What Is SEO: The What, Why and How’s of It

What Is SEO: The What, Why and How’s of It

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There are multiple references that you read online that talk about Search Engine Optimisation or SEO. And how it is a sought-after strategy in the digital marketing field. Each of these points out the importance of learning and applying this process to ensure that Google will not miss out on your website or your content.  

Certainly, you know what SEO is, but is your knowledge of it enough for you to run and practice what it demands?

Here is a refresher of what search engine optimisation is, why it matters in the online business world, and how to optimise your website using its strategies. 

Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation

A brief history of SEO

The year was 1991 when we witnessed the launch of the world’s first website by Tim Berners – Lee. From then on, many more websites like Yahoo (1994) and Google (1997) follow suit with the promise of a user-friendly experience, straightforward data indexing, crawling,  and optimisation. 

This milestone gave birth to the infancy stage of Search Engine Optimisation. Website users and managers tend to take advantage of this by using the black-hat SEO tactic – keyword stuffing, excessive tagging, spammy backlinks to earn favourable search engine ranking. 

Performing black-hat SEO tactics didn’t last long, as you already know. Google, for instance, had set strict guidelines and implemented hefty fines for violators or specialists that continue to engage in this type of technique. 

What is SEO?

SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimisation. It is a process to optimise a website so its content or pages can be easily found by search engines to rank them better. 

Search Engine Optimisation is a broad word for people who encountered it for the first time. It includes three distinct keywords – search, engine, and optimisation. 

Search; people hit Google for things they want to know, products they want to purchase, and services they want to avail themselves of. This drive traffics. Online users consumed the content that you produced thus, it matters that your website contains valuable, relevant, and engaging content. 

Engine, in laymen’s terms, is a tool with moving parts that converts power into motion. In this context, we refer to engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, and AOL, to name a few, that works to connect your website to your prospective audience, with the possibility of converting them into paying consumers of your products and loyal patrons of your services. 

We define optimisation as an act of making the most out of the resources or the situation that you are in. 

Businesses who resort to partnering with SEO agencies to manage, curate, and promote their websites, understand the weight of the task at hand, thus giving the heavy lifting of SEO tasks to these experts in the field – an investment that gives a benefit in the long run. 

Now that we have dissected what each term means, SEO is simply about helping you, your audience and search engines with the use of straightforward strategies to:

  • find your website, 
  • read your content, and 
  • convert visitors into potential buyers of your product or patrons of the services you offer. 

What it takes to rank

And we arrived at this question. What does it take to rank? Or if you have a client, the most common question thrown to you is, “How long until my website or page ranks on top of Google?

It’s tricky, but it’s not that difficult.

After having the basic knowledge of SEO, you might still wonder why many people would still resort to illegal means to secure their position in search engines. 

The simple explanation is, ranking means authority. When online users hit Google and see your website on the first page of it, people will assume that you got the best content than the rest of the thousands of search results there are. 

What Are the Most Important SEO Ranking Factors?

Ranking factors are the criteria applied by search engines when evaluating web pages to compile the rankings of their search results.

Understanding these ranking factors is crucial for an effective search engine optimisation implementation. 

As of 2022, Google has more than 200 identified ranking factors. Being the most popular search engine on the planet, it is no surprise that you want to secure your place in Google more than anything else. 

With how SEO changes every day, it is challenging to implement and keep up with these new strategies. 

Here are 10 factors that you may want to consider to rank your website higher this year. 

User Experience

To rank web pages more accurately, Google uses a machine learning (AI) algorithm called RankBrain. It includes other user signals like dwell time, click-through rate and bounce rate, among others.

If visitors click on your website and leave right away, then it sends a message to Google that your page is not relevant to what they are looking for. You may even find it harder to rank higher on the SERPs once a huge chunk of your visitors do this!

This indicates that your content doesn’t match up with the user experience you’re trying to establish. One of the ways you can solve this is to change the target keywords.

When you’ve enhanced user experience, you can guarantee that users will stick to your page and up your overall relevance. 

High-Quality Content

Regarding Google ranking factors, content has one of the highest impacts. You can have a webpage that’s perfectly optimised for SEO, but if your content doesn’t resonate with your audience, ranking high isn’t in the cards.

So, how do you exactly publish high-quality content? Take a look at these qualities:

  • Useful

Every time new content goes live, ask yourself: does it satisfy the goals of your user when they did a quick Google search? This way, you can truly assess if your content is useful to your audience.

For instance, someone searches for ‘the greatest books of the 21st century’. A blog post that enumerates the most successful literary works of this particular time period is more likely to be valuable than an opinion piece on why reading books is important.

Make sure that what you put out there is highly educative. This can make you their credible source in your respective field, maintaining a good reputation and organic traffic.

  • Structured

One of the most important qualities of good content is its structure. This means that you have to organise your content into headings and sections so Google understands what it’s talking about.

It also helps with readability. When your content is well-structured, users will find it easier to understand what they’re reading. You can answer their questions in an organised manner!

  • Engaging

Lots of content writers make the mistake of writing an extremely robotic post in an attempt to rank higher on the SERPs. What you need to understand is that when it comes to producing high-quality content, you should sound engaging to foster meaningful relationships among your readers.

According to the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), emotional content performs better than purely rational content. You need to appeal to your reader’s emotions and make them feel something—whether that’s happiness, sadness, frustration or anger.

