The name organic search conjures an image of people just naturally happening by your website in their search results. In reality, it's far from happenstance that your site shows up when people search. It's the work of countless algorithms tapping into data—about you specifically or others like you—and determining what results to show you in search.
That's important to note, because how your site shows up in organic search results is something that can be measured, influenced, and to some extent predicted. Understanding how Google and other search engines sort and rank traffic will not only help you rank higher, but will help you avoid penalties that could cause your rank to plummet.
And if you do it right, you'll have an amazing optimized search listing—and a better shot at ranking for key search terms!
The Basics of organic search
There are some pretty solid basics before you even get to the content on your site that help you have a fighting chance of showing up when your potential customers search. Often these elements are called Technical Search Engine Optimization (Technical SEO) and are fast and easy to update and manage. They include:
So many sites (and your competitors) don't do these well, that just keeping an eye on these and making sure you're buttoned up on those 7 items can give you a leg up. If you're a physical storefront or location where people come to do business, ensuring your Local SEO game is on point is also critical.
- Having an SSL certificate on your site (https:// vs. http://)
- Submitting your sitemap to Google and other search engines for fast indexing
- Updating content on a regular basis
- Having a mobile-friendly website
- Having alt-tags for all images
- Properly using header tags in text on site
- Having a unique meta description for each page
content and context are king
Beyond the technical SEO elements listed above., it used to be that keywords were king. A few years ago Google made a drastic switch that caught many sites off guard. Those that were "spamming with keywords" were penalized and google started to rely on content and context over keywords.
To put that in perspective, it used to be that if you wanted to rank high for a search for dog parks, you would just use the words dog park as many times as possible in your site/page. Some companies even went so far as to put white text with hundreds of keywords on a white background—or hide the text in tags—so it was invisible to the user, but visible to Google. And it worked. For a while.
Now, if you want to rank high for dog park search, you need to use the words dog park—sure—but not too much. More importantly, Google's crawlers look for context. So a site that talks about dogs, grass, fences, balls, owners, running, puppies, collars, leash, off-leash, play & trees will rank for dog park—because Google's AI knows that what ties those things together is that they all show up at dog parks.
Writing that content takes thought and expertise. Some companies do this in house, but many prefer to hire a marketing firm or SEO specialist to do it for them. Whether it's done in house or by an agency, it requires a strategy.
In part 2 of this series, we'll tackle how we approach organic search strategies; and in the 3rd part of this series we'll share some examples of how clients are ranking higher for key search terms through a strong organic SEO program.
If you just can't wait to read more, click the link below to get our free white paper. Then get in touch. We'd be happy to talk about your site and help you get your organic search game on point!