SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a set of optimization techniques for sites, blogs and web pages. These optimizations seek to achieve good organic positioning, generating traffic and authority for a site or blog.
One of the biggest ambitions of companies investing in Digital Marketing is to reach the top positions in search engines – after all, who doesn$0027t want free clicks and more visitors on their site?
But in such a fierce and competitive arena as the Internet, making your website stand out from the millions of pages on the web seems like an impossible task. And I say it seems like it is because it really isn$0027t.
However, being on the Internet is not enough to guarantee that your site, e-commerce or blog will achieve a place on the first page of Google: it is necessary to invest in a specific strategy to optimize results and ensure that your business achieves good web positioning for the most important keywords in its segment.
With SEO or Search Engine Optimization you can make your website appear in relevant searches, connecting your content with people who are looking for products or services like the one you offer. It the perfect operation!
But you should know that doing SEO requires a lot of study to understand terminologies, build strategies and apply practices that will get you to the top of Google result pages.
Don$0027t worry! Whether you want to take your first steps into the world of search engine positioning, or you want to refresh your knowledge, in this complete SEO guide we will explain everything you need to know about the subject.
In this article you will find:
- What SEO means;
- What are the advantages of organic positioning;
- What types of searches are available;
- How to set up Google search results pages;
- What is the difference between SEO and SEM;
- A Brief History of SEO;
- How to develop an effective SEO strategy;
- What are the main tools of SEO;
- What are the SEO trends for 2020
Read carefully and become a search engine optimization specialist!
What is SEO(Search Engine Optimization)?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a set of optimization techniques for sites, blogs and web pages.
These optimizations aim to achieve a good organic web positioning, generating traffic and authority for a site or blog.
This marketing strategy is essential for your company to gain prominence, visibility in the digital world and, consequently, more leads, customers and turnover for your business.
Optimizing sites and blogs through the use of techniques to improve the web positioning of your pages and positioning your company in the first results of Google, for example, increase (and much) your business opportunities.
At the end of the day, 90% of people who search on Google only click on the results that appear on the first page of the engine.
The main objective of SEO, therefore, is to increase the volume of organic traffic and ensure more visibility for websites.
But what are the advantages of this strategy and how efficient can it be? Here are the main ones.
7 advantages of implementing an SEO strategy
1. Increases the visibility of a brand
Implementing an SEO strategy is one of the best ways to increase your brand visibility organically.
Imagine the following scenario: your business is selling washing machines. A user, let call him Peter, is having problems with his washing machine, so he searches in Google how he can repair it himself.
Coincidentally, you have an article that shows a step-by-step approach to repairing washing machines, so conquer that visit for your website.
And although the article talks about repair and not sale, this is only the beginning of a customer relationship with your brand. It what we at Inbound know as the attraction stage.
2. Attracts qualified traffic
Like Pedro, many other users will come to your contents to solve their doubts or find solutions to their problems.
With the creation of valuable content, optimized for search engines, your website will be able to organically attract the leads you are looking for, at the right time.
This way, the more visits you receive, the more people will know about you and the more likely you are to close a sale, which leads us to the next advantage.
3. Generates sales opportunities
Imagine that, although Peter repaired his washing machine, he definitely needs to change it, as it still has other faults.
Since Pedro already knows your brand, thanks to the fact that he has found the solution to his questions in your articles, he will surely already trust your business and will think of you, as the first option, to buy his next washing machine.
4. Positions a brand as an authority in the market
Following our example, in Peter mind and in the minds of many other users like him, your company will be on their Top of Mind , that is, it will be the first brand that comes to mind when they think of washing machines.
SEO allows you to achieve this by facilitating correct indexing and improving the organic positioning of your content.
So, whenever Peter or anyone else is looking for information about washing machines, your website will be the first to appear, or at least, the result they are looking for.
One concept that has been highlighted in this area is that of EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness), an acronym used to represent the three fundamental elements of quality content.
Recently, Google has looked favorably on content published by authors who have technical authority and recognized credibility on the respective topics.
For example, on a disease content website, you may want to have articles written by doctors, with an author page containing information about their professional history.
5. Educating the market
Users like Pedro have surely been educated by your articles on the operation, care and maintenance of their washing machines.
They have also managed to understand what specifications they are looking for with their washing machine, according to their personal needs.
As you can see, the importance of positioning a content is not only to close sales, but also to educate the audience to make better decisions.
6. Winning over the competition
Finally, if it is your brand that produces the most complete and relevant content on washing machines, who do you think users will look to when they want to know something about washing machines, who will they trust if they need to make a purchase?
Although it takes time and a lot of work to implement an SEO strategy, in the long term it generates consistent and lasting results.
7. Best return on investment
SEO requires a much smaller investment than other strategies such as SEM or traditional advertising.
The investment required by SEO translates into the payment of some tools like the ones we saw before, the salaries of the SEO specialist or the content creator and the payment of the domain and hosting of the website, for example.
