Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works to develop a website’s online content to increase visibility in search engines like Google. In search marketing, the goal is for your website or online content to show up at or near the top of search engine result pages (SERPs) when using certain keywords.

Considered part of digital marketing, effective SEO improves a website’s quality and quantity of traffic, generating sales and improving business. SEO strategy and implementation use content, technical optimization, link building, and keyword research to ensure your website, product, or content is showing up high in the organic results. A 2019 BrightEdge survey found that SEO drives 1000% more traffic than organic social media. In essence, using SEO means making sure the right keywords are in the right place, thus helping get who you want to read your content, without paying for ads.

Why Use SEO?

There’s no denying it: when people are looking for an answer, want to shop, or need to find information, they turn to Google. Optimizing your website or other online content means that yours comes up first when this happens, ultimately driving visitors and potential customers in your direction. According to GE Capital Retail Bank’s second annual Major Purchase Shopper Study, 81% of online shoppers do online research before making a purchase. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there were a way to ensure those shoppers were seeing your website? There is: search engine optimization.

Using SEO to drive both visibility and rankings can help your business, product, or brand thrive online. Figuring out the right keywords and using SEO throughout your company’s digital journey can help position it for a healthy future.

The Three Pillars of SEO

Three core elements help determine success in search engine results. Let’s break them down.

Technical SEO

The first pillar of successful SEO is technical features. These behind-the-scenes elements drive the performance of your website. Your site should have a clear and easy structure for search engines to be able to crawl and index your pages. The schema of the site and URL structures should make sense.

Depending on the type of site, you may have to structure things differently, but in general, you’ll want to break down your site into relevant topics or chunks and make it easy to navigate between topics and go deeper within a specific topic.

Other elements that will impact your technical SEO include website speed, mobile-friendliness, your XML sitemap, and navigation.

For a deeper dive into the technical elements of search engine optimization, check out The Fundamentals of Technical SEO article from Noble Desktop’s blog.

On-Page SEO

Another critical part of your website’s SEO is on-page optimization—in other words, creating a compelling content strategy and using keywords that a search engine can match to relevant searches. On-page content is essential and refers to everything on your website, including text, keywords, images, tags, and internal links. The key strategy for on-page optimization is meeting the intent of the searcher/user with high-quality content. Ideally, you want your SEO to show that your website offers expertise in your field, has authority, and is trustworthy.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to elements like backlinks and social media that aren’t on your site but can help build authority and trust with search engines. Link building refers to the process of getting reputable and relevant websites to link to your website or content. The more references to your site or content on other sources (especially reliable ones), the better. Google uses good-quality, trustworthy references as a sign of a website’s authority—exactly what you’re aiming for!

Additionally, building out your social media presence across a variety of channels will further establish your internet presence and boost your SEO. To learn new strategies for mastering off-page SEO, take a look at further resources from Noble Desktop.

SEO Best Practices

Now that you have some understanding of how and why to use SEO, let’s dive into some best practices when it comes to search engine optimization.

Be User-Focused

Being user-focused is another way of saying make sure you’re providing the best possible experience for people visiting your site. One of the biggest parts of building a successful and reputable online persona, business, and community regardless of the industry is creating a feeling of trust with your site visitors. While you won’t be interacting with them face-to-face, you can create a sense of relatability and security by creating a safe and reliable website experience. This means demonstrating expertise within your niche and being a thorough authority on subjects within your field.

You can cultivate a sense of trustworthiness by creating great content, making sure your website is up-to-date, and sharing regularly across various social media channels. Several elements can contribute to a website’s security and visitors’ overall sense when they come to your sites, such as ensuring you have an encrypted site (using https vs. http) and no technical issues like broken links and outdated information.

Another way to make your website experience as user-focused as possible is by gathering feedback from customers including how they found your product or site and what they thought of it. You can get this information by asking your customers directly via surveys and emails, as well as using analytics to collect and interpret data about your customers and how they engage with your site.

Create a “Google My Business” Listing

Another way to optimize your website is to create a Google My Business listing. Adding your information to Google My Business means that your company will appear on Google searches and Google Maps if it has a brick-and-mortar location. Make sure to complete all the information possible so you can provide the most details to your prospective customers. If users leave a review through Google, it’s a good idea to respond to them as quickly as possible—whether the review is good or bad! Responding promptly and interacting with your current and potential customers shows that you value what they have to say. Posting photos and videos regularly as well as allowing for messaging and responding quickly continues to build trust and reliability within your community—all elements that end up helping your SEO.

