Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, has been available for almost as long as the internet has been. From the very beginning of SEO’s introduction, companies have been using it to reach new customers, drive website traffic, increase awareness, and enhance the company’s overall growth. But with the advancements in technology, like everything else SEO has changed quite a bit as well. While in the earlier days it was used to stuff a maximum possible number of keywords into a piece of content and fill pages with backlinks. It is no longer exploited in such a manner. Over time, SEO has transformed into a sophisticated technical practice that is highly informed by the current web users’ behaviors.
The technologically advanced SEO of today uses both on-page as well as off-page techniques to ensure that websites that are of higher quality appear at the top of search engine result pages.
On-page SEO helps determine the rank of a page among all the search engine results. It works the best when all the available on-site techniques such as title tags, headings, RRL structure, all text for images, site speed, internal links, meta descriptions, responsiveness, etc. are used to ensure a webpage’s rank on SERP. It utilizes content elements and technical elements to better a page’s quality. So, more on-page SEO means more traffic, both in terms of numbers as well as relevance, can and will be attracted to the webpage on which this type of SEO is applied. Some on-page SEO practices or techniques are more efficient than others. It is important to understand the best on-page SEO practices as they are extremely helpful in driving traffic.
- Title tags – They are HTML elements that can be used to designate a name to the webpage, which appears on SERPS as the clickable result title. Some restrictions on title tags are that they should be unique, descriptive about the page’s topic, optimized with a keyword, under the length of sixty or fewer characters.
- Headings – They are the titles given to the content and are required to be in H1 format to give the best possible results. Headings should comprise relevant and descriptive words, and if are optimized with keywords they should never be stuffed full. Also, subheadings, H2 through H6, can be used to break up content but it is advised that keywords should not be repeated throughout a post.
- URL structure – It should be very descriptive of the page’s subject because it is important for when search engines determine the relevancy of a page compared to a search engine query. URLs should always be optimized with relevant keywords only. For example, http://www.dressup.com/blue-maxi-dress is a URL structure that is descriptive and acceptable but www.dressup.com/abs5472 is not.
- Alt text or alternative text – This provides more information about an image for the search engines. Alt-text is typically used to describe images to web visitors who can’t see them so it is no wonder that alt text requires to be specific and descriptive, within a hundred and twenty-five characters, of the image content. It can be optimised with a keyword or a phrase but only if and when it is appropriate.
- Page load speed – It is very important because it has been found that often slow page loadings are the reason behind high bounce rates. It is shocking to know that, according to a study, around 47% of people expect a site to load with 2 seconds and a staggering 40% of them leave if the site fails to achieve that. This is why search engines give slow-loading pages a lower rank which can hamper the chances of a prospective customer to click on your company’s link. So it becomes very important for a company to ensure fast page loading speed.
- Internal links – These links make site navigation easier for visitors, make it easier for search engines to understand the site and index the pages which result in higher ranking. Every page of the site should link back to its category or subcategory page and homepage.
- Meta descriptions – These descriptions are very brief yet descriptive that expand on title tags, summarize a page’s content, and attract users to read the SEO using the company’s content. The meta description should be kept within the range of 160 characters and appears below the URL and title.
- Responsiveness – It ensures that a page is properly displayed on any device from mobile phones to laptops. This is becoming more important as people are shifting from desktops to mobile screens for the results of their online queries.
These above-mentioned techniques are important with keywords acting as the glue holds together an on-page SEO strategy. This is because keywords can be incorporated into all the above-mentioned technical elements so the right visitors can find the company at the right time. Keywords should always well-researched and are incorporated into the content seamlessly to be highly effective. Technical aspects though important cannot surpass content when it comes to the importance of on-page SEO as it brings traffic to the site. However, people would only consume the content created by a company if and only if it is relevant, engaging, interesting, and informative. Content is created in a variety of forms such as blogs, webpage copy, videos, infographics, podcasts, ebooks, interviews, quizzes, etc. It is crucial to create relatable content which is means avoiding content requiring a login and copyrighted material.
Now that one part of SEO has been described, it is time to understand the other part, off-page SEO, as well. The age-old practice of trading spammy backlinks to increase page rank has become as outdated as the practice of keyword stuffing. The search engines have become wiser to these practices lately, and filling a page with irrelevant backlinks now will get the content penalized rather than promoted. Even though the search engines take into account the number and quality of the backlinks and the referring domains, quality is still considered to be much more important than quantity. This means that backlinks are an integral part of the off-page SEO, and one quality backlink is without a doubt worth more than 100 low-quality backlinks. Link building is not the easiest task, but with a few strategies can be done effectively. These strategies include:
· Writing guest blogs to promote oneself as an expert in a particular field.
· Writing a highly popular form of content that mentions influencers in the field of the company’s operation.
· Scouring blogs in a similar field for broken links, and then suggesting replacing the broken links with content written on the same subject.
· Creating lots of infographics as they are extremely popular.
Out of all the existing off-page SEO techniques, there are some which are the most effective. Quality backlinks are although the backbone of an off-page SEO strategy, there surely exists other techniques that can be used to increase the number of links and encourage site authority. One such technique is adding the business to local listings and internet directories such as Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc. Before adding the businesses to such listings and directories, it is important to ensure that the information is accurate and that basic details such as name, address, and phone number are consistent across all the platforms.
Another way by which one can engage in off-page SEO without compromising on trust and brand recognition is by participating in discussions and answering questions on sites like Quora, especially if the expertise is available to be shared with the society. Last but not least, is the technique of submitting backlink content to sharing sites that share images, videos, audios, etc. Some of the most popular sites include Instagram and Pinterest for image sharing, Vimeo and Dailymotion for video sharing, and Soundcloud for audio sharing.
Best practices for Search engine optimization are evolving with the changing behaviours of web users and online consumers. As of now, having a solid strategy in place that addresses both on-page and off-page SEO elements is the best approach. For on-page, having quality content and making sure that all the technical aspects of the site have been optimized for not only keywords but also speed and efficiency is crucial. As for off-page, the most important thing that can be done is encouraging quality backlinks (best if they are generated through authoritative sites) as this makes the pages seem relevant to the search engine and thus rewarding them with a higher rank.
Search engine optimization has too many elements and is constantly evolving. This makes grasping all the concepts and practices a bit tricky and also, this knowledge might become irrelevant if it gets drastically evolved. Though the chances of drastic evolutions are not very high, it is risky for a company to invest time, skills, and capital on something that is much better being handled by professionals. SEO is an important marketing tool and our company is equipped to fully utilise it to increase consumer engagement and thus, sales.