Demystifying search engine optimization

    Demystifying Search Engine Optimization

    1001 668 Lisa Martino

    When it comes to driving website traffic, few factors have more significance than keyword search rankings. Everyone wants to see their company at the top of Google, Yahoo or Bing’s search results, but as hard as you may wish, there is no magic button that will send your site soaring to the No. 1 spot.

    There is, however, a way to modify a website or webpage in order to influence where it ranks in organic search results, based on relevant keywords. This process is known as search engine optimization, or SEO.

    SEO takes time, patience and strategy to truly see results. Successful SEO also requires a number of areas of expertise, including content marketing and technical skills. At smart panda labs, our SEO experts provide our clients with everything they need to optimize their websites for strong search results.

    movin’ on up

    So how can your website move up the search engine ranks? While there is no one-size-fits-all SEO strategy, here are some of the critical questions our smart pandas ask our clients:

    • Is your website technically sound? If your site isn’t performing the way you want, it could be because something is getting in the way, like the use of Adobe Flash on your site or you have a canonical issue (identical content on two different pages). Or maybe text has been embedded in an image file—where web spiders can’t read it. Our SEO experts provide a complete technical audit as a first step in any SEO engagement.
    • Is the content high quality? Gone are the days when stuffing your site full of frequently searched keywords was the best way to move up the search rankings. Search engines have evolved, and keyword density is no longer important. What is important? Content that is uniquely valuable, shareable and user friendly. It also helps to make sure each page has enough content on it (generally considered to be a minimum of 400 words) to be deemed valuable by “spiders,” programs that crawl the web to feed pages to search engines.
    • Is your site mobile-friendly? In April of 2015, Google released a significant, new ranking algorithm that’s designed to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in Google’s search results. This change also now penalizes websites that don’t pass Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.  Our team can recommend modifications and strategies—such as responsive landing pages—that provide the results you need without a complete overhaul of your site.
    • Are you generating inbound links? Spiders think of ranking as a true popularity contest. These spiders are looking to see how many other sites link to yours. Quality matters more than quantity, however—even just one link from an authoritative website can do a lot for your site’s ranking. Link building is an ongoing strategy, but actions like social media, online press releases and guest blog posts can help the process along. Providing a rich layer of authoritative and unique information does more than just boost your ranking—it sets you apart from your competition.
    • Is the content relevant for search? Many companies get stuck in a brand bubble, referring to their products and services with terms that are meaningful internally but less relevant to consumers—and unrelated to how those audiences search online. Our SEO experts can recommend strong keywords and phrases to use in your headlines and copy. com/trends is also a great resource for comparing the popularity of one term against another.

    When delivering search results for a given keyword, search engines consider how well you execute on thousands of ranking factors, including those above. However, if you truly want to occupy a very top spot, you may want to consider buying your way there— introducing paid search, an essential partner in winning the online popularity contest.

    the other side of SEO: SEM

    Search engine marketing (SEM) means advertising within the sponsored/paid listings of a search engine, bought through Google AdWords, Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini. You’ll pay a small cost each time your ad is clicked (known as pay-per-click or PPC) or when your ad is displayed (cost-per-impression or CPM). PPC campaigns will drive additional traffic to your site in a shorter amount of time, and the data generated may help improve factors that influence your organic rankings. PPC can also raise the visibility of your brand and your site. New visitors who like what they see might also link to your site, which can help to improve your organic ranking.

    1 + 1 = 3

    Combining organic SEO with the power of paid search often yields results that are greater than the sum of its parts. PPC complements your SEO optimization efforts because you can determine which keywords drive traffic and conversions and then incorporate those keywords within your organic SEO efforts.

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    AUTHOR

    Lisa Martino

    Lisa heads the firm’s search engine marketing practice and brings more than 15 years of experience to smart panda labs, where she implements and manages a variety of paid search campaigns for clients, each with unique budgets and goals. Her areas of specialty including paid search and search engine optimization, internet marketing, display ads, email marketing, CRM, affiliate marketing, direct mail and web analytics. Prior to joining smart panda labs, Lisa was a Search and Auction Media Manager for the Walt Disney Company for over eight years, where she managed extensive, multi-million dollar paid search campaigns for numerous Walt Disney Parks & Resorts websites and brands. She has also worked in marketing for Cox Target Media/Valpak and American Express. Lisa is a Microsoft Accredited Professional and is Google AdWords qualified in search, display, video, mobile and shopping.

    All stories by: Lisa Martino

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