SEO Best Practices for Ranking In Organic Search Results (SERPs)
SEO Best Practices for Ranking In Organic Search Results describe methods of configuring web content for the purpose of maximizing the ability to generate traffic from organic searches. There are two types of search results displayed online: paid search results and organic search results. Paid search results are paid ads displayed by search providers such as Google, Bing, Yahoo in strategic locations online. Organic search results are content that match search terms entered by searchers in search engine tools and are displayed on SERPs based on their strength of relevancy to the searchers queries or search terms.
When people enter a search term or query into the search engine tool of Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine, they are redirected to a search result page after they click on the search button. The search results page (SERPs) contains results in the form of a list. At the top of the list, search engines place paid ads that match the search criteria. Below the paid ads, they list organic or non-paid results that are most relevant to the search criteria. The later is referred to as organic results and are listed based on the strength and quality of the relevancy of the content of the web page listed in the SERPs. Traffic to your website that is generated after people find your content on the SERPs and click on the link is called "organic search traffic" or "organic traffic".
Organic traffic is therefore traffic that does not cost you money to generate, except the cost of producing the content on your web page. It is your most valuable traffic. Organic search results are trusted the most by searchers because they know that search engine algorithms gave it a vote of confidence by listing it in the SERPs. It is estimated that on average organic traffic represents about 70% of all traffic coming to your website from search results.
The only apparent downside of organic traffic is that it takes time to build up and rise in ranking in the SERPs. Search engines algorithms apply strict criteria for evaluating content for ranking in the top five results for specific keywords. So, making it to the top of the SERPs means that search engine algorithms evaluated and found your content to be of the highest quality. For this reason, searchers have the most trust in organic results.
All traffic generated from the first page of SERPs represent about 92% of all search traffic on Google and drops by about 95% on the second page. While organic content takes time to be indexed by search engines and start generating traffic, this is your most efficient and effective source of long term and sustainable traffic and of acquiring new visitors to your website (and to your local business location) to grow your business. Generally, even though it takes time to climb up the ladder to the top, once one makes it to the top, one generally stays there in the long run. For this reason, I always warn businesses against falling for the black hat tricks being promised by black hat SEO's who promise to rank them No. 1 overnight. Our approach at OnMax Host Digital is always to build a strong foundation, and then consistently and systematically apply SEO Best Practices that gradually show results and consistent growth curve. Our clients generally stay at the top once they make it there for the keywords they are ranking for.
The branch of Online Marketing that focuses directly on improving your organic traffic is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Implementing the right SEO Strategies the right way and at the right time in a consistent manner will yield positive results over time in terms of ranking you high in organic search engine results listing (SERPs). The best and first strategy in achieving your online marketing goal must be finding the best way to provide the types of content that your target audience is looking for. This will require you to know and understand the searchers' intents. Your primary objective is to win the trust of your target audience by answering their questions in the most effective and adequate way. By doing this, you will build a loyal audience of people who will come back to you over and over. Your second strategy is to understand how search engines operate. Remember, the largest search engines are constantly changing their algorithms. No one really knows how they do what they do. But because we have experience and working with a variety of cases, we are able to figure out the best way to work with them. But you must beware of black hat SEO methods that only seek to trick the search engines into ranking you high - which many SEO so-called Experts do and will promise you, without providing the best and most relevant solutions that your prospective clients are looking for.
Ranking in SERPs takes time. Generally, we tell our clients to give themselves about 3 - 6 months of consistent and systematic effort before they will begin to see results. In this article, I am providing you with some of the key strategies that you can start implementing today to start building the foundation of a successful online campaign for your business.
When you build a website and fill it with content, you always certainly want your intended target audience to find it naturally or organically, enjoy it, like it, and use it to meet their specific needs. And then you want them to also share it with others, and for those others to share it with others. You want them to gather around you and become your advocates and evangelists in their own sphere of influence.
BEST SEO PRACTICES TO RANK IN ORGANIC SERPs
According to Google, there are at least 200 ranking signals or factors which determine your ranking status in organic search engine results (SERPs). And to make matters even more challenging, many of them change regularly every time Google issues new search engine algorithms. Consequently, it can be quite confusing determining what matters and what doesn't. In this section, I am going to explain some of what I consider the most important SEO factors and related best practices to give you focus.
ADEQUATE KEYWORD RESEARCH
As a business owner, it is vital that you properly define your business category(ies), and understand the search terms or queries - including long tail keywords - that your target audience uses to search for products and services in search engines. This is key to making your content relevant to the needs of your prospective customers. Many people come to us and we discover that they did not give any thought to this very important factor.
