Search Engine Optimization
The Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Marketing
In a nutshell, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the use of strategies for attracting targeted users from search engines to your business website. In this guide, you’ll learn exactly why you should care about SEO and marketing, how to do it well, and how to track your progress. If you need the best SEO Thailand has to offer, contact us today.
Do I need Search Engine Optimization?
Really? Who Doesn’t?
The short answer is yes, you do need search engine optimization. Search engines are the biggest source of traffic out there. In terms of traffic generators, at the top of the list is Google with 60% of the traffic generated. Then comes Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo, and Bing. Four out of those top five generators are search engines. Ultimately, search engines provide 70.6% of the internet’s traffic. If you don’t put effort into attracting search engine traffic with ranking factors, you’re missing out on the biggest generator of the internet.
Still unsure? Here’s an example.
Let’s pretend your business sells pet toys and you specialize in toys for small dogs. When you type in “pet toys” on Google, there are over 3 billion search results. But, the company that’s listed first on the results page will get most of the clicks instead of the other 3 billion. Why? Because users want the fastest and most convenient answer to their query. The top website on the search results page is both and has the best ranking.
How much traffic is that site getting and what’s it worth? Well, an advertiser might spend $1 per ad click for the term “pet toys” on Google. If 30 000 users search “pet toys” per month, that traffic is worth $30 000. And, that’s only one search phrase. You could also rank for similar phrases like “pet toys for small dogs” and “dog toys.”
In different industries, an advertiser might spend way more than $1 per click. In the auto insurance and services industry, for example, they might spend more than $45 per click. You can see, the value of search engine traffic is enormous. If you don’t compete for it with search engine optimization strategies, you’re going to miss out.
What’s the Difference Between Paid and Organic Results?
The search engine results page displays two different types of results, organic and paid. The organic results are natural and based on merit, or ranking factors. There are hundreds of different factors Google will base your ranking on, some of which are authority, trustworthiness, and relevance. You can’t pay Google to rank higher in organic search results. Search Engine Optimization generally refers to the strategies that improve your organic search rankings.
The other type of results is paid. These take the first few spots at the top of the results page and will have the word “Ad” enclosed in a box beside them. Sometimes, they’ll be at the bottom of the page below the organic results. These results have nothing to do with organic traffic. Instead, they’re ranked on how much the advertiser was willing to spend or bid on a particular set of keywords. This is also known as Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.
How Do Search Engines Work?
You’ve likely used search engines thousands of times without even realizing the complex system you were engaging with. When you enter a query in a search engine, it uses an algorithm to show you the best results. To find you the best results, it uses robots to index billions of pages looking for an ever-changing set of criteria. This set of criteria isn’t publicly confirmed, but it has become public understanding that they improve your ranking when you do them well.
The first is relevancy.
If you search for terms like, “wedding venues in New York,” you expect to see listings about wedding venues in New York. You wouldn’t want to see pages about Halloween, for example. Your keywords, “wedding venues in New York” are Google’s first qualifier for your results. It wants to populate the results page with web pages that effectively and naturally use those keyword terms. But, it can’t rank pages on relevancy alone. There are thousands of websites that use those exact keywords. That’s why relevancy is the first criteria, but not the only important criteria.
The second is authority.
To Google, authority means being trustworthy and accurate. To know if a page is authoritative, Google considers the number of other pages on the internet that link to that page. These are called backlinks. To prove your authority, you want to have lots of backlinks by having a link building strategy.
The third criteria usefulness.
So, your web page is relevant and authoritative. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be useful for the user. Google makes a strong distinction between useful content and top-notch content. What’s the difference? Well, a page that was written by an expert and has tons of backlinks could still be disorganized and use jargon terms that the everyday person wouldn’t understand. That means it’s less usable than a site written by an average person with typical language and highly organized content. This average person divides their content into sections with subheadings so the searcher can easily scan the content to find what they need. Their page will have higher search engine rankings for usability than the page written by the expert.
To measure usefulness, Google created “User Experience (UX) Signals.” These are signals that show Google that users like a page a lot. Strong UX Signals lead to high ranking on the search results page.
So, how do I take all that information and improve my website’s ranking and online presence? Focus on creating a website and brand that users LOVE. And, keep reading this guide for concrete marketing action steps.
The Keyword Customer Connection
Become The ANSWERS!
There are two crucial first steps to effective Search Engine Optimization: customer research and keyword research. The two go hand in hand. You need to find out who your target customer is and what they’re searching for on Google to improve your rankings.
