In our blog we have delved into strategic issues inherent to Inbound Marketing and content production. Now let’s get to the technical: SEO positioning.
You have probably heard or read about it, but associated with terms such as organic traffic and web positioning . Or in articles on how to appear on the first page of Google . It all refers to the Search Engine Optimization process . And at this moment we are going to explain how it works.
But first, why does my business need SEO?
About 2 million blogs are published on the internet daily. That is a lot of competition. In Peru, for example, there are big brands that have spent years polishing their digital marketing strategy.
To attract sales opportunities, it is necessary to lead the online market. And that is only possible if we strengthen our presence in two equally important channels: social networks and search engines.
Generating visits to our website is one of the most important objectives of Inbound Marketing. That’s where our potential clients come from! According to a study cited by Neilpatel, 90% of online shopping experiences start with a search .
The next important question is: where do they do those searches? And you probably know the answer: on Google . Statista research reveals that 90% of the global market share uses Google as their default search engine.
So let’s focus on Google. And the first thing we should know about this titan is that the first result takes 60% of the clicks. The second 15% and the third 7%. In other words, being on the first page of Google is the deciding factor between a business that thrives and one that will end in bankruptcy.
That is when we turn to SEO positioning.
What is SEO positioning?
It is the set of techniques used to make a website appear in the first Google results.
And what does SEO guarantee me?
✔ Brand visibility
✔ Attraction of qualified traffic
✔ More sales opportunities
✔ Positioning as a market leader
✔ Outperform the competition
✔ Multiply ROI
Now yes, we are going to swim in deep water.
How does Google work?
To understand how SEO works, we must first understand how Google works. Search engines serve three fundamental functions: crawling, indexing, and ranking.
The tracking is the process performed by robots Google to find new content. They can be web pages, images, videos and the like. These “spiders” (another common name) are dedicated to following link after link. If a site references our url, the robot will come from there and inspect all internal links on our page. Hence the importance of having a well-cared for internal and external structure.
Once the crawl is finished, all the pages that the robots consider appropriate will go to the Google index. The indexing allows search engines more easily find any information requested by users.
Finally, the content classification occurs . This is where the Google algorithm plays a fundamental role, because there are at least 200 factors that are taken into account when ranking the search results.
In general, the most favored pages are those that:
- They are fast, with an intuitive and responsive design
- They have updated and new content
- They publish quality and relevant information
- Share images, infographics and videos
- They have many referential links (backlinks)
- And your domain has a high level of authority
If you want more information about these processes, you can review the guidelines for webmasters that Google published in the support area.
SEO and SEM positioning: Two sides of the coin
It’s easy to get these terms confused because they are both techniques geared towards search engine rankings. But they differ in three aspects: investment, scope, and time required to see results.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing) , is an auction for keywords. The company pays to appear in the first result for searches related to its service or product. For example, our client RIMAC invests in the term Health Insurance in Peru. This gives you greater visibility and guarantees an interesting number of visits per month.
SEO, for its part, positions your website organically, without paying. But achieving this can take months, unlike SEM, which increases blog views in a matter of days. So why invest in SEO? For one fundamental reason: SEM is a temporary solution , guaranteeing a range of just 15%. We will explain it with an example:
Almost 3 thousand people write every month in Google: “health insurance”. For that word there are 4 advertisers, which should be divided about 450 visits. Then each one will get 1/4 of the traffic.
The other 85% of users stay in Google’s organic results. The first three places in the ranking take 82% of the clicks. So SEO positioning is slow, but more effective in the long run.
We show you an example of the Estar Bien portal, another of our projects. There we managed to position the keyword ” Healthy Peruvian food ” which has about 1,300 monthly searches in Peru. Many of our visits come from there.
So SEO or SEM?
Combining both techniques is a successful strategy. The SEM is perfect to start shooting new projects. Your immediate results are a good boost. Meanwhile, SEO builds its foundations to sustain the entire inbound structure in the future.
Criteria for SEO positioning in Google
Now that we know how Google works and what options we have to position our content, let’s focus on SEO.
There are certain technical improvements that we must apply to make our website search engine friendly. We will divide them into two groups: internal SEO (SEO On Page) and external SEO (SEO Off Page).
SEO On Page
It refers to all the SEO optimizations that our website requires, to appear in the first Google result. We will explain the most important ones.
Produce fresh and useful content
The first step to lead the digital market is to produce quality content. Providing useful information to consumers is the cornerstone of SEO positioning. The reason: Google’s primary goal is to answer user questions. If our website achieves that, we will achieve the first results without much effort.
But if our content is mediocre, it will be forgotten.
