What Does Organic Search Results Mean?
As mentioned earlier, when someone searches on Google, they find you in organic search results because of effective SEO practices and strategies. While SEO is not free or easy, it is also not derived from paid advertisements. Furthermore, paid ads used to be more clearly labeled. However, these days, the search engines and others have done an excellent, although a devious job of blending paid ads into organic search results. So, how can you identify organic search results?
First of all, you should understand that search engine results are referred to as SERP’s. SERP results consist of both paid advertising as well as organic results, which are also called SERP features. SERP features also include snippets, which are answer boxes, People Also Ask tables, images, and more. New SERP features are being added and are driven by how people search and what people are seeking.
As an example, if you need the weather and search for “Denver metro weather,” Google will show you a graphically presented forecast in the SERP versus a link to a website. If you search for “pizza in Longmont,” Google will serve local results of pizza places in Longmont, which is vital to know because these are the local businesses that people are calling.
There are SERP features on Google that are organic that can be influenced by sound SEO practices. These include answer snippets, and people asked snippets, which are organic results displaying answers inside a text box. There are other search features others that are organic but cannot typically be influenced by SEO. These features will likely contain information from proprietary sources, such as WebMD, Wikipedia, various wiki sites, or IMDb.
The most important benefit of SEO is that it is the gift that keeps giving. When SEO strategies work, they will continue to provide search results and traffic for months and years. High-quality content with the right keywords will get ranked. Once ranked, your website traffic can begin to snowball. On the other side, paid advertising requires constant funding to get traffic to your website. Once funding dries up, so does the traffic to your site.
White hat vs. black hat SEO
Similar to comparing the dark and the light side of the force, white hat SEO means that the SEO techniques used conform to Google and Bing search guidelines. They follow the advised best practices and strategies and have a focus on providing valued content to people.
Black hat SEO is the dark side. It means taking shortcuts and cheating with techniques intended to fool the search engines. Black hat SEO tactics can work, but be clear that it puts your website at risk of penalization. The risk can result in your website being de-indexed, which simply means Google may remove your site from search results. A penalized website is dead, which could result in a bankrupted business. Searchorb uses only white hat SEO. However, if you venture elsewhere, please be very careful working with unknown SEO experts or agencies. There are a lot of sharks in these waters.
The Goals of SEO and Search Engines
Although it may not be apparent, search engines like Google and Bing want you to succeed. As proof, Google has a “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.” Their guide is a Beginner’s Guide that you should read if you plan to try your hand at SEO. Google and Bing are also very supportive of efforts by companies like Searchorb Marketing and others who are doing it right in the SEO community. Google offers assistance to webmasters and SEO agencies through a help forum, direct phone calls, and live chats or hangouts.
The basic principles center on the fact that we should make web pages for users, not for search engines. We should not deceive users in any way. We avoid tricks or deception intended to improve ranking. The test questions we continuously ask ourselves are, “Does the page help the user?” and “Does this page add value by explaining, addressing, or solving something?” In the end, your website should be unique, engaging, and valuable.
Let’s Start with Things to Avoid
Avoid any automatically generated content, and it is usually poor quality. Do not participate in link schemes. Never create pages that are duplicated or copied from other pages. Avoid cloaking, which means showing visitors different content that search engine crawlers. Hiding content, text, and links is also a no-no. All in all, if you plan to do any SEO on your own, it is wise to have sound knowledge of Bing and Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Best practice principles are fairly straight forward.
1. Create clear, engaging, and easy to find content for your website.
2. Make sure your page titles include the primary keyword or phrase.
3. Content is understandable, identifiable, and relevant.
4. Backlinks or external links are a sign of your website or business popularity. Search engines reward backlink relationships that are grown through organic or earned methods.
5. Social media is critical, and the more influence and social shares you have, the more impact you will see on organic rank over the long run.
6. Ensure website page speed is as fast as possible because a fast website provides a better user experience.
7. Use alt attributes as a means to describe images. They help search engines more easily understand your content.
8. Your content should be keyword inclusive and concise.
9. Your URL structures should also be keyword centric where possible. Making URLs descriptive, short, and containing the pages keywords is the best practice.
10. Avoid non-alpha characters in any URL.
Local Google Business Results
If your business operates locally, it qualifies for a Bing Places for Business or Google My Business listing. These services are available for both brick and mortar businesses as well as services provided at a customer’s location.
Google has strict guidelines on creating and managing these listings. First off, be sure your business is eligible. Your business is required to have a physical address; PO box addresses are not allowed. Your business’s physical address can be your home address, but you must meet customers face to face at your location at least some. You are required to represent all aspects of your business, honestly. Include all pertinent data such as your business name, address, phone number, website, categories for your services, hours, and other relevant information.
Local, national and international SEO
Local businesses attempt to rank for local searches such as “service near me” or “service city.” These services help local companies capture local customers when they are searching for related products or services.
These services do nothing if a business targets national or international markets and has no local market. Local markets are more accessible because it is easier to focus on specific regional search terms, whereas international search targeting will require more effort, involvement, and even money.
Understanding User Intent
Now that you know not to skirt the rules to trick search engines, you can now understand that you should focus on user intent. When someone searches on Google they have an outcome in mind. It could be an answer to a question, a product they want, concert tickets for sale, or funny photos. That desired outcome user intent. The process gets more complicated with variables on outcome. A search for the term “band” may mean they are searching for music groups, a wedding ring, a band saw, or even rubber bands. The job of an SEO is providing a user with content they want, the way they want it.
User Intent Types
Among various others, there are three primary intent types, informational, navigational, and transactional. Informational would ask, “What is the best type of camera for photography?”. Navigational searches are those looking for a specific website such as “Searchorb.” And finally, transactional intent is a search to buy a product or service such as “Best SEO Agency in Berthoud Colorado.”
Every website and every client has different goals. We always take time to understand a site or client’s goals. That process helps us determine which SEO areas to focus on and in what order. Where we should track conversions and what benchmarks are applicable. What will key performance indicators be measured to show the return on investment (ROI)? Meaning, what we use to measure the success of organic search efforts and how do we report on those efforts as it should be understood and simple.
Some common KPIs are sales, downloads, signups, contact form submissions, and phone calls. If your business is local, KPIs can be focused on for Google My Business listing results, including clicks to call, clicks to website, and clicks for driving directions. Metrics like ranking and traffic are intentionally not on the KPI list. I know, I know you are reading this to learn about SEO because you heard it helps rank your website and get more website traffic.
Our goal is to help you understand how correctly implemented SEO will help your website rank higher in search results because it will drive more website traffic. However, you should know that traffic and ranking are a means to an end. Ranking means very little if no one clicks through to your website. There is low value increasing website traffic if it does not accomplish a more substantial business goal.
How To Think About SEO Strategies
If your goal is lead generation, would you rather see a thousand visitors a month with three contact form completions, or would you prefer three hundred monthly visitors with forty people filling out your contact form?
I hope you pick the latter option! SEO can accomplish so much more than hitting metrics. When done right, it will help achieve real business goals and drive success.
Before you dive into SEO by yourself, make sure you determine your business goals first. You can then use your goals to drive SEO efforts to accomplish those goals, and you cannot guess and hope.