A needle in a haystack.
That’s your website on the internet.
With 5.6 billion searches processed by Google every day and the fierce competition consisting of approximately 400 million active websites, you can’t expect your target audience will just stumble upon your little corner on the World Wide Web and discover all the useful and relevant content that you’re persistently posting.
So, your chances of generating traffic are slim, at best.
Or, let me quote Frasier and say that Abe Lincoln had a brighter future when he picked up his tickets at the box office.
But, luckily for you, you’ve got SEO at your disposal to help boost your visibility and get noticed.
This three-letter word might not mean much to you, but it’s the secret sauce that will propel your website towards the heights of search engine results and bring you your much-needed visitors.
What Is SEO?
The acronym stands for search engine optimisation, that is, a practice which enables you to generate traffic from what is known as organic or natural searches.
This organic traffic is actually the traffic that you don’t have to use paid ads to attract – you do it organically. Naturally. Without any effort, or so many wrongly believe.
In other words, if your website is optimised for search engines, you can expect that it will experience an increase in both the quantity and quality of its traffic.
Quality traffic refers to the visitors of your website who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
When we’re talking about the quantity of traffic, it’s the total number of visitors who come to your website, and if they haven’t ended up there by pure chance, then the more the merrier rule applies.
An increase in traffic will even catch Google’s eye and signal that something good is going on there.
It’s worth noting that you won’t benefit much if your website gets a lot of unqualified visitors who don’t find what they’re looking for and bounce off right away.
Quite the opposite, it can hurt your website’s reputation with Google.
When your target audience wants to find a particular piece of information on the internet, Google scans billions of websites in order to offer them the best and most relevant result.
For your website to appear among the top results, it needs to offer content which search engines perceive as useful, relevant, and helpful.
Sidenote: content is everything that appears on the page, not just blog posts and not just words.
A single stat saying that the results on the first page of Google manage to snatch at least 75% of all clicks speaks volume about the importance of having an effective SEO strategy in place.
The first step in getting things right is doing an SEO audit which will tell you what kinds of improvements your website needs in order to rank higher.
The Science Behind SEO
Even if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, you’ve most probably heard of Google’s algorithm.
This complex and elaborate system of mathematical calculations is designed to collect, analyse, and organise massive amounts of data from all websites into a constantly updated database.
This ML- and AI-powered algorithm then ranks all these entries based on their relevance for a particular query.
Now, as if all of this wasn’t already too complicated, the search engine giant is extremely tight-lipped and secretive when it comes to all the ranking factors its advanced algorithm uses in order to deliver the most relevant and precise results.
If we add in the fact that there’s a major algorithm update almost every year which shakes the SEO world to the core, as well as numerous minor updates and adjustments, it’s clear that you need to step up a notch in order to stay on top of things (and Google search results pages).
Still, we do have some basic guidelines regarding how this algorithm works and what factors it uses to rank web pages.
Let’s discuss some of them, so you can hopefully get a firmer grasp of what it means to work with SEO.
Still going strong, content will sit on its iron throne for years to come.
When people come to your website, they expect to find the information they need and learn something new. High-quality content is relevant because it offers a solution to your target audiences’ pain points.
That means you need to produce informative, educational, and entertaining content if you want your visitors to come back.
To accentuate the relevance of your content, it’s important to enrich it with relevant keywords which are one of the building blocks of SEO. They help Google’s spiders scan your content and index it, thus allowing the search engine to assess whether your blog post or product page is useful and relevant to a particular search query.
But, before you start writing your content, first do your research and identify your target users’ search intent. This piece of information available in your Google Search Console will provide an insight into what people search for and click on to get to your website.
As for the length of your content, it has been established that longer pieces rank significantly better on Google’s first page – the word count of the average first-page article is 1,890 words.
There’s a high probability that you’re reading this article on your mobile device.