Take some time to study various copywriting techniques in your free time!

Strong Backlinks

A backlink is a clickable link from one web page to another. Despite its importance in Google ranking factors, a study conducted by Ahrefs showed that more than 90% of websites don’t generate organic traffic because they have no backlinks. 

Having strong backlinks is like earning a vote of confidence for your website, especially if they come from high-authority web pages. Google, in turn, will deem that your site is trustworthy, boosting its ranking on the SERPs. 

Domain Authority

Another banking factor you have to consider is called domain authority (DA). Developed by MOZ, it is a search engine ranking score that ranges from 0 to 100. It predicts how likely it is for a website to rank in the SERPs.

Basically, it’s a metric that measures your site’s expertise and relevance to your niche. There are a plethora of ways you can increase your domain authority, such as gaining high-quality backlinks.

However, it doesn’t always give you the assurance that you’ll rank higher. This is why creating quality content that’s extremely relevant to your field is a much more important goal. You can focus your website on one topic and take advantage of content pillars

Keyword Optimisation

One of the most significant Google ranking factors is keyword optimisation. Keep in mind that your keywords must match the search terms Internet users type in search engines. Make sure that you also monitor your keyword rankings using SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush and Google Search Console, to name a few.

For maximum keyword optimisation, take a look at these tips:

  • Always put your target keywords at the beginning of your title tags.
  • Refrain from keyword stuffing. Don’t repeat your primary search terms over and over again to deceive Google into improving your rankings. Instead, try to make your keywords more diverse and add secondary keywords to your list.
  • Add keywords to your URL. For example, if you want to mainly talk about PPC audit, the URL should look something like: https://www.rootsdigital.com.sg/ppc-audit/.

Search Intent

Google assesses how well your content keeps pace with users’ search intent. Also known as audience intent, it refers to a user’s main goal when they search for something on Google, Bing and other search engines. It’s either they want to make a purchase, learn more about a subject matter or solve a particular problem.

Keep in mind that every searcher’s goal is different. This is why you should properly understand the why for every search query so you know what content needs to be published.

Take movies for example. Searching for a certain movie plot has a different intent from searching for a guide on how to make a movie. These things may focus on one topic only, but every query has various intents or goals. 

Website Speed

Ever since 2010, Google has included site speed as a signal in their search ranking algorithms. And on October 28, 2022, John Mueller of Google confirmed that the platform focuses on Core Website Vitals (CWV) to measure website speed.

Using real-world usage data like visual stability, loading performance and interactivity, the CWV report focuses on how your website performs. Google has three metrics for this, including:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Check out these tips on how to acquire and monitor your CWV performance:

  1. Sign up for an Ahrefs account and use the Ahrefs Webmaster Tools.
  2. Using site audit, crawl your page.
  3. View the Performance Report.
  4. Click on the Core Web Vitals section. It looks like this:
site speed

Source: Ahrefs

This isn’t to say that your website speed should be lightning-fast to outperform your competitors. You just have to meet the minimum standard for loading time since Google only denotes pages that are notorious for having the slowest website speed.

Website Structure

If you’re planning to make a new website from scratch, you have to pay attention to its overall structure. Because from indexing and crawling perspectives, the way your website is built plays a huge role in your Google ranking.

When your site has a straightforward architecture with little to no subdirectories, Google crawlers can easily index your website. That way, it can understand what your site is all about and what it tries to sell.

Most importantly, website structure is important for UX (User Experience). If visitors can effortlessly navigate your web pages, they can have a better browsing experience. This means converting them into paying customers will be easier and encourages them to pay you another visit!

Website Security

Another important Google ranking factor is website security. Now that cybercrimes are getting more rampant, you carry the responsibility of keeping your customers’ personal information secured and safe.

One of the requirements you need to follow is to make sure your site is using HTTPS protocol that uses cryptography for secure communication. It encrypts the data between a user and your website, protecting it from a cyberattack.

In fact, to encourage websites to adhere to this protocol, Google considered HTTPS as a ranking signal in 2014. If you haven’t applied for an SSL certificate and your website is still using HTTP, now is the perfect time to change it!

Mobile-friendliness

According to Statista, mobile devices are responsible for approximately half of the web traffic globally, generating 58.99% of traffic in the second quarter of 2022. It’s only safe to assume that the majority of users are using smartphones, so mobile-friendliness is their top priority when clicking on websites.

With this, Google includes mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor. So, if your website doesn’t properly function on mobile devices, your ranking is on the line.

To check if your website is experiencing any issues, you can use the Mobile Usability report in Google Search Console. 

what is seo; site mobile friendliness

Source: Ahrefs

Having these factors as your guide on what to look at when structuring your content and improving your strategies is beneficial only if you:

  • Understand your website
  • Know the type of services you offer or products you want people to know you for online. 

We recommend that out of these ten factors, you pick the ones that work best for your SEO campaign.

We will have an in-depth discussion of each of these factors in the next article.

How does SEO Work?

Search engines use algorithms or a set of policies to determine what pages to show results for people’s queries.

These rules have evolved with complexity and open more different ranking factors present. 

However, these are the three main metrics that search engines evaluate to determine the quality of a site and how it should rank: 

Links

A vote of quality.

