TLDR: Websites will need more than just the right concentration of targeted keywords to succeed in highly-competitive niches. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, requires a holistic approach in improving website user experiences. SEO is both a technical and a creative discipline.
Let’s admit it – we all started from a point wherein we had very little to no knowledge about Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. If you’re someone who’s not very familiar with SEO, just as I was about 7 or 8 years ago, you would think that it’s the practice of making sure you have enough keywords in your website.
It’s easy to think that by plugging in enough keywords for your home page, or your product pages, or even your About the Company pages, you can see results happening for your website. You can hope that, in time, your website will get more traffic, and ultimately, sales. Yes, we’ve all been there.
I also know that I highlighted the word enough twice, and I didn’t neglect showing off my thesaurus skills to change it to a synonym. I have a point and I’ll get to it later in this article.
What is SEO
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, takes more than working on your website’s keywords. Yes, it is a practice of holistically setting up your website correctly to interact well with search engines. The result we hope to get when we’re optimizing websites for search engines, is to appear more often in relevant searches, and appearing more in relevant searches gets higher quality clicks to our website.
Let’s break these points down for a bit:
- SEO is holistic. Yes, we look at the website from different angles when we do SEO. We look at the content of the website – is the content relevant to what people are looking for? Is my website code up-to-spec and aligned to the rules of different search engines? Is my website secure? Have I designed my website well for different types of devices? Is my website providing the best browsing experience?
- SEO aims to set up websites to interact well with search engines. We are optimizing our websites for Google to easily find our content, know immediately what we are talking about, and have enough information about us so that when people search for us or the topics that we talk about, Google is guided enough to show our content to them.
- The main metric of SEO is to increase the likelihood of our website being displayed on Google whenever people search for topics that we talk about in our content. People are more inclined to click search results that are most relevant to them – just as you are more inclined to engage with social media posts that are relevant to you. And because people find our content more relevant to them, they engage more with our content and are more likely to convert. In fact, global benchmarks say 16% of search engine traffic should easily convert via our website.
SEO is all about experiences
Ultimately, we do Search Engine Optimization to improve the experience of our website users that come from search engines. This means that from the point of searching for us online, to the point of buying our products via our website – our customers should feel that our content is relevant to them.
We do these by having enough keywords in our content that search engine users are interested in. Doing research on what people are searching for in your industry area can yield to sets of keywords that you can use for your website, and if you use enough of them in your content, search engines will definitely see your website as a relevant answer to what people are searching for and display your website to them.
I did say enough keywords. This is because in recent years, Google has been making changes on how their search engine scours our website content. Now, based on my experience, you should limit your keyword use to about 1 or 2 per 300 words. Going more than that can be flagged as spamming keywords into your content, and might hurt your website’s ranking in search results for trying to game the algorithm.
Google also now looks for the context of your articles and pages. Using a high volume of keywords in a page that clearly is unrelated to the context of your keywords will not be beneficial to your website’s ranking in search results. Using keywords is a good practice in SEO, but what matters more now is the context of your content.
SEO is more than just keywords now
SEO, pretty much just like other digital marketing fields, are evolving savagely fast. Now, with the rising adoption of voice-enabled assistants and voice-activated smart homes, people are moving towards voice-related search and less on textual search. This means that in a few years, or even maybe in 2021, we may see a bigger shift on how search engines look for our optimizations that contextualize our content towards voice search.
This is an older best practice, but Google ranks websites based on its expertise, accuracy, and trustworthiness. Facts should be accurate and confirmed, and sources should be stated. If trustworthy websites use your articles as linked references in their articles, then it counts for your expertise. Buttons and calls-to-action messages should provide honest signals to people, and should perform as how its stated.
Also, a confirmed announcement from Google’s search engine team that in 2021, page experience is now a metric that influences whether a website ranks higher in search results. Page experience is a combination of other different metrics, including site security and encryption features, mobile design and responsiveness, site loading speed (more specifically, the loading speed of the first screen that our users should be seeing when visiting our website), and minimizing website errors.
Let’s make it easier
I hope I’ve explained some of the basic and some of the more advanced concepts about SEO. I have worked on several SEO projects and I can tell you that this is really a long game. We may be continuously optimizing a website for months before we even see some positive results. But, there are some projects also that have seen positive results sooner.
Each SEO project is different. That is why we always start with an audit, and look at websites against their competitors. We also look at market trends – what topics people are searching for and how many times these topics have been searched for in a month. While there may be many rules to doing SEO, a big chunk of the process is also creative. We come up with creative solutions in making sure that a website’s content is relevant to its users.
Whatever the case, I hope you have found value just as much as I have enjoyed writing this. If you want to throw ideas with me, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or feel free to contact me if you and your business needs help with SEO.