However, the return is much greater than the investment and the best thing is that the work that was once done continues to generate returns in the medium and long term.
We are going to explain now, step by step, the most important concepts of SEO and teach you the strategies we use to reach the top of Google.
And it all starts when the user does a search.
What types of searches are there?
The psychology of searching revolves around the user: his needs, his way of searching for answers, the results he expects when searching for something, etc.
Companies that invest in Digital Marketing should respond objectively to all these doubts and needs.
One of the first steps in understanding the user search is to know the intent of their navigation, which is essential in order to attract the right audience to your site.
So let explain to you what brings the user to Google. There are three types of search:
1. Navigational search
This type of search – also known as a shortcut search – happens when the user already knows what site they would like to visit, but may not remember the full URL or may be lazy to type.
For example, if the user searches for “Rock Content” or “Rock Content blog” to find our content, their search intention is clear and therefore the chances of this user changing their final destination on the web are low – this person already knows what they are looking for.
2. Information search
As the name itself says, in the informational search the user looks for information, either through news, product launches or explanatory articles.
Unlike a navigational search, the user does not know exactly which site they will arrive at to find the content they are looking for, as it is not possible to clearly identify their search intention.
In an inbound marketing strategy, this organic visibility is essential to attract users to the pages of a business and start their journey to become customers.
Because they do not know exactly which site they want to visit, the user tends to use organic results to find the solution to their doubt or need, and it is at that moment that good web positioning of the blog or site is an advantage for business.
Look at an example of informational research:
3. Transactional Search
In this type of search, the user wants to execute a transaction, such as buying a product directly or finding a store. This search is extremely valuable, especially for e-commerce.
Now that you have understood the 3 types of search, in the next topic we will explain how the world largest search engine, Google, works.
How do I set up Google search results pages?
Understanding how Google works is critical to developing an assertive SEO strategy.
Searches in this mechanism are divided into two groups: organic results (free) and paid results:
Paid results (inside the red box) appear at the top of the page, indicated by a green check mark with the text “Ad”. To fill these spaces, companies pay per click through a tool of Google itself called Google Adwords.
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Below these paid results are the organic ones (marked with a blue square).
Top search sites are defined by Google bots according to the level of relevance and authority they present – always focusing on the quality of the user experience.
But in Google result pages there are outstanding fragments that gain a visually peculiar space for users and that can also be conquered with SEO techniques.
They are the featured snippets and rich snippets, that you will learn about next.
What is a Rich Snippet?
Rich Snippets are boxes that appear with extended information about your website. They occupy the position that your website occupies for a given search.
If Snippets are a combination of title, short description and website URL, Rich Snippets are a rich version of these that includes more detailed information that is relevant to users.
To enrich your website with these resources, it will be necessary to establish a solid and organized structure of information that can be understood by the algorithm. This is achieved by configuring the pages with the code fragments available in the Schema Markup.
An example of rich snippet is the rating of the contents in the SERPs. Positive user ratings can help others who come to the page have more confidence in a content and access it.
What is a Featured Snippet?
On the other hand, Featured Snippets are a type of Rich Snippet known to be Google famous zero position. They are boxes that appear on top of all results with a specific response to a user search.
In general terms, to conquer a Featured Snippet you must create very valuable content presented in a simple way that completely answers a question in a short space.
Therefore, lists, definitions and short answers are the most common contents found in Featured Snippets.
In addition, you should know that when you perform a voice search, the result you get will surely be read from a Featured Snippet. That why it so important to try to get to zero position.
There are three types of featured snippets:
- and paragraphs.
Here is an example of a featured paragraph snippet we conquered for the keyword “marketing information system”:
What is the difference between SEO and SEM?
We do not want to leave out of this article a topic that causes a lot of confusion among professionals who are starting in the world of Digital Marketing and this is the difference between SEO and SEM.
Although at first it may seem that they refer to similar actions because of the similarity of their acronyms, you must pay close attention because they refer to completely different actions. Let look at them one by one.
SEO = Organic Positioning
As you know, SEO refers to all those actions you can take inside or outside your website to optimize its positioning in search engines in an organic way. This last point is key since organic means “no payment” .
With an SEO strategy you do not pay Google or any other search engine to gain positions in the SERP. It is your valuable content and your optimizations that earn those places in their own right.
SEM = Positioning paid
On the contrary, SEM -Search Engine Marketing- refers to those strategies that include the use of paid ads.
That is, with a SEM strategy you create an advertising campaign so that when a user types in a search, your site appears before the organic results in the form of an ad, as long as it matches the user search intention.
Which one to choose?
A complete Digital Marketing strategy should not opt for one and exclude the other. That is, you should include in your strategy a combination of SEO and SEM strategies to increase your results.
The use of SEM generates instant results in a short time, necessary when you want to increase visibility or brand recognition quickly or when you want to launch products or promotions for a limited time.