Links are deemed one of the most essential factors for ranking a website. Why? Website owners understand that producing high-quality content is effective if you want to engage with more sites to link to you.

Do you know someone who would rather link their sites to poor-quality ones online? If so, you might want to share this article with them.

Websites that acquire strong links from many other sites gain authority in Google its PageRank. We have mentioned authority previously and its effects of it on your SEO campaign.

So, if you are producing your content now ensure to link to websites that are authoritative in the eyes of search engines.  

Content 

Content is King. 

We are sure you have heard, seen, and written something about that before; yes it still holds true up to this day. 

A big chunk of page optimisation falls on your content management or content creation. Search engines check your content’s relevance and ensure that you answer the people based on the targeted keywords that search engines’ users are searching for.

Page Structure 

How you design your page structure impacts your SEO campaign. You may think that your URLs don’t matter, but if done correctly can open opportunities for web traffic and higher audience share.

You know that webpages are in HTML forms, and poorly structured HTML code can lead to poor site evaluation by search engines. Why? Through codes, search engines have a glimpse of an idea of if your site is crawlable or not. 

SEO Metrics

Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing gives you the privilege of measuring and tracking every part of your strategy. You have access to several SEO tools and other measurement platforms to see if your efforts are paying off. 

However, there’s a downside to this. Data points are getting more complicated and extensive that businesses and digital marketing agencies don’t know what to measure anymore. So, to help you save time and money, here are the top SEO metrics you should identify and evaluate:

Total Clicks

SEO is constantly changing. You might have read thousands of SEO strategies on the Internet, tried each one of them and dedicated hours to learn about its evolution throughout the years.

But at the end of the day, the main goal of SEO is to obtain more traffic from Google. And how exactly do you measure the traffic Google is sending you? The answer is total clicks in the Google Search Console.

Using Google’s organic results, the report shows how many people clicked on your site. If the numbers are going up, then your SEO efforts are effective. 

Local SEO Visibility

For people who manage local SEO campaigns, local SEO visibility is the benchmark that matters the most. This means you need to track specific metrics to make sure that the organic traffic you’re receiving comes from your target audience. 

This includes:

  • Google Business Profile Insights – To track how often your Google Business Profile (GBP) page appears in directions and search results, set up Google Business Profile Insights.
  • Google Maps Rankings – Use a rank tracker from your preferred SEO tool that can help you track Google Maps rankings and your 3-Pack results for your business address.
  • Session Location – Through session location, you can see the exact cities where web sessions are coming from. This will help you evaluate the local traffic your webpage gains.

Referring Domains

Also referred to as linking domains, referring domains are websites that link to your website. For instance, if your site has a backlink from Forbes, then it has one referring domain. If it has a link from Forbes, The Guardian and Reuters, then it has three referring domains.

This SEO metric is crucial in helping you earn higher organic traffic. To check referring domains, you can use Ahrefs Site Explorer. You can paste URLs or subfolders and open the report. It looks like this:

what is SEO; referring domain

You should focus on getting high-quality links from authoritative sites. Once you start making or revising your link-building plan, your backlink profile should consist of good referring domains to boost sales, engagement and traffic, among other things.

The Number Of Indexed Pages

Indexed pages are the web pages that a search engine has visited, analysed and added to its database. So, every time you publish content or add another web page to your site, it first needs to get indexed by Google before it can appear on the SERPs. 

This goes to say that this metric becomes important when your website gets larger and more complex. You can use Google Search Console to check if all the relevant pages have been properly indexed.

Another important reminder that you have to bear in mind is that your indexed pages should not be outdated, duplicated or irrelevant. If they are, it could harm your site authority. To avoid this from happening, check out these tips:

  • Perform a regular content audit.
  • Redirect the links and remove irrelevant content.
  • Combine weak pages into a stronger content hub.

Organic CTR

Another crucial SEO metric is the average click-through rate (CTR). It is mostly based on your rankings but can also be influenced by other factors like URLs, snippets, title tags and descriptions.

Organic CTR shows the total percentage of users who visit your website after seeing it in the SERPs. The formula would be:

Impressions / Clicks = CTR

For example, if 3,000 searchers see your website in the search results and 300 people click through it, you have a total CTR of 10%. This percentage shows how well your URL, titles and descriptions catch the attention of your target audience.

So, if you notice that it’s not meeting your expectations, you might want to improve your titles & meta descriptions to make it more engaging. Make sure that your content also matches what users are searching for.

Keyword Rankings

Keyword rankings are a critical SEO metric in helping you assess your overall progress, especially when it comes to SEO strategy. 

To track keyword rankings, there are two main ways. First, you can take advantage of rank-tracking tools and input your set of keywords that are vital to your SEO campaign. The tool, in turn, will determine where you rank for your chosen terms.

The second option is to view organic keyword reports using SEO tools like Ahrefs or Semrush. This is the better choice since it automatically tracks all the keywords your website ranks for and where exactly you rank.

Coverage Errors

Coverage errors refer to the indexing and crawling problems your website experiences. 

There are several reasons why Google doesn’t index your pages straight away and might even deindex them in some instances. However, these reasons often happen even if you don’t do anything wrong on your end. 

Luckily, coverage errors also appear on Google Search Console coverage reports.

what is SEO; coverage error

Source: Ahrefs

Make sure that you click on an error to view the instruction on how to fix it. If you fail to track your crawl eros, it can lead to issues that might permanently affect your site’s rankings and overall authority.

