Making the most out of your online presence is not a simple matter of setting up a website
Chances are that during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, you have had to rely more on your web presence because of lockdowns and reliance on online shopping and ecommerce. This is true for almost all consumers that have had to face the realities of the pandemic. It is also true for businesses. As people have gone online to shop, platforms that did not have an online presence before have had to go online and others have had to ramp up their internet presence. However, with so much competition on the internet already, it is not a simple matter of setting up a website and waiting for the customers to roll in.
In order to make your online presence worthwhile for your business, there are quite a few steps you can take to improve your visibility and get greater traffic. Search Engine Optimization is one of them. SEO is a way of optimizing a website or a webpage in such a way that it increases the targeted traffic to a website from a search engine’s organic (or non-paid) ranking.
Last year we wrote an article about data portals available to financial investors. We mentioned that the website SCStrade is either the first or second result when you google a stock in Pakistan. That is an example of SEO. Essentially, it is a manipulation on search engines to make sure that your website ranks higher when on the search list when people search. The aim is to appear front and center – after all, you have to be really desperate to go to the second page of google.
Getting a better ranking through SEO tactics is not exactly easy. However you could get this done through many service providers. Before we talk more about SEOs, let’s figure out how search engines work.
How exactly does a search engine work?
While most of us use Google primarily, there are countless other search engines. They all work in the same way. Think of them as a library of billions of websites and web pages. Think of the webpages as books, and websites as pages in a book.
When you search something on a search engine, it goes through all the books in its library and all finds the relevant pages from books and returns them as search results. The search results are what the search engine considers “most relevant”. In other words, the search engine goes through its index of billions of pages to answer every query.
“Even though, Google is not explicit about how its algorithm works but based on years of testing and statements by Google, SEO experts understand that these web pages are ranked based on three factors – relevancy, authority, and usefulness,” explains Usman Aqeel, CEO at 10X Ecom SEO agency.
Relevancy in simple words means that you get web pages about the topic you’re searching for. “If you search Google for the T20 World Cup 2021 Schedule, it’s obvious you are not looking for web pages about three-milk cake recipes. So as a first step, the Google algorithm looks for pages that are relevant to your search query. However, Google doesn’t simply rank the ‘most relevant’ web pages at the top. The reason is that if you search ‘three-milk cake recipes’ in Google, it will show you 30,000,000+ relevant search results for that particular query,” explains Aqeel.
Hence, in order to make sure the ‘best results’ come at the top, Google further filters down the relevant search results through authority and usefulness. Authority is a metric whereby the search engine determines whether a website is trustworthy and accurate. They look at how many other pages on the web link to your page. These links from other websites are called ‘backlinks’ in the SEO universe. As a general rule, the higher the number of backlinks to your page, the higher chances it will appear on the search results for your target query.
“For example, if you type the query ‘three-milk cake recipes’ in Google and it shows a Wikipedia page as a result, it’s because Wikipedia is considered as a trusted source by Google’s algorithm. This trust comes from the number of websites on the internet linking to Wikipedia’s article about ‘three-milk cake recipes’ thus, making it rank at the top of search results,” says Aqeel.
It is also interesting that while other search engines do deliver results, Google’s ability to determine authority through backlinks is what makes it the leading search engine in the world.In addition to being relevant and authoritative, Google also looks for usefulness. If the content on a website is relevant and authoritative but not useful then it may not make its way up to the top of search results. Google itself states that “higher quality content” is not necessarily “useful content”.
For instance, you search for “Keto Diet” in Google and you click on “Result X” written by a leading Keto diet expert. Since, it is likely that the page will have quality content, most web pages would have linked to it as a source. However, the content lacks structure and is filled with jargon that somebody who’s a beginner doesn’t understand.
Now, compare this with “Result Y”. The author of this article is relatively new to Keto diet and writes in a structured manner. In addition, he uses simple language to make sure that other beginners also understand the content. And also, the website does not have many links going to it. The Result? “Result Y” is going to outperform “Result X” on the usefulness scale. Even though Result Y has less trust / authority when compared with Result X, it may still be able to outrank it in the search results.
“This usefulness factor is measured through ‘User Experience Signals”. In short, if Google determines that users really like a particular search result, it will be promoted within the search engine rankings,” explains Aqeel.
How does SEO work and is it worth it?
In simple terms, SEO works by showing search engines that your webpage is the best result for a particular topic. If you hire an SEO expert, their job would be to make sure Google picks your website for a wide array of search results by making it seem like the best result.
“This determination of best result is primarily based on authority, relevancy, page speed, backlinks, etc. Google has more than 200 ranking factors in their algorithm,” states Aqeel.
SEO is important considering that search is one of the biggest sources of traffic for a page. In fact Google searches make up around 60% of all traffic on the web. If you take all search engines into account such as Yahoo, Bing, etc. it goes up to 70%.
“Assume you have an online business selling edible food arrangements. Now, let’s say that 50,000 people search the phrase “edible food arrangements” every month on Google. Since the first result in Google gets around 20% of the clicks, this will account to 10,000 visits to your e-commerce website every month if you are ranking at the #1 position. If we assume a conversion rate of 10%, and an average edible food arrangement order value of PKR 3,000, then this means that 10,000 visits per month amount to PKR 3 million in revenue. And this is just for one phrase. An SEO-friendly website is able to rank on thousands of different keywords!” explains Aqeel.
A large number of companies and businesses are now hiring SEO experts in house or outsourcing to agencies to get their website in more and more searches with better ranking. With the world going digital and businesses hoping to reach greater numbers through the web, SEO seems like a good strategy for all sizes of businesses to get greater reach.
SEO is a great marketing strategy, that can boost any ecommerce business and play a role in increasing conversions.
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