SEO is one of the most critical strategies for B2B marketers.
A strong SEO strategy is an excellent way to increase visibility and leads to more traffic, engagement, and growth. Let this be your guide to all things SEO.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a set of best practices that improve website traffic. When a website is well optimized or SEO-friendly, search engines like Google rank it higher, leading to more people finding your web page. A good strategy places your website in front of users organically searching for your services through keywords. SEO is essential for improving the quality of web traffic and the quality of leads you’ll receive in return.
The Components of SEO
A promising SEO strategy incorporates several main components, tying together a user-friendly website full of quality information and favoring search engines’ algorithms.
Keywords are the most fundamental and well-known part of website optimization. As a central player, keywords are the words and phrases that allow users to find your website via organic searches. Speaking the same language as your audience brings their search inquiries to your website, delivering traffic and leads. Using your initiatives, well-placed relevant keywords are a foundation for all subsequent SEO efforts.
Don't leave this part out if your business requires local traffic! Physical companies that serve a local area will need SEO keywords related to your business and the geographic location. Google’s algorithms work in the blink of an eye. Users will search for their needs, and Google’s location services will provide them with solutions close to them, meaning you’re competing with potentially dozens of other businesses. Proximity matters for local businesses and search engines account for location; even when the user doesn’t include “near me” in the inquiry, it’s already done for you by the magic of algorithms.
Without content, search engines don’t have enough information to help your website rank, meaning content is integral to SEO and how many people find your business online. High-quality, helpful content is super valuable to consumers, but it also houses your SEO keywords to help you rank higher. Keywords certainly play a role in your content, but so do linking, formatting, length, and readability.
There is a side of SEO that not everyone sees, but it plays a significant role in how well your website ranks. Search engines scan websites (also known as crawling), and the easier the scan, the better the ranking. Suppose a website is poorly optimized with broken links. In that case, forbidden or restricted pages take too long to crawl or have other technical issues. It won’t be seen as user-friendly, reducing their ranking desirability.
Simply put, on-page SEO is the method of optimizing your website content. Also known as on-site SEO, it helps visitors understand what a web page is about and lets them see whether it satisfies their questions or not. Google and other search engines use on-page SEO to comprehend what someone would see when visiting a site’s page. Search engines are eager to serve people with high-quality, valuable content that matches their search queries, making on-page SEO critical. If a page is dubbed useful, it will be ranked well on SERPs.
Opposite to on-page SEO, off-page SEO is any tactic used to improve rankings that are not on your website but someone else’s. Off-page SEO helps build your domain authority and remains behind the scenes. Growing organic traffic can be achieved in several ways, including link building, content marketing, social media, influencer marketing, guest posting, podcasts, and more. When high authority websites feature your links or content, and those tactics drive traffic to you, this is what we call good off-page SEO.
Why is SEO important?
The importance of SEO is multifaceted, and several factors make it not only favorable but necessary for any successful business.
When your website has high visibility in search results, you’ll garner attention from prospects that need your business. It’s no secret that companies that put themselves in front of their audiences are the most successful. There is little gain in creating a website and waiting for the leads to come in on their own. It’s important to attract people to you proactively, and one way to become more visible is by using SEO.
Enter SEO visibility or search engine visibility. SEO visibility focuses on the percentage of clicks your website receives from a keyword. According to SEO software Moz, the average SEO visibility for the highest-ranking URLs is between 35% to 40%. Of course, these percentages vary for different keywords. To ensure that your website is visible on page one of SERPs (search engine results pages), you’ll need to have a highly focused, SEO-rich website.
Calculating Search Visibility
Collect all keyword rankings
Apply your estimated click-through rates (CTRs) based on each keyword ranking position
Add all CTRs together and divide by the number of keywords
You’ll arrive at a single metric between 0% and 100%
An SEO visibility score of 0% means none of your web pages are ranked in the top 50 positions on search engines. Realistically, most optimized websites will fall under 40% visibility.
Most people don’t connect building brand awareness with SEO, but yes, SEO even relates to branding! Brand awareness is the consumer's familiarity with a company and what it offers. SEO will get you there if you want more people to recognize and know your brand.
More Traffic, More Leads
For more organic traffic and leads, landing your pages on the first page of SERPs is key. While the entire first page of a SERP is coveted, did you know the top three results receive the highest majority of user clicks? Per Backlinko, the top three Google search results grab 75.1% of all clicks! What’s more, the first organic result on Google holds an average CTR of 31.7%.
