SEO, otherwise known as search engine optimization, is what drives your website to be on the top list of search options on engines, such as Google and Yahoo. Many companies develop an SEO strategy to try to compete for the coveted first search ranking, as 28.5% of people only click on the first search result.
There are 4 types of SEO that help drive your business to that number one spot: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, and local SEO. Within this article, we’ll dive in for a close look at all of these types, and how you can create a full-fledged SEO strategy to gain organic traffic.
According to Google, their algorithm looks at 5 key factors to what it puts at the top of the search engine: meaning, relevance, quality, usability, and context. We’ll address what each type of SEO does to push these factors forward.
First of all- how does Google work?
Google does not find websites manually; instead, it uses web crawlers to do so. According to Google, new pages are discovered by:
- web crawlers going through a known website’s links that reach to a new page
- web crawlers going through a submitted sitemap (a collection of links that link to the main core of your website
After finding your website, Google then indexes it, meaning that it attempts to understand what your page is about. Google will look at the text content, images, and videos, to attempt to determine the quality of the website’s content. If you want a more in-depth view of how Google Search works, Google has a guide here.
Technical SEO (usability, relevance)
Technical SEO includes everything that makes your website easy for web crawlers to discover and index more effectively.
As discussed, to appeal to your desired audience, you’ll first have to reach the web crawlers. A good example of a clear sitemap is Crayola’s: it shows the structure of a website in a simple way. It’s ideal that you have a short description of what each link goes to if it is not already obvious. After you have an idea of what your sitemap looks like, you can submit your sitemap to Google Search Console.
As technical SEO mainly checks websites for their usability, you want to make sure your website is fast and efficient. This includes making your website accessible and usable on mobile. Google prioritizes websites that are:
- mobile friendly
- load quickly (if your load time is slow, file size on images may be the issue)
- have simple URL structures (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation or example.com/lebensmittel/pfefferminz vs https://www.example.com/index.php?id_sezione=360&sid=3a5ebc944f41daa6f849f730f1)
- don’t shift layouts in a distracting way
- don’t use pop-ups and use banners instead— in ‘developer’s’ language, pop-ups are called interstitials
- the website uses HTTPS, a internet communication protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user's computer and the site
- not blocking Googlebot
Google provides ways to test the health of your website’s vitals here.
On-page SEO (meaning, relevance, quality)
On-page SEO involves everything that is directly on your website pages; it concerns itself with making sure users are able to quickly navigate your website, and get the answer they want to find.
On-page SEO is great if you want to develop more organic search engine traffic. To do so, you want to provide high-quality content through blogs or other long-form content. By providing relevant content, you'll be able to decrease your bounce rate (the rate in which users leave your website without taking an action), and increase your click-through rate (the rate which users interact with your website). Additionally, you'll have a higher rate of getting backlinks, wherein other websites link back to your website. If you want to see the rate your website is getting backlinked, get a backlink checker tool.
Google chooses which websites get on the front page by looking at the meaning, relevance, and quality of your website through keywords. You can target types of keywords to make sure you reach all the areas Google is looking for—competitive keywords are generally one word, and address broad topics. Marketing and business are examples of competitive keywords. However, as competitive keywords are so broad, it’s good to focus also on long-tail keywords.
Keywords that are not as competitive are called long-tail keywords, a type of search query that is longer and more niche in comparison to competitive keywords. Overall, you want to have a mix of competitive and long-tail keywords. SEO specialists often use paid keyword tools such as Yoast, Surfer SEO, Jasper and Frase to help round up keywords to use. Free options include Google Keyword Planner and Answer the Public.
If your website has blog posts, take the time to focus on core topics and go through the SEO process with them as well. If the blog has relevant keywords, the search algorithms will be more inclined to put you on their pages-- thus helping you gain more natural traffic. Using internal links and external links also shows Google that you've done your research, thus raising your quality score.
Example of keyword stuffing.
What I discussed above are white hat SEO techniques, which you should stick to. Don’t use black-hat techniques, which are often employed by illegitimate websites; Google will give you a penalty in your search engine rankings if you use it You can read Google's search engine guidelines in full here.
If writing blog posts with SEO will be too time consuming for you, companies like Upwork and Constant Content offer people who are interested guest blogging and pre-written blog articles.
Off-page SEO (relevance, quality, context)
Off-page SEO is everything you do outside of your website. This includes meta descriptions. Your meta title and description should succinctly explain what your website is. Other pages of your website, such as blogs, should have both meta titles and descriptions as well. Good descriptions will help web crawlers figure out where to index your website.
In this example, “Marketing – Wikipedia” is meta title. The meta description follows after it.
Other common types of off-page SEO include social media marketing, affiliate marketing, and contacting content creators to raising buzz around your business. All together, off-page SEO helps you be seen as more legitimate.
Local SEO (context)
As Google uses search history to deliver content related to the user’s area, Local SEO helps those within the wide range of your business’s area find you. Out of all the SEO types, Local SEO is the easiest to manage: simply get a Google My Business profile.
With a My Business profile, you are both able to gain more possible customers, but also gain more information regarding how people interact with your business. Like any other store on Google Maps, you’ll be able to post pictures of your business, products, and feature reviews— all of which show a good impression or help build customer trust.
Using it all together
While all these types of SEO are labeled differently, all of them will help develop your business further by bettering user experience, gaining awesome content and visibility in search engines.
If you want to assess how your website is doing after completing its SEO, get the jump with Google Analytics. It’s important to not feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information ahead of you—take a break and come back to it time to time even if you start working on just one type, you’ll quickly be able to move on to the next!