You should already have an idea of who your target customers are, especially if you have an online business. For SEO purposes, you want to dive deeper into who they are by creating “Customer Personas.” These are the opposite of robots. Picture the image of this customer persona:
Dave is a white male between the ages of 37 and 59. He makes approximately $50 000 to $150 000 per year and enjoys playing basketball, the Celtics, and spending time with his kids. Dave wishes he had more free time to hang out with his kids and to exercise. One day, his goal is for his children to play professional basketball.
Your website needs to have content that your target customer wants to read, not just products they might buy. Knowing more about them gives you more information on what kind of content to create and what kind of marketing to plan. HubSpot has an awesome tool for understanding your target customer. It’s called the Make My Persona tool. At the end of the process, you get a complete and detailed persona to use in your search engine marketing.
Once you know your customer personas, you can research the phrases and words they search for products with. There are two main types of keywords. There are keywords people use to find products and services (Product Keywords), and there are keywords people use when they’re not specifically looking for products or services (Informational Keywords). Local keywords can fall into both categories.
Here are some examples of Product Keywords: productivity software, sales coach, winter tire covers, note-taking app.
Here are some examples of Informational Keywords: productivity tips, how to be more confident, invoice template, where to store winter tires.
So, if you’re a business that sells basketball shoes, you’ll have keywords for both types. Your Product Keywords might include “basketball shoes for flat feet” or “Michael Jordan basketball shoes.” Your Informational Keywords might include “How to nail a free throw every time” or “basketball shoes maintenance.” You want to use both types of keywords in your web page content because your target customer could be using both. If you sell to local customers only, you should also include local keywords, like your city’s name.
There are some super useful online tools when it comes to local and non-local keyword research and content marketing. The first is to use Google’s own, Google Autocomplete. When you go to type something in the Google search bar, you’ll notice a drop-down menu the second you start typing. These are autocomplete options that Google’s robots are guessing you might be searching for. Why does Google think you might be searching for one of those things? Because those options are also popular keywords and phrases. Other major search engines will have similar tools and similar robots.
You should also make use of the free online tool, Answer the Public, for finding Informational Keywords. Simply enter the topic your website and business relate to. For example, “winter tires.” Then, you’ll get a massive list of questions surrounding that topic. Like, “are winter tires worth it?”, “can winter tires be used in the summer?”, or “how long do winter tires last?” These questions are amazing suggestions for blog posts or videos which you can then promote on social media.
The last tool you should use is one specifically for keyword research. There are tons out there online, some free and some paid. These tools will show you how many people search for a specific keyword and how hard it would be to rank well on Google for that keyword. They work for local and non-local keywords. You can numerical data on the strength and weaknesses of each keyword. This is incredibly beneficial when planning your SEO strategies. Some popular online keyword research tools are SEMRush, Moz Keyword Explorer, and Seed Keywords. Of course, the most well-known keyword research tool is Google’s Keyword Planner. It was originally created for keyword research for Google Ads, but it’s still super helpful for SEO.
Start by entering a product or information keyword into the search bar. You’ll be shown a page populated by all the data on that phrase or word. You’ll see the volume range, competition, and a group of related keywords. For the purposes of SEO, use the volume range to see which keywords are searched the most and which rarely get searched.
Now, it’s time to incorporate long-tail keywords into your research. These are key phrases your target customer might search with instead of singular words. They’re less competitive than single word phrases. For example, the keyword “t-shirts” is massively competitive whereas a four-word phrase like “Yellow American Eagle t-shirts” is less competitive. Until you feel more confident in your search engine optimisation abilities, stick with less competitive keywords like long-tails.
How to Create SEO-Friendly Content (with Examples)
As you likely know, content is the meat of your site. Content marketing is the farmer. It’s the blog posts, copy, videos, social media posts, guides, downloads, service list, and more. It includes your online presence and your link building tactics. Your content must be SEO-friendly for your site to rank well and be efficient for marketing. Here’s how you can create SEO-friendly content.
Product and Service Pages
In terms of marketing your offerings, this content needs to be high-quality and easy to skim. There should be an image for each offering with meta tags for each page. You don’t need to be a Google webmaster to do this well. It should be easy to browse, so avoid using long blocks of text. The goal of these pages is to convert casual visitors into customers. You should focus on the value you offer and what you sell. An example of a strong product or service page is Baremetrics’ home page. It isn’t written in blog post form and it’s easy to navigate. The products are clear and outlined. It has excellent SEO, strong meta tags, and is primed for link building.
