Why does a small business need to invest in SEO?
Digital transformation is here to stay. SEO Marketing is a long-term investment for Businesses which gradually improves their competitiveness. Top ranks in Search Engines are very crowded places but, at the end, this is where market opportunities lie. Therefore, Search Engine Optimization is crucial for any business to expand and grow. There are three main categories in SEO: On-page SEO, Off-page SEO and Technical SEO.
On-page SEO is to optimize a website according to Search Engines guidelines, providing, in parallel, great User Experience. On-page factors include quality content, user interface with functionalities for users and searchers, as well as, responsive web design and page-speed.
The importance of content
Content should be always original. Any attempts of plagiarism are not a good practice because search engines can track this method and take action against it. Furthermore, content should always be unique and valuable for the reader providing full coverage on topics which present strong and consistent search interest. Informational searches stand at the top of search intent, though transactional and navigational searches are important, too.
Why user experience matters?
User interface, responsive web design, as well as, page speed add value to user experience. Even if our site is top ranked at search engines for some keywords, a bad user experience will cause a low conversion rate for leads and sales. Studies have shown that 53% of mobile visits are abandoned when load time exceeds the threshold of 3 sec. But it’s not just slow page speed which reduces our traffic. If the page is structured poorly making it hard to read and navigate, visitors will leave our site while most of them will not return back, again.
Off-page SEO includes everything that takes place ‘off’ our website. Widely known, off-page SEO factors are link building strategies and advertorials. In Search Engines bots are crawling constantly the entire web, searching for information to Index. Ranking follows Crawling and Indexing, where inbound links are one of the most important factors on SERPs. These inbound links build gradually our backlink profile.
How backlinking should be done
A healthy backlink profile should contain many and different referring domains. Some “forbidden” methods include buying an excessive amount of backlinks or exchanging a huge amount of backlinks with another domain. These backlinks are characterized as bad links trying to manipulate SERPs and commonly get penalized by search engines. Healthy backlinks are often acquired by publishing quality content on other relevant websites. As a rule of thumb, webmasters seek for original content which adds value to their website and in exchange they allow backlinking, using anchor texts for some popular search queries.
Technical SEO is the performance of a website. Search Engines are running tests on websites evaluating the loading speed, the responsiveness and the quality of page source code. Technical factors have an important contribution at the overall SEO score which, of course, matters at the rankings.
Important technical factors
Loading speed first and foremost, as mentioned before, contributes to better user experience so it should be one of the priorities. Images which are not optimized for web usage may affect speed in a negative way. The same applies for some scripts that can be minified to decrease data usage and, consequently, processing time. Apart from speed, proper caching policies ensure that visitors do not have to download static files such as scripts, each time they return on the same page.
More and better SEO generates Trust
E-A-T in a nutshell
E-A-T is a concept that Google includes in the guidelines and stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Although it may not be a direct ranking factor it is taken into consideration. For example, let’s say that we search for a guide to start trading in the stock market. What we expect to find is an article published on a website relevant to trading and not relevant to cooking. Also, commonly, the article writer should be an expert at trading. According to each site’s authority score, Google makes sure that the top results will represent sources of reliable information, in other words websites which are trustworthy with high authority score.
Since search engines are algorithms, they can’t directly decide about the quality of the content or the expertise of the author. This is the reason why Google hires human raters to evaluate its content. However, citations which on web are represented by quality backlinks and users’ behavior are strong indicators for EAT because quality content is always in high demand.
Rich snippets in search results
A rich snippet is an extended piece of a page’s description. It can contain reviews, images, search bars and much more. Even though they do not directly boost our rankings, they can be very effective. Because of the extra information provided, they are eye-catching increasing our domain CTR. This is a great way to increase our organic traffic and when it’s combined with great UX our conversion rates will most probably skyrocket. One of the most amazing features of rich snippets is that we can create a FAQ section using microdata. A part of this section can be displayed at search results, as an answer to a relevant search query inside a featured block.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
As we mentioned, page speed is direct and indirect ranking factor and AMP translates into page speed. Every website should include AMP at least for blog posts. AMP pages have every third-party scripts and styles removed but the reward is blazing fast loading speed! This technology was created for mobile browsing since smartphones need more time to process a web page. Although AMP pages lack styling and extra functionalities, they provide their content, which users search for, almost instantly. Pages which support AMP are often displayed at the top of SERPs with a thunderbolt icon next to their URL.
Organic Search Results are the most important source of traffic for a business or personal website. Ranking at the top of the first page of SERPs implying trustworthiness which is an important intangible business value. However, it is a challenging process which needs a solid and long-term SEO strategy.