What is SEO and How Does It Work?

By October 5, 2020 October 12th, 2020 SEO
what is seo

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, refers to the process of optimizing a website so Google, Yahoo, and other search engines will rank the site on the results pages.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting a website or a web page’s visibility in a search engine’s unpaid results. It is often referred to as naturalorganic, or earned results. SEO is composed of On-page and Off-page optimization.

An organic strategy, SEO enables online users to search for brands, products, and services that websites (or online businesses) provide and eventually buy from that website.  

SEO is not a tool, software, or website. It is an industry, practice, strategy and ongoing process. SEO is about:

  • Keywords
  • Links
  • Relevance
  • Reputation
  • User experience
  • User satisfaction

The goal of SEO is making a web page or website relevant enough for a query and being trusted enough by the search engine to rank it on the list. 

Evidently, SEO traffic is very valuable. Perhaps, this is the reason other SEO firms – Optimind excluded – choose to go black hat instead of playing by the rules and guidelines set forth by Google, Bing, and Yahoo. 

SEO implementation methods

1) Organic SEO

It is used for getting natural listings on organic results pages. Organic listings appear after a user types a term or phrase in the search bar. Organic traffic is free traffic. As such, organic SEO uses methods like keyword research, link building, and content writing.  

2) White hat SEO

These are the methods that emphasize the human audience instead of the search engines. These methods are fully compliant with search engine guidelines, rules, and policies. Also called ethical SEO, white hat methods are the same as that of organic SEO methods. These methods have long-term effects.  

3) Black hat SEO

Black hat SEO is the complete opposite of white hat methods. These methods emphasize the search engines and not the users. Some examples are keyword stuffing and cloaking. Aside from unethical SEO, black hat SEO is also called aggressive SEO and spamdexing. Search engines penalize sites that use these methods. For instance, Google may de-index the website for good once it is caught spamming keywords.

Do you want to start an SEO campaign but not quite sure about what value it may bring to your digital strategy? Before we proceed, let us congratulate you on taking the initiative to grow your online business—kudos!

Moving forward, you must first understand what an SEO campaign is and how it is done these days.

Let’s continue.

What is an SEO campaign?

An SEO campaign is a planned effort to optimize the website at the page level to improve rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Other than rankings, the campaign also targets metrics like organic traffic and conversions. An SEO campaign aims to increase the quality and quantity of traffic to the website by appearing on organic search results.

An SEO campaign is a data-based, long-term strategy involving several broad steps. These include keyword research, site audit, competitor analysis, on-page optimization, link building, content creation, etc.

With this said, an SEO campaign is an ongoing process.

How do you run an SEO campaign?

Now that you know what an SEO campaign is and its components, the next section focuses on understanding how a campaign is run.

If you do a quick Google search on starting an SEO campaign, you might get confused about the process. Some SEO companies begin with the website audit while others, with keyword research. There’s nothing wrong with this; it is a matter of preference or proven tactics at the agency level, so let it be.

In Optimind, our SEO campaign starts with a site audit, which is also part of technical SEO analysis. It is followed by targeted keyword research, on-page optimization, off-page optimization (or link building), competitor analysis, content development, penalty assessment and recovery, and monitoring and reporting.

Competitor analysis may or may not be needed. It is conducted to determine how your brand or company fares against rivals. As such, insights we generate through this analysis guide the ongoing SEO strategies and tactics implementation. For instance, SEO teams refer or consult the competitor’s backlink profile for competitive link building.

The penalty assessment and recovery step is not always necessary, but manual actions are still checked to determine if there are any issues Google deemed penalizable. 

1) Comprehensive site audit

The site audit is the start of the SEO campaign, identifying areas that can be improved. Again, like the entire SEO process, every SEO company does their SEO audit differently. For example, Optimind offers free initial audits (with no page-level recommendations). Once you become a client, that’s the time that our team will use a crawler to dig deep into the strengths and weaknesses of the website SEO-wise.

A comprehensive site audit is a combination of assessing the technical and on-page factors, whether they are correctly implemented or not, and contributing to the site’s overall indexability. The bottom line is taking an inventory of the code and non-code-related issues affecting the site’s search performance and fixing those before launch or relaunch.

Optimind audits the website for accessibility, indexability, on-page SEO factors, and off-page SEO factors. The follow-through is a list of white-hat recommendations that your or our team may implement.

2) Targeted keyword research

Keyword research is the process of finding the most relevant keywords for the website and its optimization goals and targets. This is a straightforward process, and perhaps the only difference from one SEO agency to another is the tools used.

Optimind primarily uses Google Keyword Planner, which is a free tool that pulls data directly from Google. The emphasis is on targeted keywords use, or the keywords with low competition, high search volume, and customer fit. The third one is the deciding factor because it is not enough to rank for the right keywords. More importantly, the choices of keywords must make your brand money—you want keywords that the target customers are searching for.

After the keyword research, the SEO team will provide you with a list of well-researched, highly-relevant keywords that you can choose from.

3) On-page optimization

There are at least important things to investigate during on-page optimization that will surely benefit the SEO campaign. These are the website’s crawlability, indexability, readability, and accessibility regardless of the browser and device used.

There is a need to ensure that the keywords, titles, headlines, images, and links are appropriately optimized. The implementation of several industry best practices is paramount since these are proven strategies for ranking well on SERPs. Of course, the pages should be mobile-friendly and fast-loading too.