The Three Stages of SEO

Getting Google and other search engines to rank your website requires improving the content you are offering your audiences and the quality of backlinks to your site. 

The success of every SEO implementation lies in these three stages: Discovery, Relevance, and Authority. These stages are identical to the action that search engines take: Crawling, Indexing and Ranking. 

Here’s how. 

Discovery 

Discovery is the first stage of SEO.

Search engine spiders or bots discover your web pages by crawling them. They send signals about your content and check all of the components present in that content. 

These bots take note of the information present in your content and the changes you have implemented on it, like the modification in hyperlinks, updates in the content, or a possible redirection to new URLs. 

Relevance

The next stage is Relevance. Once crawlers discover and check your content, the indexing process comes in. 

In this phase, the indexer analyses the content and ensures the quality of the website or webpage, and assigns some kind of relevant value to the content the crawlers found depending on the different keywords present in the content. 

This stage ensures that the site was able to deliver what the user looks for in a query – accuracy to match what they are looking for. 

E-A-T

Google rolled out a guideline called E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness) in August 2018. It is one of the many factors the platform uses to carefully evaluate if a website’s content is valuable to readers. 

When the guideline was released, Google search quality evaluators were obliged to consider the following:

  • The expertise of content experts, writers or strategists.
  • The authoritativeness of the content itself, content creators and the website.
  • The trustworthiness of the content itself, content creators and the website.

In a nutshell, E-A-T aims to ensure that users are receiving the highest-quality content and getting the right information simultaneously. Why does this matter so much for Google?

When Google realised that since almost everyone has access to the Internet, a huge chunk of users goes to their platform to search for answers. And if the wrong results are shown on top of the SERPs, they could put their users’ lives and safety at risk.

That’s why E-A-T mainly targets websites that fall under YMYL (Your Money Or Your Life). It includes financial sites, medical pages, real estate platforms and anything that could potentially and permanently change the trajectory of someone’s life.

This goes to show that Google highly focuses on your reputation and the credibility of the writers you hire.

Difference Between Organic Search and Paid Search

You would often hear organic and paid searches online when tackling subjects regarding search engines.

Do you know the difference between the two? And what are its implications for your SEO campaign?

Organic Search

If you’re on a tight budget, one of the most effective ways or channels you can use to obtain traffic and conversions is organic search. It’s free and websites are ranked according to their search relevance to a particular search term.

Think of the links you usually see when typing in a keyword. Let’s say you’re searching for the benefits of LEGO and the role they play in a child’s early childhood development. The search result pages look like this:

what is SEO; organic search result

Of course, getting that sweet spot at the top of Google doesn’t just happen overnight. You need to regularly monitor your SEO performance, hire a competent team of SEO experts and digital marketers and many more.

Check out these strategies you should follow to improve your organic search rankings:

  • Update Old Content – Google prioritises websites that take the time and effort to make their content more recent. 

To make sure your website still ranks on the SERPs, check if your old blog posts are losing impressions, clicks, views or traffic using Google Search Console. Refresh these posts and update them with new information.

Keep in mind that changing the post’s date to a newer one won’t send a signal to Google’s algorithm. You have to revise the copy to improve its relevance.

  • Know The Lines You Shouldn’t Cross – Lots of SEO experts make the mistake of using black hat SEO techniques. To trick search engines into giving them a boost in rankings, they buy links, create gateway pages and use automatic article duplication.

Sure, you might enjoy a short-lived high ranking using these unethical tactics. However, it has a huge consequence that can put your entire website on the line. Remember, Google is getting more advanced in spotting tricksters. You might just wake up and find out all the progress you’ve made has been deindexed!

Assuming that you follow good strategies in making your site SEO-friendly, it can take anywhere from three to six months to rank in Google. But if the competition is too tight, seeing results can take up to 12 months.

Paid Search 

Considered a digital marketing method, paid search allows businesses and marketers to pay search engines in placing their ads higher in search results to drive traffic. It works on a pay-per-click model, so you don’t pay anything until someone clicks on your ad.

There are several types of paid search, including:

paid search result

However, this doesn’t mean that money plays the biggest role in where your ad will be placed on Google SERPs. Here are some of the factors that you should keep in mind:

  1. Bidding – Paid search, especially when it comes to Google ads, works within an auction structure. Businesses bid on phrases or keywords that relate to their products and services. If you become the highest bidder, you get a higher placement on search results.
  2. Ad Thresholds – This factor determines your ability to participate in ad auctions. It includes ad quality, related auctions, user signals and the topic of the search, among others.
  3. Ad Extensions – To increase the quality of your ads, you can take advantage of ad extensions such as phone numbers, app extensions and multiple links. 
  4. Quality of Ads And Landing Pages – Google assigns a Quality Score for ads depending on how relevant and useful your landing pages are.

When it comes to paid search, you have to make sure that keyword research is at the top of your list. Because if you bid on the wrong keywords, you’d waste your hard-earned money and meeting your objectives would feel a lot more impossible.

A few strategies include paying attention to long-tail keywords with great intent, using negative keywords to remove terms that aren’t relevant to your business and making keywords match the content of the landing page you’re linking to.

