Working with SEO Analyst: Introduction
Search engine optimization is something that is well-known to web specialists but just breaking the into popular consciousness. The need to have a bonafide SEO analyst on your team is growing year over year. People are starting to take note of the power that SEO has, and for good reason.
For whatever reason, most businesses haven’t yet taken the time to optimize their websites for search engines. In fact, very few small businesses are investing in SEO.
We’ll go into some detail about why that is a mistake, in addition to why it may be good for you that your competition is slacking. Most importantly, though, we’re looking to show you why an SEO analyst is a good investment for your business.
Let’s get to it.
If You Don’t Know SEO…
An integral part of understanding the value of an SEO specialist is knowing precisely what search engine optimization is. It’s different than marketing, although the two are often confused.
It’s a fairly straightforward idea with a lot of ins and outs. It gets more complicated as you look closer, but the fact of the matter is that you have to look closer in order to see results.
So, here’s the basic stuff:
How the Search Engine Operates
Search engines are so intertwined with the web that most people have only experienced the internet through the use of sites like Google or Bing. That’s because these sites tend to provide us with all of the information that is immediately relevant to us.
At the same time, the data archived in search engines is just that: archived. Search engines scour the web in search for sites that they haven’t yet indexed. They do this with the use of bots called “spiders” or “crawlers.”
These can be likened to little messengers that bounce from site to site through links, documenting relevant information so that it can be searched at the front end of the search engine. These bots make note of a number of things.
Their first mission is to index the site and make note of the content. Having the content noted allows the engine to pull up sites based on the keywords that a page has. The second mission of the bot is to rank the pages based on over 200 factors that determine where the site will land when it’s searched.
That’s a basic overview of how Google indexes all of its 30 trillion pages. Surprisingly, that is less than 1 percent of the internet.
Where Search Engine Optimization Comes in
Search engines use algorithms to determine which sites will be most relevant to the keywords that a user searches with. Imagine it: whenever a person makes one Google search, their keywords are run against 30 trillion websites. Somehow, the site always pulls up pages that are pretty much exactly what we wanted.
This means a couple of things. First, the algorithm Google uses is sophisticated. Second, because there’s a smart algorithm, we have the opportunity to use it to our advantage.
How Sophisticated Is the Algorithm?
The whole process starts with looking at the words in the search. The system looks at your spelling to check for possible errors, uses language models to cross-reference synonyms, and get an understanding of what you’re looking to find.
This is essential because many people will search for the same thing but use different language to do it. Further, the system determines how specific of results you’d like based on language cues.
Once they’ve got a basic idea of what you want, search engines run through the pages that could be relevant. The keywords in the search are referenced against other pages that contain those words, deciding which of those sites has the keywords in the most significant places.
The titles and headings of pages are common spots for essential keywords. This process on the search-end of things is only possible because the search engine has already ranked the usefulness of pages.
How An SEO Analyst Helps You Use the Algorithm to Your Advantage
The back end of the search engine, the ranking process, is based on hundreds of factors. We know of a number of those factors, but it’s in Google’s best interest to keep their cards close to their chest.
If everyone knew precisely how the algorithm worked, irrelevant sites could optimize to reach the top of searches without being useful to users. If that happened to a search engine, that engine would cease to be useful.
Sites like Google want to remain the most useful so as not to lose their users to other search engines. As a result, we have to guess at some of the finer points of search engine optimization.
There are some general areas that we know the ranking factors fall into, though. Things like freshness, keyword relevance, user experience, reviews, backlinking, and quality are all taken into account. It’s likely that each of those terms has subcategories of ranking within them.
Going with what we know, SEO analysts dig into those categories and fine-tune them to the needs of the search engine.
The Work of Optimization
Each area that requires optimization is a challenge in itself. That said, the difficulty of ranking well is dependent on your competition.
If your local competition has entirely failed to optimize, you’ll have to do a lot less work than you would if your neighbors were spending all their time on fine-tuning their sites.
People are bound to catch on, though, and it’s important to have a well-optimized site, especially for local searches. Most people pull out their phones and search “tacos near me” when they’re hungry for tacos.
They search “gas station near me” when they’re out of town and need to find gas. They search “flower shop near me” when they forgot their partner’s birthday.
That’s the way of the world now. Word of mouth and print advertising are slightly effective, but the primary visibility of our time comes when you rank within the top three results on a search engine. In order to get to that coveted spot, you have to work on the following things:
1. Creating Quality Content
It’s essential that your site produces web pages on a regular basis. The ranking your site gets will be dependent on the “freshness” of your content. This is why you don’t normally see any posts in SERPS (search engine results pages) that were created before 2013.
The fresher the better. While you’re creating fresh content, you need to make sure that it’s actually relevant to what users want. This requires that you base content off of keyword research.
2. Keyword Optimization and Research
Trends in what users are searching should inform the content that you’re creating. When you make blog posts that answer common user questions, you can be sure that there will be users to look at your site.
This means that you should do research to find trends in keywords and use those specific words and phrases to optimize your content. Optimizing your content for keywords typically means placing one in the introduction, the header, a few in the body of the content, and the conclusion.
It’s important that the placement of these terms is natural, but it’s generally good to have a few keywords scattered throughout the writing.
The more connected a page is, the more relevant it seems to Google. It’s important to link out to different sites, but it’s far more important to have sites link to you.
The process of accumulating links to your site is called “backlinking.” This means that you reach out to other websites that might have a connection to some of your content.
Once your site picks up enough steam, you’ll find that sites should link to you without you asking them to. In fact, you might be the site that they ask for backlinks if you’re popular enough.
Search engines also value customer reviews and customer experience very highly. Achieving positive reviews starts with you and your physical business, of course.
There is, however, a wealth of options for incentivizing customers to give reviews.
Hiring an SEO Analyst
The information above might seem a little daunting. To be honest, we’ve only scratched the surface. Each of the general SEO categories listed above requires significant amounts of work and a lot of attention to detail.
Handling the work of optimizing your site correctly could take up dozens of hours a week. It’s almost as if optimization should be a job of its own.
That’s why SEO analysts exist. These are people who are skilled in understanding the nature of the search engine and how sites can tailor themselves to rank well. The investment of hiring someone to work on your site is an extremely valuable one.
Especially in a time of ‘near me’ searches and excessive reliance on search engines, having your site rise the ranks and reach the top will result in increased sales.
Think You Need Some Help?
It’s a good idea to think about working with an SEO analyst. It’s also smart to take a peek at your site and see if there are any longstanding issues with it.
If you’re interested in generating a presence online and improving sales, contact us to learn more about what you can do.