputed digital marketing agency, we would say that these numbers are realistic, possible, and achievable for your business too.
With that understanding, we now shoot for the golden question that most businesses are after – how do we get to the first page of search engines or rank at the first position on google.
The quick and short answer is SEO! Time to dive in!
What is SEO? What does SEO stand for?
Remember the last time you looked for a product or service but did not know where to find it. Here is what you would have done next: Gone to google, searched for the product you were looking for, and eventually landed up contacting and buying from among the first few results you saw on google. The reason you saw those websites was not a coincidence. It was a concentrated effort by the companies to list at the top. This effort is called SEO.
In the non-technical jargon, SEO is the steps taken to ensure your website shows up at the top of Google, Bing, and other search engines. It is the abbreviation for search engine optimization. It is an assured approach where your targeted customers come looking for you rather than the business searching for new customers. SEO is the process of convincing the search engines to list your website right at the top of their page.
While this increases the visibility of your website, you need to have the credibility to be at the top. Every step taken to achieve this credibility falls under the banner of Search Engine Optimization or SEO. There are no shortcuts, and yet the effort on SEO is worth it. The more visibility your website gains in the results, the higher the attention and attraction from possible and current customers to your business. As a leading SEO company, we have ensured 100s of our clients have made it to the top of search engines. In our blogs, we tell you just how we achieve this.
How does SEO Function?
Best to understand the basics first with how search engines work. Search engines use bots to crawl the web on various website pages, going from one site to another, gathering information from those pages. These are the spies or informers who come to your website. As a layman, you may not even be aware.
The process is not transparent unless you look up the logs or online tools to investigate when such spies or bots visited your website the last time. By the way, if you want to keep your website like a hidden treasure that would never list on the search engines, there are ways to do that too. We will cover it in our later technical or web development blogs.
The bots then take all the information they have collected and feed it back to the search engines. The search Engines will then decide which rank your website should appear in their lists ( technically known as index) based on the information the bots have collected for them. And like any other competition, may the best website win!
OK, but how do these search engines decide where the website ranks on the page ( or index). How we wish there would have been an easy answer to this. Google has treasured this secret recipe just like Coca-Cola has kept the secret of its formula for decades now. While many folks have tried interpreting and working out what leads to the top ranks on Google, we believe the closes we could get to this is the Google ranking factors. The search engines analyze the pages in the index.
They then segregate the website pages into several ranking factors. The ranking factors determine the rank websites should appear when you search for the information on a search engine. And here is when SEO experts walk into the picture. They help you tick the box on these ranking factors to ensure you are climbing the search engine ladder successfully. And our blogs tell you everything about this process.
Is it easy? Of-course yes!
Is it time-consuming? For sure!
Is it too much effort? No doubt. LOL. Our way of making a living!
With SEO strategies, there is direct effort to ensure that a website makes the top search rankings. You cannot pay the search engines to display a webpage among the highest rankings like paid ads. The quality of the content and keywords are factors for content optimization along with optimum crawling and speed.
The search engine algorithms intend to provide the most relevant, strong pages and give the users a good search experience. Improving your site and content while remembering these factors can help your website rank higher.
Why is SEO essential for Marketing?
SEO is an integral part of online marketing because there are trillions of searches conducted every year, often intending to find information about a business, product, or service. Searches are the primary source of online traffic to websites. Gaining higher visibility and ranking in the search results compared to your competition can impact your business positively.
However, the search results have improved in recent years to provide more direct answers and information. Thus, users are on the search result page instead of going to a website to find the information.
In other words, SEO is essential for a well-rounded marketing ecosystem. Once you know what the users want, you can also use that information beyond your website. This data could feed into your ads, websites, social media, and other online platforms.
Why is SEO essential?
Most internet traffic comes from organic search results. Simply put, the organic search results add up to more traffic than all the sources of traffic summed up. Search engines rank web pages to determine their rank to appear in the search results based on different factors. SEO is essential because it can help boost a website to appear higher in the results according to these factors.
What are the benefits of SEO?
Ranking high in the search results is the most sought-after benefit of SEO, but rankings are not the main benefit. Several advantages of SEO are related to traffic.
1. SEO gives more traffic to a website
Because most people tend to click one of the first few search results, ranking higher usually gives more traffic to your website. The highest-ranking page receives the most traffic, followed by the other pages.
Analysis has found that these observations are generally accurate across all online spaces, as the ranking position is strongly related to the overall traffic a page receives.