Using SEO to land the first-page position on Google is a must if you want more traffic to your website. Even more compelling is that Backlinko also found that only 0.78% of searchers clicked on links on the second page of Google. A steep drop in the percentage of clicks means that searchers typically find what they are looking for on page one, so page one visibility is the best bet for more traffic.
Positions You as an Industry Leader
Industry leaders set themselves apart from the competition by being the most impactful, innovative, and effective in their fields. Consumers trust and respect industry-leading brands. With SEO, you’ll position your brand as a leader in your field by becoming one of the top-ranked results on search engines, placing you in front of consumers looking for your services.
Not only does showing up high on SERPs demonstrate your expertise to searchers, but the high-value content you produce with sought-after keywords shows your knowledgeable insights and advice.
How SEO Works
SEO can be pretty complicated and a bit mysterious (only Google knows exactly how the algorithm operates!), but there are three main functions for how SEO works.
First, search engine bots, also known as crawlers, explore the internet for new content. Search engine bots will scour the internet for new content. You may have heard the term “crawlability” which is the ease with which these bots search your website during an SEO audit. Crawlers go from page to page, even following on-page links and adding new content to its index.
Next, search engines save and filter the content after crawlers have scoured new content. Crawled webpages are placed into an index, and if they are well optimized, and people actively search for its content, the website will be shown in search results.
Lastly, websites are ranked based on their content and relevant keywords. If a website is optimized for searchers' questions, it will be ranked higher than those that aren’t. Crawlers use hundreds of factors to determine which sites are most relevant. Google uses at least 200 ranking factors, including keywords in your domain, content length, page loading speed, the quality of outbound links, and even grammar.
It’s important to note that these algorithms constantly change as Google continues optimizing its user experience. However, some mainstays of good SEO content include accuracy, credibility, and trustworthy websites. Google wants its users to have quality experiences, so keep this in mind when optimizing your website. An excellent standard practice is to audit your website quarterly to ensure it has speed, accuracy, quality, and valuable keywords for better rankings. SEO is a continuous process of improvement.
Due to its complex and often misunderstood nature, many people commonly ask questions about SEO. Even the most seasoned SEOs constantly learn and update their knowledge.
According to SEMrush, here are a few SEO FAQs.
Does My Business Need SEO?
The answer is a resounding yes if you want brand visibility, more traffic, credibility, engagement, and a long-term success strategy. SEO practices will make a noticeable impact on everything from user experience to more conversion if done correctly. SEO strategies also work for virtually any business. As long as people use search engines to find what they need, it’s important to stake out a spot in the digital space so people can find your company.
What Keywords Should I Focus On?
Knowing your target audience is the number one way to determine which SEO keywords are relevant to your business. Understanding your audience’s wants and needs will direct you to keywords and phrases to integrate into your content. Think about which questions your audience would likely inquire about and which words and phrases are used to describe what you offer. If your business requires traffic from a local region, include your area in the keywords. Certain SEO keywords are harder to rank for, and some have less volume (are searched for less), so using an SEO tool can give you more insights.
Should I Use SEO, SEM, or Both?
Ideally, both! Search engine marketing (SEM), also known as pay per click (PPC), is a strategy that uses paid ads to position your website in the top search results. If you want to maximize your presence on SERPs, using paid and organic strategies together is key.
Why Isn’t My Website Ranking?
There are several reasons your website isn’t appearing in search results, but it will happen with a great SEO strategy (and some patience). Remember that ranking takes time. In fact, new content doesn’t usually rank quickly, and it can take up to 650 days to rank in the 10th position on Google. Other reasons include not having a Google My Business page, inconsistent posting, slow website speed, etc.
How Long Does It Take for an SEO Strategy to Work?
SEO success looks different to everyone and largely depends on the goals and metrics that matter to you. According to SEMrush, you should see a measurable increase in website traffic and leads or conversions within six months to a year.
Building an SEO strategy
1. Start with a list of topics and keywords
To start an SEO content strategy, you’ll need to develop a list of keywords. First, start with pertinent topics; keywords will come naturally from there. Using your knowledge of your target audience, think about the queries and phrases they are likely to search to find the information they need. Develop a list of short and long-tailed keywords relevant to your business, your offerings, and the problems you solve.
