SEO - Common strategies to attract traffic on your page
Every blogger or website owner wants to garner attention and attract prospective customers. And for this, better visibility of website pages in search results is required. SEO is the process to improve your site and increase its visibility in search engines. Most of the online traffic is navigated by these search engines. However, you can't pay these search engines to get improved or higher organic search rankings. Here SEO comes in. Even a small amount of SEO can make a sizable difference in the search engine rankings.
- What is SEO?
- Common SEO strategies
- How does SEO work?
- Elements every SEO strategy needs
- SEO harmful toxins to avoid
What is SEO?
SEO stands for "search engine optimization." Good SEO improves the quality and quantity of website traffic. It is all about getting an insight into what people are searching, and the answers they are seeking for their queries. It is important to understand the keywords people use to search queries and the type of content they wish to gobble up. Complete knowledge about all this will connect you to your audience, as you can provide the complete solution to all those queries.
Common SEO strategies
White hat SEO
White hat SEO strategies refer to those practices and techniques that put up with the search engine rules. These strategies focus on providing more value to the audience.
Black hat SEO
Black hat SEO strategies and techniques to spam or fool the search engines. The black hat SEO strategies have ethical implications. People do keyword stuffing and link scraping to rank higher in the search results. It might work for the short term but can even put websites at risk of being penalized and de-indexed.
How does SEO work?
SEO requires a lot of time, action, and patience. As a result, its results are not visible in a short time, and it takes day-to-day actions for long-term success. Various search engines use a set of rules to regulate the searched pages shown for any given query.
To determine the rankings of their SERPs, these algorithms consider numerous ranking factors. Search engines use three basic core metrics to assess the quality of a website and its ranking in search results. For SEO, it is very important to optimize each of these core components of search engine algorithms.
Creating good content targeted towards the keywords used by users for search is an important part of SEO. In addition, substantive and unique content drives the users to stay and build trust with your website.
Links from other websites are the significant off-page ranking factor used by search engines. Therefore, to improve the relevance of the search results, search engines rely heavily on link analysis.
The HTML code structuring of the web pages hugely impacts the search results. To rank higher in the search engine, incorporate relevant keywords in the title, URL, and headers of the page.
Elements every SEO strategy needs
To improve your site's organic visibility and rankings, you need to entail various SEO elements to optimize it for search results. However, all these elements work in combination towards SEO.
On-page SEO elements
On-page search ranking elements are completely under the control of the publisher. It refers to optimizing particular web pages of the website to earn more relevant traffic and rank higher in search engines. The page title or the article heading, the keywords used, and the depth of research done to write the article should be done while keeping the audience's needs in mind.
The HTML headings and anchor text should be relevant enough to give clues to search engines and the audience. Your site architecture should be smooth to assist search engine crawlers in navigating swiftly and help users find answers to their queries.
Quality content always engages, informs, and delights your audiences. So developing authentic and valuable content is most critical to increase and improve search engine visibility.
Good quality content compels the audience to stay on web pages and build trust. Therefore, it is very important to provide substantive and unique content to your audience. Google's Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines explains the high-quality content as:
- Informational content should reflect expert consensus and should be accurate and professionally presented.
- Artistic content, like videos, images, photography, and writing, should be original and unique. It should convey a high degree of skill.
- News content should be in-depth, original, well-cited, accurate investigative with a high degree of skill, time, and effort.
- Keywords Research
Good keyword research helps develop content that "answers" queries of the audience and is perhaps the most significant SEO element after good content. Keyword research provides deep insights into the audience search requirements, interests, the amount of interest, and the level of competition. After identifying the potential keywords, content marketing comes into play.
Search engines love up-to-date and fresh content. If you have aging content, immediately update it. Retire all outdated and expired pages of your website and make it more functional to your audience.
Although text content is the backbone of the internet, other formats like videos and images also provide added exposure in the search results. Adding these to the site adds an extra appeal and sets your brand apart from competitors.
It is very important to optimize multimedia and web pages to make them more visible to the search engines. For example, if you are using a video, make sure to add a transcript to it. For an image, you should make use of alt-text and captions.
- Site Architecture
Site architecture affects the searchability and usability of your site and plays a critical role in SEO effectiveness. A good site architecture makes the content easier to access and navigate. During site development, various architectural factors to take into account are:
To read web pages and compile them in the searchable index, search engines use various web crawling software, like Googlebot and Bingbot. The search engine scans its index to filter and rank all the relevant pages related to the searched query for each query. Therefore, sites with serious crawling problems will not be indexed by search engines, so they will not appear in search results.
Various issues that accidentally prevents sites from surfacing in the search results are:
- Improper internal linking
- slow page load speeds
- URL errors
- user access prompts
- blocking search engines with the no index value
To improve the search engine's crawl efficiency:
- Make use of robots.txt
- Verify that all links are working properly
- Keep clean and up-to-date HTML and XML sitemaps
Make sure that your site is mobile-friendly and users can access everything which a desktop user can. Most searches these days originate from mobile devices; search engines have implemented mobile-first indexing to respond to this growing trend. Search engines use the mobile version of the web as the primary search engine index.
Apart from this, you should consider various user experience elements, like slow loading speed and inappropriate font sizes, which are very important for mobile friendliness.
Don't forget that speed is a Google ranking factor. So faster sites have an SEO advantage. In addition, your site (both mobile and desktop versions) should load quickly to enhance user experience and improve user engagement and conversion rates. You can use Google's PageSpeed Insights to determine improvement areas of your site.
Google always recommends migrating to HTTPS servers, ensuring better security to searchers. However, when users visit non-HTTPS sites, the Google Chrome browser displays a warning and marks such pages as insecure.
To send clues to the search engines, you should use certain HTML tags.
