A Step-by-Step Journey to Dominate Search Engines
For those who work within the digital marketing sphere, SEO is probably a familiar term. If the only thing you understand about SEO is its close relation to Google, then you’ve arrived at the right place! We’ve put together a guide to help you delve deeper into the vast world of SEO. This guide covers all the nuts and bolts of SEO, from the most basic knowledge to all the advanced parts. Without further ado, let’s jump right in! First and foremost: understanding the definition of SEO.
What Is SEO?
SEO (or Search Engine Optimisation) is a principle of digital marketing responsible for helping websites rank on search engines and build their organic visibility.
In the process known as crawling, search engines will look for relevant content all over the internet. Any content found during the crawling process will be stored and organised in the index, ready to be displayed as a result of relevant queries on search engines. Depending on their relevance, pages with content that solves the searcher’s query will be ranked higher on search engines.
The role of SEO is to build strategies for a website, ensuring that search engines can understand the content on the website and present the right information to the right users.
The algorithm of search engines is complex and ever-changing, and trying to keep up with them can feel like a trip down the rabbit hole. This is why it’s important to understand the foundational concepts of SEO. Even a basic knowledge of SEO can be incredibly helpful as you start on your SEO journey.
Why Should You Learn SEO?
Despite the rise of disruptive marketing tactics in recent years, organic search still remains a dominant digital channel that provides trackable web traffic. According to statistics, SEO generates 1,000% more traffic than social media channels, and the average close rate of SEO approaches is 8x higher than traditional marketing strategies.
A cost-effective method to improve performance on search engines, here are the reasons why you should utilise SEO strategies to grow a business:
- 85% of retailers feel SEO is most effective for getting new customers.
- 49% of marketers cite organic search as providing the highest ROI.
- 40% of revenue is driven by organic traffic.
- 51% of website traffic is driven by organic search.
- Google Ads Cost Per Lead (CPL) has increased for 91% of Industries YoY.
Find Information from Reliable Sources
What Are the Top Issues, Challenges, and Mistakes To Avoid When Learning SEO?
Today, there is a lot of information about SEO on the internet. While it’s good to have more accessible information, it’s important to get your learning material from credible sources, especially during the initial stages of your learning process. You can rely on websites and publications with a good reputation, for example, Moz, SEMRush, or Google’s own documentation.
TOP TIP: Before delving deeper into SEO, you need to learn all the basic terms and jargon in SEO before absorbing deeper concepts. SEO is filled with complex information, so following this tip is important to avoid further confusion.
Find What Makes an Effective SEO Strategy
The main objective of learning SEO is to optimise effective communication methods that convey valuable information to your target audience. The main goal? Converting these users into customers. Generating a high traffic rate to your website alone isn’t the final destination. So, after improving the ranking of your website and its click-through rates, the next challenge is to sustain the users’ interests and keep them engaged.
Good SEO practices keep the users at the core of the strategies, an aspect that is often overlooked when developing an SEO campaign. If you want to implement effective SEO strategies, you should publish compelling and engaging website content as part of your tactic. Now, to produce relevant content for your target audience and build an excellent user experience, you need to understand your target audience. This is where research comes in handy! In SEO, keyword research is an integral part of the strategy development process. During this process, the SEO Specialist will:
- Discover different keyword variations that users might use when searching for a particular topic on search engines;
- Analyse the search volume for each keyword;
- Choose the best ones to incorporate into the content.
TOP TIP: The end goal of SEO isn’t a high amount of generated traffic but a higher conversion rate from visitors to customers.
Is SEO Relevant for Every Industry?
The true answer is no. Ecommerce industries or businesses with B2C models can take the most advantage of SEO to drive their website performance. But unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work effectively for all industries. For example, niche industries or startup businesses would gain better results from other marketing channels. SEO requires significant investment in time and resources to generate significant results, which may not be a feasible approach for smaller or highly specialised businesses.
The effectiveness of SEO strategies also depends on the amount of website traffic that has accumulated over the years. Say, if there have only been 2,000 website users over the last year, the business would benefit more from paid channels. SEO strategies are more effective when there is a substantial amount of website traffic. So for businesses who have only had a small number of users over a year, paid channels are more suitable for driving growth.
Having said that, it’s never too early to start implementing SEO approaches in your marketing strategies, especially if you’re still building your business website. Your SEO Specialist can build SEO-friendly features on your website for future SEO purposes.
What Are the Common Misconceptions of SEO?
Although SEO has been around for a long time, there are still misconceptions revolving around SEO, including:
- SEO is free;
- SEO is all about targeting and ranking specific keywords;
- Backlinks don’t matter;
- You can do SEO on your own;
- SEO is a one-time, temporary solution;
- Using SEO plugins like Yoast or RankMath is sufficient for your strategies;
- SEO is all about optimising for the search engines;
- 3rd Party SEO tools are 100% accurate.
What Are the Pros and Cons of SEO?