In addition, SEO is a strategy that works in the medium and long term, bringing better quality visits constantly.
If you want to expand on this topic, we recommend reading our article on SEO vs. SEM.
Brief history of SEO and how the Google algorithm has evolved
Since people realized that the best way to deliver their content to Internet users was through search engines, they devised a series of techniques to conquer their first places. These techniques were baptized with the name of SEO.
However, in the 1990s there was an abundance of content that was more concerned with positioning than with user experience. That why Google began to constantly update its algorithm to deliver the most relevant results in every search.
Next, we will take a look at the main updates of the algorithm.
In 2011 came the first major update of the algorithm. Google Panda began analyzing and evaluating websites based on the quality of their content by reviewing aspects such as grammar and duplicate content, while rewarding original and valuable content.
One year later, in April 2012, Google Penguin was launched to monitor the health of linkbuilding websites.
Basically, Google Penguin checks that the external links that are sent to the pages are natural and of quality. Therefore, it encourages relevant backlinks that add value to the user who arrives at another website from them.
In 2013, with Google Hummingbird, we began to classify content according to semantic factors and user interest.
It is with Hummingbird that Google co-learns natural language, expanding its way of interpreting content to variations of keywords or related keywords.
In 2014, with Google Pigeon, the search engine began organizing search results according to users$0027 geographic location. It is from here that local SEO begins to gain prominence.
In 2015 the boom of mobile devices arrives and Google adapts to it with Google Mobilegeddon. With this update, Google rewards sites that are mobile-friendly: those that have a responsive design and optimize their loading speeds.
One of the most radical changes in the algorithm occurred with Google RankBrain, in 2015. With this update, Google delivers the most relevant content to the user according to his or her search intention.
In this free infographic we prepared you will find more detailed information about this story and how Google works nowadays.
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How to build a good SEO strategy and conquer the top of Google?
Now, it time to learn the step-by-step approach you need to take to create and implement a successful SEO strategy – take note!
1. Create a personal buyer
The first step is to define who you want to reach with your content, that is, to define who your ideal customer would be. To do this, the concept of a personal shopper will be completely useful. In short, a personal shopper is a semi-fictitious representation of your ideal customer built from data.
Unlike the target audience, a personal shopper is a character with a specific and detailed description, created to better understand your customers, their interests and their problems or needs.
Creating a personal buyer is the first step in implementing an SEO strategy because allows you to define the language of communication, the content you expect and the best channels for content distribution.
That is, it will give a direction to your digital strategy and allow you to write for real people and search engines at the same time.
Remember this: everything that your brand produces must be addressed to your buyer person to make sense and lead him or her naturally through the stages of the customer journey until the purchase is concluded.
2. Do keyword research
Since you know who you$0027re going to talk to and what topics might interest them, it time to land those ideas to create relevant content for your buyer person.
What separates your content from your users is called keywords . A keyword is the term that users type into search engines to find content that addresses their concerns.
For example, if a person is planning a trip to Japan, they will probably enter “best destinations in Japan” or “cheapest destinations in Japan” in the search bar.
What I put in quotes are the keywords, which have different types those terms that cover interesting topics for your buyer person.
Doing keyword research is a complete process:
- you start with an idea about a topic,
- you use tools like KWFinder or Google Keyword Planner to identify keywords you can use in your articles,
- you determine whether its search volume is relevant or how difficult it is to position content by that word,
- you create a list of the best keywords.
In this keyword search it is also very important to know the location of your audience, since this information will guide all the content production of your website.
If you have a business in Mexico but want to expand your operations to Colombia, you will need to do some specific research to find out which terms are most common in this country.
To achieve this territorial domain in Google for different regions of the world, there are the techniques of international SEO, which you can learn more about in the last link.
These include the use of hreflang labels and the production of content adapted to each national market.
We recommend you read our article on keywords to understand in depth how to perform this process.
3. Analyzes the competence to identify opportunities
Another key step before starting content creation is to review what your competition is doing.
With tools like SEMRush you can identify which are their most successful keywords, which of their articles are best positioned and how they are being found by users.
With this information you can make adjustments to your strategy, adopt its best practices or try to position yourself with its keywords by creating more complete content.
4. Organize the contents with the Topic Clusters methodology
After identifying your best keywords with their different types, it time to write your articles.
You need to explore the main issues in your market with full content, which must be reconciled with smaller, more specific articles on issues related to the highlights.
You need to explore the main issues in your market with full content, which must be reconciled with smaller, more specific articles on issues related to the highlights.
Once you have several specific articles on a general topic, you can organize them into Topic Clusters, which means gathering several related articles into one main post, creating interconnections between them.
It is important that you pay attention to this methodology since more and more, Google is paying attention to the user search intention and not only to the keywords that appear in an article.
With Topic Clusters, you let Google know that your article is the most complete on a topic and you will gain better positions in the SERP.
An example from the Rock universe