Introduction to SEO in Digital Marketing
Just imagine having an outlet without having any signage onto it – no name, no windows…nothing in particular. You would expect people may drop in out of curiosity, looking for product A, whereas you are selling product B. Now, when you have a shop with a proper name and probably the product image on it, this would attract so many people off the street, and they would ask for what you sell, and some of these customers would tell other potential targets about their buying experience and about your products and your shops.
The first example is like a website that is not optimized, while the second one relates to an optimized website.
SEO (Search engine optimization) is the process of making a web page easy to find, easy to crawl, and easy to categorize. It is about helping your customers find out your business from among thousand other companies. SEO is an integral part of any digital marketing strategy. It is basically concerned with a holistic move towards driving customers to your business via online platforms. And to do that, one must ensure the website ranks higher in the SERP (search engine result page). To give you an idea on this, let’s start with this fact of SEO – nearly 14 billion searches online take place every month. The advent of Global economy nearly makes every business have an online presence. Just imagine a fraction of those 14 billion searches happen for your business. To achieve that benchmark, your website must rank higher in the SERP, must perform well in the social media marketing, and the PPC (pay per click) activities must be very well along with other digital marketing tasks.
For any business, advertising is of utmost need. When any business goes online, the advertising works best to garner a huge amount of web traffic. SEO gives an opportunity for a great deal of free advertising.
A proper SEO makes a website rank in the first page of SERP. And the common belief is people generally scan and review the first two pages of the SERP. Nearly, 74% of consumers use search engines to find local business information. Compared to online marketing, such as PPC, social media marketing, email marketing program, SEO provides fairly good ROI. On a daily basis, nearly 80-90% customers check online reviews before finally purchasing any products.
“SEO is a noun, verb, and adjective.” By Todd Malicoat
How does SEO work?
Search engine are not humans but the software that crawls the web page content. So, not like humans search engines are text-driven. They complete a number of activities that bring search results – crawling, scanning and storing (or index), courses of action, measuring pertinence, and recovering. The distinction with an excellence count is that you’re calculating components of design, rather than actions of an individual. For example, some of the elements that are known to build up a quality score are as follows:
- Website names and URLs
- Page content
- Meta tags
- Characteristics of Link
- Usability and accessibility
- Page design
Let’s see how this whole cycle works:
- Indexing: Post-crawling content the Spider stores the indexed page in a giant database from where those can be retrieved upon entering a related search string or keyword. For humans this will not be possible, but for search engine, this is every day’s work. Sometimes, the search engines cannot understand the page content. And for that, you need to correctly optimize the page.
- Search work: With every search request, the search engine processes, i.e., it contrasts the key phrases searched with the pages indexed and stored in its record. More than millions of pages have the same search phrases. So, the search engine is an act of measuring the relevancy of all the pages and matches with what it indexed as per the keywords inserted in the SERP.
- Algorithms: A search algorithm is a diagnostic means that takes a puzzle (when there is a search with a particular keyword), sorts through a record that contains cataloged keywords and the URLs that have relevancy with those keywords, estimates some probable answers, and then reverts pages that have the word or phrase that was looked for, either in the body content or in a URL that directs to the page. Three search algorithms are there – On-site, Off-site, and Whole-site algorithms.
Each type of algorithm definitely looks at different aspects of the webpage, such as Meta tags, title tags, links, keyword density, etc., yet they all are part of a much larger algorithm. That is the reason why same search string generates different results in different search engines having distinct algorithms. And all these search engines (primary, secondary, and targeted) periodically do keep on changing their algorithms, so you must know how to adapt to these changes if you want to stay on the top. This requires sound SEO expertise.
- Retrieving: The end–result will be visible in the search results.
SEO and Digital Marketing
Apparently, it seemed there is no such difference between SEO and digital marketing approaches; both execute the same functions and possess the same skills. Only for marketing needs, different titles are resorted. To understand this, we need to pay a thorough look on these concepts. The below figure will clearly show how SEO is based as a subset of digital marketing.
The SEO people are engaged in bringing the organic hits, while the digital marketers aim at total online existence (of a company) that goes beyond SEO. In practice, an SEO consultant generally looks after other areas of digital marketing. And the whole SEO digital marketing service package may be named all under SEO Packages since customers basically comprehend this more easily.
