Google is the giant search engine that owns more than 79 percent of the digital marketplace. So, if you are selling, your products/ services must appear on Google. Unfortunately, making it to the Google search engine means nothing unless you appear on the first page of the results. Also, more than 60 percent of all the 3.58 billion internet users pick the first result on SERPs, and that means that the odds are stacked against you if you implement the wrong strategy!
Seeing as you also aren’t the only seller of that product or service, you need to make sure that your site is optimized to beat your biggest competitors. If you are a digital marketer, then you know just how hard it is to appear on top of the search engine result pages when everyone is trying to do the same thing you are!
We have some good news though – all you have to do is to master basic SEO elements. Though basic, they are numerous and applying them to fit your market/ audience is what you will need to do to succeed.
Before we divert our attention towards the best practices, what is SEO?
SEO refers to all the processes involved in getting traffic from editorial, organic, free and the natural search results appearing on search engines.
Many elements come into play to increase the traffic that gets directed to your site including on-page and off-page basic SEO factors but, all of them aim to do one thing – increase SEO visibility. SEO visibility is the reason why SEO is critical to digital marketing. You want your page to appear on page one of the search results hence, the efforts you place into this metric.
The second importance of SEO is that it is the channel through which people looking for you or your products find you.
What is SEO visibility?
It is the metric that informs you on the percentage of organic clicks your website is getting. Organic clicks refer to the click from the search engine result pages. These are the clicks guided by the keyword used.
All About SEO Visibility
Well, 100 percent visibility is the best possible visibility you can get, and it means that your website has ownership of all the organic spots in the search engine, say Google. At 25 percent SEO visibility, you are ranking at number one for your keywords. So, being ranked at number 10 means that you only have 2 percent visibility and you have 0 percent visibility if you don’t appear anywhere on page one – to the online users, you are non-existent. Think about it this way, when was the last time you checked results on page 2 of Google? Most of us change the phrase when we can’t find what we are looking for!
Why is SEO visibility significant?
We already know that your website is as good as dead if it appears on page 2 of the search results but why is it of significance?
- It is the metric that lets you diagnose problems relating to SEO fast. You will know if an algorithm update or a penalty has affected your SEO strategy.
- Result comparison for keywords – your visibility will tell you the keyword with the highest performance and the one with little success. You can tell a keyword that is doing well form the one that has lived beyond its projected potential.
- Insights into your website’s overall performance – with your SEO visibility, you will tell how much traffic your site is receiving. However, it is important to mention that SEO traffic is different from SEO visibility with visibility being a relative value and SEO traffic an absolute value representing the exact number of visitors to your site. Because of the difference between the two, the visibility tells more about penalties, algorithm changes, and technical issues.
- A reduction in the number of leads to your site – basic digital marketing knowledge informs you that fewer leads translate to few people are visiting your site because you appear at number 6 or 8 on search engine result pages.
- The loss of organic traffic – as a marketer, you have to track your progress by looking at the traffic directed to your site. So, if your analytical tool, say Google Analytics shows that you are losing traffic, it means that your visibility is dimming.
- The drop in rank – with your traffic going down, you have to check your ranking. Ahrefs or Google Search Console is the tool you need to determine the drop in your ranking is dropped.
With these out of the way, let’s get deep into basic SEO.
What are the building blocks of SEO?
The main building blocks of SEO are on-page and off-page SEO elements. In other digital marketing circles, you will have onsite audits and (page structure and the content and the URL structure) link building strategies stated as the main SEO elements.
On-page SEO refers to the digital marketing practice of optimizing the individual website pages for them to rank higher than they are and to earn more traffic in the relevant search engine. It is as basic SEO factor, and it touches both the HTML source codes and the type of content you put out.
On the other hand, off-page SEO means the links plus the external signals and factors that contribute to your ranking as well as your traffic.
Which factors make on-page SEO?
Content determines if a visitor will visit your site, spend time reading your content, revisit your site and recommend others by words of mouth or through social shares. For SEO success, great content meets demand, it offers help, and it is linkable. Content that can’t be linked will rank poorly compared to content you can link to.
To make your content attractive and for it to rank highly in SERPs, you have to use the right keywords in the content and at the beginning of the title. You also need to include modifiers in the title. Wrapping the title in an H1 tag is also important. Don’t forget to use high-quality and relevant diagrams, videos and images.
Title and Meta tags are also important for on-page SEO.
For ranking, Google considers the first 3-5 words used in the URL. So, to make sure that your great content gets the readership it deserves; keep your URL short and neat. You should avoid long and ugly URLs.
Now that almost everyone has a smartphone device they use to access the internet, you have to make their experience the best. If that isn’t enough motivation, keep in mind that Google is penalizing website’s whose design isn’t responsive and friendly to access on mobile devices and devices with small screens.
You need to use outbound and internal links.
The use of outbound links makes it easy for Google to figure out and pick your content on particular topics. Links prove the quality of the content you publish.
You can increase your links through social media, the top 100 lists, your competition, forums, dead links, and directories.
You also need to improve on internal linking because of its importance in internal linking. Wikipedia thrives because of internal links but, your site should have just about 3 or 5 internal links. Internal linking is important in making some of your pages visible.
Site’s Loading Speeds
The speed at which your web pages determine how fast visitors stay or leave your page and it is one of Google’s ranking factors. As an internal factor, you have to boost your site’s speeds by compressing the images and also looking for fast hosting with low downtime.
You also need to optimize images and post relatively long content.
