2015 Search Engine Optimization Guide

There are two major kinds of search engine marketing that you will see in this guide: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and then Paid Search, or also called SEM or Pay Per Click (PPC). The goal of SEO is to achieve the highest position possible in the organic or natural search engine results listing pages once a searcher has typed in a specific keyword phrase, which is a combination of keywords.

Just about everyone makes web searches these days, so its importance really can’t be understated. It is something that can really make or break your business, unless you happen to have a very well-known brand.

In the major search engines like Bing, Yahoo and Google, the natural listings appear on the left hand side with the paid listings or sponsored links from Pay Per Click advertising above, below and on the right hand side.

What is this Search Engine Optimization guide going to cover?

This guide is organized around the questions that you need to go over to ensure that you are doing the best SEO job that you can with a do-it-yourself approach. Here are the 7 steps:

Step 1: Perform an audit and get your goals set.

Step 2: Ensure that your content can be found by the search engines.

Step 3: Work on your on-page SEO.

Step 4: Create high quality content for your SEO efforts.

Step 5: Obtain more quality links.

Step 6: Make refinements to your internal linking.

Step 7: Use analytics to improve your SEO.

Why is SEO so important for digital marketing?

As marketers we must constantly remind ourselves how vital the search engines are to reach customers and prospects when they are showing high purchasing intent. If we fail to do this, there will always be competitors who are more web savvy who will invest in it to make sure they are getting the best results that they can out of the search engines.

Consider how you locate information online. Everyone has a different buying cycle; some individuals know exactly what they want and are prepared to make a purchase immediately, while other people might take longer to research their options before they make their final decision.

For every one of these cycles, it is very likely that the search engines will play a key role. Every individual will type in a keyword phrase that is slightly different in order to find what she or he wants. As an example, when searching for an iPad somebody might start researching Google by typing in the phrase “iPad black” and then type “3G 32GB iPad” to look at a specific product. That is why it is so important to really consider the different keyword phrases that consumers might use in different stages in their decision making process. A website that wants both of those purchases must have web pages catering to both of the searches.

That is why SEO is so critical- it gives you a structured approach so that you can identify opportunities and then optimize your website in order to help with improving your search engine visibility for the queries that are the most relevant in terms of what people use the most. To be in this game, you must be seen.

To determine how important SEO is for your company, the Google Keyword tool can be used or another keyword tool to see what the search volume is for your market. In the final section we will teach you how to perform a gap analysis.

What things can go wrong?

Note that our description of SEO involves it needing to have a proactive approach. This is because so many web design firms and companies don’t appear to have that- they just view SEO as being a by-product of owning a website. However, that isn’t true at all. A successful website needs to have great content, be optimized for SEO and have a lot of effort made into encouraging other websites to link to their site. A redesigned or new website that wants to be successful with its SEO must employ the best practices of SEO at each stage of the content production, software development and concept design phase. SEO should never be just an afterthought. However, in our experience, it often is.

When a structured approach is taken with SEO, it helps to ensure that decisions made in the future regarding new content and products as well as website enhancements will be SEO-friendly and provide you with the greatest chance of web searchers finding you.

What are the most important ranking factors?

In order to maximize your SEO efforts, you need to understand which levers should be pulled in order to make the greatest impact. It is often thought that the most important thing is the keyword phrases appearing on your pages. However, according to research conducted by Searchmetrics, customer engagement with your content and SERP clickthrough rate are the two most important factors. Frequency and volume of social interactions with the content on your site is becoming increasingly important as well.

So be sure your attention is focused on creating compelling, relevant breadcrumbs, meta descriptions and page titles, along with appropriate structured data. In addition, structured data should be used for marking up page content when it is relevant. That will also help make your SERP listings really stand out. Social engagement is another thing you want to invest in. It will help with reinforcing your website’s organic reputation.

So the major SEO aspects that need to be managed, but are frequently missing include:

1. Setting goals, including having a list of realistic keyword phrases to target.

2. Making sure your site can be indexed by the search engines so that they can find your content.

3. On-page SEO. This involves using the right keywords in the correct places on your web pages.

4. Creating quality shareable content for attracting links and specifically helping with social media and SEO through using various tactics so that other sites will be encouraged to link to your website.

5. Managing the internal links appearing on your website so that Google will know what content is most relevant.

6. Encourage individuals to socially share your content and get them to use social buttons to vote for it.