TOP TIP: Compared to other marketing channels, organic channels offer a more long-lasting impact on your business.
If channels like email marketing and paid media rely on one-off tactics to generate results, SEO implementation usually takes more time to show results. Even though the growth is slow and gradual, SEO usually generates steady and reliable traffic for your website, reducing the need to spend extra budget on your paid channels.
Now we can see why SEO continues to be an effective marketing strategy. But from the long process alone, you can probably tell that SEO isn’t an easy and quick fix for your business. For example, an SEO Specialist needs to adapt to Google’s ever-changing algorithm – what worked well last week may not be as effective the following week. Whether it’s good or bad results, nothing is ever guaranteed in the world of SEO.
How is SEO a Demand-driven Channel?
SEO works best with existing demand on the market. If your business objective is creating buzz for new products or services or promoting niche businesses, SEO is not a suitable channel for your business. In this instance, channels like social media make a more effective tool for advertising new products or services on their platform and creating a demand.
SEO Demand-driven tactics:
The demand-driven nature of SEO is evident in the keyword research process (when developing SEO strategies). The SEO Specialist would use a keyword research tool to generate a list of relevant trending terms for your target market. After that, you either write website content centred around those keywords or optimise your existing content by adding those keywords. It is less time-consuming to use keywords already ranking well on search engines rather than establishing something entirely new.
Taking advantage of trending topics and terms on search engines is the base of an effective backlink strategy.
Link building strategy relies on high quality links from credible websites to earn domain authority that appeals to Google algorithm and gain direct traffic from users who click on those links. Depending on the number and quality of inbound links on your website, the level of your domain authority reflects your ranking in search engines.
TOP TIP: In Impressive’s SEO Success Stories podcast episode with leading SEO practitioner Fery Kaszoni, our host delves deeper into the important elements of media backlink strategies based on Kaszoni’s personal experiences. Tune into this episode to learn about the significance of writing newsworthy content for a successful strategy that benefits your business and journalists.
Important Skills to Succeed in SEO
Analytical & Critical Skills
SEO Specialists need a strong capability to gather data and pinpoint important insights from these data to inform and develop their next strategies. In addition to excellent research skills, understanding business KPIs is also helpful in implementing strategies with realistic timelines and measurable results.
Platforms like Microsoft Excel and Google Spreadsheets are efficient for storing and organising data. However, the benefits of mastering Excel or Spreadsheets aren’t just focused on presenting sleek reports and dashboards. SEO Specialists can take advantage of multiple tools on these platforms to combine data from multiple sources, analyse their findings, and identify which data is worthwhile to pursue.
Technical & Programming Skills
SEO Specialists aren’t required to have advanced skills and understanding of technical programming. However, it may be helpful to at least have a basic understanding of coding languages. SEO Specialists often work together with web developers to implement SEO strategies on a website; so understanding the workings of the front end or back end of a website is helpful to ensure a smooth implementation.
SEO takes time to show results, so aside from tech SEO skills, it is vital that SEO Specialists build project management skills. In the day-to-day of an SEO specialist, having strong management and communication skills are especially helpful in the following scenarios:
- When SEO Specialists work on a large website, it’s easy to miss out on things that may affect the website’s organic performance. In this instance, they can benefit from tools or workflows that improve their work speed and accuracy. For example, features in Google Search Console and Google Analytics are helpful in segmenting a sitemap into smaller and more focused sections.
- Automation software is a go-to choice for handling manual and repeatable tasks, which is especially beneficial when it comes to conducting a website’s health check.
- SEO Specialists need to understand how to present their data insights and ideas to upper management and clients. Since not everyone is familiar with SEO concepts, it requires excellent communication skills to explain how SEO can benefit a business. By articulating their strategies and approaches in a clear and concise way, SEO Specialists (especially those working in-house) can help businesses make informed decisions to improve their online visibility and drive growth.
With Google’s ever-changing algorithm and a lot of new technologies on the rise, SEO Specialists need to stay up-to-date with the latest skills and techniques to remain effective in their work.
For example, the recent advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having a significant impact on SEO work. AI helps search engines understand the intent behind search queries and show more relevant results to users. For SEO Specialists, this means they need to optimise their content not just for specific keywords but also for the user’s intent behind those keywords. Secondly, AI language models like ChatGPT presents opportunities to create more relevant and valuable content for users. ChatGPT is helpful for content creation and keyword research tasks because it can analyse and generate high quality content that aligns with the user’s intent and improves search rankings.
In conclusion, a flexible mindset is important to help SEO Specialists cater to different websites at a fast pace.
So that’s a short overview of SEO and its purposes in digital marketing. If you want to learn about SEO in more detail, we’ve packed everything you need to know in the following 15 chapters. Drawn from research, our in-house expertise, as well as personal experiences with Impressive’s clients, our learning materials have plenty of insights for both beginners and more seasoned professionals!