Let’s go back to the previous example. If a user needs information on ” vehicle insurance “, Google will search its index for all content related to that topic.
The algorithm will rank the results based on the search intention: it will not refer to dealerships or spare parts for cars. If not, to pages with information on vehicle insurance , the best prices, the insurance companies closest to your home and the like.
Google is programmed to interpret each query and respond with the best content. And fundamentally, these are the criteria that it takes into account:
Quality . The content has to be useful and presented in the format that our consumers consume the most (text, video, images or infographics).
Originality. We have to add additional value, be different. Do not repeat what already exists on the internet. Otherwise, nobody will be interested in us.
Relevance. We must focus on what our users need.
Novelty. Google loves new, fresh, first-rate information.
The study of keywords (Keywords) consists of evaluating all the terms that users use for queries on Google, related to our product or service.
They all show you the most used keywords by topic, the volume of monthly searches, the difficulty of positioning (backlinks and domain authority) and the CTR of the competing domains that are positioned in the first 10 results.
Each SEO manages its selection criteria, but it is advisable to choose those keywords with high search volume and little competition.
It is important to carry out this study before assembling the content strategy, because the analysis of Keywords allows us to identify the concerns of the users, the approach that other domains have given to this topic and how much effort it will take to position each article.
In our blog you will find more information about how to find the keywords that best identify your business and how you can take advantage of this information to create your content strategy.
How to use keywords?
Many years ago, Google ranked results according to the number of times a web page had the keyword used by the user. Consequently, many SEOs of the time fell into the bad practice of creating SPAM sites, which only had repetitions of terms (Keyword Stuffing).
This was not what Google wanted. So he tweaked his algorithm and penalized all over-optimized sites.
Since then, the use of keywords is more related to semantics. Google has gotten so good at interpreting users’ search intent that it not only understands what the need is behind the keyword, but also identifies synonyms and associated topics.
Optimize tags (HTML) with keywords
To conquer Google, you have to speak their language. HTML code is a tag language that tells the browser what information to display on the screen and in what format.
It really sounds more complicated than it is. And in fact, content managers such as WordPress or the Contenttu CMS, have a user interface that allows you to place the labels without seeing the code.
However, in SEO terms, optimization refers to including the keyword in the following three fundamental tags:
Title or H1 (Subtitle 1): Only one required per page.
Meta description: It is the block of text that appears in Google results, below the title, with a brief summary of maximum 160 characters.
Subtitles (H2, H3, H4…): We can place as many as are necessary to develop the topic.
Why is it important to optimize labels?
Because they are part of the 200 factors that Google considers during the ranking of results. The algorithm does not read the full text of all the blogs on your website, but rather evaluates the quality and relevance of the topic according to the use of the keyword in these three tags.
Improve website architecture
Finally, SEO positioning also depends on some technical factors, directly related to the development and design of the website.
Your blog can have very good content and all the necessary optimizations, but if the page takes time to load, is not accessible from mobile devices or does not have security certificates, Google will not take it into account.
These are the aspects that you must take care of for SEO to work.
User experience (UX)
This improvement refers to the usability of a website. The easier it is for the user to find the information they are looking for and navigate the page, the more likely they are to stay longer, consume more content, and ultimately become a qualified sales opportunity.
Some tips to optimize the user experience is to place the menu in a visible place, with its respective search box. And maintain an attractive design, consistent with the brand, but never overloaded.
Do you remember how Google works? Track, index and classify.
Well, the sitemap allows the search engine to better index all the pages on our portal. The bigger it is, the better Google will position us for having a lot of information on a specific topic.
There are several plugins that allow you to create this file for WordPress and XML sitemap generators online . In addition, you can verify which pages are in the Google index, using the Search Console or by placing the code in the search engine: Site: url
According to the National Institute of Statistics (INEI), 82% of the Peruvian population connects to the internet from their phone or tablet . Every time the income from computers is less. If your website is not ready to receive visits from mobile devices, then it is destined to fail.
This is one of the factors that Google takes into account when categorizing search results. We recommend you try this Google tool that tells you if your portal meets the minimum mobile usability requirements, demanded by search engines.
Speed: 3 seconds maximum
An illuminating example: if Google were 4 tenths of a second late in displaying its results, there would be an 8 million decrease in searches. And Amazon, just 1 minute slower, would lose about $ 1.6 billion in annual sales.
The latest Google PageSpeed benchmarks indicate that if the website takes more than 5 seconds to load, it will most likely lose the user. Hence the importance of this factor in SEO positioning. To appear on the first page of results, the site must load in the shortest possible time.