You need to conduct a thorough keyword research and build a complete of relevant keyword list per category around the way customers conduct searches in real life. Your keyword research must also focus on the search terms that your competitors are using. Your keyword strategy must include performing a quantitative analysis of your prospects' search behavior. Such a categorized keyword gap analysis will help you understand your current performance as well as the potential available to you. You can then use this data to inform a comprehensive and effective keyword strategy that will guide your content development strategy to ensure that the content you produce is relevant to your audience's needs.
There are a number of tools available online to help you conduct your keyword research. Here are a few of them: Moz, Keywordtool.io, SEMrush, Google Keyword Planner, etc. If you already have an existing website, you can also get a content audit performed. a content audit can help determine which pages you may need to edit, update, eliminate, consolidate and also show you new content marketing opportunities. You can request a Free SEO Audit from our Experts. It comes with a 30-minutes Free SEO Consultation to review the audit report and discuss a strategy.
KEY SEO RANKING FACTORS SPECIFIC TO YOUR BUSINESS
While there are hundreds of SEO Ranking Factors that our SEO Audit Reports can produce, not all these factors are relevant to your business at any given time. It is therefore very important for business leaders to develop a solid understanding of both on-site and off-site factors that matter to your business. It is very easy to get inundated with un-necessary details that are not applicable to your situation. We work closely with our clients to define an effective SEO Strategy that clearly defines the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that need to be measured, monitored, analyzed, and evaluated. Our clients have the advantage of monitoring their SEO performance live on our Customer-Facing SEO Dashboard. We provide both weekly and monthly reports. This approach has the advantage of anticipating trends and taking necessary actions to make adjustments and avoid costly surprises.
QUALITY RELEVANT CONTENT DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
You may have heard it said before: "Content is King!" Quality adequate content that is relevant to the needs of your intended audience is key to your SEO Strategy. Properly optimizing on-page factors such as well optimized title tags, meta descriptions, heading is very important. But even more important is the type of content that you produce. The readability and share-ability of your content are also key factors that must be well planned. Your content must be of such quality that your audience is eager to read it, share it and link to it. This will make you stand out above your competitors.
Your content strategy must include proper planning of regularly producing and publishing unique and practical content in various forms: blog articles, videos, infographics, research reports, and other visual content that your audience will be eager to read, like, share and link to - this is one sure way to build backlinks as recommended by Google. So, take time to build your Idea Matrix mapping all the types of content ranging from cornerstone content, evergreen content, etc.
Your Content Marketing Strategy must include both the types, goals of your content marketing as well as methods or options of both content development and delivery. The purpose of your content can be built around the following four pillars:
- Educate your audience by giving them the knowledge, tips and tricks to help them manage their business. This category of content also serves the goal of increasing brand awareness.
- Inspire your audience in life and business.
- Entertain your audience and meet their emotional needs.
- Convince your audience to take action (Purchase).
I suggest that you consider the following content types as appropriate to meet your content marketing goals:
- Blog posts.
- Images, Infographics and other Visual Materials.
- Video (i.e. training, updates, news, etc.).
- Industry Research reports.
- Industry Survey reports.
- Product Features.
- Case Studies.
- Press Releases.
By defining your content marketing strategy this way, you will be able to collect the right data, analyze, measure, evaluate, and make adjustments as necessary. This will also help you define your approaches for B2C, B2b as well as whether you are marketing to non-profit organizations and government agencies. You will thus be able create your content matrix and approaches based on your particular audience's needs, budgets, decision-making style (i.e. small businesses vs. larger businesses have different decision-making chanenels, etc.)
CONTENT PUBLISHING STRATEGY
Your content marketing strategy must be built around your keyword research strategy. The two must go hand in hand. Your content marketing must be based on keyword research and analysis to produce the type of content that answers the queries of your target audience.
But no matter how good your content is, it is useless unless you have an effective editorial schedule that integrates with an effective Social Media, Influencer and Public Relations Strategies. In other words, you need a strategy for getting your content out there where it can be viewed and acted upon.
Your content marketing strategy must include an editorial calendar that enables you keep your content fresh with regular releases to keep the audience engaged and build a competitive advantage online by consistently building backlinks. Your editorial calendar my specify a schedule for publishing the various content types (videos, infographics, blog posts, newsletters, visual tools, etc.).
Your publishing schedule can be organize around content types based on your audience content consumption habits. You may have a schedule that targets different groups of content consumers with different content formats. Your goal is to reach your target audience with the right content, in the right format, and at the right time.
EXTERNAL LINK BUILDING STRATEGY
External links are also referred to as backlinks. Backlinks are another measure of the quality of your content. They are a reflection of user experience signals that your content generate. Google does not value external links that you create yourself.
When the quality of your content is great and meets the needs of your audience, your readers are likely to enjoy it, share it, like it, and refer to it by linking to it. This constitutes a vote of confidence in the eyes of search engines. This is why we are now referring to this process as "earning backlinks" rather than "building backlinks".
