Reaching the top of SEO is neither complex nor simple. But does require patience and breadth of knowledge.
I remember the old days when SEO was just a way of outsmarting the less complex and unintelligent search engines. Back then SEO (Search Engine Optimization) wasn’t that complicated or in-depth compared to what it is for online marketers today. Back in the day's webmasters just needed quick site analysis, set up semantic key structures, and know where to plug in the keywords, or rather just stuff the page with keywords! That was the most part of the SEO. But the shift towards a more natural organic SEO ranking has made it far more competitive and challenging to stay ahead. Competition is fierce when it comes to ranking high, and requires consistent effort.
Today, most people rely on Google for their search results, and why online marketers place greater emphasis to rank websites high on leading search engines. However, for Google SEO, there are a couple of things to consider:
- Broad Core Algorithm updates.
- Structured Data.
- Quality Content & Keywords.
- On-Page and Off-Page SEO.
- Local SEO.
- Chrome security warnings.
- Mobile speed updates.
- Video and Visual Content.
- Structure and usability.
- Staying ahead of SEO guidelines and updates.
Over the years search engines have become proactive and know what shortcuts online marketers are utilizing in terms of ranking their websites. In fact, the introduction of (AI) Artificial Intelligence and natural language understanding by search engines is making it far more challenging for SEO professionals to find shortcuts. The categories above are SEO guidelines set in place by search engines and SEO specialists. Those that follow and adhere to such guidelines will find their efforts pay off. Even concentrating on a few of the categories can result in successful ranking results. On the contrary, avoiding such guidelines and blindly trying to rank web pages or websites will just add to the headache of getting nowhere.
Staying in tune with what’s happening in SEO and algorithm updates allow SEO professionals to stay current and adapt to changes before seeing an adverse effect and shift in website rankings.
So What is SEO?
Before we start talking about the complex side of SEO we should know what is SEO? SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization. It's basically the process that allows websites, web pages, and content to be ranked and indexed by search engines. Various SEO strategies are used when it comes to website ranking that helps content and web pages to be available to potential visitors.
A search engine is basically a lookup website and based on hundreds of algorithms decides which website it should display based on a keyword or string search. For example, when you search “Banana” on Google, the Google search engine refers to its index based on the keyword “Banana”. Based on factors like location, gender, and other secrets factors the relevant websites are displayed. The top spot is based on the content as well as factors like domain authority.
Why SEO is important
As we know, Search engines help manage and locate content, but the process of SEO helps search engines better understand the content and rank it accordingly. Having a website pop up at the top of a page result has a higher likelihood of it being clicked. In fact, research shows that websites listed at the top of a page stand a higher chance of a visit than those at the bottom of the search page. Hence, why having a website at the top of a search result will drive traffic and impact the number of visitors, thus converting into customers and revenue.
As a business, this is huge when it comes to surviving and competing online. Think about when you research something on Google, the SERP (Search Engine Result Page) will most likely have what you looking for on the first page and rarely click on the 2nd, 3d page.
SEO is a significant part of any business looking to improve ranking and boost traffic to its website. Better yet, SEO will lead visitors to find the relevant topics they are looking for and possibly convert into readers, customers, and regular visitors.
Key Factors in SEO
Unique quality content is what the public is looking for. Have you ever re-read something your already familiar with? In fact, search engine algorithms place greater emphasis and higher SERP rank for websites and web pages with quality content. The effort in creating content for its readers is the primary goal.
Another important part of your SEO is keywords. Googlers or search engine users use keywords, long-tail keywords, or a string when looking for data or information. The search bar has become a prominent place where we are able to quickly type keywords and this is a big part of SERP ranking. Online marketers know that search engines rely heavily on keywords and one big reason why effective keywords are researched and content written around these. Ensuring that the right keywords are in place will lead users to find your webpages and the information efficiently.
As the growth of mobile searches and users continues to climb, it is only paramount that websites are responsive and clearly accessible on mobile devices. Recent search engine updates have made it clear that this is a factor when it comes to ranking. A website that is not rendered and lacks mobile-friendliness and usability will lose ranking points. Hence, why websites need to cater to multiple devices and different screen resolutions compared to just a desktop computer. Web designers build and display content specific to the device. Thus helping with a higher SERP rank.
Whilst a website may be thoroughly optimized, this alone is not the only option when it comes to ranking. Search engines also look at links and signals coming from reputable and related websites. Hence, it's always good to create quality content, and allow backlinks to be created as citations and references to the original article, website, or blog.
Common SEO questions and answers
1. How Long Does SEO Take to Work?
It depends on the efforts and what the end goal is. Don’t expect great results in one day, it takes time and requires ongoing efforts to increase SERP rank. Overall, results can be seen in as little as a few months to a year. Remember organic SEO takes time and patience.
2. SEO Ranking is Guaranteed?
The answer is not really. Reputable SEO companies do not guarantee SEO outcomes because they can not control the outcome. They can only follow SEO guidelines that help the process of ranking. Also, the problem is, the search engine algorithm keeps evolving, thus affecting SERP ranking. But, if SEO is done correctly with the visitors in mind there will be few drops and hikes in the ranking.
3. Difference between On-site and Off-site SEO?
On-site SEO is a process where SEO specialists optimize your website based on content, web page title, header tags, URL. However, Off-site SEO is where the online marketer builds links, reviews off-site signals, and improves content outside of the website. For example, social media campaigns, videos, reviews, and article submissions to name a few.
4. What’s more important On-site SEO vs Off-site SEO?
Both are equally important when it comes to getting a higher SERP ranking.
5. What is local Ranking and local SEO?
Local ranking is a SERP ranking depending on your local area. Webmasters generally create multiple pages with keywords associated with locations.
6. Should I stop if I reach a good SEO ranking?
No, just by gaining a high rank does not mean the job is done. In fact, regular updates need to be in place to maintain that high standing. Remember SEO is a work in progress and never stops.
Another thought should be to watch out for competitors. Even though your website may have great content there will always be the threat of competition being more aggressive and outsmarting your website rank. One key reason why SEO should be an ongoing service.
7. SEO is worth it?
If you put effort into it SEO you will see an increase in website traffic, as well as more online visibility. Your business brand will be more prominent and able to stay ahead of its competition.
Major Google SEO updates over 10 Years
Let’s look up some major Google SEO updates over the past couple of years, and how these have shifted the SEO process.
Bert update in 2019
Bert is a Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. Google announced this update, and it was the biggest change to Google search in the past 5 years. Bert is a new technology that better understands users' search and provides relevant information
Fred update in 2017
Google decided to give the SEO penalty to websites that used an interstitial advertisement to block user’s screens on their website.
The mobile update in 2015
This update forced most website developers to make their websites mobile-friendly. Websites that are not mobile-friendly face a penalty on SERP ranking.
Hummingbirds updates in 2013
The hummingbird update improved the Google search algorithm to become smarter. It helped the Google search engine to better understand intent and context. This update steered online marketers to utilize longtail keywords.
Penguin update in 2012
Penguin update was designed to encourage websites to provide high-quality content to users.
Panda update in 2011
Panda update was a filter to clear out websites that had too many advertisements.
Over the years search engines have adopted more complex and AI-based algorithms to better weed out poor content, and websites built on the premise of just ranking higher. It will only get challenging for marketers that exploit holes still present in search engines, hence one key reason that content and websites should be created based on the visitor experience.