Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization

According to a recent HubSpot research report, marketers ranked growing their search engine organic presence (SEO) as their top inbound marketing priority. As your most valuable marketing asset, it is critical that your website be found. Search engine optimization is therefore, a critically important tactic for driving traffic to your website, especially given that organic results drive 8.5 times more clicks than paid search ads.

But how do you get noticed on search engines like Google? Fortunately, when properly employed, HubSpot can make a significant impact on your search engine rankings, especially when paired with a solid content marketing strategy.

Simply stated, SEO is the process of refining your website so that it ranks as well as possible with search engines.

It is considered the "free" way to get to the top of search engines. The real truth is that SEO takes a substantial commitment in time, effort, and expertise, so it can get expensive... but it can prove to be well worth the effort.

While search engine advertising can often catapult your website to the top of the search engine, those listings are paid ads. The beauty of being at the top of what's called the "organic" rankings (the unpaid, ranked search results), is that you don't pay by the click like you do with pay-per-click ads. And there are many folks who only reluctantly click on the ads, thinking that the non-ad listings are somehow "better." So, with rare exception, it is important to carefully consider your plan for SEO.

The owners/management of search engines who are compelled by their own need to generate a profit, do all they can to present the "best" organic search results possible. Now "best" is certainly subjective, and search engine logic can't really "do subjective" so what they actually do is use extremely complex logic to try to determine the "best"... which is really mostly a measure of popularity and relevance.

Search engines fiercely protect the intricate details of their programming logic to prevent hackers and individuals attempting to manipulate their way to the top of search engine rankings. However, there are certain aspects that are generally understood and openly communicated by search engines. Although each major search engine applies its own unique proprietary logic, resulting in varying outcomes, the same general rules apply. Here is a partial compilation of these aspects:

  • Although their importance may be decreasing, meta tags, special HTML tags, are still valuable in informing search engines about the relevant keywords, summary, and title of a web page, etc. HTML, which serves as the programming language of the Internet, defines each web page for browsers to properly interpret and display on the screen. It's like painting a masterpiece on the digital canvas.
  • textual page content is the single most important search engine optimization component. Since search engine logic can only understand text, it makes its determination of what each web page is about by looking at the text within the HTML.  Because even graphics and hyperlinks (and other graphical or HTML buttons) are defined and pointed to via text, i.e., the names of those elements are also text that is read by the search engines.  The content should be rich with keywords that represent the website's nature (products or services), and that those doing searches are likely to use to find it.

  • the popularity of a website is (today anyway) determined almost entirely by links and/or referrals to the website, i.e. the number, popularity and relevancy of other websites that have links or references to your website. (note: search engines are "on to" link exchanges, so the linking websites need to be relevant somehow to the topic of the ranking website.)  Social media posts and video hosting channels, e.g. YouTube, are big contributors to the determination of popularity too.

The truth about SEO is that it doesn't happen by accident; it doesn't happen overnight; and it isn't really "free." SEO requires time and a certain level of expertise. While anyone can do it, only a few are willing to invest the time and resources to stay at the top. It's unfortunate because search engine optimization can lead to tremendous rewards!

Highlights from HubSpot’s Guide on SEO Myths

I encourage you to check out the guide yourself, but here are few myths that caught my eye:

Myth #2: “More links are better than more content.”

Not true, says HubSpot. There was a time when the quantity of links to your site carried significant weight. But today, the search engines are looking for quality rather than quantity. And, they have always (and will always) view great website content as one of the keys to a positive user experience. As the guide observes: “If you have budget to invest in your website, I would say, ‘Hire someone to write for you,’” rather than hiring someone to build links for you.

Myth #7: “Keyword optimization is THE key to SEO.”

Getting exact matches of your keywords into your content used to be a critical part of SEO strategy. But search has gotten smarter and now can better “understand” what content is about based on sets of related words rather than specific ones. This is especially important now that people are doing more voice-based searching and using conversational language rather than a few words or short phrases.

Myth #10: “My homepage needs a lot of content.”

The most effective homepages are those that clearly and concisely explain who you are, what you do, what is unique or special about your offering, where you are located (if you do business locally), and what action you want a visitor to take next. That’s what a person wants to see on your homepage—and again, the search engines are getting much better at thinking like a person.

That’s just a taste of what’s in HubSpot’s guide. I found the piece very interesting and enlightening.

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