Welcome to Spiralytics’ Ultimate SEO Resource! Use the jump links below to skip to a section.
Jump to a section:
- What is SEO?
- A Brief History of Search Engine Optimization
- The Importance of SEO for Businesses
- Search Market Overview
- Important Google Algorithm Updates to Know About
- Google Algorithms & SEO
- How Is Local SEO Different from Standard SEO?
- Ecommerce SEO: Doing It Right
- The Rise of Voice SEO
- Good vs Bad SEO Strategies
- The Role of Content in SEO
- Link Building
- 6 Steps to an Effective SEO Strategy
- SEO Mistakes to Avoid
- Free Tools for SEO
- Boost your business with SEO
- Free SEO Audit
As technology continues to evolve, more people grow reliant on online platforms as their source of information, news, business, and entertainment. This became more evident during the pandemic, where businesses quickly needed to shift to online operations, drastically changing the digital landscape as we know it.
By taking advantage of different online platforms, your company can increase its number of marketing channels, allowing it to grow more quickly. But for your brand to be successful, you need to build an effective marketing strategy. This will help you establish a strong online presence and rank higher on search engines.
While there are a lot of different tools and strategies you can use, properly addressing search engine optimization (SEO) can be a big step forward.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process that allows you to boost the organic traffic of your website by improving its ranking and visibility on search engines. This will help your audience find helpful links to your brand more effectively, which can boost traffic and overall performance.
Previously, SEO was lumped together with search engine marketing (SEM). But as their roles were more defined, it has since changed in scope, techniques, and prime focus.
How SEO works:
SEO strategies work by understanding how search engines and their algorithms assign your website with a score and ranking against other sites in a given set of keywords. Depending on your page’s performance, your ranking will reflect how much exposure you get for specific search queries.
In general, page scores are determined by multiple factors, including the quality, authority, and trust that you build with your content. With the right combination of SEO strategy and efficient link building, you can effectively boost your rankings and reach the top spots in search results for your target keywords.
A Brief History of Search Engine Optimization
1993 – Archie, an FTP indexer, is launched. This would later evolve to be the search engine Excite. Many refer to this as the world’s first search engine, while others emerged one year later in 1994.
1996 – Larry Page and Sergey Brin begin to develop Backrub, a new search engine that would assign ranks to websites based on popularity and inbound link relevance. Backrub, later on, evolved to become Google in 1998.
2000 – Keyword stuffing and link spamming were the norms. For instance, if a website wanted to outrank another that used keywords 100 times, they could do so by repeating the same keyword 150 times. Google developed guidelines for webmasters to follow, but it was mostly ignored. Algorithms haven’t incorporated said instructions at this point.
2003 – Google’s Florida algorithm update changed the game. It was the first instance where websites that used keyword stuffing tactics were penalized, and their page rankings went down. Conversely, those who have been providing quality content were recognized and ranked up.
2004 – Google’s reign over the search market share peaked at 84.7% of all searches. They also launched personalized search, which used a person’s search history to give them relevant results.
2005 – Google, Yahoo, and MSN united with the emergence of the No-Follow attribute. Its goal was to decrease spam links and comments on blogs. This was also the year Google launched Google Analytics, which is still being heavily used by brands today.
2008 – Google made improvements to its Quality Score computations, which more accurately ranked websites.
2009 – Bing was launched. Yahoo and Microsoft partnered up to market this new search engine as one that produces better results than Google.
2009 – Google released the real-time search function, which shows results like tweets and breaking news at the top of the page.
2010 – Google Instant was rolled out, which predicts suggestions of what you’re going to type.
2011 to Present – A slew of algorithm updates were stipulated by Google, which further gave recognition and higher rankings to websites that satisfied its guidelines. Black hat SEO tactics were curbed, mobile-friendly websites were prioritized, and the need for high-quality content continued to dominate. Along with these updates, SEO tactics were shaped and evolved.
The Importance of SEO for Businesses
Optimizing your website for search engines offers a range of benefits for your business and your customers. Not only will prospects be able to find your brand more easily, you’ll also be driving things like brand awareness, online authority, and trust.
- Improved position on SERPs – Strategic SEO efforts will help you land a spot on the first page of search engines. Statistically, the top three results get the most clicks, which translates to higher traffic and more potential customers.
- Quality traffic and clicks – Besides improving your position on SERPs, optimized websites get higher organic clicks. People trust organic search results versus those that display an “ad” or “sponsored” label.
