What Does the SEO Process Actually Look Like in Practice
You’re aware that search engine optimization is one of the smart marketing tactics that many businesses turn to. It’s easy to see why when you realize that more than half of website traffic comes from search engines.
The reason why so many people stress out about getting to the top of search results is that the top result gets the most clicks. The first search result gets between 26% and 32% of all clicks, depending on the device a searcher uses.
That’s significant enough to make SEO a priority, but you have to understand the SEO process. There’s much more to SEO than looking at a bunch of keywords.
What does SEO marketing really look like? Read on as we take you through the steps of the SEO process so you can get your site to the top of search results.
Local vs. Global Search Results
SEO does work the same for all types of businesses. That’s because you need to target your audience where they are. An ecommerce site’s audience is national or global.
For service providers and local retail businesses, you’re targeting a specific geographic location. Landscapers, restaurants, plumbers, roofers, sporting goods stores, gyms, doctors, and attorneys are all examples of businesses that should focus on local SEO.
The key between local search engine optimization and global SEO is how people search. When people search for a product or service online, they’ll add the phrase “near me” to the search.
That phrase lets Google know that they want something close to them. Google takes their location into account and brings up the closest search results.
“Near me” searches aren’t used for ecommerce or when a person conducts product research.
How does a service provider get their business listed in the location-based search results? Fill out your business listing in Google My Business and Bing Places.
These are free listings that appear in local search results.
Get plenty of positive reviews on that listing. Check the accuracy of the business listing and contact information on your website.
These simple steps get your business in front of local searches. The fresh information and reviews drive traffic to your website.
The SEO Audit
There are tasks that make up the SEO process regardless of your business. An SEO audit is one of them. This is where you go through your website and online presence.
You compare your presence to your competitors and develop an action plan to improve you SEO marketing.
There are several online tools you can use to do the audit for you. The only issue is that the tools might not pick up everything about your online presence.
Hiring an outside firm is a good solution because they’re already aware of SEO best practices. They make sure that you don’t miss a thing in the audit.
Novice SEO practitioners start and end SEO marketing with keyword research. They’re still important, but how they’re utilized has changed dramatically.
The SEO audit should tell you which keywords to target first. These are likely to be keywords that your competitors rank first or second for.
You’re going to do a brain dump next. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and prospects. What search terms would they use to find your business?
Make a list of all of the search terms you think they’d use.
You’re going to verify these search terms before you create content around them. Use a keyword search tool like Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, or Keyword Surfer.
Look for keywords that have a little competition, but a good amount of volume. Use long-tail keywords to attract the right kind of traffic.
If you’re a landscape company, you don’t want to rank just for landscaping. The search has no context. You could get traffic from other landscapers looking for landscaping products.
Someone might search for landscaping ideas with pavers. You offer that service, so you would create content around that service to get those customers to your website.
Long-tail keywords give your keywords more context. That allows you to get the right people to your website. It becomes easier to convert SEO traffic into customers.
Keywords and User Intent
One of the biggest changes in content marketing is the application of user intent in SEO marketing. Google and other search engines know that people have different reasons to search online.
Some people want to learn more about a product or service. They might try to DIY a home repair. They might be ready to buy.
These intents align with the buyer’s journey. Consumers go from being unaware of your product or service to needing the service to buying it.
Dividing your keywords by intent allows you to connect with prospects at each stage of the buyer’s journey. You build up trust, credibility, and brand awareness. It’s why SEO customers are easier to close.
Start with the search terms that people ask when they’re in the early stages of the buying process.
Homebuyers usually think about buying a home 6-12 months before they’re ready.
They’ll look online for a plan to buy a house in a year. They might want to know about the home buying process, how to get a mortgage, or how much they can afford.
These searchers want to know what to look for in a real estate agent, and how to choose a real estate agent. When they’re ready to hire an agent, they’ll look for an agent near them.
Create a Content Calendar
Take all of your keywords and create a content calendar. These are blog posts that you’ll create for your website. Content marketing is a large part of the SEO process because the content attracts people to your website.
Make sure that you have a content schedule that you can do consistently.
One strategy to employ is to create content and repurpose it. Don’t forget that the two largest search engines are Google and YouTube. Repurposing content puts your company in front of more people searching online.
You can create video content so it appears on YouTube. Transcribe the video and turn it into a blog post on your website. Embed the video in the post so people have the option to watch it.
Focus On Quality Content
It’s not enough to post content. It has to be high-quality content. Google’s algorithm analyzes content according to the E-A-T principle.
This stands for expertise, authority, and trust. You need to be qualified in the area you’re writing about. You should be an established practitioner in the area which you write about.
How does Google figure out if your site has expertise, authority, and trust? Google uses thousands of quality raters to look over search results.
These are real people who look at search results and ask a set of questions to make sure the search results point to quality sites.
Fix Website Technical Issues
The SEO process is intimidating because there is a technical aspect to it. Your website gets scanned regularly by search engine bots.
These bots crawl your site for HTML code to learn what your site is about. That information gets indexed under the appropriate keywords.
That’s how search engines know how to match websites with searchers.
Your website needs to have title tags, a meta description, subheadings, internal links, external links, and image alt tags.
Other technical aspects of your website that impact search results are performance speed, security, and mobile-friendliness.
Don’t Resort to Black Hat SEO Tactics
There are a lot of steps in the SEO process and it takes months to see positive changes. It’s tempting to look for shortcuts to get around Google’s algorithm.
Black hat SEO tactics fall outside of Google’s terms and conditions. They can get your website banned from search results.
Keyword stuffing is one of the oldest black hat tactics. This is when web administrators use the same keyword over and over on a web page. They might try to stuff keywords in HTML code and keep them from appearing on the page.
You’ll want to track your SEO marketing progress over time. Be sure to connect your site to Google Analytics and Search Console.
These tools help you track your keywords and how much traffic you get from search results.
Analyze data each month. Notice the types of content that drive the most traffic.
Measure how long people stay on your site as well. That tells you if your content resonates with visitors. If it does, you’re more likely to get inquiries and sales.
On top of all of that, keep up with SEO changes. Google rolls out algorithm changes on a daily basis. Major changes happen a few times a year.
Learn the SEO Process for Better Search Results
If you want to get website traffic from search, you need to learn the SEO process. This article took you through the steps to create a smart content marketing machine to get search results.
Now that you know about SEO and content marketing, head over to the Digital Marketing section of this site for more great tips.