2. Look at SERPs
What does Google have on its first page when you type in a keyword related to your business or services? Use this information to create your own strategy. Are there any patterns, similar queries, or popular topics you should consider for your plan?
3. Begin creating your strategy
Now that you’ve brainstormed and scanned Google for inspiration, it’s time to devise a strategy. Gleaning from topics in articles on the first page of SERPs or even looking at your competitor’s pages, you can see the popular topics and keywords that landed them on page one. From here, you can create something better with the goal of ranking.
4. Build your pages
Content houses keywords. Begin building the pages that will become the basis for your SEO strategy. If your website has little content, it’s time to start content creation. Think landing pages, blogs, pillar pages, and more. If your website already has content but lacks rankings, it’s time to optimize your content with powerful keywords. Either way, a properly optimized website has tons of valuable SEO-rich content.
5. Don’t forget about links
Links are essential for SEO. A smart combination of internal and external links will help your strategy. As we mentioned before, link-building is important to off-page SEO. Internal links connecting your content are an excellent way to keep traffic moving through pages and staying on your website longer.
6. Media and mobile are musts
As you build more content, you’re bound to add media in the form of images and videos. Take note of the size of these files because loading speeds matter to SEO! Keep file sizes reasonable to not negatively affect your rankings. Lastly, don’t forget about user experience and mobile optimization! According to Google, 90% of people use their smartphones to look up information. This means that your website must be mobile-friendly. We all have experienced a wonky website on our phones, and it’s the quickest way to get anyone to leave a website in search of another one.
Does Social Media Help with SEO?
Absolutely! While social media is not a direct ranking factor for your website, it does improve your SEO. Social media offers several channels that funnel people to your website. One of the easiest ways to improve your web traffic is to create shareable content and post it on social media. You can experience organic traffic through your content, but it never hurts to share it, leading to more traffic via social media. Another benefit to sharing content is getting more eyes on it, hoping others link your content to theirs, which we know improves SEO.
What is Black Hat SEO
Did you know there’s a wrong (and often penalized) way to optimize your website? Black hat SEO is an unethical practice against search engine guidelines to rank higher. Ranking high on SERPs is so vital to businesses of all kinds that certain practices are done to make this happen. However, more harm is done this way. Let’s talk about a couple of standard SEO black hat practices that are not worth it.
1. Keyword stuffing
As the name implies, this practice overloads keywords onto a page to manipulate the algorithm. Keyword stuffing is obvious and often repetitive, duplicating the same or similar keywords into sentences. Text like this won’t appear natural and is not valuable to readers.
This deceptive tactic shows human users and search engines different pages. A cloaked website will show altered pages to search engines when crawled. Search engines will conclude that the webpage is highly optimized, while searchers will see the webpage as unreadable. Cloaking refers to the content that users cannot see but looks desirable to SEO crawlers. them
Blog search engine optimization includes a few practices that will boost website rankings. Aside from on-page content filled with keywords, blog SEO includes linking (internally and externally), meta descriptions, and media.
Blogs are one of the best ways that marketers increase website traffic. One recent survey showed that 77% of respondents said blogging drives results. Blogging helps you answer prospects’ questions, provides useful information, and helps you rank better on Google. Ensure your content allows readers to dwell a bit longer, page speeds are fast, and the content is optimized for mobile users for the best results.
Outdated SEO Tactics
While SEO is constantly changing, it’s essential to stay on track of tactics that no longer work and focus on what search engines are currently looking for. Here are a few outdated SEO tactics for 2022.
1. Keyword Density
You don’t have to worry about the ratio of keywords per page. Google used to depend on keyword density when ranking, but it no longer does.
2. Writing for the Algorithms
It’s most important to write for humans first and the search engines next. Keep your prose natural and reader-friendly, rather than writing to cater to the algorithms. SEO is essential, but so are human readers – writing for them is imperative.
3. Buying Links
Buying links to drive traffic to your site is now an outdated tactic, but this was once very common. Low-quality domains and too many backlinks to your site only hurt your rankings.
Lasting results to improve your rankings, traffic, and, eventually, your conversions require focused effort across multiple areas. Keyword research, content, link building, technical SEO, and social media are all critical areas. Without all parts working together, your SEO strategy is broken.
But with a complete strategy that abides by Google’s rulebook, and with every part working together in every aspect of SEO, you can expect to finish first and start pushing quality traffic to your site resulting in higher conversions. And that’s one prize all businesses strive to achieve.