Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is not the hardest thing to do online, but it is likely the most detail oriented and the devil is found in those details. It is often viewed as a dark art and it finds itself aligned with the concept of blackhat and whitehat techniques. The most important thing to understand about search engine optimization is that there is no quick solution or overnight strategy.
When we talk about SEO, we mostly focus on Google and the SERP (search engine results placement) that can impact a business greatly. It is important to understand that Google has already provided a guide for webmasters and outlined the expectations of what is and is not acceptable.
Our team has been working on SEO strategies for more than a decade and have provided consistent and solid results for most of our clients. Our approach is a three-pronged model that focuses on a complex review or audit, the implementation of the findings and finally nurturing the strategy with a variety of elements designed to create exposure for your website. Our team of experts monitor changes in the search engines and listen to those that can impact the outcome of SERP online and stay informed with the latest methods to implement and avoid. This has helped our clients stay away from shady practices and find consistent organic search growth over the years.
Search Engine Optimization is broken into a few core functions, each serves a specific purpose to enhance your presence to ensure that you have the best SEO foundation possible when Google or Bing visit your website. It is important to understand the differences of the different SEO models and focus on building a bottom up strategy vs. focusing on one element.
Technical search engine optimization is a term that our teams typically throw around the office during conversations and website audits. The concept behind technical SEO is simply how search engine spiders can crawl and index your website and content. The goal behind technical SEO is to ensure that your website is ready and optimized to ensure that search engine spiders can easily consume information and ultimately grade your website highly.
While there are many areas that can impact technical SEO, we wanted to outline a few to help start the conversation on why hiring a professional team with nearly two decades of experience is a good idea.
A few areas to review to improve your technical SEO and is the first step of our website SEO audits. Critical and non-critical errors, these are 4xx, 5xx errors, duplicate content, missing content, etc. Basically – does each page or response received from each page align with the most optimized model. Speed, the speed of your website is an indicator of the experience users will have when they visit. Long waits, huge images, lack of technical SEO integrating gzip, CSS and JS compression, image compression, usage of CDNs, etc. will hurt your speed and exposure. Visibility, while this seems like you need Google and Bing before you can look into visibility – it starts with your website. Proper permissions, access to specific files, properly built sitemaps for Webmaster tools, index vs. noindex and more.
The above is literally scratching the surface of technical SEO and without a proper audit and review, implementing any strategy blindly could hurt your website. Let the experts help and build a foundation for your website rooted deeply in an optimized technical SEO strategy that focuses on key factors.
Once your technical SEO is optimized and you have the core foundation in place, on-page SEO begins. On-page SEO is optimizing individual web pages to rank higher for specific terms.
The on-page methods that our audits and teams focusing on begin with creating a strategy that outlines the focus keywords and then centralizes the content and page elements around the focal keyword. While their is a technical side of things, there is a more important user centric focus that must be considered and implemented. The focus keyword often times does not connect with the actual user directly and could create a user experience that is sub-par. In order to ensure that your on-page SEO strategy works, you must focus on the users first – then the actual keyword strategy.
There are many ways to accomplish this method, but often it is simply taking a step back and reviewing individual pages through the lens of your website visitors, not just Google’s indexing spider. This will help engage users, this improves engagement, consumption of information, conversions and ultimately value. Google cares a lot about what they are serving up, so you on-page SEO should be considered a dish that they should consider – not just a technically perfect page, an experience that adds value.
Off-page SEO is often the only focus of many customers that we have spoken to in the past few years – especially from 2011 to 2014. The conversation would start with, how many high PR backlinks can you create and how quickly? This was a strategy that actually worked, quite effectively in some niches, with first page results in a short amount of time. The concept behind it was simply, if so many people are linking to your website, it must matter.
It didn’t take long before automation backlink software destroyed this basic concept – and Google got to work to ensure that what they are serving up is quality. Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, Pigeon and many other algorithm updates have helped to weed out the garbage backlinks and reward the high-quality and relevant ones. This wrecked many companies that had relied on the snake oil / magic bullet approach and many SEO firms closed.
