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The Art and Science of SEO: When the rules keep changing, how do I keep up?

Guest Blogger Jenna Ahern shares:

Before you begin reading this, first consider how you may have landed on this blog post in the first place. This consideration basically is at the center of what drives the art and science of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). In truth, there’s no sustainable reason to market goods, services, or important messages online if the target audience or consumer cannot find you online. For any business or online presence, a primary driver of success in today’s digital marketplace is getting found online. You may have the most beautifully designed website with all the bells and whistles, and offer cutting-edge products; yet if the site isn’t properly optimized for search engines it may not matter much.

More specifically, if customers run a relevant key word search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, will they have immediate access to your content seconds later? That’s the key. At Guardian Owl Digital, our entire mission is “getting you found online”, and helping clients earn a spot among the coveted Top 10 on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). A wide range of factors contribute to a website’s ranking on Google or any other search engine. The most important factors for Google ranking are high-quality content, mobile-first design, page experience, page speed, on-page optimization, and both inbound and outbound links (in no certain order).

If your web traffic results are less than you’ve hoped, despite your best intentions and efforts around website design, the missing link may be a solid SEO strategy. That can be a daunting topic for organizations to untangle. It seems the rules are always changing, and that increases the challenge level. But for SEO professionals, it’s a welcome challenge and a blend of nuanced art with a bit of formulaic science. So if you’re a business owner, or anyone who oversees a website with the potential to generate revenue, how do begin to approach SEO?

Let’s dig in with a few tips and important things to consider when evaluating whether your online presence needs an SEO boost. Let’s get you found online!

Who makes the SEO rules? Google Core Web Vitals, that’s who.

Google continues to refine and reinforce the importance of its three Core Web Vitals, originally launched in May 2020. These three critical metrics of page performance are content loading performance, responsiveness, and visual stability. According to Google’s own algorithms, these metrics focus measuring a page’s ability to provide an overall smooth and seamless user experience. In summer of 2021, Google announced the rollout of more performance indicators deigned to focus even more sharply on overall user experience. In a more technical explanation, Google references its three Core Web Vitals in this manner:

  • LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), which is the amount of time it takes to render the largest piece of content on the user’s screen.

  • FID (First Input Delay), which is a measure of how long it takes a browser to react to a user’s interaction with your page after the first click.

  • CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift), which measures a phenomenon where page elements load inconsistently, causing misdirected clicks and frustration as a user attempts to interact with a page element that is no longer there.

A Google Core Web Vitals report produces a “grade” for each of these metrics, displaying numeric results in a “green/yellow/red” scoring system. The tricky part – determining the best way to improve your site’s score, based on authentic user experience. Google holds the cards there, and that’s where a professional firm specializing in SEO can assist in creating the most effective strategy going forward.

High Quality, Optimized Content is King

Though they’re part of what your site needs, it’s not just about keywords and word count.

Optimized web pages require smart strategy around a number of different categories, and the actual content on your site is a key driver for who ultimately lands there in the end. Bill Gates’ 1996 essay, “Content is King”, first published on Microsoft’s website and heralded the importance of quality, web-based content. The essay’s opening line rings true even today, 25 years later: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.” You can read Bill Gates’ fascinating essay in its entirety here.

When considering content to include on your website, quality must be top-of-mind and always prioritize an authentic, relevant experience for the user. Gone are the days of scoring high on search engines with “spammy” links or overly sales-driven copy. (Google’s on to you!) Instead, link-worthy, high-quality content that delivers what the user wants WILL benefit your ranking in the long (and short) run.

Not sure what well-optimized, high-quality web actually content is? Find a good writer who knows their stuff and can help you deliver content the user is seeking. Remember, search engine algorithms may be out of your control, but good content is within your control.

A few more things to consider.

Creating a solid strategy for including video in your SEO efforts is becoming exponentially more important with each passing minute, it seems. Consumers and businesses rely on videos for information and actively seek them out. It’s become table stakes for many industry categories, and you don’t want your site to be left out. In fact, YouTube is the second largest search engine next to Google.

Also, do not underestimate the importance of optimizing web pages for mobile usage and PC applications. While mobile is top priority according to ranking algorithms, each platform is unique and equally critical to reaching your customer. The most exceptionally optimized websites also take into careful consideration the needs of differently abled users, such as those with hearing, vision, or other impairments.

You’ll also want to take time to learn about the positive impact inbound and outbound links can have on your site’s overall web score. Inbound links happen when an external site links to your company’s website within its online content. If this link originates from a source Google deems especially credible, it can do wonders for your SEO score. Conversely, an outbound link happens when your site links to an external website through links within your own content. This is a great way to build credibility within your content and provide enhanced user value.

Final thoughts

In short, don’t underestimate the importance of the overall user experience when it comes to SEO for your website. That needs to be the primary driver. It’s true, Google always seems to be adjusting their algorithms, and that can feel frustrating. In fact, Google make a few thousand adjustments every year – that’s several each day.

Of course, this article simply scratches the surface of SEO strategy. That leads us to an important recommendation. As 2022 approaches, take the opportunity to consider investing in SEO for your company’s website. While it will take time to properly implement a strategy and make the impact you’re seeking, it will pay off in spades. The professional insight, tools, guidance, and strategy a proven SEO firm can bring to the table cannot be overestimated. It’s a jungle out there in the world of SEO, and the professionals are ready to tackle the art and science of it all so you can get found online.

About the Author:

After Gaining 10 years of experience, while achieving some of the highest sales honors within the automotive industry, Jenna left her 6 figure corporate salary to build a business doing digital marketing the honest way. Guardian Owl Digital was born in 2013 and serves businesses trying to appear higher and more frequently in search engine results like Google. Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky Guardian Owl Digital is women owned and has gained recognition by Forbes, BossBabe.Com, and Business Insider since its inception.


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