2. SEO provides consistent traffic for a longer-term
Ranking in search engines usually gives consistent and yielding traffic. Usually, this is not the case for social media and email marketing that often result in traffic increases that quickly result in nothing.
It happens because social media platforms show fresh content. Emails are often marked as read, forgotten, or end in spam. Because the number of searches performed on search engines is usually consistent from month to month, the traffic tends to be both constant and passive after you rank.
3. SEO results in free traffic
Unlike paid ads, search traffic is free of charge. Thus, the reason why ads on search engines are expensive sometimes. Of course, creating content that gets a high rank on Google or other popular search engines is not free, but it is cheaper than paying for advertisements.
Get started – First things first: How does your website get noticed on Google?
To understand this, we should take a step back. To be noticed on Google, you need a GOOD website, but most of all, you need a WEBSITE. The foundation of SEO starts here. Web development and SEO are closely linked. Ensuring your website is GOOD is the top contributor to improving your rankings in the SEO effort. So time to get started!
How to set up for SEO success
Getting your website listed by search engines means you are in the race. However, you are not guaranteed to win. Here is where SEO comes to help. SEO is an ongoing procedure that, if done well, improves your chances of winning as time goes by. Your likelihood of winning receives a boost when your website has gone through the SEO process.
Here are a few steps you will need to take:
1) Get a good domain
2) Ensure that you use a website platform
3) Use a good web host
4) Create a positive user experience for your customers
5) Create a logical structure for your website
6) Use a logical URL structure for your domain
7) Install a quality SEO plugin
8) Get a competent domain
Don’t worry if you have already registered a domain. It’s fine. But if you have not selected one yet, it’s better to keep these two pointers of a good domain name handy:
Choose an apt domain name.
Firstly, you do not need to be concerned about including your keywords. Your domain doesn’t need to be suitcasesinlondon.com for search engines to understand what your website stands for.
Here are a few aspects of a good domain – Make sure it is the name of your business. It should not have hyphens, and it should be short and memorable.
1. Use a popular and relevant TLD.
TLD is an abbreviation for top-level domain. It’s the letters after the name of your website like .com, .org, or .co.in
Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst says your TLD makes no difference for SEO. However, for most businesses, .com is generally the best if you can get it because it’s the most recognizable and trustworthy. However, if you are running a charity website, .org or your country equivalent works too. If you only do business in one country (e.g., .co.in) will be fine.
It is advisable to avoid TLDs like .info and .biz that tend to be associated with low-quality websites. However, it’s not the worst-case scenario if you have one. You can still have a good website that ranks well.
2. Use a website platform.
Many people don’t usually code their website from scratch in HTML and CSS. They use a website platform. Website platforms are software snippets that allow people with very little or no coding knowledge to create a website. They can also manage the content and technicalities without much trouble.
There are two types of website platforms:
1. Hosted platforms
Hosted platforms manage everything in one place. They host your website, give you ready-made designs that you can install and edit easily, and allow you to create and manage the content without worrying about codes.
2. Self-hosted platforms
Self-hosted platforms also allow you to manage and create content without worrying about the codes. However, here you need to host and install them yourself.
Are you wondering which kind of platform should you choose?
Most SEO experts recommend a self-hosted, open-source platform similar to WordPress because:
1. It’s customizable.
You can edit open-source code any way you prefer. A big community of developers knows the platform.
2. It’s expandable.
The platform has a large number of plugins that can extend its functionality, including many SEO plugins. Although we recommend self-hosted solutions like WordPress if you prefer the ease of use and support, a hosted platform like Wix or Squarespace could be your solution. Many popular hosted platforms provide sufficient SEO capabilities for the majority of people. Therefore, you do not need to panic about moving to WordPress if you already use a hosted platform.
3. Use a good web host.
Web hosts are the vendors who provide the space for your website on their servers. If you’re utilizing a hosted platform for your website, you do not have a lot of control over your hosting. However, if you’re using a self-hosted platform, it’s up to you to find a place to host it.
How do you select a good web host for SEO?
Most SEO guides suggest that dedicated hosting is better than shared hosting. That is only true until your website gets a lot of traffic. A low-budget hosting from a reputable company is acceptable for most people since there is not much difference in performance amongst hosts when you’re paying a little extra money per month.
