Everything You Needed To Know About Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, or SEO, involves a variety of tools and techniques to help your website or piece of content rank higher on a search engine, such as Google. Because the majority of online searches take place on Google, SEO experts often refer to the standards and best practices as dictated by the search engine giant to develop SEO campaigns.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is Search Engine Optimization?
  2. What Are Keywords?
  3. What Is Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO?
  4. What Is Site Architecture?
  5. Why Is Site Architecture So Important?
  6. What Is Information Architecture in SEO?
  7. How Can I Get Help With SEO?

What Is Search Engine Optimization? 

There are three equally important aspects of SEO: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. 

  • On-Page SEO: This type of SEO refers to the actions you can take to improve content on your website to improve your search engine rankings. On-page SEO can consist of keyword marketing, developing high-quality keyword-rich content, meta tags, title tags, internal linking, and other factors. 
  • Off-Page SEO: As the name suggests, this form of SEO takes place off of a website. Off-page SEO can consist of link building, content marketing, customer reviews, social media marketing, and more. 
  • Technical SEO: The goal of technical SEO is to improve the crawling and indexing of your site by Google algorithms. Technical SEO can consist of improvements to site speed, XML sitemaps, well-structured site architecture, hreflang tags, and other components. 

It’s worth noting that SEO is an ongoing process. Unfortunately, many new marketers and unaware business owners might believe that SEO is a one-and-done deal, but the truth is, SEO continues to grow and change along with the algorithm updates Google frequently makes. 

It’s important to remember this key component when searching for a digital marketing agency that provides SEO services. You’ll want a partner that will keep up-to-date with going on with Google and in the SEO world.

What Are Keywords?

Keywords are terms that people type into search engines like Google to find a product, service, or information they are looking for. They are the very foundation of SEO. Keywords or phrases are researched by SEO experts to see what questions people are querying their search engines. With that information, content managers then create valuable content that satisfies potential customer demands for information or services you offer.

Your potential audience will first see three aspects of your website after doing a search: your website URL, a title-tag caption, and an overall meta description or summary of your page. By including your main keywords in each of these areas, you will let the search engine and its users know if your website is ready to answer their questions or sell them a product or service they need.

As you choose the keywords you want to target your content for, be sure to stay within your business focus. Only use the words that bring in an audience that is valuable to you; don’t simply use cliche phrases that are more likely to attract a general audience instead of your specific potential customers. If your website shouts the same message as all of your competitors do, your chances of being noticed are slim.

In addition, stuffing keywords into every open space, or repeating variations of the same concept by using different phrases, will not help your website ranking in the long run.

What Is Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO?

Remember in old western movies where you could tell who was the “bad guy” because of the black hat he or she wore? The “good guy” often rode off into the sunset, waving his white hat above in triumph right before the credits rolled. This is how White Hat and Black Hat SEO were coined.

The core difference between White Hat and Black Hat strategies comes down to one thing: what is the focus of your website?

With White Hat SEO, your focus is generally on:
  • Improving the experience of every visitor to your webpage
  • Providing them with the relevant content
  • Complying with HTML standards
  • Making sure your content is typo-free and grammatically sound
With Black Hat SEO, you may be:
  • Duplicating content
  • Stuffing keywords into your content
  • Redirecting (or cloaking) a visitor to a different page or website
  • Linking out to sites with irrelevant content

The temptation exists to use Black Hat tactics in your website design because these exploits may result in more views of your website content. What you must recognize is that these additional hits are often short-lived; Google is continuously updating its search ranking algorithm to remove these exploits and loopholes.

Even worse, if a manual inspection by a Google employee catches a website using these tactics, a permanent ban can be placed. No short-term gain is worth a long-term loss.

Instead of focusing your energy on abusing a ranking algorithm, you should always keep a customer-centric view by improving your customer’s experience when interacting with your business and website. And if you have any questions regarding what is good practice, see Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for more information.

What Is Site Architecture?

Website architecture refers to the hierarchical structure of your pages, which is determined via your site’s internal linking structure. 

Search engines, such as Google, use search engine crawlers to determine the relationship between the various pages and your site. These crawlers also help uncover what information you are trying to deliver to visitors and then index it so those pages can appear in search engine results.

It may sound a little technical but think about it this way. Imagine yourself walking through a maze with no clear guidance or hints of where exactly you’re headed. Every hallway looks the same and every door is painted the same monotonous white. After only a few minutes of walking around such a jumbled maze, you’re likely to grow frustrated and maybe even a bit angry.

Without the proper website architecture and search engine optimization campaign, your site visitors are likely to get discouraged easily and leave after visiting just one page. As the saying goes, “Your first impression is everything.”

That’s why you want to develop great site architecture to ensure your visitors can easily find what they’re looking for and perform the call-to-action you want from them.

Why Is Site Architecture So Important? 

Your site’s architecture affects the user experience. When information is laid out in an intuitive and effective manner, site visitors can easily find the information they are looking for. Typically, this means a satisfied site visitor. 

On the other hand, bad site architecture can quickly drive away site visitors into the arms of your competitors.

Alongside improving user experience, you’ll also enhance your search engine optimization efforts and rankings. Additionally, this should drive more users to your site, spending more time on the web pages you want them on, and potentially enhancing your brand reputation. 

An exceptional site architecture also helps: 

  • Search engine crawlers
  • Encourage further site navigation 
  • Improve whole site and individual page authority 
  • Increases to conversion

What Is Information Architecture in SEO?

While we’ve spoken previously about site architecture, we haven’t touched on information architecture. While the two are used interchangeably, information architecture (IA) is the actual science and creation of the site structure, hierarchies, categorizations, navigation, and metadata. In other words, IA helps to organize information for usability and user experience (UX) “findability.”

Ultimately, all of these components work together to create an exceptional user experience, as well as to help web crawlers effectively index all of the pages on your website. When everything is functioning as it should, your website (and business) will reap a number of benefits, including, but not limited to: 

  • Reduced bounce rate: A high bounce rate means visitors are only viewing one page on your website and leaving, which can suggest that you might have any number of issues with your site or the information you are providing. A reduced bounce rate, on the other hand, shows that visitors are staying for longer and visiting more pages. 
  • Increased engagement: Tied into our reduced bounce rate benefit, a solid SEO plan and IA well work to ensure that visitors are staying on your website for longer and consuming more of your content. 
  • Grow your sitelinks: When your SEO is on point and your site and information architecture are properly organized, then Google (or other search engines) might recognize you with your very own sitelink. Sitelinks help to improve your brand’s reputation and enhance your rating among customers. 

How Can I Get Help With SEO?

Adapting your SEO efforts to focus on your customers can mean a world of difference for the user experience and your page ranking. When done correctly, a well-thought-out SEO campaign will help you establish a web presence that makes your business thrive. 

The truth, though, and that it’s easier said than done. That’s why you need digital marketing experts who have the technical experience to pull it off. 

And that’s where Cobalt Digital Marketing can be of tremendous help to any business. We provide a wide range of digital marketing services, but excel especially in SEO, keyword research, White Hat web design that enhances site architecture, and content development with IA in mind.

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