Search engine optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing practice that enables a website to get visible in search engines. It is as old as the history of search engines; however, its fundamental practices and elements have changed with the passage of time. There was a time when black hat practices were considered quite critical in quick and better results and any SEO expert was able to spin results to their favor.
But that is history now, as you cannot do this in modern search engine marketing; otherwise, your website will get penalized.
Before we move to the core topic, let’s look at the two fundamental questions that every client/prospect has in mind.
- Is SEO relevant today?
- What is the ROI of my SEO investments?
My answer to the first question is “absolute yes” and the reason is the search engine itself. Google loves SEO as it helps it refine search results and show more relevant or quality information to the visitors. Yes, Google wants people to spend on AdWord but it equally understands the value of organic output as it carries more weightage. That is why it regularly publishes guidelines and helping tools for search engine optimization experts. Yes, the search engine’s requirements change over the course of time but that is what a good marketer will always follow.
There are many variables that you can use in response to the ROI question. Web traffic, visibility, links, brand development, and lead generation will surely top the list. But I would summarize it with the simple word: growth. SEO promises you a stable and constant growth. Calculate it in terms of visibility, traffic, number of links, ads on your blog, new leads, subscriptions, or downloads: you will see a growth pattern in your online business and presence.
Now, let’s come back to the core point: fundamental elements of modern SEO. We can point out dozens of elements and sub-elements that are critical in good SEO results but we cannot cover everything in this short piece.
For beginners, we are listing down 5 basic elements of SEO that not only matter today but continue to be important in the days to come.
- Website’s User Experience
When we discuss the user experience of any website, we talk about the technical architecture, code, navigation, design, and technical elements. According to Google’s search quality guidelines, user experience is all that matters today. In order to become SEO-friendly, a website should have the right architecture, navigation, tags, alt tags, meta description, and responsive design.
In simple words, a layman should easily be able to find what he is looking for, on your portal. If users are finding it hard to locate their desired product or information, the website’s UX score will go down.
2- Responsive Design
This is very much self-explanatory; mobile is the future. Since Google’s mobile algorithmic update (in April 2015), mobile-friendliness has become a leading search ranking factor. If your website is not mobile-friendly (or responsive), you will not be part of the search results on mobile. One cannot ignore the fact that 57% of the modern traffic originates from a mobile search. Therefore, it is important to tab the potential of mobile and ensure a good mobile experience for the visitor.
3: Better Content:
If you look at modern SEO, it is dominated by content marketing. In fact, researchers agree that the only thing that needs to be your focus (in the long-run) is the content. The importance can be judged by the fact that companies spent over $114 billion on content marketing in 2014 and the number is on the rise since.
The content requires focus on the onsite content as well as the offsite. In this regard, the following points are to be kept in mind.
- Content’s focus should not be the keyword, but the audience
- Content needs to be informative not collection of words
- Stress more on content engagement than quality
- Make longer blog posts (700-1500 words) as they get better visibility
- Build content assets and try marketing those
- User right Schemas and tags
- Avoid keyword stuffing
It’s important that content marketing does not end with content writing and posting. In fact, the real job starts after you publish a piece: that is promotion. It is vital to get visibility as well as generate new leads.
Due to the same importance, make sure you have a dedicated blog on your site. More than 67% B2B companies are using their blogs for lead generation. Have a look at HubSpot, Salesforce, and other leading companies and how they’re using blogs to their advantage.
4: Quality Backlinks
There are folks who believe that link building is dead, which is wrong perception. Google’s search algorithm still considers them important but it stresses the quality rather than quantity of links. Earlier, the buzzword was “link building” while today’s marketers are using “link earning” as the right term. But make sure to get links to your website from a reliable, authentic, and relevant website. The number of links does not matter as much as its relevance and authority.
5: Social Media:
Social media’s importance needs no explanation. With over 2 billion users, Facebook is the largest country in the world. Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and SnapChat all have millions of users in their pockets, which make a strong and attractive market. Social media needs to be taken seriously but with a calculated strategy.
While using social media, an SEO manager should keep the following two points in his/her mind.
- Social networks are reducing the organic reach of the business; said to be roughly 4% of your total fan-base/following. They want brands to spend more in order to get visibility. So there are no free lunches.
- Do not use social media for content promotion only. It can facilitate and help in re-targeting program too. All you need to do is to run a campaign and then narrow it down using social network’s insight. Make sure to use your keywords and tags in your social media campaigns.
In the next posts, we’ll explain how you to effectively run and manage re-targeting or content promotion campaigns on social media. For the moment, just keep in mind that social networks can facilitate in your content promotion and lead generation campaigns and hence, need to be part of your SEO strategy.
We hope this post answers some basic questions about SEO. If you still have any queries or want us to cover a particular subject; contact us using your favorite social networks. Alternatively, you can email with your suggestion or ideas and we’ll try to cover those in the next blog posts.
About The Writer follow on Twitter | LinkedIn
Tahir Akbar is Head of Digital Marketing at oladoc, a digital health company. As a Certified Digital Marketing Professional, Tahir helps businesses achieve their marketing goals.