What is SEO: Your Complete Guide to Improving Your SERP Ranking

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In this digital era, ignoring SEO is like opening a restaurant but not telling anyone. This is especially true since 68% of all online experiences start in a search engine. Additionally, more than 50% of all website traffic comes from organic searches. Whether you want to understand how SEO can help your business or an expert selling SEO services, this complete guide will discuss everything you should know about SEO, including how to improve your SERP ranking.

What are the Basics of SEO?

SEO refers to the measures you can embrace to boost your SERP ranking. This optimization targets organic traffic instead of paid traffic. We’re guessing that you have noticed search engine results pages (SERPs) are categorized into paid and organic results.

When it comes to SEO, the focus turns to organic results. Unlike paid results, also known as search engine marketing (SEM), SEO rankings depend on your efforts.

Each search engine, including Google and Bing, uses an algorithm to rank websites. The ranking process follows a well-defined process. First, search engines use crawlers to look for highly relevant content based on your search query when you search for content. After that, the search engine sorts and ranks the content depending on relevancy. That means that the most relevant pages are ranked higher on SERPs.

While it’s true that you don’t have to pay for your SERP position with SEO, you might incur some costs, including buying software, paying for content, or hiring a reliable SEO agency to handle the process for you.

Why Does SEO matter?

Search engines process thousands of search queries every second. As expected, pages with a high SERP rank tend to get more visitors than those with lower rankings. Simply put, SERP rankings can make or break your business. Consumers always turn to search engines like Yahoo, Google, and Bing to find services, products, and entertainment. As mentioned earlier, SEO accounts for more than 50% of web traffic. In some industries, such as health, website design and development, and travel, the figure stands at 70-90% of web traffic.

Unsurprisingly, SEO drives more than 1000% more traffic than social media. So, you are missing out on tons of benefits if your business is not leveraging the power of SEO. With SEO, your business stands to enjoy many benefits, including:

Helps You Outrank Your Competition

Investing in SEO can help you outrank your competitors in SERPs and gain market share. According to many online sources, the top pages on SERPs have the highest click-through rates.

Helps You Reach More People

Compared with other marketing channels, search engine optimization can help you reach more prospective customers at any given moment. Not only that, but SEO also allows you to connect with prospective customers at any stage of the buying funnel.

Dominate Local Searches

Did you know that 80% of local searches on mobile devices lead to conversions? Dominating local searches can help you connect with your local customers willing to buy.

Works With Other Marketing Strategies

Also, SEO is compatible with other marketing strategies, including social media marketing, email marketing, and more. You can combine two or more strategies to rank better in SERPs.

It’s Measurable

With SEO, you have the power to track and measure every aspect, such as conversions, traffic, and rankings. You only need to use free analytic tools like Bings analytics and Google Analytics to track every detail of your SEO marketing campaign.

What is SEO?

SEO, search engine optimization, is the process of getting more visibility and clicks to your website from search engines. SEO primarily includes link building, content creation, and technical website optimization.

Major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Duck Duck Go, rank web pages and other content based on what the search engine considers to be the most relevant to the user conducting the search.

On-Page SEO Vs. Off-Page SEO

We’re guessing you have already come across on-page and off-page SEO. But do you understand the differences between these two types of SEO and how they affect ranking? That’s what we want to discuss in detail below.

What is On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to all the changes you can make on your web pages to improve your search engine ranking. These include keyword usage, internal links, image Alt tags, meta tags, and meta descriptions. Although most people don’t pay attention to these details, they play an integral role in SERP rankings.

Therefore, you must review your on-page SEO strategy if you want your website to rank higher for specific keywords. While at it, remember to pay attention to the following:

✅Carry out intensive keyword research
✅Create quality and relevant SEO content
✅Link to pages on your website
✅Add meta titles and descriptions to each piece of content
✅Optimize your images by adding ALT tags

What is Off-Page SEO

Unlike on-page SEO, off-page SEO refers to everything that happens outside your website to boost your rankings. These include social media marketing, guest blogging, list directories, and backlinks. With off-page SEO, you don’t have complete control. This is because you must work with another site owner or company. When done incorrectly, off-page SEO can lower your SERP ranking. For instance, using spammy backlinks can hurt your SEO efforts.

The SEO Evolution Explained

Like everyone else, you probably assume that SEO has always been a perfect product. Far from it, SEO has moved from black hat to white hat over the years. For starters, the first website went live in 1991 and is still live today. Since there wasn’t much competition back then, SEO was not as prevalent as it is today. But as more sites continued to pop up, competition grew, creating the need for SEO. That is when search engines were born.

The first search engine, Yahoo, was created in 1994. Shortly after, Google was launched in 1998. Back then, search engines were not as advanced as they are today. With time, search engines adopted various technologies, including using robots to index sites. This made it even more challenging to rank on search engines. That is where SEO comes in.

SEO illustration in graphics

Since SEO was pretty simple back then, some people started using black hat SEO strategies such as spammy backlinks, keyword stuffing, link farms, and guest posting networks to rank higher on search engines. These illegal techniques were unfair to honest website owners.

Unsurprisingly, search engines caught on to these techniques and introduced more complex rules. They even weeded web pages using black hat SEO strategies to rank high. This is where white-hat SEO comes in.

