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What is SEO and How Does It Work in 2021?

TK_SEO Checklist-2021-Inner-MOCKUP

What is SEO and How Does It Work in 2021?

“How can I get on the first page of Google?”

“What do I need to do to rank at the top?”

“How does SEO work?”

Before we dive into answering these pressing questions, it’s important to note that SEO—or search engine optimization—is not a quick-fix by any means; it’s a long-term practice.

Thankfully, our go-to strategy for improving SEO is not only sustainable, but helps supplement other SEO best practices for business success.

Jump-to section:

  1. What is Search Engine Optimization—and how does it work?
  2. Why is SEO important?
  3. How can SEO help your business (even if you’re local)?
  4. So… how do I get on the first page of Google?
  5. Our content-first approach to SEO
  6. Eight steps to SEO success in 2021

What is search engine optimization (“SEO”)—and how does it work?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a range of digital strategies a business can implement to increase their website traffic from popular search engines (like Google). 

Think about how often you rely on Google to give you accurate information when you need it most (hello, middle of the night thoughts). Search engines use these search phrases—or ‘keywords’—to find websites most likely to answer your queries.

Let’s say you’re a lawyer building up your firm’s online presence. When potential clients are researching the right lawyer’s office for their unique case, they’ll often use Google or another search engine, typing in phrases like “law office near me” or “best lawyer in Montreal.”

After inputting their query, search engine results pages (SERPs) will first display ads from businesses who invest in paid advertisements. These are clearly marked with “AD” text next to the link.

Then, searchers will see a mix of firms’ websites, locations, and reviews. Many of these website results are from businesses who have been invested in SEO for a long period, utilizing a range of SEO-focused strategies to ensure their place at the top of SERPs. SEO has been a part of search engines since the internet’s early days, so websites who have had consistent traffic for years may have a slight advantage.

Why is SEO important?

SEO is important because fully optimizing your website is key to obtain high ranking in search engine results which in turn leads to generating more traffic.

One of the key reasons behind SEO’s popularity in digital marketing is that it is an unpaid strategy when efforts are focused on organic (unpaid) advertising via SEO. While traditional digital marketing efforts like social media marketing and paid advertisements are worthwhile investments for getting in front of a targeted audience, SEO can help you continuously increase your traffic in the long-term.

How can SEO help your business (even if you’re local)?

SEO can prove to be just as effective in the long-term for small, local businesses as it is for large-scale corporations. Not only does it help you get in front of your target audience, but SEO can help new customers discover your business, steadily growing your audience over time.

Although ranking locally is a difficult endeavor, Go-Gulf found that 46% of Google searches are by people seeking local information—and 97% of searchers look online to find local businesses.

Our recommendations below are designed for small to mid-sized businesses, so be sure to take a peek at what strategies are most relevant to your brand.

So… How do I get on the first page of Google?

The ways in which Google and other search engines define what websites are most likely to give you accurate answers are always changing.

Because Google rankings are based on an algorithm, the criteria search engines are looking for on high-quality websites are always changing.

There are a range of criteria that search engine algorithms are looking for, including keywords, meta titles and descriptions, backlinks, and more. To learn more about the nitty-gritty of SEO criteria, read our favourite article on the subject by Neil Patel.

One of the most popular SEO strategies, keywords, are becoming increasingly competitive, making it difficult for small businesses and blogs to rank against those who have been at the SEO game for years.

Ultimately, search results are based on the quality of a website—and the quality of relevant information for website visitors.

Our content-first approach to SEO

We believe in quality, consistency, and beauty—and our approach is no different when it comes to SEO.

In today’s online economy, one of the best (and most approachable) ways to think about SEO is through content marketing: blog posts, publications, and other helpful resources available on your website.

This makes use of short and long-tail keywords—like common phrases and questions—to create content to drive traffic back to your site. 

Our favourite tool for blogging (and SEO on WordPress websites in general) is the Yoast SEO plugin. It’s user-friendly experience makes keyword inclusion and other helpful SEO strategies seem straightforward and achievable (which is a huge accomplishment in itself!).

If you’re a Teakie digital brand management member, your website will already be using Toast SEO—all you need is for the red light to turn green.

Eight steps to SEO success in 2021

We have a few go-to SEO strategies to help businesses and brands increase their traffic in 2021, which are:

  1. Post valuable content on your website regularly. Blogging frequently can help you improve your search engine ranking in the long-term by using relevant keywords and key phrases. How often should you post? We recommend posting to your blog at least one time per week. That being said, a great place to start is once per month.
  2. Focus on building your brand. By focusing on building your brand, you will inevitably create an online platform that your audience will come back to time and time again. In turn, your online authority and SEO rankings will improve with time.
    The more users who search for your specific business name, the more credibility you’ll build with search engine algorithms.
  3. Create a quality website. A quality website complete with strategic copywriting and design will help contribute to your rankings. Because lesser-known SEO criteria include page loading times, complete sentences, and image labels all have an impact on your rankings, mobile-friendly, quick-loading, and well-structured websites signal to Google that you are a trusted business.
  4. Do basic keyword research. The search queries typed into Google can help you discover which keywords are most relevant to your audience’s needs, and basic keyword research can simply enhance what you already know. Answer the Public is a great service to help get a better understanding for what people are searching.
  5. Fill in SEO titles and meta descriptions. Each page of your website should be optimized with HTML Titles and Descriptions (the tab titles you see in your browswer and the small section of text that shows up with URLs in search engines). This is relatively easy to do once you know how to do it!
  6. Optimize your images. You can also optimize your images using alt text. Alt text strengthens your articles with search engines and improves the overall accessibility of your website, making it easy for people with visual impairments to access your content.
  7. Hire a good copywriter. A copywriter is a professional writer that can help ensure that your content is optimized for SEO. They will take your content and make sure it’s web-ready, complete with keywords, SEO titles, and meta descriptions, all while ensuring your content is on-brand.
  8. Sell a great product or service. Ultimately, if all you do is focus on building a great product or service, creating a quality website for you is the easy part.

At the end of the day, the key to search engine optimization is quality and consistency—and a website that gives people the information they need, when they need it most.

Get instant access to Teakie’s “SEO Best Practices Checklist”

Follow these tips to get your content to rank at the top of Google Search Engines.

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