And if you’re wondering how long it takes to see results from paid search, the timeline would vary depending on your efforts. But in the case of Google Ads, it would take roughly three to six months before it can work. This is because a new PPC campaign takes time to generate data, especially if you have a small customer base.

As time goes by and your campaign’s data get bigger, you can use it to improve your bidding strategy, keyword selection and targeting. You can also check your PPC metrics through a PPC audit to know you’re on the right track. 

SEO Objectives

The main objective of SEO is site visibility to grow your business online – boost your presence in relevant online search results, so you can earn more leads, sales, and revenue. 

Each web owners have their own specific goals of why they want to adopt SEO implementations. Your aim for optimising your website may differ depending on the size of your website, the products and services you offer, or even the industry you belong to. 

These are some common SEO objectives clients want to achieve:

Optimise Internal Linking Structure

Before your web pages can rank on search results pages, it needs links. That’s why internal link-building has earned a positive reputation for improving your overall SEO performance, especially in the case of indexing. 

But what is internal linking structure, you ask? It refers to the map of internal hyperlinks found on your website that brings users to other related pages or resources on your platform. This strategy is often used by businesses to keep readers longer on their site.

Above all else, this helps web crawlers understand how the structure of your site links information together. That’s why it needs to be coordinated so it makes sense for both crawlers and visitors that might stumble upon your website.

Here are some internal linking strategies you can use:

  • Determine your site’s pillar pages
  • Pick the right anchor texts
  • Add navigational links
  • Link hierarchical pages
  • Include a ‘related posts’ section on your blog posts

Increase Organic Traffic

When your organic traffic is high, it means that visitors landed on your website from unpaid searches like Bing, Google and Yahoo. This often indicates that your SEO strategies are a success, putting your platform high enough on search engines to be discovered by potential customers.

But what does it mean when organic traffic takes a huge plunge? This might indicate that you’re currently experiencing SEO penalties or that your domain is losing authority.

This is where creating quality content comes into play. To get started, conduct keyword research to find relevant topics that can catch the attention of your target audience. Make sure your content is interesting, helpful and timely. Don’t forget to fact-check every now and then to establish your credibility!

Organic traffic is significant because it helps with steady brand growth over time. When your page is constantly displayed on the first page of search results, it exposes your brand to a wider audience and addresses people’s needs.

Improve Your Backlink Strategy

Aside from the internal linking structure, having a great backlink profile is crucial in boosting your ranking potential and your domain strength. It sends a message to search engines that your website is an authoritative and reliable source of information.

One of the most helpful strategies is to offer guest blogging on respected brands in your field. Enhancing your entire content strategy to publish content that other sites will feel compelled to use in their posts can also be beneficial.

Strengthen Domain Authority

Another big aspect of SEO that can either break or make your rankings is the authority that search engines find in your website. When they observe that your platform is trustworthy, you can outperform your competitors in the SERPs.

Bear in mind that your domain authority highly depends on the quality of your content and visitor interactions. So, if your blog posts receive a good number of shares, comments and engagements, your domain authority will be taken up a notch.

Grow Conversions

You’ve probably heard of the term ‘analysis paralysis’. It refers to a person’s inability to make a sound decision because they have way too many choices. 

Many customers also experience this dilemma. Let’s say you run an e-commerce site and a visitor stumbles upon your store. To increase the chances of converting them into paying customers, you have thousands of pages and sections. 

Yet the opposite thing happens. Since your platform has way too many options, potential customers feel overwhelmed and leave your site empty-handed.

This is why you have to create your website in a way that helps customers move along the marketing funnel to increase conversions. That way, Google knows that your visitors are finding the right answers on your site. You can also add testimonials and reviews to assure potential customers they’re in the right hands!

Increase E-Commerce Sales

Being in the e-commerce business is getting more challenging, given that thousands of companies are flocking to the virtual space to generate sales.

How can you exactly keep up with the ever-growing competition? First, your product descriptions and names should match search queries. And to up your game, you need to boost your social media presence as well.

Make sure that you establish promotional campaigns for different social networks to build brand awareness and produce higher revenues. You just have to pick the platform that suits your product best.

Intensify Visitor Time On Pages

All these talks on organic traffic, clicks and impressions might get you caught up in driving people to your site. However, what’s more important is to keep them on a page for longer.

When search engines see that visitors stay on your web pages for a significant period of time, you prove that your content is informative enough to be read. So, when you publish a blog post, make sure that it’s lengthy and engaging to keep readers interested.

Decrease Bounce Rate

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site without taking actions such as making a purchase, clicking on a link or subscribing to a newsletter. If you notice that it’s getting higher on your end, you might have poorly optimised pages, misleading descriptions and low-quality content.

Be extremely mindful because this can decrease your rankings! To decrease bounce rates, try to determine the reasons why visitors are leaving your site early. What scares them away? Is the structure of your site not meeting their expectations and leaving them in the dark?

This is why you should know your buyer persona and establish a strategy around it.

Getting Started with SEO – the process

Search Engine Optimisation is a process. Not a one-time thing. 

  1. Research

Research under SEO involves keyword research, competitor analysis, and business research. 

This part of the SEO process is gruelling as it requires a considerable amount of time, effort, and patience. 

For instance, keyword phrase research demands you to identify a set of words for optimisation that are high usage by searchers and relatively low competition within the search engines.