Sitemaps represent the roadmaps for search engines to your site. Google uses GoogleBots to gather the relevant information you enter in the search tab of the search engine and the bots crawl through millions of sites in milliseconds collecting the relevant information. Sitemaps make it easier for the bots to access your web pages.
Sitemaps can be HTML or XML sitemaps. The XML sitemaps are coded differently and in a manner that makes it easy for search engines to read. On the other hand, HTML sitemaps make it easy for people to read the content on your website.
The domain name contains the main keywords that rank high and domains with keywords rank higher than the domains without keywords. You should note that exact word keywords rank higher, but the ranking depends on the source of traffic to your site.
Perfecting your on-page SEO strategy and downplaying the off-page strategies increase your chances of ranking next to the ‘dead’ pages. So, in making sure you are doing everything you need to for your digital marketing success, you’ll need to incorporate the following off-page factors.
Even though you have your company listed on the World Wide Web, you need to consider your immediate market. A local listing of your business premise with Google is one of the best ways for you to ensure that people get to see you on the internet. Local listing helps with local SEO as it makes it easy for the building of backlinks in your region, Google will understand and help target your market.
Social media engagement
You have no control over what the people on different social media platforms can do, but you can increase your engagement as that will lead to an increase in your traffic and ranking. Just make sure you pick the right social media platform for your business. Some of the not so popular platforms may have the right audience for your business. You also need to consider social bookmarking.
Image/ Video/ Audio Submission
These elements are important in determining the amount of traffic directed to your website. You just need to make sure that the images, videos, and audios are of the highest possible quality.
Guest blogging on Influencer sites
Guest blogging remains one of the biggest off-page SEO factors. It is one of the biggest opportunities you can follow through for SEO success. All you have to do is to find the right site you can post on. You should also comment on other blogs within your community.
Broken Link Building
Building broken and dead links may be the stepping stone your website needs for your success.
Your business brand is determined by your customer services delivery, the creation of a great product/ service and the focus you place on internet user’s intent.
Once you find your target audience, you need to make the engagement strong. You can do that through a responsive social media presence. Your social media audience is invaluable, and you need to be there answering their questions and allaying their fears. You have to appear human on social media, and you also need to be proactive.
You should also build strong connections with social media influencers and recommit yourself by frequenting social media communities and forums. Just make sure to give relevant responses.
While this is an important on-page SEO factor, it also holds some weight off-page.
Other off-page SEO factors include:
- Customer Service
- Article submission
- Question and Answer
- Forum Submission
- Blog Directory Submission Document Sharing
Every marketer knows that there are times that these strategies will fail and your visibility on the first page of SERPs will be at zero.
Why would you lose SEO visibility with the right on-page and off-page SEO factors?
On-page and off-page SEO factors drive traffic to your website, and they are the basic SEO factors needed for the success of your SEO strategy. Unfortunately, even with your best marketing efforts, you may still fail to appear on the first page of the search result pages. Here are some of the reasons for your tanking SEO visibility:
Competition outsmarting you
This is possible – if their strategies are working better than yours do, then you lose your visible spot. You should check your competitors old content, the website design/ features, and any new links they have built. You should also check if they are running on HTTPS or HTTP. Google is looking to kill HTTP as it is unsecure and if your website is HTTP and the competitor has HTTPS, then that could be the reason for the lower visibility.
There are instances where updating your website’s software wreaks havoc and your site may not work as it should. In such cases, some sites may be inaccessible, and your custom redirects may disappear. In such cases, you’ll have to reverse engineer the software to prevent a further drop in traffic.
The main technicalities include:
This may never have happened to you, but some unlucky marketers have had to deal with offline servers. Even though the Google bot may still be able to crawl your site, it is important to be aware when your site goes offline. Google might penalize you if your site suffers from too much downtime.
As mentioned above, the responsiveness or mobile friendliness is an important basic SEO element that determines ranking. Being responsive also keeps you on Google’s good side. So, for a high ranking coming about because of a low bounce rate and little risk of penalties, you should run a responsive site. The Google Search Console can help you determine if your site is responsive or not.
Canonicalization tags are tags that are misunderstood and often misused by SEO experts and webmasters. However, it refers to the tag that tells Google the version of a page you’d like displayed on the SERPs. If you mix it up with absolute or relative URLs or point it to the first page of the paginated series, the desired page won’t get displayed.
Failing to optimize your website after redesigning it
The basic SEO elements that ran on your initial website need to be implemented or updated after you redesign (maintenance of) your website. If you don’t, then, technical glitches will appear changing things within your website.
During maintenance or redesign, some pages get deleted, URL structures change, internal linking changes and pages may get blocked from crawling. Also, the HTML structure of your page may change, and a new theme may launch on its own. So, a lot can go wrong.
To make sure that everything is alright, check the URL structure and if the internal links still point to where they need to:
- Use hreflang and the canonicalization tags.
- Ensure hard redirects have 301 redirects
- Ensure that you aren’t blocking any URLs.
Other reasons for a drop in your visibility:
- Hosting problems
- Algorithm updates
- Lost backlinks
The success of digital marketing depends on the factors you implement in your on-page and off-page strategies. Unfortunately, having these strategies in order may not be all you need to do as other factors determine your visibility. SEO strategies that work are the ones that increase your SEO visibility, and in most cases, advanced, rather than basic SEO tricks may work better.
By tracking your visibility, you can tell where you are going wrong and how to get rid of the issue to improve your visibility and the ranking.
Other than the knowledge shared above on basis SEO visibility, you also need to get the right tools to help you track and make appropriate changes.