Search Engine Optimization SEO Guide

:: Search Engine Optimization / SEO Company::

What Every Business Needs to Know about SEO to Achieve Success & Avoid Pitfalls

SEO insights for success

While several tactics and strategies have transformed the digital marketing landscape in the last several years, nothing has changed the game as profoundly as search engines. Here are just some of the jaw-dropping statistics:

What's more, there is no indication that search engine fatigue is setting in. On the contrary, the number of searches is growing year-over-year — especially local search — and the number of searchers overall is surging across all age groups, particularly among older adults and seniors.

As such, businesses that haven't yet reaped substantial search engine-driven rewards shouldn't worry that they've missed the opportunity of the century. Search engines like Google (please see note below) are here to stay, and as more people rely on them to buy everything from smartphones and home appliances to professional services and corporate software — and the list goes on and on — their dominance and importance will only increase.

Note: Google is by far the dominant search engine, with a staggering 91.65% of the global market. The remaining 8.35% belongs to Bing (2.71%), Yahoo! (1.94%), and a few others that most businesses and searchers have never heard of, such as Baidu, YANDEX RU, and Shenma. For simplicity and consistency, the remainder of this guide will only reference Google, with the understanding that Bing and Yahoo (which is actually not a search engine, but a directory that some people use as a search engine) also follow the same general on-site and off-site principles.


The Benefits of SEO

When it's implemented and managed properly, SEO is an incredibly effective and astonishingly affordable way for businesses to generate quality leads, and ultimately increase customers, sales and profits. What's more, the landscape isn't dominated by big businesses with huge budgets. Millions of small businesses rely on SEO to generate brand visibility and boost website traffic. Here are some of the impressive statistics:

However, to exploit this potential — and steer clear of pitfalls — it's essential for businesses to know what search engine optimization (SEO) is, why it's important, and how it works. Let's turn our attention towards these aspects now.


What is SEO?

SEO is a process that helps businesses increase relevant visibility in organic search engine results, in order to drive quality traffic to a website, landing page or other digital property, and ultimately increase sales.
To simplify and clarify things even more, let's unpack the above description by looking at each element:

"SEO is a process …."

The first and most important thing to understand is that SEO is a process, which means that it involves a series of strategic and tactical steps that are executed over time. Using the right technology is also essential, both for choosing keywords, and for tracking various metrics and analytics.

"…that helps business increase relevant visibility…"

The critical word above is relevant. Merely increasing visibility isn't enough — in fact, it can be counterproductive. The visibility has to be relevant in order to be beneficial, and ultimately, profitable.

Take for example a business that sells project management software, and wants to improve its search engine visibility among prospective customers. Fast forward six months, and the business is ranking high (i.e. showing up on page one of Google) for the keyword phrase "project management research".

What's the problem here? It's that the overwhelming number of people searching for "project management research" aren't prospective customers: they're students writing papers or studying for exams. They have no intention of ever becoming a customer, or even influencing potential customers. As a result, they're coming to the website, quickly determining that they aren't going to find the research they want, and then bouncing away.

The moral to this cautionary tale is clear: SEO has to target relevant visibility, and not just visibility in general. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of thousands — it could be millions — of businesses around the world, from small firms to large enterprises, who have been ensnared by this pitfall; usually because they were misled by SEO firms that made impossible — and sometimes illegal — guarantees.

"…in organic search engine results…"

Organic search results are free, and they appear in the main body of the search engine results page (i.e. the page that appears after a searcher enters a search term and clicks/taps "search").

Paid search results are those that appear above and/or below the organic search engine results and are marked as such. Businesses bid via a kind of automated, dynamic auction to have their ad display for various search terms (i.e. keywords). Each time their ad is clicked, businesses pay a certain amount, from a few cents to in some cases $20 or more. 

In light of the above, it's easy to grasp why businesses love SEO: it's the customer acquisition gift that keeps on giving! Businesses never pay a cent when a searcher clicks on any of their organic links. It's like having a virtual volunteer sales force that works 24/7/365 to help businesses add quality prospects to their pipeline.

"…in order to drive quality traffic to a website, landing page or other digital property…"

It's important to note that, contrary to what some businesses believe, there is no obligation or rule that forces them to send all search engine traffic to their corporate website. Of course, this is usually the case simply because it's what most businesses want. But it's just as possible — and often strategically smart — to also drive traffic to landing pages and other digital properties, such as social media pages.

"…and ultimately increase sales."

This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. The point of SEO, and what determines whether the investment is rewarding or regrettable, is whether it ultimately increases sales and/or maintains sales while measurably reducing pre-SEO advertising and marketing costs.

