How SEO works in today’s digital world to bring customers to your business
Things Not Stings
The Shifts in SEO Practices
Non-Topic-Related On-Page Optimization Factors
How SEO Works In Today’s Digital World to Bring Customers to Your Business
“SEO is not a difficult thing to understand, but it’s challenging to implement.”
– David Amerland, Google Semantic Search
Google search is moving from an information engine to a knowledge engine. That means the aim of what you do on your website is to connect data. So, when it comes to optimizing your web pages for search engines, you want to think of information, not keywords.
Using only keywords is not enough because Google is radically changing the way it crawls the web. The artificial intelligence (AI) Google uses to crawl the web for information is trying to understand the meaning of everything on your web page-the text, the images, videos, graphs, charts…everything. Using only words is not enough.
The goal of implementing SEO on your website is to build organic reach. That means visitors come to your business website because search brought them there. The search engine found an answer to their question (query).
Marketing software company Hubspot gives a useful definition of SEO:
SEO stands for search engine optimization. The goal of SEO is to expand a company’s visibility in organic search results. As a result, these efforts drive more visitors to the company’s website, increasing their chances for more conversions which leads to more customers and more revenue.
Everything you do on your website is aimed at your target audience in order to convert them into a customer. Organic reach is one way to create traffic to your site. Paid advertising and social media are examples of other ways.
This article will help you understand current actions to take so search engines like Google, the world’s largest, can direct people searching for answers online to your website.
Things Not Strings
You’ve probably heard of keywords. For many years the words you used on your website created a string that search engines could recognize as being there-on your website.
Artificial intelligence has changed the game.
Now artificial intelligence looks for things. In the SEO world, those things are called entities. An entity can be a person, place, time, concept, event…just about anything.
The late Bill Slawski wrote a detailed description of how entities work at SEO by the Sea, if you want to learn more.
Once AI identifies the entities on a web page, it looks to see how the various entities on the page are related. Then it looks to see how those entities are related to the other entities on your website. Think of each entity you mention as a data point. AI collects the data points and looks for relationships among entities.
AI doesn’t stop at your website. Once it has identified the entities on your web page and website, it looks to see how the entities on your webpage relate to all the other mentions on the web of each of the entities you mention.
That connection of relationships is mind-boggling in scope. It doesn’t matter if you mention an entity in English; the AI compares your use to French, German, Italian, Korean, Japanese, Chines, and any other language. You can understand why it is phenomenal when a search engine selects your web page with your entity mentions. The search engine believes you supply the best answer for the web searcher’s query.
SEO Teaches the Search Engine About Your Business
When you employ an SEO strategy for your website, you want to tell the search engines everything you possibly can about your business.
Keep feeding that information (entities as data points) to the search engines. The better a search engine understand your meaning, the easier it is to recommend your business as the solution.
The Shifts in SEO Practices
As SEO continuously evolves, keeping track of the shifts in emphasis helps you help search engines use your website as a resource.
One tactic to keep in mind: if you write so your customer understands, search engines will have an easy time understanding your entities, how they relate, and how your content answers questions your potential customers have.
Let’s look at some SEO basic practices to understand the shifts and how you can optimize your website for better search engine understanding.
In the old days of SEO, ranking was important because it was where your website displayed on a search engine results page (SERP). A desired position for a website was on the first page displayed among other pages.
Two factors have impacted ranking.
The first is the sophistication of the artificial intelligence Google and other search engines use to discover an answer to a query. Because of the entity relationships, results that display are much more specific. In fact, there’s a zero ranking feature in results that just gives the answer without a ranking.
The second factor is the trend away from desktop computers to portable devices like tablets and mobile phones. There’s less screen real estate that on a large screen. And people want instant answers and aren’t willing to scroll.
Now ranking is important for visibility. Searchers have become more specific in phrasing their questions. And on the other side, businesses who develop a strong SEO strategy focus on specificity and clarity on every page. This helps their page display as an answer.
AI also understand a searcher’s past search history. That history also influences what results display for any individual about a query.
These factors combined transform ranking from a universal result to an individualized result for each query. You want your answer to be the answer for that future customer. Here’s how you can better understand how long it takes to see results from your SEO strategy.
Backlinks are links to your website that come from other online sources.
In the old search system, the number of backlinks to your website influenced ranking. Because of the quantitative assessment, the source of the links was not as important as the number. The more backlinks, the better for ranking.
Now, because of the sophistication of artificial intelligence and an emphasis on how entities relate, the quality of the links to your website is much more important than the number. Backlinks that imply your information as a resource about a topic build the perception of your business as an authoritative resource.
Links are important, but in a different way. It’s not the number of backlinks but the information quality of the links and their relevance to your business.
“Links were gold dust 1998-2017 (ish). Entity recognition will be gold dust from now on.”
The changes in how search engines view content are similar to the linking changes. As long as your website had content, it was a plus for ranking. Grammar and spelling weren’t as important as content on the page. You could write about anything.