The contemporary trend includes some more services along with optimizing a website and search engine marketing. For example, there are some factors that actually take help of SEO in the sense of selecting the right keywords, such as blogging with SEO content, contextual marketing, behavioural marketing, mobile advertising, Alt-texts in banner advertising, social media marketing, RSS, viral marketing, and video content advertising. And for that a solid digital marketing and SEO strategy should be in place.
SEO – Integrated Digital Marketing
And after coming a long way an SEO is called integrated digital marketing by some marketing experts. Let’s give some light on this.
More and more, the use of SEO is becoming important for the overall success of digital marketing. And we would get a very good idea if we carefully watch the changing paradigm of SEO over years. In mid 90’s when very first SEO came into picture, manual submission, the Meta keywords tag, and keyword stuffing were all usual techniques necessary to rank well in the SERP. Then in 2004, for getting web traffic, anchor text associated link bombing, link buying from automated blog comment spam injectors, and creation of inter-linking websites took place. Then in 2011, the social media marketing and vertical search inclusion became the mainstream methods of conducting SEO. The search engine algorithms get updated time after time for the sake of bringing traffic. The tactics used in 2004 are all outdated now as the new call is something else.
Today, so many new memes totally change the way an SEO consultant once worked though the basic understanding remains the same, such as title tags, H1 tags, and everyone’s preferred subject, thanks to Google, links. But many applications that previously were remote to what we used to judge SEO no more are.
- Social Media: Social media marketing is gaining importance because of the increased usage of viral marketing approach through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yammer, and Google+. These social networking sites must be in line with the SEO best practices to entirely control SEO potential.
- The more links with a view to ranking higher is not today’s approach: The personal reputation has become a crucial aspect. Old school of link building has some improvisations. The common belief of ranking high in the search results is changing – the content strategies are not the main means, but generating the quality inbound links that stay as a much important SEO element to affect the ranking. The concept of ‘link’ is changing in that respect. The main idea behind the traditional link building to measure all the do-follow links that a website can generate and totally ignore all no-follow links. The practice was to build as many links as possible. That system had drawbacks what some black-hat marketers banked on, and finally Google changed its algorithms, which totally ended the practice of traditional link building practice. This was known as spamming. Even guest-blogging with a sole motive to generate links is also burned down. Guest-blogging really works well if it is to generate new audiences, present yourself as an expert, and engage with your targeted community.
- The implied links factored in:
It is called implied linking as there is basically no link to go back to the source site. Brand mentions and online citation must be handled carefully and well-incorporated into the site content; this is done in several forms. In the content, the brand mentions are generally connected to the products or services, and how those are connected to the content is explained. It can be in the comments what is finally implicitly integrated well into the content also. So long as the brand or website name is used, a brand name or citation is created.
- Better judgement in brand authority: Google does not give that much importance to the former practice of traditional link building. A new brand authority will rule in the form of brand mentions.
- There is no manipulation at all: The Anchor texts and links cannot be manipulated now. The black-hat practice of linking to a site that is totally irrelevant to the source site is replaced by the brand mentions or online citations. Once a brand is flawlessly woven in site content, the implied link should point to sites that must be relevant to the source site.
- Influencing the social signals through brand mentions: Brand mentions or online citation is reckoned as an important factor to leverage the social signals for SEO. The links that got generated through social media are no-follow links that do not affect the SERP rankings. But when any source content is shared, commented, tweeted, or cited socially with or even without these implied links, it must funnel to highest rankings. This entire process of back-linking through social media is called social media optimization.
- Online citation is an important factor for local SEO: Local SEO targets potential customers of the small and medium sized enterprises. Citations are always good for local SEO. Here, the use of name, address, and contact number are taken into consideration by Google for a bigger picture.
- Balance between traditional linking and brand mentions: You should not develop a wrong notion that only brand mentions do exist now-a-days, and the traditional linking has become obsolete. There needs to be a balance between these two. An equal importance must be given. Below is a balanced link building strategy between implied and express links:
- Just avoid having a higher ratio in the express links to your brand mention to escape the possible danger of getting spammed that can affect your brand.
- Google likes the practice of visual content that go viral as it is the right way to keep a good ratio of express links to brand mention.
- Guest-blogging can be used to promote the brand.