The thought of it seemed quite easy because of the SEO tools present online to help you, but the challenges come in when you have to trim down your options and ensure it passes the two factors we mentioned above. 

  1. Reporting & Goal Setting

Where do you wish to see yourself on search engines? 

You need to have a clear mind as to where you want to take your business, this is how crucial goal setting is in every campaign you take on. Having a clear set of goals can help you focus on things that need your attention and more improvements. 

Search Engine Optimisation is a process and not a project that you can just let and have its entire course do its magic. 

You must have the right tools to check statistics and analytics on how well you performed on search engines, before SEO and while implementing SEO now. 

Data generated from these SEO tools can be an advantage if you know how to interpret it. You may encounter data that shows:

  • Popular buzzwords in your industry 
  • The most popular type of content
  • Bounce rates
  • The site’s traffic level and audience demographics. 
  1. Content Building

Search engines love text. High-volume, high-quality content is something that Google is looking for, so why not produce it?

If you create well-thought-out, engaging content people will gravitate more towards your website. This scenario will give Google an idea that you are a haven of reliable, valuable, and essential content compared to the millions of websites their crawlers come across with. 

The more time you invest in ensuring your content is top of the line, the more search engines get to know you and share more of your details with the online community. 

  1. Social & Link Building

Social media are currently one of the biggest and fastest platforms of shared content. Fish where the fishes are. This phrase means that you must be visible to more audiences if you want them to engage with you more. 

Check your site’s statistics and see the demographics of your visitors. Craft content for them and share it on other media platforms. 

With every new content produced, more chances of link building happen. As a precautionary measure, since Google views links as votes for your site’s popularity, you may think of associating too many links with every content you create. 

Let us remind you that Google has a set of standards when evaluating the links you have on your website, low-quality, no-use, and spammy type of links can only affect your progress and worst, lead you to penalties. 

You will not only widen your reach but learn more as you explore other mediums for your content-building and link-building campaign. 

  1. Follow Up Reporting & Analysis

Monitor your progress. Make it a habit to consciously rack your performance online to see which areas you need to put much effort on. 

Initial reporting and goal setting alone are not enough, you need to follow through and ensure that all of you cover all of your SEO campaign’s bases. 

The metric that you will use to gauge your site’s performance depends on the goals you have identified and established. 

Compare your rankings or traffic levels pre-optimisation vs. post-optimisation phase, and from here you will have a clear indicator of your SEO implementations are effective. 

The SEO Strategies 

You have set your goals and wanted to take on the SEO process, we know you are excited but before you take the plunge, know these strategies first. 

An effective SEO strategy is split into two: On-Page and Off-Page.

On-Page Strategy 

On-page SEO strategy focuses on the area of your website that you can control. It is the process of optimising the front-end and back-end aspects of your website to increase its chances of ranking higher on search engines.

This play a huge role in your SEO efforts because search engines use keywords and other on-page SEO elements to assess if your website measures up to a user’s search intent.

Basically, Google evaluates on-page SEO signals when ranking pages on search results. And even if its algorithm is constantly evolving, the user experience remains to be one of its biggest priorities.

Factors affecting your on-page SEO strategy:

  • Content
  • Title Tag
  • Meta Description
  • Alt Text
  • Keywords
  • URL Structure
  • Internal Linking
  • Breadcrumb Navigation
  • Page Performance
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Schema Markup
  • SSL/HTTPS
  • Core Web Vitals

Off-Page Strategy

Also referred to as off-site SEO, the off-page strategy involves all the activities that take place outside of your website to improve your rankings. The most popular strategies include link-building, video marketing, social media marketing, podcasting and guest blogging. 

Think of it this way. If it doesn’t involve publishing content or making direct changes to your website, then it falls under the off-page SEO strategy.

Every time you invest your resources in off-site SEO, you build your site’s reputation and authority. You tell Google how other platforms perceive your content and what you offer on the table. For instance, if credible websites link to your pages, Google will consider you as someone who provides a better experience for users. 

Factors affecting your on-page SEO strategy:

  • Backlinks – you can earn them through the following:
  • Guest blogging
  • Press Releases
  • Help A Reporter Out [HARO]
  • Industry trade publications features
  • Reaching out to influencers to share your content
  • Guesting on a podcast
  • Participating forum
  • Hosting events (in person or virtual).
  • Domain Authority
  • Social Promotion
  • Local SEO
  • PPC (Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) 

Optimise both on-page and off-page SEO. You don’t have to choose one over the other because those factors that we have mentioned are all crucial and benefit your overall website performance. 

So stop thinking about what is more important between the two, because you need to have both components and strategies to keep a sense of balance in your website. 

Work first on what you can control (on-page) on your website – producing quality content – and you’ll see how smooth earning backlinks and improving your domain authority (off-page) will be in the long run. 

Black Hat SEO versus White Hat SEO

What is Black Hat SEO?

Black Hat SEO is a practice that goes against the standard search engine guidelines and policies. 

Some digital marketers use unethical tactics to gain the results that they want and to satisfy their clients. Some of these recognised SEO dark tactics are:

  • Keyword stuffing 
  • Integrating private links or blog networks
  • Cloaking
  • Content Automation
  • Sneaky redirects
  • Reporting a Competitor
  • Intentional content duplication
  • Spamming rich snippet markup

Black Hat SEO is SEO done in a dark, wrong way. Your website will get penalised and may get banned from search engines rather than make friends with it.