- Titles: HTML titles are the most important HTML signals used by search engines to understand the web page's content. So the title of your site pages should convey what a page is all about. Moreover, the titles should be concise and feature the keywords you wish to rank for, and of course, without keyword stuffing.
- Descriptions: Use the meta description tag in the way you would like your pages to be described in the search listings. It is not a technical ranking element but an element of success. So a well-crafted description can tempt the audience to click your result over the others.
- Headings: Headings help you organize and mark up important parts of your content. In the HTML code, the headline is wrapped in an H1 tag. Subheadings break up the copy into sections. So always use keywords in your H1s and H2s to give search engines a fair idea about the page content. Please make sure not to spam headings with keywords; instead, use them to make your content easy for search engines to navigate.
Off-page SEO elements
The off-page ranking elements are not in the control of the publisher. It refers to steps taken outside of the website to impact search engine rankings.
Search engines evaluate status and repute, quality of backlinks, the user's geographic location, and various other factors to manifest relevant search results. So all these elements must be taken care of while optimizing the site for search.
Numerous factors establish the trustworthiness of the site among the users and search engines.
- Engagement: It is very important to induce meaningful interactions with the audience, and the aspects are quantified through engagement metrics, including bounce rate and time spent on the page. And for this quality content and user experience have a positive effect on user engagement and conversion rates. To encourage more user engagement, consider user intent and produce user-generated content, along with improving the site's internal linking.
- Reputation: It is very important to establish a reputation among your audience. So always adhere to rigorous standards for fact-checking and original reporting of the content published on your site. To set up a reputation in readers' minds and for search engines, always provide reliable and steady information.
- Link building
Links are the major off-page ranking elements on which search engines rely heavily to improve relevancy. Backlink analysis tools can be used to find new links for your website.
Value: Not all links, but links only from trusted and quality websites relevant and reputable carry more weightage.
Anchors: Anchor text is the blue-colored clickable text. It is of a different color, commonly blue, and is underlined. These anchor texts tell search engines what the associated link targets are about. Search engines consider the anchor text as the content available on the website. Some link anchor text best practices can provide a better user experience.
- Use relevant words and terms and avoid spamming keywords.
- Keep it concise.
- Use correct grammar in your anchor text.
Backlinks: Backlinks or inbound links push signals to search engines, demonstrating the quality and relevance of site content. Also, many links add up to the SEO success of the site. However, the quality of backlinks matters over quantity. It would be best to avoid spam comments, link purchases, and link exchanges with other websites. If caught resorting to any of these blackout tactics, you can be penalized by the search engines.
- User context signals
The search results produced by the search engine for a given query usually vary from user to user. However, search engines try to match the search results generated by the user search query. Some search results are displayed based on the users' location, whom they know, or how often they usually surf the web.
- Country: Search engines furnish user-relevant results. Before producing search results, search engines consider the geography, language, and culture of a region. However, if a website is deemed unrelated to a particular region or country, it is unlikely to appear in the regional settings. So to be relevant, you should work on international SEO as well. Use the hreflang attribute to indicate the language of your website. Also, use the appropriate country code top-level domain. For multiple language content, use different URLs for alternate language versions of pages. For example, you can use the hreflang tag to inform Google about the language and region variants.
- Locality: Search engines provide tailored search results to the city or area the user is currently in. For queries like "XYZ near me" or "local news," search engines provide area-specific results. So it is always recommended to add a company address to the site. For multiple locations, mention neighborhoods or cities on your site as well.
- History: Usually, search engines use the prior query to contextualize the results for the next search. Thus, they show personalized results based on the immediate context from a recent search. Therefore, to build brand loyalty, you need to improve website content and user experience to leave a meaningful first impression on users.
- User Experience: Search engines direct users to the most relevant results and the pages to have a positive experience. So it is very significant to make it intuitive for your visitors and enhance the user experience. It encompasses everything, including site navigation, content quality, site speed, and more.
- Intent: Unlike keywords, intent goes beyond what is displayed in the search box. There are various ways to express the same intent. Search engines don't rely only on keywords to do the matching. Instead, they try to determine the user's intent with the query and try to match the intent.
SEO harmful toxins to avoid
Use of unfair SEO techniques to manipulate search engine ranking signals to gain an unfair advantage sometimes rebound. These are toxins for your site ranking and can even result in receiving a ranking penalty or even getting completely prohibited from the search results. So it is always better to stay far away from such tactics.
Cloaking is like playing with the search engine. This is an attempt to manipulate search results in a targeted way. Search engine crawlers are shown something different than what is presented to users. So the users end visiting irrelevant or harmful pages. Cloaking is against Google guidelines, and if caught, you can be penalized.
Keyword stuffing is inserting keywords more often than natural. It can also get you penalized. So never use keywords unnecessarily in headings, copy, footers, and anywhere else to improve rankings.
Ripping off someone else's intellectual property and presenting it off as your own is illegal and bad for SEO. Plagiarized or illegal content can get you removed permanently from search results.
Few site owners try to hide the text, stuffed with keywords, by matching the font color to the background, decreasing the font size to zero or positioning text off-screen, and many more. Nevertheless, it is a violation of Google's Webmaster Guidelines, and you can get penalized.
The ultimate objective of SEO efforts is to get more traffic for your site's content. We hope that this guide will assist you in becoming more data-driven in your SEO efforts. Remember, SEO is one of the only online marketing channels that pay dividends over time. Even search engines also want you to succeed. You can go through the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide by Google for more details.
About the author
Dennis Hoinkis has been working as a web developer and in online marketing since 1998. After building up a marketing agency and the exit in 2013, he consulted international groups as a freelance consultant. Since 2020, he and his team now offer staffing services in this field.
Dennis Hoinkis CEO, FSOM Group Corp.