When first learning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) it can seem highly technical and a bit overwhelming. In this post, we unpack SEO all the way down to the deliverables that are typically found in a full SEO report. Then we’ll show you how you can use that data to make strategic decisions for the content on your website.
What is SEO?
Wikipedia defines SEO as: The process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. SEO targets unpaid traffic rather than direct traffic or paid traffic.
That ‘unpaid traffic’ is also called organic traffic. This is a person going to a search engine, typing in their query, and then choosing to click on a result that’s on the search page. It’s important to note that the majority of people don’t look past page one of search results. Unless they’re on the hunt for very obscure information and want a deep dive into everything out there on the topic, most people are focused on the first page, which yields the most relevant results.
75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines. (Source: Junto, 2021)
So, you can see why your goal is for your website to appear on page one of the search results. You also want it as high up in the list as possible, for the key terms that relate to your business. That’s how strategic SEO on your website helps your traffic.
How Does SEO Work?
Now that you know why SEO is helpful to a website, we can touch on the mechanics of it all. Search engines index, or ‘crawl’, websites constantly. They review the information on a site in order to learn what it’s about, categorize it, and then show it in search results when people search for something that relates to that website. That’s the simple explanation. But, as you can imagine, search engine algorithms are complex.
Here are the things that search engines examine when crawling websites:
- The quality of the site
- The trust and authority of the site on a given subject
- Whether it’s secure
- Whether it has been hacked
- The experience for the end user: Does the site load quickly? Is it mobile friendly? Is it free from frustrating bad links? Is it well organized?
- How many errors or broken links/pages there are
- Relevance: how often do people click on links to this website when searching for a particular topic
All of those areas are what SEO aims to address. Your SEO consultant will assess those areas and determine what to focus upon the most. Some tasks are one-time items such as fixing broken links, configuring SSL, and adding meta data to pages. Other tasks will be ongoing, such as tracking movement of keywords and writing new blog posts optimized for certain keywords and phrases.
What’s in an SEO Report?
You’ve hired your SEO consultant, now how do you know what to expect and what you should be receiving? First off, it’s important to understand that SEO work doesn’t yield results overnight. SEO success is an aggregate of small victories, which lead to bigger victories. This is due to the nature of search engines and how often they crawl websites and then update their rankings for them. Making changes on a website doesn’t mean Google will have an updated search rank for that site the very next day. The internet is vast. In fact, as of February 2021 there were 1,197,982,359 websites in the world (source: sitefy.com).
Second, it’s typical to receive your SEO reports either weekly or monthly, depending on your business goals for the website and how often you want to see progress updates. If a business is running Pay-Per-Click ads then they will likely want to see weekly updates that report on the ad progress and results, and possibly make adjustments to their ad spend or content. Some companies only want to think about SEO once a month, and that’s fine too.
Once you accept that SEO efforts are a marathon, not a sprint, you can then focus on what you will see as far as progress reports and what the data means for your website. A comprehensive SEO report, such as the one that Precision Pages provides to our clients, should cover site traffic and engagement; popular content; keyword rank tracking; and identify any technical issues that impact your site rank.
Taking a Magnifying Glass to Your Website Pages
You will learn key nuggets of information from a good SEO report such as which pages visitors are arriving at and then leaving shortly after without doing anything. Information like this should prompt you to examine the page and see if it lacks something, such as a clear call-to-action or next step.
Another helpful are of your report is a section that focuses on site errors or warnings. This will tell you which pages have critical errors on them that should be high on your priority list to fix, as well as warnings that are not as imperative, but will help improve search rank if improved.
The Role of Keywords
Your SEO consultant should work with you from the beginning to identify the keyword phrases that you will be focusing upon and optimizing for. This will come from discussions with you about your business, your product/service, your customers, your sales cycle, and your goals. The consultant will develop a list of keywords to track, reporting on their performance in the SEO report. The performance comes from changes being made on your website, such as new content added with those keywords within it.
Taking Action from Your SEO Report
Once you have the data from your consultant, what do you do with it?
After analyzing the report, your SEO specialist will make recommendations for content for your site that will help with optimization. They will identify a keyword term that has a good opportunity to move the site up in the search rank, and recommend that new content be created around that. This, however, is always a judgement call. What’s considered an “easy” term changes based on competition, current rank, even your own authority in a particular space.
Examples of Content That Help with SEO
- Blog posts, especially long-form (longer than 800 words)
- News releases or articles
- Additional webpages that dive into a particular area of your product or service
- eBooks or whitepapers
- Checklists or guides
SEO: An Investment in Your Website That Yields Real Results
An SEO report is only as good as the action being taken as a result of the statistics. It is very rewarding to spend time tweaking your website, creating new content, and then seeing your traffic increase and therefore your leads. Consistent, strategic changes and additions to a website will start to yield results in more organic traffic over time. It’s well worth the investment.