In 2006, Google confirmed the ejection of the SEO firm Traffic Power and the sites it represents from its indexes due to violations performed by the said firm. 

“I can confirm that Google has removed traffic-power.com and domains promoted by Traffic Power from our index because of search engine optimization techniques that violated our webmaster guidelines,” Matt Cutts, Google’s former Head of the WebSpam Group official statement. 

Keep in mind that search engines’ algorithms change from time to time to detect websites that continue to avail unethical SEO implementations like this. It recognises and penalises those businesses that engage in this method of engagement. 

What is White Hat SEO?

White Hat SEO means ranking by the rules of Google. This method is far different and much more sought-after than the ones we mentioned above. 

This tactic of increasing your website’s position on a search engine results page (SERP) is a search-engine-approved way to improve your business’s online presence and preserve its integrity. 

SEO professionals practising white hat SEO ensure that you are in line with the terms and conditions set by search engines to avoid unnecessary complications or face penalties. 

Some of these examples can be:

  • Ensuring your website is navigable
  • A mobile-friendly and faster-loading times website
  • Providing quality, rich content and services
  • Following best practices for tags and meta descriptions
  • Satisfying user intent

We understand that getting Google to notice your content is challenging. This is one of the reasons why some would rather take the easy road of dark schemes to outrank their competitor and list higher in SERPs. 

Qualities of an SEO-Friendly Website

Is your website an SEO-friendly one?

Building a website for your business is one win already, but sustaining it to survive the ever-changing requirements of search engines and the competition out there is an enormous challenge. 

These are some of the elements that make your site an SEO-friendly one. 

  1. Clean URL structure

In our previous blog post, we discussed how your URL structure affects SEO site performance and crawling activities. 

Remember to have your permanent links structured in this way: lowercase, descriptive, separated by dashes, and containing organic keywords for search engine visibility. 

  1. Unique descriptions for titles and pages 

Seo-friendly sites contain unique titles and descriptions for all of their pages. 

Page titles direct search engines to what the page is all about, so you must think of a simple, descriptive type of page title for each page you have on your site. 

  1. Solid content

For sure you know the advantage of crafting solid and unique content on your website. 

When we speak of unique content we want something that is organically structured and free from plagiarism. 

Google and other search engines will flag your website if they detected you have stolen other people’s content and claimed it as your own without proper credits or permission. 

Don’t tarnish your reputation with this act of plagiarism. 

  1.  Fast loading pages

An SEO-friendly website offers a better user experience. We all have our fair share of visiting websites online that takes forever to load and we know how irritating it can be. 

Don’t lose a prospective customer just because you host your website on poor ones. As much as possible invest in quality hosting platforms. 

  1. Internal linking 

Internal linking serves as a compass of your website to search engine crawlers.

It helps spiders or bots in associating relevant web pages to your site, which creates a strong internal architecture to boost your website’s SEO friendliness.

What does SEO Friendly Content look like?

Creating SEO-friendly content can be an arduous task if you think of it because of the requirements that come along with it – unique keywords, strong links, and high-quality content.

Here are five must-have elements that make your content SEO friendly:  

  1. Use headings and subheadings

When we speak of user-friendly we mean accessible, navigable type of content. 

Using headings and subheadings to structure your content can aid your visitors to run through your content seamlessly and hassle-free. 

Remember that SEO wants a better user experience as well. 

When you provide your audience with content that is easy to digest, they are more likely to share and bookmark your site for future reference.  

The same goes for search engine crawlers. It will be easier for these bots to crawl into your content as they can recognise your headlines and use them to understand your content clearly as to which parts are important. 

The study by Semrush reveals that 36% of articles with header tags have higher chances in terms of performing in search engines – traffic, backlinks, and even shares.

Keep in mind to:

  • Create catchy H1
  • Have your meta descriptions well-optimised; preferably about 1-2 sentences (140-160 characters) long
  • Include target keywords in titles
  • Use words like ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘what’, and ‘where’
  • Use numbers for the list type of articles.
  1. Backlinks – external and internal links

One way to have search engines rank your site is the number of quality backlinks you have in your content. 

Good content tends to have a lot of external and internal links in it. If you want to establish authority, ensure that you link your content to reputable sites. 

External links are links that point from one website to another. Contrary to internal links which connect one page to another under the same domain. 

Links are the currency of the internet; search engines know that. Links direct search engines to what content is good, bad, and never mind. They help search engines validate your reputation and if you deserve to be on their top page. 

This will not only add more value to your page but will help you gain traffic and earn the trust of your readers as they will see you as a credible source, ultimately making you one of the respected industry leaders. 

  1. High – quality Content: length and relevance

Length

Start creating long-form content. You will often hear this if you are a content creator or a digital content writer. 

Before, website owners tend to publish pieces of content that are shorter as they see that the more content you release, the higher the ranking potential. 

They are sceptical about producing long-form content as they deemed it not readable or not appealing to their audiences. 

Now, it doesn’t work that way. Even this Roots Digital blog you are reading today can attest to that. 

You’ll stumble upon blog posts or articles written around 1,000  to 5, 000 plus words and websites tend to publish them less frequently. 