You may be wondering if you even need a blog these days. No one reads blogs anymore! You’re right, most people don’t sit down to read long posts from their favorite blogger anymore. But, we all use blog posts when we’re searching for information, especially local information. Your blog is where you can answer those popular questions on Ask the Public. You can teach customers how to use your product, give demos, share news, and more. According to HubSpot, websites that post blogs on a regular basis enjoy 35% more traffic than others.
You need to be posting high-quality, great experience, usable content with meta tags on a regular basis. These are all important elements of strong SEO.
Examples of High-Quality Content
The days of blogging in the form of journaling are long gone. Today, it’s all about providing fast and reliable value. One way of doing this is writing posts in the form of Complete Lists. These are lists that include tips, items, recipes, methods, etc. It’s a comprehensive list that your customers would enjoy because it’s all in one place. You could cite 20 different sources in one post, or 20 different local places in one city. These posts often do well on major search engines and are easy to promote on social media.
Another example of high-quality content is How-To Guides. Step-by-step instructions are amazing for providing value and SEO. Why? Because when you want to learn how to do something, you don’t want to visit three different sites. You want one, reliable, concise site that walks you through the process easily. It’s all about the experience. Divide the guide into different steps and subheadings with a table of contents at the top so users (and robots) can skip to the step they need. How convenient is that?!
It’s recommended that you also post Content with Data. That means including statistics, studies, and reliable facts. This makes your page, and information, more authoritative which leads to better link building. Make sure you put these data points in your marketing materials as well, especially in local marketing plans. There’s much more to it than just using numbers, but for beginners, that’s a good place to start.
Did you know that Visual Content is the ideal form of content for getting backlinks? Visual content includes infographics, videos, charts, screenshots, etc. It’s been proven that robots and most people appreciate visual elements, not just text. Visuals often get the point across faster than a long block of text does.
What is on page SEO?
Play By The Rules
When Google’s robots crawl your site to see if it’s worth showing, it looks at certain elements on your pages. When you optimize these elements, it’s called On-Page SEO. Specifically, On-Page SEO includes naturally dispersing keywords and terms in your content, title tag, H1 tags, URL, and alt-text for images. Google sees the keyword in all these places and concludes that the topic of the page does, in fact, match that keyword.
To ensure your On-Page SEO is up to par and follows the guidelines, there are some things you need to do off the bat. First is installing the Yoast plugin to your backend if your site runs on WordPress. Yoast makes On-Page SEO super easy by telling you exactly what to do. It gives you forms to fill out with the SEO Title, Meta Description, tags, and more. It helps optimize individual pages with those features as well as your overall website.
It’s crucial you use your keyword in your title tag. Your title tag sums up what your page is about. More importantly, it tells Google what your page is about. Less important than your title tag is your meta description, but it still has some impact on rankings. It can describe the local region you’re targeting. Although Google doesn’t pay much attention to descriptions, users do. When they’re scanning the results page for a result to choose, they’ll read the descriptions to see which one suits their needs best. Be clear, concise, and enticing in your meta descriptions. And, use your main, local keyword in it. Google will bolden your keyword to help it stand out more.
Then, make sure you use your keywords in your content. There’s no hard and fast rule about how many times to use it. But, the guidelines do suggest not overdoing it. Keyword stuffing is when you’re obviously using a keyword too much in order to manipulate Google. That’s against the guidelines and you will get penalized for that by Google and receive a lower ranking. In general, the longer the content, the more times you can use the keyword. Using your keyword as few as six times in a 3000-word blog post is enough to get the topic across to Google.
Remember that you don’t always have to use your exact keyword and phrases. You can switch up the variation of words and add in other words. For example, if your keyword is “link building tools” you could also use variations like “outreach tools” and “backlink strategies.” Or, add a local keyword to it. These are called LSI keywords. An easy way to find new variations is to use the Google Autocomplete tool.
Your images are also primed for search optimization engine and make excellent content for marketing. Search engines tend to have difficulty understanding what an image is. If you’ve ever used Google Images, you’ve likely noticed an image or two that is completely unrelated to what you searched. For your image to contribute to strong SEO, use their filename and alt text to explain what they are. This is especially important if your website has a lot of photos on it. When you’re building the file name for the image, make it descriptive and clear. For example, the filename “boost-web-traffic-seo-guide” could be for an image of an infographic on boosting your traffic through SEO. Then, write the alt text to describe the image’s colors and size in html.
The most important aspect of On-Page SEO is User Experience (UX). Even if all the other factors are perfectly executed, you won’t rank well without amazing UX. It even matters in your content marketing. If your site is complicated and hard to use, people won’t stay on it for very long or share it.
