What is ROAS?

ROAS, return on ad spend, is an important metric for any business spending money on advertising. Marketing is an investment, so it’s vital to track how your marketing campaigns perform and assess whether they are profitable. Calculating ROAS helps to examine how much you can expect back if you invest X amount of money.

ROAS: Return on Ad Spend

As mentioned above, ROAS stands for return on ad spend. Return on ad spend looks at an ad campaign to evaluate how well it performed. It measures how much money you can expect back for each dollar spent on an advertisement.

ROAS is a great way to assess and adjust your marketing campaigns. You can measure ROAS for different ads to see which performs better, or check in on ROAS as you edit ads to ensure that your ad runs at peak performance.


ROAS is often confused with ROI, return on investment. While the two metrics are very similar, ROI looks at the overall profit of ads based on the amount spent on said ads. ROAS measures the gross profit for each dollar spent on advertising. Return on ad spend is usually more specific to a single ad, ad campaign, or even specific keyword.

ROAS Calculation

Calculating ROAS is simple: the equation only requires you to divide ad revenue by ad cost.

Revenue / Cost = ROAS

For example, if you spend $2000 on an advertising campaign and it results in $8000 in revenue, you’d have an ROAS of $4, or a ratio of 4:1. For each $1 spent, you received $4 in return for that advertisement.

Why Return on Ad Spend Matters

Return on ad spend is important to quantify how well your ads are performing. Spending money on marketing is necessary for most businesses, but it’s vital that the money spent on advertising is worthwhile. If you spend money on ads that don’t attract new customers or result in profits, then your advertising budget was wasted.

A low ROAS informs you that you need to update or edit your ads. Calculating ROAS can help show businesses which ads work and which don’t, so that they can put more money into ads that perform well and improve the ads that aren’t as profitable.

Use ROAS as a marker for ads as you test out different copy, creative, or targeting. A/B testing ads by assessing ROAS can help you make the most of your advertising budget and improve the profitability of your business.

What is a Good ROAS?

There isn’t one exact ROAS for all businesses; it differs depending on your industry, specific business, products, and more. A general benchmark ROAS to shoot for is 4:1 ($4 for every $1 spent), but some companies find this too low or too high of a goal. Some businesses can afford higher advertising costs, while others need a higher ROAS to keep their overall business profitable.

Tracking ROAS

How you track ROAS depends on the advertising method you employ. It’s easy to know how much you spent on an ad, but it isn’t always as simple to know how much revenue that specific ad generated.

If you purchase a billboard ad, it is hard to track ROAS because you may not know which customers found your business through the billboard. Using digital marketing tactics makes it easier to track ROAS.

If you create an online ad on websites like Facebook or Google, you can track customer clicks and conversions by using tools like Google analytics. An ecommerce site can easily see which ads lead to clicks that lead to sales.

If your business runs out of a brick and mortar establishment, however, site clicks don’t necessarily lead to customers walking in the door. You can try to get an idea of ROAS by asking how they heard of you, sending surveys to customers, or by trying to assess if business picks up after implementing an ad campaign.

The Bottom Line

ROAS is not the only metric to look at when assessing your ad campaigns. Return on ad spend is a useful metric, and if you have the means to track it you absolutely should. The ROAS of ads is not the end-all metric of efficiency of your ads, however. Keep track of other metrics as well and check in on your marketing strategy regularly to make the most of your advertising budget.

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What Happened To My Google+ Page?

If you tried to log into Google+ today, you may find that your Google+ page has disappeared. After announcing in October of 2018 that Google+ would be shut down, many pages today are finally inactive. Google+ is joining a list of failed Google products, lasting from 2011 to 2018.

Google+ was Google’s attempt at a social network, launched at a time when Facebook and Twitter were taking off. Unfortunately, the platform never got much traction. The shutdown of this feature comes in the wake of low usage and engagement and a data breach that, while minor, Google decided was not worth fixing.

The original rollout of the shutdown was planned to take 10 months, to be completed in August of 2019. Another bug issue in November of 2018, however, led Google to speed up the process so that it would be complete in April.

Google + Data Breach

A Google+ data breach left some user information exposed, giving outside developers access to private user info from 2015 to 2018. This issue in the Google+ API was resolved in March of 2018, but the company chose not to inform users of the breach until October, when they announced the shutdown of this platform.

It is unclear how many were affected by the privacy breach, but Google estimated up to 500,000 accounts may have been vulnerable. The data revealed was relatively harmless; only information like name, email address, occupation, gender, and age could have been accessed. No private messages, Google+ posts, phone numbers, G Suite content, or other data was exposed.

In a blog post, Google explained the breach and stated that while they cannot confirm which accounts may have been affected, they believe that there was no misuse and no developers noticed nor took advantage of the bug. They stated that:

We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.”

Low Usage on Google+

Another reason for the shutdown of Google+ is the lack of usage and engagement on the platform. In that same blog post, Google revealed that 90% of Google+ user sessions last less than 5 seconds.

Google+ failed to compete with social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. While a small segment of users were dedicated to Google+ and are sad to see it go, the platform was generally unpopular.

Google+ for Enterprise 

While the consumer version of Google+ is dead, Google plans to roll out more features for Google+ for enterprise. Businesses using G Suite have found success using Google+ as a collaboration tool. Google stated that:

“Our review showed that Google+ is better suited as an enterprise product where co-workers can engage in internal discussions on a secure corporate social network. Enterprise customers can set common access rules, and use central controls, for their entire organization. We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses.”

For more information about changes to Google+ as they close out the consumer version and transition to Google+ Enterprise, check out this update from Google.

The post What Happened To My Google+ Page? appeared first on SEO Digital Group.

What is Social Media Engagement?

When advertising on social media, there are key metrics to assess how well your social media marketing is performing. One very important metric on social media is engagement. Exactly how engagement is measured depends on the platform, but this measurement looks at how social media users (read: potential customers) interact with your online content.

What Is Engagement?

When it comes to social media, engagement measures how engaged an audience is with content. Some standard metrics that are used to gauge engagement include likes, comments, social shares, saved items, click-throughs, or retweets.

Engagement helps to assess how your content is perceived by your audience based on their interest in and reactions to what you share.

Engagement is a two-way street, however. To create brand loyalty and start a conversation with your customers and followers, you should engage back when they interact with you or your business on social media.

Respond to comments, follow and engage with similar or local businesses, and answer questions when they are asked online. This will create a stronger connection between your business and your customers and exemplify your commitment to customer service.

Social Media Engagement

Depending on which social media platforms you use, engagement may mean different things. We’ve broken down how the major social networks define and measure engagement.

Facebook: Facebook measures engagements by likes, reactions, comments, shares, and some clicks on links, photos, or videos. Engagement rates on Facebook are measured by engaged users, not total engagements; if someone likes and comments on the post, that counts as two engagements, but one engaged user. Total engaged users are divided by the post’s reach to find the engagement rate.

Twitter: Twitter engagements are measured by retweets, replies, follows, favorites, tweet expansion, or clicks on links, hashtags, embedded media, the username, or the profile picture. Engagement rates are calculated by adding all of these engagements up and dividing by total impressions.

Instagram: Instagram defines engagements as likes, comments, and saves on a post. There are a few ways to calculate Instagram engagement rates, and some Instagram users include or omit other factors like shares. To calculate an engagement rate, Instagram takes these metrics and divides by the total impressions.

Why Does Social Engagement Matter?

Engagement helps you measure how well your social media campaigns are performing and how your audience and potential customers react to your brand. In an era where social media users spend on average 2 hours and 22 minutes on social platforms daily, social media marketing is essential for businesses to stay in touch with old customers and find new ones.

Poor engagement could reveal customer dissatisfaction or disinterest in your brand. Good engagement, on the other hand, only helps the image and growth of your business.

If a new potential customer finds your social media and sees few likes and no comments, they may lose interest. If they see lots of likes, enthusiastic comments, and helpful responses from the business, they are more likely to stay on the page, follow your social accounts, and hopefully convert into a customer.

Social media marketing can generate new leads, nurture existing leads, generate sales, and create brand loyalty with customers. Engagement is essential to good social media marketing and the goals that come with it.

Average Engagement Rates

Now that you know what social media engagement is, it’s important to understand how to interpret this metric. Engagement differs across different social networks: Facebook and Twitter tend to have lower engagement rates, while Instagram sees more engagement.

A 2019 benchmark report from Rival IQ looked at engagement across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for 1800 businesses across 12 major industries.

The report found that the average Facebook engagement rate for businesses over 2018 is a low 0.09%. This is a dropoff from the previous years 0.16%. While both of these engagement rates seem low, this is not unusual on Facebook, especially for businesses with a lot of followers and a huge reach.

Twitter engagement rates over 2018 were even lower than Facebook, with an average 0.048% engagement rate for the businesses surveyed. This benchmark was consistent with last year’s rates, and again, is not surprising for businesses with huge followings and therefore more impressions dividing engagements.

Instagram engagement has always been higher than those of Facebook and Twitter. For 2018, the average engagement rate for businesses on Instagram was 1.60%, considerably higher than the other platforms. Many social media experts quote 3% as a good average engagement rate on Instagram, but businesses with massive follower counts like the ones in this study may expect to see lower rates of engagement, since their audience is so large.

Social Media Engagement Strategy

How can I improve social media engagement? The answer is not always straightforward, but there are strategies you can implement to boost engagement and work towards building up your social media marketing campaign.

Engage With Your Followers

Responding to those who interact with your posts will build a stronger relationship with customers and make your social media accounts look like they are run by actual humans who care about the business and its customers. Engage back when followers comment, share, or ask questions. You can also follow and engage with similar brands in your industry, or other local businesses.

Start The Conversation

To get followers to interact with your posts past just clicking the like button, ask them questions to get them involved. Asking a question in captions improves engagement, and can start a conversation that could help your post take off. Use actionable language to get followers to like, comment, or share posts with friends.

You can also start the conversation with followers by hosting a contest of some sort. Offering incentives can result in a huge engagement boost, as followers will be willing to follow contest instructions (like, comment, follow, share, etc.) in order to potentially win a prize.

Share User-Generated Content

Asking followers to share their content so that you can repost it can greatly improve engagement. Not only will followers be eager to win a shoutout, but they may tune in to your social accounts regularly to see if they were picked or if another opportunity arises.

Ask followers to share their content to be reposted along with a branded hashtag or by tagging your account. This will improve engagement from current followers and can win you new followers and customers who see your account tagged on their friends’ posts.

Post Great, Targeted Content

In the end, the best way to get users to engage with you on social media is by sharing great content that is focused towards your target audience. Share quality content that your followers are interested in and engagement will come naturally.

The post What is Social Media Engagement? appeared first on SEO Digital Group.

Landing Pages and SEO

A landing page is a page on your website where visitors first land. Landing pages are different from your website’s domain page, as landing pages are created to drive customer action and are therefore focused on specific keywords and actions.

Landing pages need SEO to drive traffic to that conversion page, but they also improve SEO through keyword optimization and by creating new links on your website. Landing pages are a necessary element of SEO and conversion optimization.

What is a Landing Page?

A landing page is a website page focused on a specific visitor experience. Often, when someone clicks a link to a website, it takes them to a landing page rather than the website domain.

Landing pages provide targeted information and encourage a specific action from visitors who reach that page. These pages are optimized for user action, whether it’s buying a product or service, clicking to another page, asking for customer information (email, phone number, etc.), or some other desirable action.

Many landing pages are essentially sales pages: they use persuasive language and are optimized to try to drive the visitor to make a purchase or take a step towards customer conversion.

While SEO is important for ranking your website and driving traffic, landing pages are essential to convert that traffic into paying customers.

Purpose of Landing Pages

Landing pages guide the customer towards a certain desired action or actions. You can optimize landing pages to drive customers towards the action that makes the most sense for your business depending on your sales funnel.

Most websites have a range of targeted keywords and often have a variety of possible customer actions. If you direct organic traffic directly to your home page, they may not be sure what action to take or where to go next, resulting in a lower CTR and higher bounce rate.

A landing page can prevent visitors to your website from leaving without taking action. Landing pages target a specific set of keywords and specific customer actions. Optimizing your landing page will attract visitors who are interested in that specific offer, and improve the chances of them converting into customers by using clear calls to action and persuasive language.

Landing pages help target specific keywords on a page so that visitors interested in one service will be driven to that landing page, while traffic focused on a different product or service would be driven to another landing page optimized for that action.

Optimizing landing pages for specific keywords improves your overall keyword optimization, as you can include more specific, longtail keywords without keyword stuffing. It also improves the customer experience on your website, as a landing page clarifies the steps they should take through calls to action and clear website design.

A good landing page will improve conversion rates, as it should walk customers through the steps you want them to take.

Landing pages also make it easier to track those conversions. You can easily set up inline action tracking on that page, or create another landing page for when they complete the desired action and track conversions through page loads. Tracking conversions and adjusting your website based on how landing pages perform can improve your digital marketing ROI.

Landing Page SEO

So you’ve set up landing pages, but are they optimized for search engine traffic? Landing pages should improve conversion rates, but interested visitors need to be able to find that page first.

If your landing page offers a solution to a certain question or query, be sure that you make that clear in your keywords and content. Driving the right, targeted traffic to your landing page will improve conversions and SEO, as search engines want to send people to the most useful site to answer their search.

A landing page focused on a specific set of keywords needs to include more than just primary keywords and phrases. Aim to include longtail keywords to catch more traffic.

Landing page content should be search engine optimized. This is possible through keyword research and smart keyword use. Use keywords in headings, subheadings, meta descriptions, links, and throughout the copy on the page.

Without implementing unnatural keyword stuffing, you should include as many keywords and longtail variations to drive targeted traffic to that landing page. Work with an SEO company that can help you improve on-page SEO and drive traffic, leads, and conversions to your landing pages. 

Landing Page Optimization

It is vital to optimize your landing pages not only for SEO, but for conversion optimization. Landing pages should be created with customer journeys in mind, as they should guide customers to your desired action.

Include concise calls to action that drive users to your desired outcome. The language should be persuasive and informative, but it should be clear what step the visitor should take next.

Good landing pages don’t look too busy or messy. This means that visuals as well as content should be simple and aesthetically pleasing. Create a clear, user-friendly page that makes it simple for visitors to navigate through the conversion process or to another page on your website. If you want visitors to complete a certain conversion, don’t distract them from that goal.

Make it easy for customers to convert. This means that the process should be on the same landing page, as redirecting them may lower the chances of conversion. If they have to fill out a form or provide information, make it as short as possible. Fewer fields will make it easier for visitors to convert, so only ask for information that you absolutely need.

Track Landing Page Conversions

Track the actions users take from your landing pages to adjust and optimize them for the highest possible conversion rates. Conversion tracking can be set up through Google analytics.

Tracking conversions and customer journeys can help you better understand why visitors take certain actions and how to guide them towards your desired goal completion. Keep track of how your landing pages perform and make adjustments to increase conversions.

For more SEO information and tips, visit our blog or contact SEO Digital Group today!

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Why Fresh Content is Critical For SEO

Anyone familiar with SEO is likely familiar with the phrase “Content is king”.

This phrase was actually coined by Bill Gates in 1996, in an essay with the same title. Gates predicted that content would be the driving force behind the internet, and he was correct. Over 20 years later, content is indeed king. More than that: fresh content is king.

Fresh, regularly updated content improves the SEO of a website, driving traffic while also improving website authority on search engines like Google.

Content Marketing Definition

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action”

Content is any form of media that shares information and (hopefully) drives traffic to your website. Content comes in the form of blog posts, infographics, videos, quizzes – really any informative piece of media you can put online.

Your website’s content should answer customer questions, share news, or share any pertinent information related to your industry. Content has the power to drive traffic to your website, as it provides information that potential customers are interested in. From content pages, customers can be lead to money pages where they purchase your products or services.

Fresh Content

There is some confusion surrounding the meaning of fresh content, even among those who understand content.

Fresh content is not making small updates or changes to existing pages on your website. While some changes and significant overhauls to existing pages may improve ranking on search engines like Google, slight updates do not dramatically improve SEO.

Fresh content means adding new, fresh pages. One of the most common forms of content is a blog. New blog posts add fresh pages to a website. Adding these pages can help your website rank for more keywords, boosting SEO for keywords relating to the website’s industry.

New content on brand new website pages helps your site target a wider range of keywords. This allows websites to target more long-tail keywords and phrases related to their business. Fresh content pages also create new links for your website for internal and external linking purposes. Backlinks are essential for SEO.

Why is Fresh Content Important?  

While it’s clear that content can drive traffic to your website by answering questions asked by customers, many businesses don’t understand why content matters for SEO.

From a human standpoint, fresh content keeps visitors coming back to your website. If you have a favorite news site, you would be disappointed to check it and see no new content. While updated content is especially important for websites like news outlets, all websites need fresh content to keep users interested and to drive SEO.

Fresh, engaging content will bring new visitors to your site and keep old visitors coming. Content can attract visitors that may not have sought out your products or services before, but who may be converted to customers through careful content writing, retargeting, and conversion optimization.

Content and SEO

Content drives traffic to your website and improves SEO, helping your site rank higher on search engine results pages. Fresh content can help SEO for a few reasons, which we’ll go over for a better understanding of the relationship between SEO and content marketing.

Organic Keyword Optimization

Keyword optimization is important to SEO. Domain and landing pages include pertinent keywords to help search engine algorithms read and understand the website so that relevant traffic is driven to the right place.

If your website is an e-commerce site for lighting fixtures, you’d want to make sure that your website includes common keywords and phrases related to buying lighting fixtures. This will help search engines identify what your website is all about and place it in the proper search engine results.

In the past, websites crammed keywords into their websites without actually providing engaging  or relevant content. This is called keyword stuffing, and Google no longer rewards the practice. Now, keywords must be used organically on relevant pages to drive keyword optimization and SEO.

Fresh content improves keyword optimization because you can include the best, most relevant keywords to help your website rank better for those phrases. Publishing new pages with these keywords reminds search engines that your website is relevant to those keywords and will improve search engine positioning and overall SEO.

Search Engine Crawlers

If you know how search engines work, you should be aware of crawlers or spiders that crawl through existing web pages. As these crawlers find new content to index, they recognize fresh pages and can see when a website is actively being updated. When more content is indexed from a website, it can improve ranking on search engine results.

Moreover, the more often you publish new content, your site will be re-indexed. Google will crawl your website on its own, or you can submit new URLs to Google Search Console. When search engines detect a new page on your website, they crawl it so that it can be indexed. This can re-index other pages as well and improve SEO across your website.

Consistent User Activity

Updating content on your website gives visitors more to see. Publishing fresh content regularly can help you build a returning audience, which drives more regular traffic to your site. The more that people come to your website and bring traffic, the more authority your website has on search engines. This will improve SEO and help your page rank higher on search engines.

Link Building and Website Authority

As we’ve said, adding new pages creates a new link for your website with a unique URL. Building these links is important to grow your website and create relevant pages. Interlinking between pages can also help share traffic and improve SEO.

Backlinks, or inbound links, are especially important to SEO. When another website includes a hyperlink to your website, this is a backlink. Backlinks establish credibility, as one website is referencing another. This helps SEO as it gives your website better authority.

Publishing fresh content provides more opportunity for other websites to link to yours. These backlinks shows search engines like Google that your website is an authority on your topic or industry. Building website authority helps the website rank higher, as Google wants to provide accurate, high quality, authoritative information in response to search queries.

The post Why Fresh Content is Critical For SEO appeared first on SEO Digital Group.

The Importance of SEO in Digital Marketing

SEO is a necessary component of a good digital marketing strategy, but many companies fail to understand and implement SEO. A study from July of 2018 revealed that only 44% of businesses invest in SEO, perhaps because many businesses are looking to social media advertising rather than Google. While social media marketing is important, SEO should not be put on the back burner.

A study by Moz revealed that over 70% of searches click on a website on the first page of SERPs (search engine result pages). This means that almost all of the traffic on search engines goes to websites on the first page of results. SEO can help your website receive some of that traffic, leading to increased brand awareness, leads, and profits when those leads convert to customers.

What is SEO?

SEO is search engine optimization. This means that SEO optimizes your website so that your business appears high on the search engine rankings for your desired keywords. If you run a bakery in New York City, you’d want your bakery to appear first if someone searches “NYC bakery”. SEO can help you achieve that.

Misconceptions About SEO

Some companies avoid SEO, especially if they’ve tried it before and didn’t see results. There are many misconceptions about SEO among those who don’t fully understand it. Common misconceptions include:

  • SEO is outdated and not worth your time/budget
  • SEO is shady
  • SEO doesn’t work

Many of the reasons for these misconceptions has to do with the history of SEO. When SEO first developed, many people used shady SEO tactics, now known as black hat SEO.

Back before SEO was policed by things like Google penalties, businesses were free to use any trick they could think of to get their website ranked high on search engines. Keywords were stuffed into pages, content was either bad or non-existent, and many of the first results on search engine results pages were irrelevant, spam, or both.

SEO has improved since then, and while white hat SEO makes it harder to get your website to the first page of Google, dirty tricks are no longer effective. Now, search engines like Google show the most relevant, quality content first. To successfully achieve SEO, you need a qualified SEO company and a stellar website.

Why SEO May Not Have Worked Before

If you’ve tried SEO before, you may be wary to invest again. Before you swear off SEO entirely, however, consider two factors: time and quality. Time is important for SEO – it doesn’t happen overnight. Good, white hat SEO practices can take at least six months to one year to get your website on the first page for your main keywords.

It can be hard to stay patient while you’re paying for services and not seeing results, but any company that claims to put you on the first page of Google in a week is either lying or cheating the system, which will ultimately hurt your website.

You also may have invested in SEO with a company who was not transparent in their practices. If your previous SEO provider used shady tactics or was unclear about what they were doing with your website and why, you may not have reached your SEO goals. Good SEO takes time, but you will eventually see results. Find a good SEO company that is transparent about their practices and has a proven track record.

Why You Need SEO

SEO is important for a variety of reasons relating to your business’ online presence and digital marketing strategy. We’ve provided a few reasons that SEO is crucial for your digital marketing plan in 2019.

SEO Brings Relevant Traffic and Leads

SEO drives traffic to your website. Good SEO will help your website rank on the first page or pages of Google search results for the relevant keywords pertaining to your business. That means that if your business is a construction company in South Jersey, SEO can put you in the first few search results for “construction company in South Jersey” bringing you web traffic interested in your business.

Bringing relevant traffic to your website can improve brand recognition, bring in customer leads, and turn visitors to your site into paying customers. SEO helps you get targeted traffic based on keywords related to your products or services.

Local SEO Increases Visits and Sales

Google has reported that 50% of consumers who performed a local search visited the store that same day. If your business has a brick and mortar location, SEO can lead customers physically to your door.

Optimizing your web presence also means it will be easier for potential customers to find your address, phone number, business hours, and other information that can drive them to your website or store.

Good SEO Can Improve PPC

If you’ve ever used pay per click marketing, you know that quality score affects your campaign. A higher PPC quality score can reduce the cost per click and help your ads perform better, making your advertising more cost effective. Optimizing your website with SEO can improve the quality score of your PPC campaigns, helping these two digital marketing strategies work hand in hand.

SEO works hand in hand with other marketing strategies as well. Pairing SEO and search engine advertising improves the efficacy of your ads and can improve traffic by 50% according to a study from Google. SEO can also improve retargeting efforts and increase brand awareness.

Most Consumers Research Online Before Buying

Various studies have shown that consumers tend to research products and services online before they make a purchase. One study from BazaarVoice showed that roughly 82% of consumers research products online before buying them in person. It also revealed that 45% read online reviews before deciding on a purchase in stores, and 56% read online reviews before purchasing online.

SEO makes it easier for customers to find your business online during the research stage of the buying process. Your business must be easily discoverable on search engines to win these customers. Good SEO will bring in relevant, interested customers to your site and make it more likely that they’ll convert into customers.

SEO Builds Trust and Credibility

How often do you look to page two or three on a Google result page? Probably not very often. If a customer is looking for a business and they don’t appear in the first results for the related keywords, that may send up red flags. They could think that your business is not the best in your field, or that you’re inexperienced or irrelevant.

Ranking your business high in search engine results creates a sense of credibility for customers. Consumers are more likely to trust businesses with great websites that rank high on search engines like Google.


If your business’ digital marketing plan does not include SEO, you should consider changing your strategy today. For more information about SEO you can visit our blog, or contact us today to discuss if SEO is right for your business.

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How Do Search Engines Work?

Let’s say you need to find an address for a restaurant.

Maybe you’re looking for the closest gas station.

Or, you’re wondering which ocean is the largest.

What do you do? Google it.

You probably use them almost daily, but do you know how search engines actually work? We’ll go over the basics of what search engines are, how they work, and why it matters for businesses.

What Is A Search Engine?

A search engine is a website that creates an index of web pages on the internet. Search engines gather information from the entire world wide web and organizes those web pages based on their content.

Search engines provide answers to people’s questions every day. The purpose of a search engine is to provide the most relevant web pages in response to search queries. The most popular, widely used search engine is Google. Google has reported that 100 billion searches are conducted on their site monthly.

How Search Engines Work

Search engines are complex computer programs. To fully understand every aspect of a search engine, you’d have a lot of studying and gain a deep understanding of computer algorithms. To save you trouble and confusion, we’ll go over the basics of how search engines work.

Basically, search engines work by sending bots called “spiders” or “crawlers” to every website on the internet. These spiders crawl through your website and pick up certain pieces of information, like URLs, headers, navigation, website structure, and more. These pieces of information are indexed and stored, so when someone performs a search, search engines provide results based on that information.

These spiders also follow the links on your page, leading them to crawl further and further into the internet, picking up information and storing it in the search engine’s index. This is why internal linking on your page is helpful for keeping your content indexed and updated by search engines.  

Search Engine Indexing

When the spiders or search engine bots crawl your website, they are looking for information to help identify your page so that they know where it should appear on the search engine results pages (SERPs). A few things that these crawlers look for include:

  • Keywords: What keywords are included on the page? What is the page about?
  • Type of content: What kind of content is included (text, images, video, etc.)?
  • Recency: How fresh is the content? How recently was the page created or updated?
  • Engagement: How do visitors engage with the page or domain? How trustworthy or popular is the website?
  • URL: How relevant is the URL to the content of the page?
  • Links: What inbound and outbound links are connected to the page?

Once the spiders or crawlers store this information in an index, it is readily available for when someone performs a search. The algorithm takes that information and ranks the search engine results pages based on what seems most relevant to the searched term.

Search Engine Algorithm

When you perform a search on a search engine, an algorithm determines what results show up and in what order. Search engine algorithms are complex, and they are not the same for every search engine. The results that appear on a Google result page may not be the same, or in the same order, as the results on a Bing search.

From the indexed information, a search engine algorithm ranks web pages hierarchically for each search. The order is based on what the search engine determines is most relevant to the searched keywords, and the pages that are most likely to provide the answer that the searcher was looking for.

Other factors that may influence search engine ranking include:

  • Location: Some searches are based on location (like “gas station near me”) but often if the search engine can identify your location they’ll provide local results even if the location or location indicators like “near me” are not included in the search.
  • Language: Search engines try to provide results in the same language as your search query, provided that language is detectable.
  • Device: Some web pages may not be mobile-friendly, so search engines may provide different results depending on the device the search was made on.
  • Previous searches: If you’re using the same search engine, it may remember information from your previous searches and use that info to provide results that it thinks are most relevant for you.

While these factors will affect what results you get when you use a search engine, they are far from the only or most important things that affect where a page ranks on a search engine.

Search engines like Google do not reveal exactly what recipe of elements influence rankings or how to rank first for your main keywords. That’s where SEO comes in. 

Search Engines and SEO

SEO is short for search engine optimization, and that name tells you essentially what SEO experts do: they optimize your website so that it appears on the relevant SERPs and, ideally, so that it ranks above your competitors.

Since most people use search engines to find new products, businesses, restaurants, and much more, SEO is important to drive traffic and customers to your website.

Explaining SEO can be complicated; there are many factors that influence how search engines rank web pages. SEO professionals study the search engine algorithms and learn the best practices to rank websites on the first page or pages of results. Find an SEO company that is transparent in their practices to help build up your website’s SEO.

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