However, there are a few things that matter when selecting a web host:
1. Security: Ensure that the host gives you an SSL/TLS certificate for free or supports LetsEncrypt—a nonprofit that supplies TLS certificates for free.
2. Server location: It takes time for data to travel between the server and visitor, so it’s advisable to choose a host with servers in the same country where you get most of your traffic.
3. Support, 24/7 support is ideal: You can test how good the support can be before you sign up by enquiring about the same. Don’t worry a lot about the server location. If you feel like the speed is an issue, you can consider investing in a CDN (Content Delivery Network) anytime. The CDN service creates copies of your website on servers globally so that visitors can access your pages from a nearby server.
4. Make sure the user has a positive User Experience
Google decides the ranks according to the ones that give the users a good experience. Therefore, your website should be beneficial to your users. The focus should be on a good user experience.
Here are some recommendations on how to achieve a positive user experience :
- Use HTTPS
Nothing can be worst for your visitors than their personal information being susceptible to hackers. Ensure that your site uses SSL / TLS encryption.
- Choose an attractive interface
A website that looks like it is thirty years old is not appealing. Even though there is no requirement to redesign your website frequently, it should be appealing to the eyes and relate to your brand.
- Ensure that it works on mobile browsers
According to Google, there are more searches conducted on mobile than on PCs. Therefore, your website must work well on mobile as it does on desktop.
- Use a legible font size
Since many people browse the internet using different kinds of devices, ensure the content on your website is readable.
- Avoid obstructive pop-ups and interruptive advertisements.
Nobody likes ads, but you might require them occasionally. If you do need ads and pop-ups sometimes, try and avoid the intrusive ones.
- Ensure that your page loads fast
The speed that your page loads in is a ranking factor for both desktop and mobile browsers. But that does not mean that it needs to load at the speed of light. A decent load time is good as long as it is not extremely slow. Recent studies show that’s users would not wait for more than 3 seconds for your page to load. Every second of delay would imply you are losing customers.
The above were a few 101s towards a good SEO initiation. But, the real effort is yet to begin, and it starts here:
5. Submit your website for indexing on search engines
Here is your opening your door to SEO. Just submit your website for Google indexing. SEO helps you to rank higher, but Google needs to know you exist in the first place to rank higher. Google will eventually find your website on their own, but there are a few advantages to manually submitting your site:
- Faster discovery. Most new web pages do not have backlinks from other websites, so it could take time for Google to notice them.
- Improve your website. Google Search Console gives suggestions on how to better and optimize your website.
The first thing you need to do is submit your website to Google. That is possible once you create a free Google Search Console account, where you can submit your sitemap.
Sitemaps are files that list all of the main pages on your site. You can find your sitemap by entering either of these URLs into your browser:
If you do not find your sitemap on the above URLs, you probably do not have a sitemap. Therefore, you will need to create a sitemap. Once you have the sitemap, submit it for indexing on the search console.
And here you go, you have laid out a red carpet welcome for the good bots to visit your website.
But the journey has just begun. Let’s put it this way, when there is a visitor, you need to ensure you are a good host and entertain the guest well. This experience will result in the guest going back with fond memories to talk about the experience and return expecting the same or better treatment the next time as the rapport develops more.
Nothing different for google bots. Treat them the same.
With this analogy, we could now explain SEO in a few more steps as three vast branches as below:
1. On-Page SEO: Ensuring your home is ready to welcome the guests, their first perceptions, their motivation to stay longer, and wanting to talk about the experience to others when they go back On-page SEO is closely involved with the website structure, design, user experience, and technicalities in developing the website.
2. Off-Page SEO: Society talks highly about you and refers you in the discussions most of the time. More mentions, the better is your credibility. In Off-Page SEO, the effort goes beyond your website where you are actively digitally marketing your website using references by others. These are known as backlinks.
3. Technical SEO: This is the exercise by which the guest can easily reach your home, know more about you in a glimpse. They feel comfortable interacting with you because of your introduction. The ice breaks quickly. It also helps them talk more about you when they talk to others. Thus, a strong reputation is in the making for you.
Technical SEO is the implementation of structured data to ensure that summarized details of the website are available to search engines in predefined formats. It makes it easier for the search engines to know more about your website in the simplest form. Hence, the search engines do give the sites an upper edge for structured data.
These three branches of SEO mentioned above will be covered in-depth in our focussed blogs on the topic. So do go through our other blogs and hang on tight for our latest blogs!
See you soon!