The final On-Page SEO factor you need to consider is the quality of your content. It was discussed earlier in this article that top-notch content isn’t the same as usable content. This is very true when it comes to On-Page SEO. Yes, it needs to be detailed, authoritative, and trustworthy. But, it also must be comprehendible for the average person and set up in a logical way. That means using clear steps and instructions if it’s a guide.
What is Technical SEO?
If you’re not a very technical person, don’t worry. You can still manage to search engine optimize technically without being a computer genius. Technical SEO is the strategies that help Google easily index your web pages. It uses things like page speed and mobile optimization. For most business owners, technical SEO isn’t a huge concern to worry about. If you run your website on WordPress, it’s especially non-concerning. You don’t need to monitor it, but you should have an idea of what your Technical SEO needs to be like.
You can do this by verifying your website on Google Search Console. This site shows you how healthy your webpages are in terms of performance. Verify that you are the owner of your website on Google Search Console. From there, you’ll be able to see the analytics of your site. You’ll see how many people saw your site and clicked it from Google. You can also see how many pages of yours got indexed or didn’t. This can tell you how effective your local and non-local marketing has been.
Another aspect of Technical SEO is your domain and URL structures. You want your URLs and your domain to be as clear and logical as possible. Every URL across your site should be structured and organized the same way. This helps users navigate your site. For example, all your pages that relate to hockey jerseys would have URLs that start with “yourwebsite.com/hockeyjerseys/boston-bruins”. Put one target keyword in your URLs, but no more than that. You want to avoid getting dinged for keyword stuffing. In general, building shorter URLs is better. If you read this and want to go update all your URLs, make sure you use 301 redirects to direct the pages to the new URLs.
Did you know that page speed is incredibly important to users? Think about it, are you going to wait for a site to load for 60 seconds when another one will likely load in 2? No way! Speed is important for SEO and marketing. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insight to see if your web pages are up to par. It’ll give you a speed score between 1 and 100 as well as some ways to boost your speed and your pagerank.
The next element of Technical SEO is securing your site with HTTPS. When you click on a site that isn’t secured, you’ll receive a Google warning that the page you’re about to enter isn’t secure. Secure your pages as soon as you can. If doing so affects your URLs, make sure you redirect as well. This factor won’t increase your SEO pagerank a ton, but it does have the potential to move your brand up one spot.
Site Architecture and Internal Links are other elements of Technical SEO. Architecture refers to how your set it set up and its navigation. You need to create an organized structure that puts your web pages into different categories. One way to do this is with a xml sitemap which lists all your site’s URLs. Then, link to high-priority pages within your site. This is called Internal Linking. When you link to internal pages, use anchor text that is keyword rich. The anchor text should explain briefly what the internal link will be about.
Another nice-to-have but not-necessary feature of SEO is Mobile Optimization. This means that users who come to your site from a mobile device still have a good experience. Sometimes, on sites that aren’t mobile optimized, the user finds long walls of text, buttons that are too small, and pages that never load. If your site doesn’t load well on mobile, Google will consider your desktop site slow as well which affects your local and non-local pagerank as well as your marketing. In Search Console, you can see if your site has mobile usability problems. If you find that your pages aren’t mobile optimized, that should be one of the first things you tackle.
One of the coolest tools for business owners to use is Google Analytics. It allows you to track your organic traffic over days, weeks, months, and years. It’ll show you which pages are drawing the most traffic, and which are bringing you down, so you know which to improve. Plus, it shows how users engage with your site through clicks, page views, and bounce rates. It’s basically an SEO/marketing mega-tool.
The basics of link building optimization
Pass the Juices
Ideally, you’ll have other authoritative sites linking to your site. This is an Off-Page SEO strategy called link building that boosts your authority and marketing ROI. Having lots of high-quality backlinks is often necessary for page-one Google ranking. Here’s what you need to know about this universal SEO tactic.
There are different types of links with different levels of quality. Links from authoritative sites will help you rank higher than a link from a low-authority site. You can measure a site’s authority through Domain Authority and Page Authority. With Domain Authority, you’re not looking at individual pages. It’s the website’s overall authority whereas Page Authority refers to a specific page. Of course, getting links from high-authority sites proves very challenging. On top of that, you want authoritative sites that are also relevant to your industry. However, relevant doesn’t have to mean they’re in the same niche as you. You could be a furniture maker and get linked to by an interior design website. Furniture making and interior design are still related enough to be good for SEO and marketing.