There were content mills that would churn out content you could purchase like puppies to add to your website. There were content “spinning” services that would change the wording of the content and post it in lists to build backlinks. Some of this content was so bad it didn’t make sense when read. The idea was content and more content.
After the time when you could write just about anything, there was a time when you needed to use keywords in your text so search engines could find you—so many keywords in your title, so many in the first paragraph, so many in the body of the text, so many in the final paragraph.
The language on websites became stilted and often cumbersome, making text difficult to read for the very people you wanted to reach. It worked for search engines, but not for people.
AI has changed all that. Now there are over a billion websites in the world, thousands in your industry, and likely hundreds in your local area. The content about your business must be laser-focused on answering questions for your potential customers.
Content now must focus on topics, and one topic at a time for each web page. Each page on your website, each blog post you write, has something to tell your client. That’s the topic of the content.
As you write about your topic, use related words to elaborate. These are the subtopics grouped under your main topic. The more your subtopics are directly related to your main topic, the better search engines understand the main theme (topic) of that page.
AI evaluates content by how easy it is to understand and how logical your content is—leading a site visitor to a logical conclusion.
A search engine aggregates a number of factors as it looks at your content as a possible answer to an online query. It isn’t just the words.
The search algorithm judges high-quality content experience with a number of factors. These include;
- Industry relevance
- Easy to read
- Text broken into sections with headlines
- Sentence length
- Paragraph length
- Relevant graphs and charts
- Relevant images or video
Search engines expect you to be smart about content. Your content should reflect your business, its products and services, how you serve customers, and clearly resent information that relates to searches people perform online about your industry.
On-page optimization helps search engines identify what you offer to online searchers. The activities are key to making each web page and your entire website. Optimization is the key to connecting your information (data) in a way that search engines understand.
Search engines know a page’s topic and keywords, so they can match it to relevant searches via on-page optimization.
Make sure Google understands what topics you want this page to rank on. You should include at least the main topic in these elements:
Post title – Place the topic close to the title beginning. The first words in the headline are valued more by Google.
URL – Your page’s web address should also include the topic.
H1 Tag – The header 1 tag, or title tag. Make sure the main topic is in the title.
The first paragraph of content – Use the topic at the beginning of your written content. This reassures the search engine that this is truly the page’s topic.
Meta-title and meta-description tags – These are code elements for the page. The two code elements are used by search engines to display their listings. Meta-titles are displayed as the search listing’s title, while meta-descriptions offer a short description for the text on the page. In addition to that, they use both to understand the topic further.
Image file names and ALT tags – Search engines see the file names of emages. Use the topic in the file name. The alt tag, displays text rather than an image (for visually impaired visitors). But since it is part of the image code, search engines use it as a relevancy signal.
Semantic Topics – Because search engines understand the relationship between topics, synonyms help describe your topic. These semantic sub-topics (synonyms). You want to add them to make sure your page doesn’t show up for irrelevant searches.
These sub-topics differentiate how a topic is used. For example, they help the search engine understand the difference between the lion animal on velt, the Detroit football team, or the local pub as the main topic of your page.
Non-Topic-Related On-Page Optimization Factors
On-page SEO is not just about using topics on the page. Other factors help confirm the web pate’s authority.
External links – Links to other relevant sources on your topic, help search engines determine the depth of your topic. And your site visitor views you as a valuable resource on your topic. So you enrich your site visitor’s user experience.
Internal links – Links to other pages on your website allow search engines to find other pages on your site. And, they demonstrate the semantic relations between pages on your website. More relevant information help validate the relevance of your page as the answer to the query search.
Content length – The length of your content isn’t an optimization per se. But long content that contains extensive information on your topic keeps your reader on the page longer (dwell time). Search engines notice how long visitors stay on your page.
Multimedia – Multimedia elements like videos, diagrams, audio players can enhance a page’s quality. It keeps readers on a page for longer just like longer content does. Multimedia serves as another signal that your content is valuable to site visitors.
Stay Flexible with Search Engine Optimization
As SEO evolves you’ll want to stay current with how changes affect your website. As you can see from this brief introduction, what search engines use to qualify websites, and how businesses can shape their website to best meet search needs advance and shift priorities.
Constant improvement of your SEO relies on strategic management of all the elements that comprise optimization. Your business can hire staff for these responsibilities or outsource search optimization to individuals or an agency that specialize in keeping up to date on improvement requirements.
A well-optimized website creates organic reach to bring potential buyers to your business. It is crucial in today’s online world.
At Erfolk, we set our sights on achieving higher rankings, increased traffic, conversions, and an improved ROI for our clients. It’s like having an internal team without the headaches of management.
We’d love to hear from you. Tell us what you need. We’ll explain our agency offering. Remove the worry and contact us to discuss your SEO needs. Let us show you how we can work for you and build your SEO timely results.