On-page optimization is an ongoing process, evaluating each page regularly and ensuring that all new pages are well-optimized.

4) Off-page optimization

While on-page optimization is critical for every SEO campaign, it won’t rank the website unilaterally. The website still needs off-page optimization. Also called link building, the latter impacts the search rankings more. Link building, done correctly, is an art that brings skyrocket growth to the business.

A backlink is a ranking factor. However, this does not mean that you can build any backlink to nourish the website’s authority. That’s not how link building works today that Google is after certain factors. For instance, the linking site must be relevant to your website, and it must be trustworthy and authoritative. A backlink profile audit has a central role in this aspect. 

As always, SEO experts recommend publishing high-quality content that can easily earn backlinks, which are fundamental to any SEO campaign. Speaking of content…

5) Content development 

There are at least two broad types of content. The first one is the website content, and the second is the blog post or article. The former is more static than the latter, but both require optimization and suit specific purposes. Of the two, blog posts contribute to the website’s relevance, especially in the eyes of Google and other search engines. 

Strive to publish pillar or evergreen content, a long-form content that focuses on specific topics. Long, comprehensive content pieces are usually from 1,000 words up. Many studies prove that content with higher word count may end up at the top positions of SERP.

We must write for humans first before search engines. Equally essential writing around topics offers opportunities to include keywords as topically as possible instead of writing with the keyword in mind. 

However, content is not just the textual part of the website but also covers the visuals. Chances are, you will connect your website with social media channels, which are highly visual platforms. So you cannot ignore this part of the equation when doing an SEO campaign.

6) Monitoring and reporting

This is the last step in an SEO campaign: tracking the results. Google Analytics and Google Search Console are the primary tools to use for these purposes. Organic traffic is measured through Analytics, whereas keyword rankings are analyzed through Console. Through this, you may know how many users visit which page, what exact keywords did they use, and which pages bring the most traffic.

SEO reports can be bi-weekly or monthly with insights on improving the campaign, especially the strategies implemented.  

What is the most important factor in an SEO campaign?

Any brand, business, or organization may reap the benefits of a well-executed SEO campaign. 

Based on years of experience, any SEO campaign’s success usually starts with a single most essential step. Keyword research is a critical factor for the campaign.

Below are the reasons why this is so.

1) Opportunity to target long-tail keywords

It is best to start with relevant keywords with low competition for a chance to single out the brand against the competition. This is more so if you are a small brand attempting to compete with more established brands.

Think of finding long-tail keywords as prequalifying your visitors. Users who landed on your page using a long-tail keyword are convert-ready—they are ready to purchase. Put simply, long-tail keywords have higher conversion rates than the common ones.

2) Possibility of optimizing keyword placement

Improper keyword placement almost always ruin an SEO campaign. This won’t work since crawlers and bots also analyze the page based on how keywords are placed. 

As such, the target keyword must be in the title, URL, meta description, and heading or subheading. We also advocate using a combination of exact and partial matches (think RankBrain and contextual indexation). Our practice is using a keyword density of 1 to 2.5%.

3) Allows striking a balance between search volume and competition

Again, the emphasis is on low competition but with high search volume. Avoid high competition, high search volume keywords, especially if you don’t have sufficient marketing budget to sustain the efforts. Low competition, low volume keywords are equally budget-exhausting. The sweet spot is high volume, low competition. 

Make sure to target these keywords on your content strategy. Content is king, so they say. It is at the core of the website; the primary reason why users continue to visit it.

With all these, it is essential to note that SEO does not happen overnight. The campaign’s performance will depend on several factors within the niche. It may take up to twelve weeks before you see any changes. In some instances, you’ll see those in the sixth week.

Who is an SEO specialist?

  • Analyzes the site structure and content
  • Gives technical advice on optimizing the website
  • Optimizes web content so it will be search engine-friendly
  • Creates unique and compelling contents for the users
  • Enhances user experience
  • Employs content, design, and usability strategies to boost the site
  • Researches and analyzes keywords
  • Builds links
  • Manages online optimization campaigns
  • Performs competitor link analysis

2020 is an interesting year for SEO. Indeed! 2021, however, witnessed (and will continue witnessing) shocking updates from Google. Nonetheless, there are rules of thumb that remain relevant until today, and probably for as long as SEO shall endure. 

Evergreen SEO tips

  • Get relevant. Be reputable.
  • Aim for memorable user experience. 
  • Befriend Google. Follow the guidelines consistently.
  • Start smart and cautious link building. 
  • Don’t expect results without doing lots of work. They don’t come handy.
  • Ping the search engines whenever you update the website and any of the contents.
  • Google rewards ORIGINAL contents. Make UNIQUE a part of your daily vocabulary.
  • Google favors results diversity. Plagiarism is a no-no!
  • If you want to rank on a page, the keyword MUST be on that page. One keyword per page.
  • Good understands both popular and good content thanks to Hummingbird. 
  • Spread Google juice through ensuring internal backlinking. 
  • Internal links are valuable but keep them natural. 
  • Google only keeps the useful web pages on the website.
  • Unique content is still king. 
  • Too many incoming links at too fast a rate devalue the website generally or individual pages. 
  • Avoid spammy SEO techniques such as hidden texts, hidden links, keyword repetition, and cloaking.
  • KISS – Keep it simple, stupid.