When it comes to ranking your website in the search engine results pages (SERPs), you will hear a lot of talk about organic search engine optimization (SEO). When most people think of “organic” they think of plants or foods that are naturally grown without the use of artificial products or services. In this regard, organic SEO is related because it is the process of obtaining natural placement on organic search engine results. In its initial stages organic SEO takes a lot more time to reap the fruits of your labors (pun intended) than say a pay-per-click campaign but is an effective online marketing tool that can sustain the test of time.
Below we will outline some of the most important organic SEO elements for your website and how they affect your rankings. Keep in mind this is a list of how these factors can affect your rankings, not how to implement them. That is what web developers and SEO consultants are for!
On-page optimization refers to the things you can update and control on your website. Many of these factors are based on user experience and helping the search engines to more-effectively navigate and index the pages within your website. On-page SEO is essentially the foundation in which all of your other SEO efforts are based. Thus, most SEO campaigns start here. Below are some components of on-page SEO that are important to organic rankings.
- Title tags– Title tags tell the search engines what each page is about. These should be unique and keyword rich. For example, the title tag of the onlinebz.com homepage is “Make Money Online: Online Business.” As you can see below, this is what appears in the SERPs which is why this is so important to search and for click-throughs.
- Meta descriptions– Meta descriptions are not a ranking factor but do influence click-through and are thus important. It is the snippet of text that is displayed under the URL of the search result.
- URL structure– like your title tags, the URL structure of your pages should contain keywords. For example our page on SEO has a URL of http://onlinebz.com/topics/search-engine-optimization-seo/. These appear in the SERPs and in the web browser.
- Content– This is the stuff that will be getting indexed, read, and linked to. Make sure it is good and that it focuses on one keyword per page.
- Blogging– Blogging helps to notify the search engines that you are updating your site with new content. It gives you an additional chance to get indexed for your businesses products or services.
- Load speed– Studies say that you have about three seconds to capture your visitor’s eye. Similarly, search engines want to deliver content that people don’t click away from. Bottom line: make your sites load fast.
- Picture tags Optimizing your pictures give you an additional chance of being ranked in image SERPs. Also, they are an additional indication of what your webpage is about and provide a rich user experience, something the search engines like.
- Broken links You can test and correct for broken links with free tools like Webmaster Tools.
- Duplicate content A search engine no-no, duplicate content can negatively affect your rankings.
The above on-page characteristics are a good start to a solid SEO foundation. If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, check out this detailed website checklist.
Off page SEO is what you do to help your site become more visible in the search engines outside your website’s design.
- Linkbuilding– Linkbuilding will be your best friend in terms of organic SEO. Backlinks from other relevant sites back to your site are the best indication to the search engines that you are a credible, reliable resource. Websites with solid backlink profiles – links from high PageRank sites, links with varying anchor texts, a mix of follow and nofollow links, links from relevant websites, unpaid links – will give your site a much better chance of ranking organically in the SERPs than with little to no links.
- Press releases– Press releases are one of those SEO factors that some argue does and doesn’t have an impact on rankings. Regardless of that debate, press releases that are used for the purpose of spreading newsworthy information about your business can drive traffic. In addition, a press release about your company can rank for keywords related to your business but will likely be short-lived.
- Social Media– Organic rankings and social media have been correlated by numerous studies. The largest correlation between organic rankings and social media occurs with Facebook shares as seen below. Bottom line is that user engagement via social media can help boost search engine rankings and should be part of your organic SEO campaign.
A solid SEO foundation starts with your website. Once your website has done its best to consider and optimize all the on-page elements it can best receive the rewards of off-page SEO. As with business, relationships are key. Form relations with other website owners and influential social media gurus and encourage them to link to and share your content. Creation of high quality content will make the process easier and should also be part of your foundation.
Daniel E. Lofaso is a SEO consultant and search engine marketer for Digital Elevator. He frequently covers topics on SEO, internet marketing and conversion rate optimization. You can follow Daniel on Twitter, LinkedIn or circle him on Google+.
**Disclosure of Material Connection:
Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally or believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials.”