- Brand building – A continuous positive image will cultivate and strengthen brand awareness. Good SEO practices will help your business become a household name and industry authority.
- A better grasp of the market – If your SEO strategies are working, this is a good indicator that you understand your audience’s needs and address their pain points effectively.
To say that SEO is critical for your business is an understatement. Learn more reasons why you should have a robust SEO strategy with this insightful read: The Importance of Embracing Modern SEO Best Practices.
Search Market Overview
The Search industry is booming, and will continue to grow in the future. In fact, its market value will reportedly reach $80 billion by 2020. This clues you in on the importance of investing in SEO—there’s no such thing as “too much” of it.
As of 2022, Google owns around 91% of the worldwide search engine market share. As such, all their algorithm updates have a massive impact on webmasters and online businesses and how they conduct their SEO. Many staple SEO analytics tools are made by or work in conjunction with Google.
As more marketers focus on SEO tactics, it can be shown that both local and organic rankings significantly influence the performance of your link building strategy. This urges practitioners to focus on delivering relevant and highly-specific content to their target audience.
But SEO has come a long way since its birth in the 90s. Here are just some of the top trends that practitioners will see more of:
- Mobile-first indexing – Google has already made a move to use the mobile version of websites for indexing and ranking. This is due in part to the increasing number of users across the globe accessing online content on mobile devices.
- UX optimization – Websites that continue to go above and beyond in providing their site visitors with a flawless user experience will continue to be recognized. UX metrics are increasingly becoming a reliable indicator of website quality and trust.
- Voice search and AI – AI technology will continue to evolve and influence the way people perform simple tasks, like searching. Soon enough, voice search will alter the way people search for content online, and search engines are expected to pick up and act on this shift.
Trends come and go, but some of them will stick enough to reshape the state of SEO. Take a peek at SEO Trends to Look Out for in 2019 and beyond.
Important Google Algorithm Updates to Know About
Released: February 2011
Penalties: thin content, plagiarized posts
This update clipped the rankings of websites that released low-quality or “thin” content that didn’t give any real value to visitors. Conversely, sites that produced unique and relevant pieces were rewarded and got better rankings.
Released: April 2012
Focus: black hat link building techniques, irrelevant/spammy links
The Penguin update was monumental in stopping black hat SEO practices, which were rampant during this time. It was first known as the “webspam algorithm update” and made SEO practitioners reevaluate how they can gain quality links without cheating their link building tactics.
Released: August 2013
Focus: keyword stuffing, low-quality content
Hummingbird is one of Google’s smartest updates as it revolves around interpreting search queries. It matches results with the searcher’s intent other than the keywords present in the page. This isn’t to say that keywords aren’t relevant—it merely gave SEO practitioners a broader field to play with when it comes to keyword research.
Released: July 2014
Focus: localized search results, on-page, and off-page SEO
Pigeon only affects English search results. It places huge importance on local search results, so your business can appear if a location-specific query was typed in. The update allowed Google Web search and Google Maps to work together cohesively.
Released: April 2015
Focus: mobile usability, mobile friendliness of a page
Google brings mobile-friendly websites into the spotlight. Web pages that are optimized for mobile rank higher in SERPs, while those that deliver poor mobile performance get down-ranked. The Mobile Friendly update affects the individual pages of a website. That means if you only have one mobile-friendly page, its rank could be improved but the rest of your pages may not.
Released: October 2015
Focus: relevancy of search results, machine learning
According to Google, RankBrain is the third most important web ranking factor. It’s a machine learning system that helps the search engine understand search intent and meanings behind queries, which leads to more relevant results.
Released: September 2016
Focus: location-targeted results based on the searcher’s location
The closer a user is to your business address, the more likely they will see it among the top results. This allowed for accurate answers for specific queries, including the search phrase “near me.” Possum also highlighted businesses outside the actual city area.
Released: March 2017
Focus: low-quality content, ads, affiliate links
Fred sanctions thin, low-quality content that seems to have been generated for heavy promotions and contain plenty of affiliate links. It also aims to stop the black hat SEO practice of buying paid links for link building purposes.
Check out this Moz resource for a complete list of Google algorithm changes.
Google Algorithms & SEO: The Yin-Yang of Digital Marketing
The famous Google algorithm is known for helping all users find exactly what they want through search. While the company itself does not provide much in-depth explanation of how it works, it has given us an idea of what determines your search results. This includes the type of search intent, the usability and relevance of the page, and the settings associated with the user doing the search.