With this being said, it's extremely important to keep in mind that SEO on its own rarely "makes sales happen" — and in B2B sales, this is almost never the case (the exception is if the purchase is an inexpensive low-risk item, like a box of printer paper or a laptop case). Rather, the function of SEO is to populate the pipeline with more quality traffic, so that prospects can be engaged by the sales team and ushered forward along the buyer's journey. 

Now that we've covered the basic definition of SEO — and unpacked its elements to clarify important points and avoid common misunderstandings — the next piece of the puzzle is exploring the factors that improve SEO. There are two sides of this coin: on-site factors, and off-site factors. We'll start with the former, and then switch over to the latter.


On-Site SEO Factors

On-site SEO (sometimes referred to as on-page SEO) refers to the various elements of a website — or to be technical, a web page — that Google looks at in order to grasp what a business does, and subsequently why, whether, and when it should show up in search engine results relative to other businesses.

Another way to look at this — and a simpler way to remember it — is to think of on-site SEO as a special behind-the-scenes message from a business to Google that says: "Hi there, thanks for checking us out! Here is what we do, and who we do it for. We'd really appreciate it if you'd show our website to a potential customer who is using your lovely search engine to solve their problems or achieve their goals. You can trust that we'll definitely help them out!"

Of course, Google — or more specifically, their ultra-complex search engine algorithm that is updated about 600 times a year — doesn't care much for flattery. Frankly, all it cares about is data, data and more data. And so, when it comes to on-site SEO, here are some of Google's favorites things:

Now that we have covered the most important on-site SEO factors, let's look at the other side of the coin: off-site SEO.


Off-Site SEO Factors

Many years ago in the early days of SEO, Google (and the rest of the search engines) didn't care that much about off-site SEO. All that really mattered was on-site SEO, which made some businesses extremely happy. To keep winning the SEO game, all they had to do was use the on-site bullet list above as a checklist.

However, Google slowly but surely realized that many of these businesses — not most of them, but enough of them — were publishing low quality websites, and basically gaming the system. For example, they would create a website with terrible content and that delivered a lousy user experience, purchase a bunch of back links from websites (called "link farms"), and within weeks, if not sometimes within days, they were ranking very high for competitive keywords.

This development didn't just worry Google: it freaked them out! That's because they wisely understood that if people started to equate "lousy websites" with the word "Google", then it was only a matter of time before people would stop using Google as their search engine of choice. Sure, old habits die hard and Google wasn't circling the drain. But history is loaded with examples of massive businesses that eased up on quality standards and paid the ultimate price: they disappeared.

To avoid that tragic fate, Google implemented a major change to its algorithm that dramatically increased the importance of off-site SEO factors. Specifically, it started focusing on four things related to inbound links (a.k.a. backlinks), which are links from other websites:

In this sense, while on-site SEO is something that a business invests in, off-site SEO is something that it earns. They are both important and necessary, yet involve very different strategies and tactics. For example, here are some of the ways that businesses generate (i.e. earn) a strong off-site SEO profile:

The common thread that ties all of these off-page SEO factors together is that businesses must earn inbound links by creating great content, and then pushing that content out through the appropriate channels. If they do this the right way, then over time Google will deem that they have a strong and impressive inbound link profile, which will translate into higher rankings.
Next Steps
We hope that this guide helps your business understand SEO: what it is, why it works, and how to improve your visibility — and ultimately your sales — through on-page and off-page factors. We invite you to contact us to share your feedback and experiences.  

We would also be pleased to help if you need SEO advice and guidance for your in-house team, or you want to partner with an experienced digital marketing agency that cares as much about your success and happiness as you do!


Why Noble for SEO Services?

Noble has been providing professional web services to its’ clients since 2000 and offers ethical methods and time proven strategies to optimize your web site.  With Google using more than 200 factors to establish their ranking system we work smart to give you the best chance to place well on the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Search Engine Optimization ResultsNoble knows how to get search engine results.  You probably found us on a web search using keywords that are very competitive.  But you don’t want an SEO company that just gets results for themselves, you want one that gets results for their clients.  We have provided you with some SEO examples so that our results can speak for themselves.


Web Standard Coding
We build or re-build websites with validated code according to the web standards established by the w3c.   We also make it our business to know the Google guidlines for Webmasters and their Policies for working with an SEO company.  Not because we have to but because we know this assures that your site will be search engine friendly and give you the best opportunity to rank well.


SEO Company Glossary

This glossary is provided to help web site owners gain a better understanding of search engine optimization and it’s filled with information that is clearly written in plain English and easy to understand.  We hope this SEO glossary is a helpful resource for our clients and web site visitors.


Search Engine Ranking Strategy
SEO Link Building Services
SEO Client Results
SEO Terms & Definitions


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