Keyword in URL
This is one of the most important positioning factors. When the Google algorithm ranks the results, it prioritizes the pages with the keyword in the URL.
If your website sells life insurance, but your url contains the brand name, you should play with the extension for landings and blogs.
Security certificates: HTTPS and SSL
Finally, Google takes into account the security certificates for SEO positioning. The two basic protocols are: HTTPS (a secure version of HTTP) and SSL (secure sockets layer).
SEO Off Page
At this point, our website is ready to conquer the first Google results. But we must face a difficult reality: it is not the only one .
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, in Peru many companies work with SEO positioning and are consolidated as leaders in their industries. How to overcome them? With SEO Off Page.
SEO Off Page is about addressing the external factors that influence the categorization of Google results. Next we will explain the four most important ones.
1) Trust and credibility of the website
Google modifies its algorithm about 500 times a year . And with each change, trust becomes a more important factor for SEO positioning. But how do search engines measure such a subjective indicator? We will see it in detail.
The first trust factor considered by the Google algorithm is the authority of the domain . This measure was developed by MOZ and rates the level of credibility that a website has, for developing viral content or belonging to a reputable brand.
The scale goes from 1 to 100, but it is not easy to achieve a score above 70. The sites that have crossed that line and reached the pinnacle are Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Wikipedia, among a few others.
And how it works? Let’s imagine we published an exemplary blog post on How to Create an Editorial Calendar. And a competing domain has a similar article. In this case, Google will analyze which of the two websites has greater authority and will then rank it higher.
And how can we increase authority?
Basically, generating quality backlinks . But we will see this in detail later.
The second indicator that directly affects the trust and reputation of a website is the bounce rate. The higher this measure, the less credibility a website has . It is Google’s way of knowing that a page does not help users at all.
How do we improve the bounce rate?
- Reducing page load time
- Improving the user experience
- Optimizing design for mobile devices
- Creating better content
- Adding videos or infographics
Finally, the more brand recognition we achieve, the more credibility we will have with Google. Of course, this is not easy. It takes time and effort. You will know that you have achieved it when when searching your website in Google, the following itemized appears.
2) Backlinks (Linkbuilding)
Now, let’s talk about backlinks or backlinks.
Backlinks are a key piece in SEO strategy. Since the Google Penguin update in April 2012, the algorithm has focused on the quantity and quality of backlinks that each website receives.
The more good backlinks a page has, the higher its domain authority.
And what valuable links can we get?
- Natural links that recommend our best content
- Links from institutional sites such as .org or .gob
- Backlinks from pages with higher domain authority than ours
- Links to the keyword in the anchor text
- Important: any link from another domain related to our industry
In our blog you will find more details on how to create a scalable and sustainable long-term backlink strategy.
What is anchor text?
Refers to the sentence that represents the link. As a general rule, it must contain the keyword or one of its synonyms for Google to consider it a valuable backlink.
For example: a link on which free tools you can use for your SEO strategy is not the same , to place: more information here.
The third SEO Off Page factor that influences the ranking of results is directly related to users: demographic data, language and search history play an important role when categorizing content.
For example, if we ask Google about “ health insurance ” right now, it will show us a list of Peruvian websites, in Spanish. And if we have previously visited a specific page of an insurer, it is most likely that it will show it first than others.
Obviously, this implies two realities: the first is that there are details beyond our reach as strategists. And the second, that there are small opportunities related to the personal factor that we can take advantage of.
Google organizes the list of results taking into account the country from where the query is made. Going back to the previous example, when typing “health insurance” in the search engine, the recommended sites will be Peruvian. Not Chileans, not Argentines.
Only when there is not enough content on websites in the country to respond to the user, the search engine positions portals from other regions. It is important to take this into account when choosing whether to enhance local SEO or bet on international positioning.
This also applies on a smaller scale, from city to city. The results obtained by a user in Lima will not be the same as in Arequipa. It even varies from district to district. The ranking for a search in San Juan de Lurigancho is slightly different than the one we will obtain in Miraflores or Villa El Salvador.
Language and slang
It is no secret that the linguistic code is different for each region. Someone who needs to buy a public transport vehicle in Peru will use the term ” Combi ” (2700 searches per month) followed by a geographical, economic or brand variant: ” Combi Toyota “, ” combis in Arequipa ” or “used combis”.
But in Colombia and Ecuador, for the same purpose the user will use the term ” buses “, which incidentally has 5 thousand monthly searches in those regions and only 90 in Peru.
An automotive company based in Lima, even if it is a multinational, must detect and select the keywords most used by its potential customers so that the content strategy reaches the right consumers.