Google updates its algorithm regularly to keep things running smoothly, where changes can vary from small to largely noticeable. In terms of SEO, websites can take major traffic hits where keyword rankings can fluctuate.
How Is Local SEO Different from Standard SEO?
Local SEO involves searches that use a geographical factor to help give you relevant results. For example, if you use a keyword along with a location, the search engine will know that your search requires local intent. Compared to standard SEO, local gives you better chances of connecting to searches in your desired area.
When it comes to growing your business, using standard SEO can help improve your website’s overall visibility on a national scale. But incorporating a hybrid approach between local and standard SEO can also be more beneficial for a more targeted approach.
Ecommerce SEO: Doing It Right
Around 39% of website traffic comes from ecommerce searches. With SEO, any improvement you make in search performance will be reflected in your ranking. This means it also grants you a chance of exposure to new audiences that haven’t heard of your brand yet.
This will require you to build a strong ecommerce SEO strategy that focuses on factors like optimizing long-tail keywords, revamping your product pages, and updating your tools regularly.
The Rise of Voice SEO
Technology continues to develop in ways that make our daily life more convenient. This includes the growing popularity of voice search on mobile devices. Users can activate this feature by saying a key phrase when asking their device a question. This can help optimize the presence of local businesses if your content is more direct and conversational.
Good vs. Bad SEO Strategies
In previous iterations of Google’s algorithm updates, some SEO practitioners found loopholes in the system and saw it as a means to get ahead. This included keyword stuffing, spam directories, and duplicate content. Those aforementioned unethical practices are known as “black hat” SEO techniques. Here are more examples:
- Lack of on-page optimization on web pages
- Delivering poor user experience in general
- Spinning or plagiarizing content
- Buying paid links as a shortcut for link building
- Spamming comment sections with links
Thankfully, search engines got better and found a way to measure the quality of websites accurately. This forced SEO specialists to avoid spammy techniques and adopt more user-friendly websites to make sure they won’t get penalized by Google. We now know these as “white hat” tactics today. Here’s more of what you should do:
- Picking the right keywords to maximize audience targeting efforts
- Structuring search engine-friendly URLs
- Creating highly linkable and valuable content
- Delivering fantastic UX for visitors
- Performing regular SEO audits to maintain and improve standing
There’s no choice to make when it comes to determining which strategy you should practice. Check this out to learn more about white hat and black hat SEO and the different penalties you can incur: Good vs. Bad SEO: How to Not Get Penalized.
The Role of Content in SEO
Content and SEO are two peas in a pod. Your web content is what your SEO efforts will point to, so it’s imperative that they are well-researched and purposeful. Be intentional when interweaving your content marketing and SEO tactics to maximize positive results.
- Creating customer-centric content that is always relevant and beneficial to your reader will encourage them to keep coming back to your website for more. This will also establish your authority and expertise in your industry, building trust and credibility.
- Incorporating the right keywords in your blog posts and web pages will aid your target audience in finding your company in relevant scenarios.
- Placing internal links encourage your readers to browse your website and discover more information about your brand and how they can benefit from what you offer.
- Don’t forget the SEO basics: Filling up your meta description, title tags, and image alt texts help search engines index and present your web page on search engines better.
Get a deeper understanding of how content marketing plays a critical role in your SEO strategy by visiting our post: How to Improve Your Search Rankings with Content Marketing.
Link building is the not-so-secret weapon to a successful SEO strategy. In a nutshell, it’s the process of getting other respectable websites to link to your site, webpage, or blog post. Ultimately, the more backlinks you have, the more your business is exposed to a broader audience. It also builds your online reputation as it is unlikely for you to amass those links if your content isn’t valuable or linkable.
Search engines use links for two reasons:
- Discovering new websites
- Determining the ranking of a website
Links have long been a critical component in Google’s ranking system, but it wasn’t until the Penguin algorithm update that unethical link building practices were penalized. Now, you must prove that your website is worth linking to—and there’s no better way to do this than by creating high-quality content in the first place.
There are so many ways to approach link building, but we know the secret to do it the right way. Learn our tricks of the trade here: How to Approach Link Building the “Right” Way.
6 Steps to an Effective SEO Strategy
1. Keyword Research
Doing your research is an essential step to boosting your SEO strategy. Without correctly understanding the keywords and search intent, you can’t fully optimize your content based on what users want to see. This could result in fewer clicks and a low overall ranking.
