As account team members, we often find ourselves writing long-form content for our clients, such...
As long as there have been search engines, search engine optimization (SEO) has been a strategy for bringing more traffic to a web property. At first, SEO was simple – identify popular keywords, use them in content and watch the traffic roll in. Today, however, search engines are more intelligent and fragmented than ever. For example, Google’s search algorithm is no
w capable of ranking the value of content. And Amazon’s search-ranking algorithm includes offline data such as return rates and inventory levels. YouTube’s ranking algorithm combines video details like title and description, with view count and relevancy to similar videos. Engines are continually moving away from ranking keyword-driven content to ranking valuable content in any format. Quality content, not just the quantity of keywords, matters. Though the marketplace and hardware and digital landscape have changed, the basics still apply when beginning an SEO campaign. A simple way to remember the pillars of SEO are with the acronym ABC: Architecture, Backlinks and Content.
Figure 1. Example of nonbrand search results showing paid and organic results.
Architecture refers to the technology that powers the website, user experience and analytics. Whether a site runs on WordPress, SiteCore or Drupal, there are inherent pros and cons to architecture from the popular website platforms. A clean architecture includes but is not limited to the following:
Proper back-end coding that doesn’t impede search engine crawlers
Files that load as quickly and efficiently as possible
A site that delivers optimal experience across all screen sizes
A focused navigation that connects visitors with the right content and calls to action
Powerful, accurate reporting capabilities
SEO campaigns typically begin with a technical audit that examines the architecture to identify any existing or potential obstacles to search engine visibility.
Figure 2. Example output from a technical SEO audit presentation.
Backlinks are hyperlinks from one website back to another website. Links can be viewed as a “vote” for the site; engines see those votes and combine them with other ranking factors. A quality link could come from a media publisher, an industry authority, a research study, a press release or a news story, with value measured objectively using third-party tools. Links are common results from earned media and public relations campaigns that involve digital channels. There is no perfect number of links to have, but the more high-quality links a site acquires, the better the site will perform in organic search. An SEO campaign should leverage valuable content in order to earn links from other websites.
Figure 3. Example backlink from external website to edelmandigital.com.
Content is any media type that appears in organic search. The most common form of content is a webpage with text about a product or service. Other forms include images, infographics, videos, PDFs and apps. A robust search strategy utilizes content research, analytics and search result experiences to determine the right mix of media types for optimizations.
An advanced SEO strategy will combine all three ABCs and should be proactive in developing content, monitoring the technical elements of a site and performing outreach to increase earned links. When these three pillars are functioning together, organic search can deliver significant traffic growth and subsequent calls to action like purchases, transactions, sign-ups or downloads. The best place to get started is to put yourself in the shoes of your customers: how would people without a brand preference search for a product or service? Perform these searches yourself to see the current results. SEO practices are continually evolving but by staying on top of these changes, you can help your website appear “above the fold” in search results and get more eyes on your content.