If you look around, you’ll see that people are practically glued to their smartphones, browsing the internet, watching videos, reading e-books, and doing all sorts of things, which means that you should adjust your website so that it’s easily accessible from any device.
Besides the fact that your visitors will be thankful for allowing them to view and interact with your content without having to pinch, zoom, and perform different kinds of manoeuvres, Google will also reward this with a higher ranking.
Namely, in mid-2018, mobile-first indexing was rolled out in its entirety, which means that the mobile version of your website will now mainly be used for ranking and indexing purposes.
Therefore, if your website has only a default, desktop version, your rankings will suffer.
Let’s face it – advanced technology has spoiled us.
The same goes for your potential users who absolutely have no intention of waiting for a sluggish website to load.
Basically, if your website isn’t fast, they’ll be furious.
You’ve got 2-3 seconds for this tops, or else!
SEO uses different tactics to optimise your website and speed it up.
However, if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, 40% of your visitors will bounce off never to return again, and you can bet that Google keeps track of this and puts you either in its black or good books, depending on your scores.
HTTPS Is a Must
In an age when data privacy and data security are of paramount importance, all websites (except for Facebook, apparently) have to make sure that their visitors’ sensitive information is protected from theft.
Google champions this approach by insisting on adhering to the HTTPS protocol.
Although it doesn’t have an officially recognised ranking impact, the very idea that your visitors will be notified that they’re practically entering your website at their own risk will certainly cause them to click off. Which will in turn hurt your rankings.
Needless to say, if you’re running an online commerce website and collect sensitive data such as credit card numbers, not migrating to HTTPS paired with SSL can hit your bottom line hard.
UX plays an important role in SEO.
Google’s RankBrain algorithm has been introduced with the idea to measure whether your users are satisfied with your content and the overall experience on your website.
With metrics such as dwell time, pages per session, organic click-through rates and bounce rate, this algorithm intelligently concludes how much your visitors enjoy browsing and scrolling through your website.
UX is the third most important factor in terms of assessing the SEO value of your website, so make sure that your audience is happy and engaged.
Website Architecture and Elements
On-page SEO deals with polishing the different behind-the-scenes and under-the-hood elements of your website and improving its performance.
For example, your internal linking structure is essential when it comes to providing your visitors with all the relevant information on the topic they want to learn more about – these links redirect them to different articles on your website that discuss the topic in more detail or to the pages where they can purchase one of your products or services.
It also helps Google’s crawlers access and search through your website more easily. So, your internal links build a roadmap around specific topics.
Metadata is another notable factor and its purpose is to provide digested and easily understandable information about your website in the search results.
Meta descriptions and title tags can be a make-it-or-break-it factor for attracting traffic, because with their help (or the lack thereof), your potential visitors and Google decide whether a particular web page is worth entering.
Your website will greatly benefit if you manage to score backlinks from authoritative sources.
This mechanism has been designed to help your website build credibility and trustworthiness, as these other relevant sources in a way vouch that your content is of high quality.
That’s why link building is one of the most important SEO strategies.
On the other hand, if you rely on low-quality, shady sources, your online reputation might be tarnished, so it’s essential to make sure that you find only the best websites which will host your links and send quality traffic your way.
SEO uses different methods to achieve this, and guest posting and teaming up with influencers from your industry are some of the most effective ones.
As we have established, your website (and your business) needs traffic in order to survive.
Given that this whole market is highly competitive, you have to use different strategies to cut through the noise and put your website in front of your target audiences’ eyes, and SEO has the power to convince both users and Google’s robots that your website is packed with relevant and useful content.
Besides, organic search is usually the main source of website traffic, and you should leverage its potential for the growth of your website.
SEO is a long-term strategy and it has to be done properly to bring in the desired results. Instead of tinkering about your website and resorting to a DIY approach, it’s much better to contact us at Cube Digital and let our SEO specialists take care of it. We can help you come up with the best strategy to improve rankings, traffic, and your bottom line.