Keyword research may sound simple, but there’s an art to this strategy. Learn how to perform useful keyword research here: SEO Guide Stage 1: Keyword Research.
2. Analyze the competition
Studying your competitors’ methods can give you a lot of insight into what you could be doing better. Looking at the type of keywords, backlinks, and content they put out can determine your strongest and weakest areas in comparison. This can help you make adjustments to your strategy and get ahead on new things your competitors have yet to try.
Visit this article to develop the skill of thorough competitor benchmarking: SEO Guide Stage 2: Competitor Analysis.
3. SEO Audit
SEO audits help you determine if you’re on track with optimization best practices. Because Google regularly updates its algorithm and new SEO trends may emerge, it is crucial to perform an audit on your site to ensure all optimization issues, such as technical and on-page issues, are addressed.
Learn how to perform a complete SEO audit for your website with our comprehensive tutorial: SEO Guide Stage 3: SEO Audit.
4. Website optimization
Improving your website design can play a huge role in your SEO strategy. Apart from the visual aspects of your pages, structure and formatting are also crucial for optimization and better UI/UX. This includes updating content regularly, changing the meta tags, H tags, and title tags, and making sure it’s easy to navigate in and around the website, among others.
5. Link Building
Apart from improving the front-end of your site, it’s important to work on your link building strategies. By building links on authoritative sites, you can get more traffic to your own site, helping you rank in SERPs. Moreover, the traffic can get you recognized as a trusted source.
6. Progress analysis
Using SEO strategies means being ready to change your approach whenever necessary. This means that you will need to keep track of your progress and analyze your performance on a regular basis. Once you’ve identified what still works and what doesn’t, you can make the necessary adjustments to improve your strategies and rank better.
Analyzing metrics can get overwhelming in the beginning, especially if you’re unsure where to start. We pooled a list of essential parameters you need to keep your eye on. Take a look at them here: SEO Guide Stage 6: Tracking & Analyzing.
SEO Mistakes to Avoid
1. Slow websites
No one wants to waste their time waiting for a page to fully load on their browser. If you wish to rank better on search engines, you need to optimize your site speed and improve user experience on your platform.
2. Ranking for the wrong keywords
Keyword stuffing is one thing, but you should never forget to do your research on effective keywords before you start creating content. This will not only help you rank better on search engines, but it will also boost your SEO game.
3. Uninteresting content
Users crave interesting and worthwhile content that caters to their line of interests. If you can’t hook them in within the first few sentences, then it is time to rethink your approach and find more ways to keep them engaged.
4. Forgetting about mobile users
The use of smartphones and tablets is becoming more popular by the day. If you neglect to optimize your site for these devices, you can lose out on valuable clicks that will reflect your rankings.
5. Missing details
Failure to do thorough research on your topic can hurt your chances of becoming a reliable source for users. If you want to avoid low rankings, ensure that you are giving out all the necessary information that users are looking for.
Understand why these practices can ruin your SEO strategy: The 3 Most Unforgivable SEO Mistakes Businesses Make
Free Tools for SEO
Google Analytics continues to be one of the best free SEO tools out there. It has an extensive list of features that helps you figure out what exactly is going on with your site at all times. This includes knowing who your users are, how users find your site, and how they interact with your content.
This free SEO tool can help you discover keywords best related to your content on different online platforms. Keywords Everywhere also gives you related keywords that may help you structure your content better and perhaps provide more answers for seach queries. It’s also got a lot of other features that can help you with your meta descriptions, title, and other contents of your page.
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Apart from its name, Screaming Frog SEO Spider has several interesting features that can help you pinpoint what mistakes you’re making with your site through a thorough site audit. This includes helping you spot duplicate content, broken pages, image problems, and many more.
NitroPack is a plugin that can help you boost different aspects of your WordPress site. It also has additional features that allow you to increase your site speed to rank better on other search engines.
Ahrefs is a classic SEO tool that most marketers will be familiar with. It also has many features that can help in competitor analysis, keyword search, and finding content gaps, among several others.
Explore more free tools and learn what’s so great about each in our roundup: Free SEO Tools for Startups, You’re Welcome
Boost your business with SEO
SEO plays a vital role in any business running online operations. Without a proper understanding of these tactics, ranking well on search engines is going to be a lot more challenging. As a result, your business can struggle to grow its consumer base.
If you want to start implementing SEO tactics into your operations but don’t know how, Spiralytics offers professional SEO services that can help you boost your business.
For more information, contact us today!