SEO tactics must be oriented to the organic positioning of those terms aligned with our objectives . There is little use in being in the first place for keywords that contribute little or nothing to Inbound planning.
User search history
Last but most importantly, Google takes your search history into account when throwing up the list of results. In this way, the algorithm guarantees personalized attention to each user. This is one of those details that escapes our hands.
SEO experts from around the world have found that social interactions have a positive impact on organic positioning . These channels attract much more traffic to the website and increase the chances of generating natural backlinks .
Also, if the content is really good: your bounce rate will decrease, the click-through rate will go up, and the page will earn authority points.
On the other hand, Google greatly values the quality of the shares . If influencers or reputable people on the internet recommend your content, then the algorithm will make you climb positions quickly.
Making content viral is not as important as getting referrals from the right people.
What does Google penalize ?: Black Hat SEO vs White Hat SEO
SEO positioning is a strategy that works for the long term . This is an absolute and irrefutable truth. Depending on the industry and level of competition, it can take months or years. If someone offers you organic results in less than a month, they are probably trying to scam you.
With a good strategy that combines SEM actions with SEO tactics, successful results are obtained from the first week. But organic positioning on Google will take at least 3-6 months.
We are committed to good SEO practices, which generate long-term results but are sustainable over time. Anyone trying to sell SEO as an instant results technique is probably dealing with Black Hat SEO.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is a set of easy and misleading techniques for positioning content. But not approved by Google. And that usually end in penalty. Remember that the algorithm undergoes at least two modifications a day, always with the aim of recognizing sites that use any of these techniques to penalize them.
The most common Black Hat SEO techniques are as follows:
Duplicate content: It occurs when several pages on the same website have exactly the same information.
Invisible text: It refers to hiding keywords in the content of the page. Either by changing the color to white (if the background is the same tone, it will be lost from sight) or with any other programming technique. Although the common user cannot see the text, the Googlebot does register it. This is reason for penalty.
Keyword Stuffing: It consists of over-optimizing a page with keywords (blog posts are pages too). If we repeat the keyword more times than necessary, to the point that the text loses meaning, then we are applying Keyword Stuffing. Due to the large number of domains using this technique, Google’s algorithm was modified to prioritize keyword density less and more factors such as semantics, use of synonyms, and content quality. The sites that apply Keyword Stuffing are sanctioned by Google.
Link farming: Another Black Hat SEO technique is exchanging links with websites dedicated to selling backlinks. Generally, these pages do not have quality content, much less associated with the topic that your company tries to position. Remember that for Google, backlinks are an indicator of authority. If you find traps in between, there will be a penalty.
The counterpart: White Hat SEO
Google appreciates the effort of websites that care more about helping users. So we will obtain a good positioning if we apply a strategy based on:
- Analyze website statistics
- Improve usability and functionality
- Rewrite published content to add fresh and relevant data
- Redesign the website to adapt it to the needs of users
How to put together an SEO strategy and enhance the Inbound Marketing of your company?
At this point we already have all the necessary information to optimize our company’s website and achieve effective SEO positioning.
However, it is necessary that these techniques be used under Inbound parameters. In this way, we can meet the first objective of the strategy: attract customers.
How do we use SEO to potential the Inbound Marketing of the company? Following 8 fundamental steps.
1) Analyze Buyer Personas : We must know our potential buyers. Let’s evaluate their behavior: what is the community like? What social networks do they frequent the most? What type of content do they consume?
2) Carry out a keyword study: The next step is to investigate what information related to our product or service has the most monthly searches. A good study of keywords will reveal the information needs of our audience. This information will be of vital importance to put together a solid content strategy.
4) Do a benchmarking: Next, we will evaluate the SEO positioning and performance of the competition. This will allow us to detect keywords that have worked for other portals, improve the quality of content (make it longer, with more images or videos) and define an optimal Linkbuilding strategy (check which pages link to those sites and obtain more quality backlinks ).
5) Create Topic Clusters: The topic clusters are content groups. They allow us to organize and connect the information we publish, to facilitate the Google robot tracking process. The study of keywords and benchmarking with other competing domains will help us develop effective topic clusters.
6) Constant optimization and frequent publication: The Inbound strategy goes hand in hand with SEO optimizations. Both must be applied constantly. Otherwise, we will not have good results.
7) Linkbuilding Strategy: It is important to develop a scalable backlink strategy to position our domain above the competition. This may take time, but it does guarantee a significant increase in organic traffic.
8) Results monitoring: Finally and most importantly, SEO allows us to measure the performance of the strategy. Constantly monitoring the positioning of keywords implies improving important statistics such as organic traffic, bounce rate, CTR and site speed. Also: conversion rate and ROI.