If you check your analytics, which content you have published tends to garner more traffic or visitors? Your answers may differ but we can all agree that people stick to content that discusses the in-depth scenario of a specific subject than that seemed to skip important parts of the topic. 

With everything being present online, level up your content creation by ensuring that when people land on your page searching for what SEO means, they will never look elsewhere but you alone. 

Relevant

Relevancy is authenticity and usefulness rolled into one. 

You are reading this content because you want to know useful information that you can apply to your SEO campaigns or if you are starting you want some guides to help you get started. 

Why authenticity? People look for answers online. Some believe anything and everything they get from the web. 

As content creators or website owners, you must put authenticity and value into what you share online. You must speak the truth and release articles based on factual evidence for you to connect effectively with your audience. 

If you continuously make an effort to update and ensure your content survives the changing landscape of things online, people will see you as an expert in your field – making them want to do business with you. 

Shareable

Your content must cross boundaries. Reach as many people as you can by ensuring your content are shareable, not just on your website but even on social media platforms. 

A rich and interesting article can change your business image and can solidify your brand’s reputation. 

  1. Choice of Keywords

Are we in agreement with this point? 

Choosing your keywords wisely can impact your SEO campaigns positively. 

Some write first and leave the SEO optimisation job last, while others move into listing their target keywords and formulating their content. Whatever works for you in this phase, we respect it but we recommend you the latter. 

Identifying your keywords before drafting your content can help you better structure your inputs. You know which keywords go into the title, headlines, meta descriptions, and even on copies. 

Tricky as it may sound, now you have tools to help you come up with your keywords. You’ll find many keyword research guides online that can help you get started if you want to optimise your website content. 

Why is SEO significant?

SEO is a multifaceted process enough to make some people get rid of it. 

The complexity of this essential digital marketing tool becomes attractive to entrepreneurs and digital marketers around the web as it has brought new opportunities, professionally. 

Whether you perform SEO yourself for your website or collaborate with digital marketing agencies to perform this task for you, you can’t erase the fact that this is your survival toolkit. 

Integrating search engine optimisation into your business’s system is crucial as it will open doors for you – makes your website more visible on search engines, guarantees more organic traffic, and create opportunities to convert prospects into paying customers. 

More than the technical aspect, SEO establishes brand awareness, builds relationships, and helps in positioning yourself as an authentic industry leader in your field or line of business.

Now What?

We know that with everything we have laid out here, you are still wondering how search engine optimisation rules the digital marketing world right now. 

It’s okay, we understand that all of these are way too overwhelming to handle at first but, with this guide, we hope you can have the basic foundation if you want to take on SEO strategies on your website today. Hiring an SEO agency with proven work can also help you to start it.

Yes, SEO is not for the faint-hearted. 

There are new updates springing up every second that may cause you to lose focus and drive, but let us tell you this, SEO is your compass to get to where you want to be. 

If you stop and are reluctant to go through the process, we cannot guarantee you a successful online presence. 

Keep this guide as your GPS in building your brand, optimising your content, and solidifying your online reputation. So hang on, and do the work.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SEO?

SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimisation. It is a process to optimise a website so its content or pages can be easily found by search engines to rank them better.

How does SEO work?

Search engines use algorithms or a set of policies to determine what pages to show results for people’s queries.

There are three main metrics that search engines evaluate to determine the quality of a site and how it should rank: links, content, and page structure. 

How long does it take to rank on Google?

It depends. We know this answer may frustrate you but that is the real thing about ranking as it doesn’t depend on one factor alone.

There are thousands of factors that affect your website’s ranking position and Google recently dropped that they use around 200 plus metrics to check a website for ranking. 

Do I really need SEO?

Are you willing to spend your time on SEO? 

Solid SEO takes time. You have to know it yourself as a business owner.  Here are some points to help you decide:

– Can your business survive by word of mouth or referrals?
– Invest in the sales team or online visibility or both?
– For online visibility, how many customers do you want to reach per month, per year?

Some SEO experts will tell you that every business needs SEO. Others may advise you it is not necessary. Depending on what you decide, ensure you check your cash flow first. 

SEO is an investment. There are various factors that you need to look into before diving into it because each may cost differently.

At Roots Digital we operate with transparency and honesty. Though having clients sounds great for our agency, what matters to us more is our conscience. 

We will tell you if you need SEO now or if it is the right move for you. 

Do I need to hire an SEO?

SEO is a serious undertaking.

You earn your ranking and the growth of your business online. 

 If you have a clear answer to the points we raised at no. 4, we will be glad to help you.

Looking for a trusted SEO agency in Singapore? Schedule a consultation with us today.

About Roots Digital

Roots Digital is an award-winning digital marketing agency and SEO agency headquartered in Singapore, specialising in eCommerce Marketing and lead generation. We are a Google and Meta Business certified partner working to deliver the best-in-class digital marketing campaigns from large enterprises and SMEs to growing start-ups.

Some of our core digital marketing services include SEO servicesSEM services, Google Ads management servicesGoogle Analytics services and more.

Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in working with us. Connect with us via our service enquiry form. You may schedule a call for more information and to know more about our digital marketing services.

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Ian Ong
Ian Ong
Marketing Director @ Roots Digital, a digital marketing agency in Singapore. Aka the guy responsible for growing the digital marketing agency.
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