After the birth of white hat SEO, search engines prioritize websites with quality and valuable content. White hat SEO has created a level playing ground for everyone. Every web page must prove its reliability, trustworthiness, and integrity to get noticed. Let’s discuss SEO best practices in detail below:

Google Algorithms Updates and SERP Rankings

To weed out sites relying on black hat SEO strategies, Google added various updates to its algorithm. This search engine giant consistently updates its algorithm to ensure readers access the most valuable and relevant content. Here is a breakdown of Google algorithm updates over the years.

February 2011 – Panda Update

The Panda Update was a game changer. Immediately after Google introduced this update, 12% of rankings were impacted. This algorithm was the end of the link farm business model.

April 2012 – Penguin Update

The Penguin update was developed to weed up irrelevant and spammy backlinks.

April 2013 – Hummingbird Update

This update was developed to weed out sites with keyword-stuffed and low-quality content. Additionally, the update changed how Google interprets search queries and searcher intent.

October 2015 – RankBrain Update

The RankBrain Update improved Google’s machine learning and became one of the most ranking factors. Relevancy and related concepts became a massive part of SEO.

March 2017 – Fred Update

This update targeted incomprehensive content.

August 2018 – Medic Update

This update was developed to protect readers from misinformation. Although it was not aimed at medical sites, many websites in the health niche dropped in the rankings.

October 2019 – BERT Update

The BERT update is probably one of the most significant changes in SEO in recent history. The goal behind this update was to provide relevant content based on a search query and its intent.

June 2021 – Page Experience Update

This recent update aims to give readers a more holistic perspective by combining core website vitals with experienced signals.

2022 – Multitask United Model

First introduced in May 2021, the MUM update relies on natural language processing artificial intelligence to answer text, image, video, and queries with multimodal data.

How Do Search Engines Determine a Website’s Rank?

Google and other search engines are updating their algorithms to help readers find more valuable and relevant content. Search engines consider several ranking factors in their algorithms. Some of these factors include:

        ✅On-page SEO
        ✅Mobile usability
        ✅Organic click-through rate
        ✅Referring domains
        ✅Domain authority
        ✅Dwell time
        ✅Total number of backlinks
        ✅Content quality
        ✅Expertise, authority, and trust

How Does Content Affect SEO?

Before search engines introduced strict rules, low-quality and incomprehensive content were enough to help you rank on the first page. Nowadays, search engines will penalize you for low-quality content. All search engines strive to provide the most relevant and the highest quality results for every search. As a result, search engines now prioritize comprehensive, relevant, trustworthy, and authoritative content.

That’s why you should strive to create informative content to rank higher on search results. It’s highly advisable to create content between 1000 to 2000 words to increase your chances of ranking higher. Apart from the length, you should also pay attention to the tone and language. Using natural language can improve your SERP ranking.

How Does Link Building Affect SEO?

Backlinks have always been a crucial ranking factor. However, search engines have introduced countless algorithm updates to weed out spammy links. Links can make or break your SERP ranking. Backlinks from a site with a good reputation and domain authority will improve your ranking.

In contrast, links from a site with poor domain authority and reputation might hurt your SEO efforts. That’s why you should create a solid link-building strategy to obtain high-quality backlinks. The more quality backlinks you have, the more search engines will trust your site and rank it for related searches.

How Does Authority and Trustworthiness Affect SEO?

Search engines consider trustworthiness and authority when ranking websites. Generally, authoritative and trusted sites rank higher than sites with integrity issues. When it comes to trustworthiness and authority, you must understand two vital concepts: YMYL and EAT.

YMYL is short for your money, your life and refers to websites that publish content that can affect the reader’s happiness, safety, health, or financial stability. Search engines only want to provide reliable and valuable results when it comes to these websites, including:

          ✅Health
          ✅Finance
          ✅E-commerce
          ✅News and current events
          ✅Government and civics
          ✅Content for special groups such as veterans, religious groups, affiliations, and more

EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Search engines use the EAT scale when indexing websites for a related keyword. The more you can prove that you are trustworthy and an authority in your industry, the more your chances of ranking high on SERP.

How Does Social Media Affect SEO?

While many assume that social media does not affect SERP rankings, the truth is that it affects rankings indirectly. For instance, links you get from social media can boost your ranking. Social media can boost your SERP ranking by bringing more traffic to your page. With social media users increasing daily, you should leverage these social networks to get more quality backlinks and bring more traffic to your web page.

You should also use social media to build brand authority and brand awareness. Moreover, social media can help you build strong relationships so that search engines can see you as a popular and trusted site.

SEO Takes Time: Leave it to a Resourceful SEO Company

Unfortunately, SEO is not an event. It’s a painstaking process, and your company might not have the resources and the knowledge to pull it off successfully. Additionally, you might not have the right SEO tools to improve your SERP ranking. Not to worry, though. You can partner with an innovative SEO company to improve your rankings and increase your bottom line. At JetRank, we have the team and the SEO tools required to help you dominate searches and outrank your competitors.

If you are ready to improve your SERP rankings, reach out to our team today for a comprehensive SEO audit.

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Roger Avila
Roger Avila

Roger is an SEO manager at JetRank

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