The point of outlining a bit of history first is to establish some ground rules about how you should look at off-page SEO. If you are looking for fast results that deliver lots of traffic and it costs very little – good luck with that. If you are committed to a long-play strategy that is focused on adding value for your website visitors and the traffic Google does reward you with – then we can help. Our team has helped deploy complex off-page search engine optimization strategies that have integrated content marketing, high-level guest posting and a variety of other #whitehat strategies that have helped our clients see consistent growth over time.
Analytics, Rank Tracking & Reporting
Reporting, Rank Tracking and Analytics help tell the story of how your SEO strategy is performing. At the end of the day, we understand that it is about driving more qualified visitors to your website to generate leads and revenue for your business.
As we have mentioned, search engine optimization takes time to recognize any significant traction for your brand, product or service. However, there are many metrics that can help provide a monthly or quarterly snapshot of the performance. Fist, Google Analytics tracks all organic search traffic from their search engine results as well as Bing and Yahoo. The only struggle is often that many results are shown as (not provided) or even (not set), however this is still organic traffic and these reporting metrics can provide a baseline for success.
Our team focuses on a few core metrics to define campaign success: increased organic traffic, keyword rank position improvement, user engagement improvement and more leads. To learn more about how NFY Interactive, Inc. can help provide a full view of the opportunities available, please contact us.
We have discussed a few of the core elements related to search engine optimization, from technical SEO to on-page and off-page strategies. Below are a few additional details to help provide a bit more context and some tools to help you get started if you aren’t ready to connect with our team of experts.
Fix Critical Errors
This one seems obvious and often it is an ongoing task. Critical errors are typically: 4xx and 5xx errors, duplicate content, duplicate or missing H1 tags, missing meta descriptions. While errors happen from time to time, it is important to constantly review your website to improve your technical SEO. These small fixes sometimes take a lot of time, but can help provide a big impact in how Google views your website.
Fix Non-Critical Errors
The idea of a non-critical error seems like an impossibility – an error is critical. The importance of scanning your website and having an ongoing strategy is to ensure that you fix things that matter most to Google. That is how we get non-critical errors – you should still fix them, but fix the critical ones first. Non-critical errors are things like broken backlinks (4xx errors), broken links in general (typically to other websites), Duplicate H2 or Missing H2 tags.
We have found that https://ahrefs.com provides a great tool to quickly analyze websites and export the results into files. For ongoing scanning, we prefer Webmaster tools and their Search Console dashboard and index status.
Add an SSL Certificate
Adding an SSL certificate helps ensure that all of your website data is encrypted between your server and website visitors browser. While this was often considered only for ecommerce websites and credit card pages, adding https:// help ensure that your visitors data stays encrypted. While this isn’t a solution to improve rankings, this is a low-cost option that helps add one more element to protect and improve your website visitors experience.
There were many websites that were harmed by garbage links that were created by “SEO experts” in the past, or you may simply have someone linking to your website that is not adding any actual value. Google added a disavow link system as part of Search Console that allows you to essentially disavow links to help protect your domain and SERP. It is important to review what backlinks you have and then strategically disavow those that are likely causing more problems than value.
Create Great Content
Content is and will always be King! However, simply adding great content to your website is not enough by itself. We recommend ensuring that your website content is well thought out, researched and written. There have been a variety of studies done that have determined what is optimal to get the best placement for articles on Google. The bottom line is that 300 words for an article is not enough to convey any real value into a subject, but a 5,000 word dissertation does not mean there is any value either. The key is research, value and consumption… If people are reading your articles and finding value – they will share them.
Connect and Syndicate
Great content is only the first step to engaging your website visitors – sometimes, you need to get the word out that you have a new beautifully crafted article on your website. This is where connecting on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ can help your followers see that there is a new blog for them to read. Connect with your users and work to syndicate your content through social media (Boost your posts) and look into content syndication networks. Bottom line, build partnerships that add value not just volume.
If you are looking for additional SEO resources, we recommend: