Organic’s good, right? Generally, yes it is. When applied to produce, it implies a reduced harmful impact. When applied to SEO, it usually refers to a way you can be assured of Search Engine Optimization for your website, with little or no payment.
Let’s see how it can be used to the best effect.
- What is Organic SEO?
- White Hat vs Black Hat
- 12 Strategies That Promote Organic SEO
What is Organic SEO?
Let’s run through some SEO basics.
When a search is entered into Google (the largest search engine), it comes up with a list of hits. Some of these will be paid for ads and will be indicated as such. Others will surface because there’s something about the site’s content that chimes with the search query, and organic traffic is generated. People tend to prefer the latter (organic) group.
Whatever potential customers are looking to find, from pizza to a digital signature app, Google will look at the words used in the search term and come up with findings that match up with them. This list is put up on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page).
How it goes about doing this is a tale of algorithms, which varies according to the specific search engine employed, and crawlers, which roam the net collating information on its composite sites. This crawl takes in not just the sites but the links from the sites too, in order to establish context and connectivity.
The findings are put into the engine database, also known as its search index. Then, when a search query comes in, it is accommodated like a visitor using the best virtual receptionist service. How so? Its needs are addressed with thoroughness and speed. The search engine compares the term with the information in the search index and displays its findings.
There are a host of factors (around 200) that come into play here. The bad news is that Google is notoriously cagey about most of these, but there are known areas that we can focus on, and we’ll do this below.
Before we do though, we should briefly touch on a matter of millinery.
White Hat vs Black Hat
These terms have their origin in cowboy movies, where the wholesome hero and nefarious nemesis were easily identified through a very convenient hat color-coding arrangement.
But what do they mean in SEO? Black hat SEO practices are underhanded techniques like keyword-stuffing, disguised redirects, and hidden text. White hat SEO, on the other hand, is all about operations that comply with the search engine’s rules for SERP promotion.
There’s now a third color of headgear to consider, gray having become a thing. But we’ll not cover this one today, so let’s throw it back on the hatrack.
By and large, Google has managed to root out most black hat activity by learning to recognize it where it occurs and ruling it out of search engine rankings as a result.
12 Strategies That Promote Organic SEO
So, now that you know your hat preference, let’s go through what a white hat organic SEO strategy looks like and some of the strategies you can use.
1. Keyword Research
You need to know what people are searching for. This is absolutely key. Moreover, you need to know exactly what terms they are using, in other words, the keywords.
For instance, let’s say that they are looking up phone systems; the keyword may be virtual PBX systems. You can then build your site using those phrases.
Let’s look at another example: a local pizza startup having ‘great pizza’ on their site will not necessarily boost their SEO. This is because there are numerous established, sometimes global, pizza places out there that will inevitably score higher than them.
Therefore, they need to think about what people will be looking for specifically in order to find a pizza outlet like theirs. ‘Artisan pizza’ might be a little more productive.
You might also want to use a question that internet users are likely to employ. For instance, an IT professional wanting to find automated quality assurance testing might type ‘how do I get automated testing for QA?’ in the search bar. If this can be included in the site’s content, so much the better.
There are many options you can use to discover keywords, but most of these are paid for. However, some offer free, limited versions, so do check these out.
2. Focus on Intent
While we’re on relevant keywords, let’s look at intent. Intent is all about the why, not the what. Understanding why people might search for your product will assist with your SEO strategy. There are four types of search intent:
These are quests for data and are usually posed as questions. An example might be ‘what sort of cheese is used on pizza?’
This is when a user inputs general search terms that will bring up (ideally) a specific site. The user might not know the exact URL, so the next best thing is a combination of words that work together to deliver a site. For example ‘pizza Baltimore Madison St’
The searcher is in the mood to buy now so wants to cut to the chase. They want to get to the bit where they can make their purchase. An example of this could be ‘Play that Base Pizza Baltimore menu’ or ‘checkout’ if they know what they want and the site remembers.
D) Commercial investigation
The searcher wants a product but needs more information from a number of suppliers before committing. This could be ‘best deep pan pizza Baltimore central’.
By keeping these varieties of intent in mind, and making sure they’re addressed in the type of content on your site, you’ll do your SEO a great deal of good.
3. Conferences and Webinars
You don’t need to do it all on your own. If you want to, you can make contact with others trying to do the same thing. SEO doesn’t have to be a lonely path—reach out to others whom you might be able to learn from.
For instance, if you’re worried about how things will pan out with cookies going away, you’re not alone. A great many SEO experts are currently considering how best to deal with this, so you might be able to glean some useful tips.
Conferences and webinars are full of great sources of information and moral support, so make the most of them with effective meeting note templates for taking note of good ideas.
4. Stay Up-to-Date
Check reliable and current sources to give yourself the best chance of not being left behind. Organic SEO is as changeable as most other organic entities. Fast-moving trends take place, and technical trends can see search algorithms change, so it’s good to be in the know when this occurs.
5. Conform to Company Characteristics
It’s very important to remember the key characteristics of the business when considering organic SEO. Sometimes it’s all too easy to treat the digital world as one which has no or very few ties to the material world. This is a mistake. There are very real and significant links between online and offline that you should never lose sight of.
Your site is just another facet of your company. It must conform to company characteristics. Consequently, whatever you put in place on your site, it should correspond with the nature of the company. There should be a seamless identity that the consumer is presented with, whether you’re selling online or over the counter.
With an e-commerce site, the user experience of the online presence should contain a consistent company profile. The wording you decide to use on the site can have an adverse effect if not in keeping with this. Consequently, jarring mismatches can result in website abandonment, and this can impact SERP ranking.
6. Speed it Up
This is a key ingredient in what’s known as technical SEO. Others include the site’s suitability for mobile devices. If your site takes too long to load, people won’t be happy with you. Google scores for this too, so be sure that your site is not overly complex. Consider reducing imagery: pictures can slow loading speed, especially where a connection’s not great.
7. Learn from Your Competitors
It’s not underhand and it’s not sneaky. It’s business, and you can be sure others will be doing the same to you. So, have a look at the SERPs and see who’s ranking above you.
Then, go see their sites and see what it is that they’re doing that you’re not. It could be a better use of keywords. It could be that their site is clearer or faster. As we’ll see, these contribute to organic ranking.
8. Make it Clear
Your site should have clear information and an obvious CTA. If it doesn’t, visitors to your site will leave it pretty quickly. Google notes this, and your site’s search rankings will suffer as a result. So, take a tip from contact centers that use techniques such as NATO letters to reduce confusion—heighten comprehensibility by avoiding jargon and vague phrasing.
9. Watch that Length
Make sure that your site’s not unfathomably massive. Or, if it is very content-heavy, ensure that it’s structured so that users can find what they’re looking for easily and logically. This way, you’ll dramatically improve the time-on-site rating and boost its SERP accordingly.
10. Improve Your Backlinks
The more quality links from reputable sources there are to your website from elsewhere, the more likely Google is to consider it among the more authoritative websites. This makes sense—if somebody has decided that your site is worth linking to, then it must contain value that will likely be of use to others.
How do you encourage link building? Good, honest quality content. If your content strategy is all about being well-written and accurate, people will respond favorably to it. The same goes with product quality, of course. That artisan pizza will do a lot of the talking once people try it and start spreading the word via social media and blog posts. Those links will pile up.
Further Reading: 11 Actionable Link Building Strategies For 2022 and Beyond
And while we’re on the subject, remember that not all links are good links…
11. Take Out the Toxic
Toxic links are those links that might adversely affect your site’s SERP position because Google (for instance) doesn’t like them.
Why wouldn’t it like them? Mainly because Google doesn’t like to be manipulated. So, if there are links there that don’t appear to be natural and are plainly there in an attempt to rev up the SERP performance, then Google will penalize that site. Examples include paid links and links from sites that publish domain stats.
They can go by lots of names – sometimes they’re called unnatural links or spam links – but whatever they’re called, you don’t want them doing all that harm to your organic SEO. So, what to do? You can use an online tool to highlight the offenders, remove toxic links, and help you restore your link profile to what it should be.
The final step is to consider disavowing these links using Google’s tool.
12. Get in the Picture
Take a look at your site and consider its images. It could be the case that you can boost your organic SEO by optimizing your images for findability. In other words, image SEO.
What measures does this include? Always include alt tags for each image – most search engines use these as their primary means of identifying images. And if the image doesn’t load for some reason, it will at least describe to the user what the image is. Obviously, make sure you use relevant images. Don’t go too big and use the right format – they all have their own strengths.
Using these techniques will help with boosting your images’ SERP ranking on a Google image search, as well as contributing to your site’s general organic SEO through, for instance, reducing loading speed.
There are numerous ways that organic SEO can be used to benefit your business—this piece has only touched on the basics of SEO. Keywords are the obvious place to start, but don’t stop there. Consider the whole of your site in terms of its impact on the visitor.
If this means checking your site yourself in the guise of a casual browser, then so be it. You can learn a lot from putting yourself in a customer’s shoes.
Further Reading: 11 SEO Best Practices to Follow in 2023
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.
Hero photo by Bethany Szentesi on Unsplash