Search Engine Optimization & Link Building

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Google was the first website that pops into your mind when you think of a search engine. Yahoo! and Bing are also popular search engines, while Ask Jeeves is most definitely a thing of the past. Nonetheless, they all perform the same task. Simply put, all you have to do is find the search bar, enter your query, hit ‘enter’ and BOOM, you’re given instant results. Unless your internet provider is really slacking, or your WiFi connection is less than decent, you really do get your results instantly, and that’s one of the best things about a search engine. It does all the hard work for you – literally all you have to do is type in a few keywords and there you have it. Search engines do a great job of filtering out the websites that don’t match your search criteria well enough, and provides you with only the top notch sites that match your criteria the best. Could you imagine how hard it would be to find the perfect guacamole recipe or how to find the nearest athletic club in a new city without search engines? (Yeah, yeah, you can use a recipe book or make a couple calls, but you get the point I’m trying to make.)

Ever wonder how your company or just yourself can optimize these search engines in an effective way? Check out how.

An important part of SEO is understanding what it is your target market is looking for. You need your website to provide solutions to problems, answers to questions, and a result for keywords. In order to know your audience, you need to understand the 3 different types of search queries they’re likely going to make.

  1. “Do” : this is a transactional query, and likely means they want to do something, such as buy a concert ticket.
  2. “Know” : this is an informational query, and likely means they need to find out the name of that song they can’t get our of their head, or the best Chinese food in the city!
  3. “Go” : this is a navigation query, and likely means they want to go somewhere on the internet, such as a job board or to Twitter.

Inbound marketing and inbound sales are all tied into search engine optimization, which is exactly why your company needs to be focusing on this aspect of their marketing plan. When customers are able to come to you, the job of inbound marketing has been done, and most of it wouldn’t even be possible if it weren’t for your webpage showing up on the top of their screen in a Google search.

As with any kind of technology, problems can arise. Search engines are highly sophisticated, but they aren’t perfect. It’s important to make sure you use the common language your target market will use in a search, so that the search engine has an easier time finding your website. Keeping it simple is often the best route for this. There are also certain words that have variation the way they are spelled such as “favorite” and “favourite.” Make sure you’re fully aware of which one your audience is going to use, and that you are associated as a result with it!

The way the front page of a search engine results list works is that there are usually 10 or so results per page. These websites are put in a ranking order and the higher up on the list your page is, the better click-through rate you’re going to receive. Generally speaking, the top 3 spots get the most action, while anything after that will just progressively see less and less traffic. If you get nothing else out of this post, make sure you know that you want to be in the top three!! Search engine rankings are extremely competitive, and it’s no wonder why. The competitive nature of search engine rankings will never change, even as the internet itself and other technologies adapt and change.

Back to keywords… you’ll know you’re getting the right kind of visitors when you are using the same keywords that your target market is typing into the search bar. You need to be sure that your keywords are compatible with the content on your website. When you know that its relevant, the next step is checking out your competition. Type in these keywords to a search engine and see what the top few links are and browse around. If, say, your website isn’t able to rank high enough for your keywords, you can buy test traffic through Google Adwords and see how well it converts. You’ll be able to track impressions and conversion rates over the course of 200-300 clicks or more! Adding a dollar value to each keyword can help you see just how useful those words are and get an estimate of the profit you’re able to make because of those words – and who doesn’t like profit?

Search engines know exactly how to filter out webpages that don’t satisfy the needs of the searcher. Usually, the websites that get ranked highest aren’t just the “best fit,” they’re also easy to use and navigate, provide direct and relevant information to the query, are professional, and deliver high quality and credible content.

Links are another useful tool when it comes to search engine optimization and digital marketing. Link analysis is a way for search engines to understand how pages can be related to one another and in what ways. In order to increase your search rankings and have great overall search engine optimization, you need to utilize links and learn how to build them in order to gain more traffic. A hyperlink is a way for users to navigate between different websites on the internet. Sounds simple enough! Search engines will use these links to crawl between pages on your website, or between entirely different websites. When your website has relevant links embedded in your content, you’re able to increase your ranking in a search engine! Links are what led Google to be the leading search engine over the last 15 or so years.

Not only will effective link building help increase your SEO ranking and ultimately your profits, but it will also help you build connections and hopefully meaningful relationships with others in your field. You can also gain referral traffic, sort of like a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” type of deal. Great link building can also help establish your brand and differentiate it from the rest.

In order for someone else to link your website on their own (a natural, editorial link), you need to give them a good reason to do so. And this all comes back to having remarkable content that is worthy of being shared. These kinds of links are highly valued because there’s really no incentive for the person to link your page. They do it because they recognize your content as needing to be shared, and deserving more of an audience. This can take lots of time to accomplish, but like I just said, it’s so highly valued. Another method of link building is through doing it manually. Typically, smaller start-up businesses will have their SEO do this job, and it entails calling bloggers and website owners, and asking them yourself if they would link to your page. Again, you still have to give them a good reason to link your page, and you also need to be contacting people that are actually relevant to what your webpage is about.

Forbes published an article about their 4 Tips for Hiring the Right SEO Firm, (cough, cough, perfect example of a natural editorial link), and here’s what agencies are considered to be the best at SEO, along with how much you should be spending on your SEO efforts!