How you get those backlinks matters almost as much as their search engine optimization quality. You may have heard of Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO. Black Hat SEO refers to the shady, unethical ways to garner links (among other SEO activities) that you should avoid. Back in the day, Black Hat worked well. But today, Google penalizes these sites by not showing them in the search results. So, what constitutes Black and White? Black Hat includes paying for a backlink to your site instead of the site genuinely wanting to link to you.
Now that you know what to avoid, here are some White Hat SEO techniques to consider trying. The first is The Skyscraper Technique which is straightforward and easy to start with. Guest Posting is another link building White Hat method when done ethically. This is when you write content for another website and include a link back to your own. You might be an expert on trees and a landscaping company wants you to write an expert article on the subject. In return, you’ll get to cite where readers can find out more. However, guest posting gets dodgy when you start writing on sites that aren’t relevant to your niche. To stay out of hot water with Google, make sure you use your brand name as the anchor text when you link to your own site and keep backlinks from guest posting under 5% of your linking profile.
The pages on your site that others link to are called Linkable Assets. These aren’t just regular high-quality SEO blogs. They’re often free tools, visual resources, eye-catching articles, studies, and curated lists. Regardless of which type, make sure there are lots of images and visuals. Part of your blogging strategy should be writing content with the goal of getting backlinks and link building.
What is Search Intent?
How Your Customer Searches
The reason you open Google and start typing is your Search Intent. Sometimes called User Intent, it varies from search to search. Some searches are Informational (“How many calories are in a steak”), Navigational (“LinkedIn login”), Commercial (“Nintendo 64 games”), or Transactional (“flights London to Paris”). You need to know your users’ Search Intent to succeed with SEO.
To do this, better align your content with their reasons for searching. You could start by browsing the first page results that are currently beating you. Perhaps the page one results all include lists with over 20 resources and your low-ranking page only has 5. Making small changes to a page based on what your competitors are doing and what users want will help your search engine rankings.
Google knows if a page matches User Intent by monitoring search signals. They might notice that users keep passing over your result or that your content is irrelevant for the keywords. Or they’ll see that users click your result and then quickly return to the results page to pick a different site. Then, they’ll down rank you.
To improve your search signals for User Intent, get to the point. Avoid wordy introductions and state what you’ll be talking about in the first sentence. Use images along with text, especially in long-form blog posts. Make sure you have both internal and external links to lead people to pages where they can find new, but related, information. Speed up your pages to lower your bounce rate and appeal to the search engine.
Optimization Search Engine Trends to Look Out For
2020 Here we Come!
Once you feel comfortable with all the steps mentioned so far, you can move on to this more advanced section on engine search optimization and marketing. Upcoming trends show you how you’re going to need to pivot or change your current strategies.
The first is called Schema Markup. While it doesn’t directly impact your search engine rankings, it can increase your organic click-through-rate (CTR). You can add Schema Markup (like rating stars next to your google s search result) through the Structured Data in your website’s html.
The second trend to look out for is called EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness). Google only cares about serving its users well. To do that better, it only wants to show users sites that are EAT-approved. You can improve your EAT rating by hiring experts in your field to create content and ensure it’s high-quality.
The third emerging trend is Voice Search. More and more people are using their Smart Home devices to search for things verbally. They’ll say, “Alexa, where is the nearest buffet?” and Alexa will use Google’s search results to answer. Since 1 in 5 mobile searches are also voice searches, it’s crucial you optimize for it.
The fourth trend should come as no surprise. It’s the presence of YouTube as a search engine. That means you might want to consider optimizing not only for Google and other major search engines, but also for YouTube. Yes, the search engine optimization strategies mentioned here will also work on YouTube. You might even consider creating video content to capitalize on the growing platform.
Ready to get started with Search Engine Optimization?
Scale and Grow!
Search engines have revolutionized the ways we brand, market, and promote our businesses. They allow us to get into our customers’ minds and tailor our content to exactly what they want. Google and other search engines have been an integral part of improving the searcher’s experience online. Some key takaways from this guide are to use a blend of SEO strategies, not one over the other. Keywords are very important, as is your website’s usability. Use the tools mentioned above, like the Moz keyword research tool for example, to practice your skills. If search engine optimization is intimidating for you, hopefully the information in this guide has helped.
Your business needs to be taking advantage of Google’s immense access to potential clients and leads. Relying on organic traffic isn’t a long-term solution if you want to really scale and grow your brand. Get started with search engine optimization campaigns. Remember, your first campaigns might not be as effective as you expect and it’ll show in your rankings. It takes time to learn the optimization process and modify your search strategies based on the data in your analytics. Use the information above to get started.