Site and Page Speed

Another best practice when it comes to optimizing your page for the most successful user experience possible is speed. Both site and page speed is important when it comes to your website. Sites and pages that load slowly have a higher bounce rate and visitors simply don’t stay on pages that take a long time to load. Ensuring both your whole site and individual pages within are going as fast as possible will help your business. You can even conduct speed tests to see how your pages stack up and what you can do to improve rates.

Streamline Mobile Experience

According to a 2020 Statista report, mobile devices generated about half of all website traffic globally. Since more people than ever are using their phones rather than desktop or laptop computers, it’s critical to design your site to be as mobile-friendly as possible. While websites used to be made for desktop experiences, now, it’s a much better idea to design first for mobile and then make it compatible for desktop. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized website, you need to take action immediately to ensure it is navigable for mobile use. There are plenty of ways to test your website’s mobile-friendliness. Do yourself a favor and take a look and make any changes necessary. These seemingly simple fixes can have a large impact on your SEO rankings, user satisfaction, and overall business.

Voice Search Optimization

Have you said “Hey Google, Hey Siri, or Hey Alexa” today? If so, you’re one of the 52% of voice-assistant users who say they use voice tech several times a day or nearly every day. Using voice commands to interact with mobile devices is on the rise. So along with streamlining your website’s mobile experience, it’s a good idea to optimize your site for voice search. Knowing how people are searching and being prepared for that is an important element of any SEO strategy.

Conversion Optimization & Tracking

It’s proven that using analytics is a great way to improve your site’s user experience. It’s also imperative to use them to glean useful information about your visitors’ behavior, including learning where people who visit your site are coming from and what they are doing on your site. You can also use analytics to set up goals for important key performance indicators (KPI). First, decide what is most important to you to track, such as destination (where people go when they visit your site), time (how much time they spend on each page), how many pages they visit, and/or events (such as signing up for a newsletter, clicking a video, or making a purchase). You can even get as specific as figuring out what keywords potential customers are entering into the search bar and incorporate that into your site. There are all kinds of tools out there designed to help make your website more SEO-friendly and improve your business along the way; use them to your advantage!

SEO Careers

All businesses with an online presence in industries ranging from healthcare to technology to construction to finance to education need SEO to enhance their virtual reach. There are plenty of careers across the country for those with a background in SEO. Search engine optimization is an integral part of digital marketing and online advertising, and knowledge of how it works and how to improve it can work in your favor when looking for a job.

According to Indeed, SEO Specialists in the U.S. earn an average yearly salary of around $53K—though that number may change depending on location. SEO specialists analyze and reconfigure websites to rank them higher in search engines like Google. They research keywords, check analytics, examine rankings, and work to ensure a website is getting displayed prominently in search engine results.

Digital Marketing is another industry that includes search engine optimization. Digital Marketers typically make about $60K across the United States. These marketing professionals design, manage, and review digital marketing campaigns. They use SEO and data analytics to review their online marketing campaign results and give direction for future projects.

Digital Strategists make around $61K annually, though again, this amount will fluctuate depending on both industry and location. These professionals work on digital strategy for websites, social media, SEO content, and digital marketing. Digital Strategists find places where companies can develop and work to make that happen.

Those with more experience managing teams and working in the digital marketing sector can find work as Search Managers, bringing home around $87K annually. A search manager knows how search engines work and how to use them to get results. These digital professionals will generally manage both organic (SEO) and paid search projects.

Learn SEO

Noble Desktop also offers several courses in SEO training. These classes are available in-person at Noble’s NYC location, or students can attend live online SEO classes from anywhere in the world. Noble also has a comprehensive Digital Marketing Certificate designed for those ready to jumpstart their digital marketing careers. This rigorous 78-hour program taught by digital marketing experts has nine distinct units, each with a different focus. The certificate covers search engine optimization (SEO) for digital marketing. Participants will learn how to develop business-based strategies and manage successful digital marketing campaigns.

Not interested in taking a longer course but still want to learn? Get a general overview of SEO and learn where to focus your SEO efforts with Noble’s free SEO seminar. Another free resource available from Noble Desktop is their SEO blog, which has a wealth of informative articles about search engine optimization, including topics like 8 Ways to Improve Site Speed, SEO for Dummies, Tools of a Search Marketer, and more.