What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, which is the process of improving (optimizing) a website so that it is more readily found online. SEO primarily focuses on improving a website’s rankings in search engines like Google and BING. The higher a website appears in the search engine rankings, the greater the likelihood that it will be visited. When a website received more traffic, there is a likelihood for more business.
Are there different types of SEO services? If so, what are they?
1. Technical SEO: Analysis of Website’s technical factors that impact its rankings.
An important factor for website optimization is the efficiency of the code with which the website is developed. Inefficient code that is bloated can slow down a website’s load time and dilutes the code-to-text (on-page-content). When we optimize on-page content, the optimization is better received by Google when the website code is minimized. Google more readily understands the semantic meaning of a page when there is less code. This helps to improve rankings.
Google’s ranking algorithm is continually updated to improve the experience of its users. In addition to delivering accurate results that address a query, Google also factors into its rankings the speed of a website. A faster website provides a superior user experience to a website visitor. All other things being equal, Google will deliver a faster website before a slower site because a visitor will most likely have a better experience with the faster website. Page load times should be below 2.5 seconds.
Another important ranking factor is whether a website is responsive, which means that the layout of the website adapts to the type of device being used to view the website. When a website is responsive, it delivers a better user experience. Websites that are not responsive attempt to deliver the entire width of a web page meant for a desktop onto a smart phone or tablet. To make the page fit, the on-page content must be reduced in size, which typically makes the page un-viewable. All other things being equal, Google will deliver a mobile responsive website before a non-responsive site.
Google, like its users, prefers websites that are secure. A website with malware is an extreme example of a poor, unsecure website. Of course, no one wants to infect their computer by visiting a website that is not secure. Google has been steadily increasing the importance of having a secure website by increasing the importance of HTTPS websites over HTTP sites.
HTTPS simply means the website is protected with an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secured Socket Layer. It is a communications protocol which creates a secure connection between a visitor and a website. Protecting the information entered by a visitor and received by the website is important to Google, therefore, they will rank a website that is SSL protected (https) over a website that is not (http).
2. On-Page SEO: The optimization of visible page elements that effect rankings.
Page Title & Meta Description
A web page’s title tag and meta description are critical to SEO rankings for two reasons. First, both should contain your primary keyword(s) to help Google understand the semantic meaning of your page. Rather than keyword stuffing (old school SEO), use a variation of your keywords. It is best practice to use synonyms, word variations and change the order of words within a keyword phrase. A professional SEO services company will know how to best optimize title tags and meta descriptions to help Google search queries ranking and improve organic traffic.
The second reason page titles and meta descriptions are important is because they present an opportunity to differentiate your web page result from your competitors. Current SEO best practices consider more recent optimization factors used by Google, which include user engagement metrics like time on site, bounce rate and click-through rate. When Google identifies that one web page is being viewed for a longer period of time and there is more visitor engagement with the website, the likelihood is that page will out-rank pages with lower user metrics. Accurate and intriguing page title’s and descriptions help increase click-through rate and reduce bounce-rate.
Google appreciates (and rewards) web pages that are structured intuitively. The use of headings helps to organize the content on a page. Much like a term paper outline, major topics use more prominent headers. In terms of SEO, these would include H1 and H2 heading tags and would identify more macro ideas. When greater detail is discussed within each over-arching topic, these content areas use less prominent headers such as H3 and H4. The proper use of header tags is very important to rankings. I’ve experienced more than once a huge improvement in a website’s rankings by simply changing the H1 on the home page. SEO service providers know how to optimize and utilize headings to help improve Google rankings.
On Page Content
The content (text) of a web page is critical to the potential ranking for that page. As mentioned above, Google is tracking visitor usage metrics like time on page and bounce-rate. If your professional SEO services company is simply optimizing titles, meta descriptions and headings to improve rankings, these ranking improvements may be short lived.
Ultimately, the on-page content must provide value to the visitor. Simply listing services, for example, is boring. When one also includes the benefits or value of those services to the potential customer, the page becomes more relevant to the visitor. When the page is concise, has an appealing layout and uses rich-media (videos, graphics, etc.) that improve visitor engagement, then the rankings improvement has greater staying-power.
3. Off-Page SEO: Implementation of optimization elements not related to the page itself.
Off-page SEO techniques help increase a website’s domain authority, which is a measure of a website’s credibility and “ability” to rank well. While on-page SEO positions a website to rank for search terms well by helping search engines understand the semantic meaning of a website and its web pages, off-page SEO helps increase the authority of a website and Google’s interpretation of what websites should rank ahead of others.
