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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

As most are already aware, Google is often the largest driver of traffic by a huge margin, and organic search traffic is among the most valuable. Plaudit Design’s search engine optimization (SEO) services can help ensure your website is designed to put its best foot forward and capture this traffic.

What is SEO?

Most organizations are already familiar with the broad concepts of SEO, but that understanding often stops short of important information that can help you better understand the value of SEO for your organization. Before jumping into a robust search engine optimization initiative, it’s important to understand what search engine optimization is, and what it is not.

SEO is not…

  • A set-and-forget task — Organizations that invest in SEO are constantly working to improve or maintain their ranking. Meanwhile, search engines change how they rank websites in order to improve results for search engine users. A strong SEO initiative is a commitment to build, assess, and evolve your efforts over time.
  • A complete marketing strategy — While search engines DO drive most web traffic, search engine optimization is still only a part of the equation. It’s important to remember your other communication channels - especially offline ones - to gain a clearer picture into where search fits into your customers’ buying journey.
  • A magical “get customers” button — Why are some organizations consistently ranked highly in search results, while others struggle? Competition for search placement is fierce and organizations work hard to achieve and maintain top positions in search results. Expect to work hard to challenge these top spots.

SEO is not…

  • An effective traffic-building opportunity — A well-executed SEO initiative can be very effective at building website traffic, and capturing the right traffic. However, this opportunity can be wasted with careless or shallow strategy and execution.
  • A long-term, ongoing strategic initiative — With a mature and seasoned SEO foundation in place, organic search visitors are some of the most engaged and valuable. A successful search engine optimization initiative relies on clear goals, realistic expectations, and steady progress in order to achieve sustainable traffic growth.
  • A process of experimentation — While it is certainly important to have a plan before starting a search engine optimization initiative, it is just as important to reassess your SEO efforts on an ongoing basis so you can do more of what is working, and less of what isn’t.
  • Most definitely an important part of any Internet marketing strategy.

Building a Foundation

The core of search engine optimization is providing search engines with information about your site and its content in order to help the search engine see your site as a reliable resource. This information can be loosely grouped into two key areas that align with major ranking factors: Relevance and Quality. Plaudit Design’s search engine optimization services are designed to help you get started addressing these key areas, as well as to support ongoing efforts.

Relevance

Search engines strive to match search users with information relevant to the search they performed. In order to include your site within this list of search results, it is important that search engines are able to understand the information your website provides. Foundational search engine optimization techniques ensure that:

  • Page and site content is optimized for important search terms.
  • Page content is clearly focused on a specific topic.
  • Your site utilizes a robust internal link structure to reinforce content relationships.

Building a website around these concepts means creating a comprehensive structure to organize the information found on your site in a meaningful way. This structure helps to ensure that people are better able to find the information they seek, and that search engines are able to identify key topics throughout the site and how different pages relate to each other within that context.

Quality

Relevance is only half the battle — optimizing for relevance will get you in the door. However, the ideal search results are not only relevant, but also high-quality pages that users find helpful. Without considering quality, your web page may end up in the results but be ranked too low to receive traffic. High-quality pages exhibit several common traits, and search engines track key indicators of these traits, or “signals,” to try and determine which pages will best serve the search user.

While Google considers hundreds of ranking signals, the most powerful ones include:

  • Content Authority — Google’s search algorithm was built on a single core idea: links to pages on your site from OTHER websites is like a “vote” for a good source of information. Backlinks represent the most powerful indication of authority. By creating compelling and valuable content on your website, external sources are more willing to refer visitors to your website as a trusted, authoritative source and more likely to provide powerful backlinks.
  • Content Quality — Search engines want users to find relevant information, and ultimately be satisfied with the information they found. To do this, search engines consider several main indicators in order gauge the quality of actual content on the page. These include natural, balanced keyword usage throughout the page, a “satisfying amount” of content, and ensuring that the content is comprehensive. Optimizing content around these indicators helps a search engine to get a better sense of whether a user will be satisfied with the information they find on your website.
  • User Experience — Search engines also consider several behavioral factors to determine the quality of a search result. How often a particular search result is clicked can indicate that users think that this result will probably be helpful. When a user visits a search result, but then goes back and modifies their search, this might indicate that the information they found wasn’t as helpful as they hoped. Monitoring and actively improving this kind of behavior can have a big impact on search ranking.

Search Engine Optimization Process

We’ve structured our search optimization process to help our clients achieve better rankings in search engines at any level of engagement. Whether you are looking for a simple assessment to learn where you could improve or a full-service optimization initiative, Plaudit Design can help. Search engine optimization typically occurs in three major stages:

Key Phrase Research

Before any actual optimization occurs, it is vital to understand the current landscape and set appropriate targets. Leveraging sophisticated tools paired with deep experience, the search engine optimization team explores your current search placement, and identifies key opportunities to improve it. We analyze real searches from real users to identify which search phrases stand to drive traffic. We dig into the competitive landscape to understand what it might take to see results. We compile what we’ve learned into an easy-to-understand summary of recommendations, and a plan to address each of them.

Initial Search Engine Optimization

With a clear picture of key traffic-building opportunities, the Plaudit Design internet marketing team will begin modifying the website and laying the foundation for an ongoing SEO initiative. While the specific activities needed will depend on your particular website, we most commonly:

  • Edit content for improved keyword relevance — By editing key content to include selected search terms and adjusting content structure to make use of important HTML tags, we are able to create a stronger relationship between the search terms that people actually use, and the pages on your website.
  • Build a strong internal link structure — We dig deep into your site to find opportunities to link from one page on your site to others. This helps search engines build a comprehensive model of your entire website’s content, and reinforces that model with common search terms.
  • Optimize navigation and meta information — By adjusting information hierarchy, and content areas utilized by search engines, we are able to further strengthen the relevance of your pages. Additionally, this optimization is designed to increase the likelihood of search users clicking on your website within search results.

Ongoing Search Engine Optimization

After initial SEO work is complete, the Plaudit Design Internet marketing team monitors the results of this initial search engine optimization in order to set performance goals and inform future ongoing efforts, It is important to have a plan for continued improvement in order to maintain a positive trajectory when gaining ranking in search results. It’s also important to monitor competitor websites in order to prevent them from reclaiming higher search rankings. Continually building relevant content, and exploring additional ways to reinforce content quality will result in long-lasting search ranking.