- Link building strategy needs to be as fair and usual as possible.
- Use every possible avenue to inculcate the brand mentions – social media, guest-blogging, comments, and RSS feeds that can go viral.
- Last but not the least prepare your website thinking about your target audience – what they deserve. Relevant and valuable content must flow in.
- Social media optimization has a new entrant, video optimization: Today’s SEO expert knows how to optimize video content, effectively distribute it, and measure its efficacies in meaningful ways.
- Paid search redefined: A co-optimization plan needs to follow the paid search initiatives with a high degree of group effort with the organic search team for utmost outcomes on both sides of the aisle.
- Use of data: The capability to understand, mine, and use data efficiently to steer strategy and sharing of resources within a restricted budget for highest ROI (return on investment) is another important parameter.
- Miscellaneous factors of modern SEO: The bounce rate, site speed, and very recently, content above the fold are known to be significant factors in the algorithms of the most important search engines. Also, display advertising, including behavioural targeting or retargeted marketing and contextual advertising use the targeted keywords generated in the organic search practices. Most of all, you all need to have a thorough idea on the marketing campaigns and business model, so that you can work in evocative ways.
Create an SEO strategy
To have a sound SEO system you must have a good SEO strategy in place. Below are some points you need ask yourself while setting SEO strategy:
- Your target market: SEO is not meant to garner as many web traffic as you can to sell your items. Some geographic conditions and the customer demographics are very much important as to where and how you will get your customers. Fine tuning on these parts will make you confident and successful going forward. Google Analytics will help you in your investigations on these factors.
- Concentrate on mobile-friendly approaches: Your website should be able to properly fit into mobile and give equal satisfactions to your customers the way they access your site in their personal computers. One thing is clear, mobile overtakes the desktop. So, be sure to open that lane by checking how your website performs on mobile applications. Test your website URL in Google’s Mobile-Friendly test for this.
- More options in Search Engines: Your website should not only perform well in Google, but in every other search engines like Yahoo, MSN, AOL, and DuckDuckGo. Each search engine has different search algorithms that you need to know and accordingly make your website compatible for these searches. Your users may come from any roads.
- Keywords to correspond with your ROI: Spend time on fixing relevant keywords. Focus on Long Tail keyword as those define users’ behaviours. Meticulously think about you can frame long tail qualities into your key phrases. The success of keywords should be measured in terms of your ROI (return on investments).
- Clear website and quality content: A user-friendly website, clear navigation, SEO keywords, optimized Meta tags, title tags, and balanced keyword density in the qualitative, relevant, and consistent content are the main aims. Each page should be built around the keyword themes, with unique and non-plagiarised content. There should be no keyword stuffing as well. “Content is a commitment, not a campaign.”
- Quality and relevant linking and Social media: You must pay good attention at building quality and relevant links through which you can get a good number of web traffic. And in line with SEO, you need to set up an exhaustive and up-to-date social media platform. You should remember a good number of traffic is generated through social presence of your business.
Every time, the algorithms are changing giving challenges in front of you. One thing you should not forget – there is no static SEO system that is going to stay forever as “SEO is a never-ending process.” With changing online customer behaviour, search engines, too, have developed different policies. But you are to realistically think about your target audience, their preferences and dislikes, usability of the website, and well-thought optimization plans. Some may think only about ranking in the SERP without even bothering about their users. The Spiders after indexing the content will take note of its quality and relevance. If it finds some dishonest means are taken to rank in the search results, it will surely spam it, and in dire cases, the search engines will totally ban your website. Therefore, the main task is to think about your users first, how they navigate your site, and their satisfactions at using your website; all this would directly affect the site popularity or the time they spend in each page.
And all these considerations make SEO a great deal of work. You have to schedule daily time into your routine for the SEO attempt. Basically, while in times of building a new site the SEO plan is exercised, but if it is already built, and you are incorporating SEO tasks on it, you need to give it importance and optimize it properly. Please ensure hitting all the elements as you go.
Having incorporated all these, a digital marketing strategy with balanced SEO moves will then definitely succeed in getting noticed by the target audience.
This is a guide to Importance of SEO in Digital Marketing. Here we have discussed the basic concept, how does it work along with some points you need to ask yourself while setting SEO strategy. You can also go through our other suggested articles to learn more –