The use of social media helps to create brand awareness and the potential for website visitors. The more a website participates in social media, the greater the likelihood of social media users visiting the website. As it relates to off-page SEO, Google’s priority is to deliver quality content to its users. Among the best indicators of quality content, is the frequency with which content is shared online. Social media marketing is an excellent way to encourage the sharing of a website’s content.
At the heart of Google’s ranking algorithm are backlinks. To Google, backlinks from one website to another is similar to word-of-mouth referrals. The more referrals (backlinks) a website receives, the more Google deems the website as relevant and, subsequently, the greater a website’s rankings. Because backlinks are critical to domain authority and ranking well, it tends to also be the area with the greatest abuse in terms of spam.
If an SEO agency is not using SEO best practices for link building, they may be focusing simply on the quantity of backlinks. More important to improving rankings, is the quality of backlinks. One good quality backlink from a trusted, authoritative website is better than 10 and, perhaps, even 100 poor quality links. The key to acquiring good-quality backlinks is to provide valuable content on your website that others may reference and wish to share with their website visitors.
4. Organic SEO: Improving rankings for the main “organic” area within search engines.
Organic SEO is important to businesses with a national & international focus. This type of SEO focuses on improving rankings within the organic search results (as opposed to the “local-pack”) by optimizing a website for Google’s search engine algorithm. Organic SEO is traditional or classical search engine optimization, which starts with keyword research. The internet is flooded with articles on how to perform organic SEO to improve Google rankings. Techniques within this form of SEO services include on-page optimization and off-page optimization, including things like meta tag and page title optimization, on-page content optimization, building backlinks and utilizing social media.
5. Local SEO: Improving rankings for the “local-pack” area within search engines.
Local SEO services is important to businesses relying on local/regional customers. Location targeted SEO is more recent than general organic search optimization. Optimizing for local rankings focuses on being found within the local-pack, the area within Google results that shows a map with a listing of 3 local businesses. The local listings area is a huge opportunity for smaller businesses relying on localized customers. The SEO techniques used for local website optimization are different than those of organic SEO. Restaurants, auto repair shops, electricians and plumbers are a few examples of the types of businesses that benefits from Local SEO.
6. Voice SEO: Improving rankings for voice search.
Voice search optimization is the newest form of search engine optimization. The majority of people would rather use voice search than typing, which is why voice search is projected to be greater than 50% of all searches by 2020. Voice search optimization priorities include having a fast website (page load time under 4 seconds), SSL security website encryption, and clearly defined question and an answer of approximately 30 words or less.
7. Reputation Management
Another important part of search optimization services a professional SEO company should be offering are those of online reputation management. The majority of internet users find online reviews helpful in making a purchasing decision. Perhaps the most well-known online reviews are those from Amazon. Product reviews from actual buyers are very useful to potential customers researching products.
Similar to product reviews, company and service reviews are useful to people looking to hire a company to perform services. These types of reviews can both help and hurt an organization. Those companies with favorable reviews will have a greater likelihood of being hired than those with poor reviews. Reputation management services help promote positive reviews while mitigating negative reviews. An important part of SEO agency services is to help clients respond favorable to online reviews.
8. Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing services help improve the overall online visibility of an organization’s website. There is a strong correlation between the number of impressions a company receives and acquiring new business. As Internet users become more familiar with a brand and their website, we see an increase in activity to and engagement with a business’ website. Search marketing helps to increase brand awareness, website traffic and conversion rate.
SEO, search engine optimization, is the process of achieving better search engine rankings and more traffic with the ultimate goal of generating more business. There are several different types of SEO services that focus on different elements are search optimization and online visibility. In order to rank well within search engines like Google and BING, a search engine optimization company may implement technical website optimization, on-page and off-page SEO with a focus on organic SEO and/or local SEO services. Traditional organic SEO focuses on improving rankings within the typical search engine results area. Local SEO focuses on improving rankings within the “local-pack”, which is the area within results that has a map with three local businesses listed. Local SEO is important to businesses that rely on local or regional customers. While organic SEO can help find local customers, it is most important to businesses with a national and international focus. Reputation management is an important part of online optimization because it fosters a favorable view of an organization, its services and products. Search engine marketing focuses on increasing brand awareness and online visibility. Both reputation management and search engine marketing help increase the likelihood of a potential customer becoming a customer.