When done this way, especially if the backlink is coming from high authority websites, the backlinks pass carry "link juice" that help build your domain authority. Your domain authority is the measure of how likely your domain name is to rank in Google SERPs. Whereas I have previously written that "Content is King", I must stress today that "Quality Content is King!"
You also need to have in place a working content link earning strategy. Send emails out and solicit links from sources within your network. Such external link earning campaign needs to integrate with your Public Relations (PR) campaign and other outreaches activities to help promote your content.
You must also remember that all links are not created equal. You must clearly define what constitutes a quality backlink in your Link Building Strategy. You must not accept every link because some links may actually dilute your website authority. Contact our SEO team to learn more about our Link Detox Strategy.
INTERNAL LINKING STRATEGY
Internal linking is very important not only because it is a ranking factor in SERPs but also because it makes it easy for your website visitors to navigate around your website content more efficiently and effectively find related content to help them make the intended decisions. When well done, internal linking increases the value of user experience on your website.
"What gets measured, gets managed." And "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." (Peter Drucker).
Organic Search is the most important source of website traffic. You must therefore have in place an effective Measurement Strategy and Process that include an effective reporting mechanism. This will enable you to measure your organic search performance against your established business and marketing goals as well as your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) objectives.
Unless you define your objectives and goals clearly and link them to the right KPI targets, you will not be able to clearly and properly prioritize your marketing activities, define your methods and select the right tools for performing those activities, and configure the right reports that clearly present your performance outlook. At OnMax Host Digital, we provide our clients with a Dashboard that presents a consolidated view of your combined marketing activities.
Your Measurement Strategy must enable you to measure the following marketing activities (among others):
- Brand Awareness
- Real Audience Engagement
- Real Relationships
- Conversion Rates
There are both free and paid measurement tools available online. Google Analytics is a free tool that you can use to track and analyze various metrics of your organic traffic. The OnMax Host Digital Reporting Dashboard is integrated with overt 25 other leading data sources to provide you with a complete picture of your digital marketing performance, sparing you the pain of having to log in and out of several websites. You have the ability to see all your key indicators on one screen, thus accelerating and simplifying your decision making process.
STAY CURRENT WITH SEO KNOWLEDGE, TRENDS, AND TOOLS
Google algorithms are changing rapidly regularly. The SERPs features are also changing regularly. It is important that business owners understand the different features that appear in the SERPs in order to properly define their Organic Search Marketing Strategy and create the types of content that will feed the right information into those features. Understand each of the SERPs features will open your eyes to new content marketing opportunities that will help you increase the visibility of your business in the eyes of the viewers.
It is important to understand that Google is changing SERPs features to meet the needs of the viewers and provide them with the information they need to make educated buying decisions. If your content is not addressing those features, you will be missing in action and surrendering a competitive advantage to your competitors.
At OnMax Host Digital, we are producing content that educate our audience on various aspects of SEO. We understand that business owners are very busy focusing on growing their business and therefore do not have the time to keep up with all the changes taking place on the ever-expanding Internet and search engine algorithms. We therefore produce content that provide easy to digest bite-size chunks of information to help you stay current on the trends, tools, features, as well as other important data to help you formulate effective digital marketing strategies. Sign up to our Email List and Subscribe to this blog to acquire the knowledge you need to be successful. To subscribe to this blog, simply comment at the bottom of this article. You will be required to enter your email address. Choose the option to be notified when we publish future articles so that you do not miss out.
My goal in this article was to help you understand you the strategic importance of organic search in growing your business online and achieving success in your digital marketing efforts. Like I wrote earlier, organic search is key to achieving your digital marketing goals. Over 70% of online traffic that come to your website is organic traffic. While rising to the top of the search engine results listing (SERPs) and building consistent and growing organic traffic takes time, the effort is worth it because once you get there, you are likely to stay there.
It is important to note that organic traffic is just one of the sources of traffic. Paid ads are also a source of traffic and can generate leads fast to increase your sales. But paid ads can be costly. You must therefore develop a balanced Digital Marketing Strategy that integrates a multi-channel approach to achieve your goals based on your industry, your business goals, the competition level and type, and the type of audience you are targeting.
Even if you hire a SEO Professional, it is still vital that you develop a good understanding of SEO, Organic Search Results (SERPs) Features, Digital Marketing Trends, Digital Marketing Tools available (both free and paid), and the importance of measurement to help in your decision-making process. Failure to have even a basic understanding of digital marketing will certainly cause you to miss on even readily available opportunities to grow your business.
To conclude this article, let me provide you with some Digital Marketing tools available online:
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Learn more about how you can optimize your content to maximize the opportunity to increase your findability and visibility online, draw more traffic, improve your conversion rates, dominate your niche, and grow your business in 2019 and beyond. And if you find the content useful, feel free to share with others and recommend our blog.