Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

What is search engine optimization?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the science of enhancing the code, content and architecture of a website to increase its visibility and ranking position in a search engine’s results. SEO is focused on strengthening a website’s online visibility for specified keywords in unpaid search engine results. Search engines are very sophisticated – they organize, consolidate and collect incredible amounts of data and publish their findings based on the search queries of users.

The results for specific keywords are ordered and organized by a powerful and protected algorithmic system of search engines. Multiple ranking factors are considered and then prioritized and sequenced in hierarchies of importance. Google, for example, has close to 200 variables that they factor in with varying levels of significance. Search engines are very protective of the elements they use to rank, so SEO is often a speculative science. Despite its secretive nature, there are consensuses in the SEO community about which factors are more important than others. There has also been deep analytical studies done to verify or disprove speculations.

Ranking factors are always changing. Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo and others are constantly updating their algorithms to represent which ranking factors matter more than others. How often do these algorithms change? Google, for example, update their search algorithms a reported 600 times a year. This means that they make minor changes on a daily basis. Search engines also release significant, major roll-outs that can revolutionize the search engine landscape. Google’s Panda update, for example, caused a surge in social media and authoritative websites while penalizing those who have poor quality and duplicate content. Search engine companies usually let the SEO community know about these major updates through press releases and other unofficial channels.

We are a Toronto-based search engine marketing company that keeps up-to-date with the latest technical shifts of search engine optimization. Our inbound marketers, digital strategists and SEO specialists can help you dominate industry specific keywords and achieve page 1 rankings. Our Toronto SEO services are comprehensive and holistic, as we improve every important SEO element and metric, such as:

Link Building
Not all links are created equal. We build a steady stream of high-quality, high-PR inbound links to your website to improve its trust factor.

Content
Content is king. Captivating content is the backbone of any successful SEO campaign – great content drives qualified leads and results in conversions.

Analytics
SEO is a science. We demystify the datasets and track certain signals to monitor the efficacy and success of a particular SEO campaign.

Pay Per Click (PPC)
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is a direct way for a site to get traffic by paying a publisher, such as Google, to advertise for specific search keywords.

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What are white hat SEO techniques?

Search engines have revolutionized the way businesses think. Ranking high in search engines for competitive keywords can change the fortune of a business. A high ranking brings a steady stream of qualified leads and raw traffic. If your business ranks first in a search query, it’s a game changer – your business has secured over one-third of user clicks. This is because as consumers and information seekers, we put a lot of trust in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo to help us find what we are looking for. Search engines have an authoritative role in our lives and we are constantly turning to them to get the right information. This paradigm shift in our behaviour represents the growing dependency we have on search engines. It has replaced word-of-mouth as the most persuasive form of marketing. We only use white hat SEO techniques, Google-approved strategies.

Rank improvement in strategic keywords in search engines will result in qualified leads. Ranking high on page 1 of a search engine, results in a strong online presence, as most users do not venture and click beyond the first page. Many businesses rightfully turn to SEO companies to help them get over this hurdle. However, there are too many SEO agencies who do not take your specific business profile into consideration and sell you pre-planned packages. They do not look to enrich your SEO campaign without strategic or creative planning. While others provide short-term boosts that give you minor improvements without any sustainable growth. In order to give you a fast turnaround, they often turn to black-hat tactics that result in penalties from search engines, like Google. This can have serious consequences which can oftentimes leads to being fully blacklisted by the search engines. The Rank Squad provides you with the right recipe for growth rates over the right time period that will generate qualified leads and organic traffic. We will set you apart from your competitors by using white-hat strategies that result in organic and natural growth which will eventually lead to rank domination.

On-Page
The content and code are the most accessible aspect of your website. As they are solely controlled by you, it is critical that your on-page factors are optimal. There are several on-page factors that need to be perfectly executed – from ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly (developmental-side) to making sure that relevant keywords are used (content-side).
◍ Content is not self promotional and adds value for the end-user.
◍ The UX from page layout, navigational ease and page-loading times need to be optimal.
◍ Primary, secondary and relevant keywords in the body of the content should be well-distributed.
◍ The high quality nature of content makes it shareworthy. One-click social media shares need to be embedded.
◍ The webpages should be easily readable by Google, Bing and Yahoo crawlers and XML sitemaps will ensure crawlability. XML sitemaps will also ensure that all of the pages and posts are readily found by search engine crawlers.

Off-Page
Google, Bing and Yahoo recognize that publisher-controlled signals, which represent the on-page component, fails to give the whole picture. What others say about your brand, outside the confines of your website, is very important to the search engines. Off-page SEO is about building your online reputation and credibility by having trustworthy websites validate your business by referencing and referring you to their users.
◍ We will provide an innovative and creative off-page SEO strategy that is holistic and aims to increase brand awareness through diversified off-page channels.
◍ Not all links are created equal. We build backlink equity from trustworthy sources by tapping into our networks to bring a stream of natural and fresh backlinks from credible sources.
◍ We will unify social media and content marketing under one umbrella and have them reinforce each other to spread the word about your business and secure your status as an industry leader.

Content
Content is the bridge that connects on-page and off-page SEO and is the fuel that drives both profiles. Content is the best currency to build inbound links, website credibility and social media influence, all of which are critical off-page elements. Since content is controllable, it plays the biggest role in optimizing on-page factors and must be perfectly executed and structured.
◍ Link-worthy content will receive a stream of backlinks from industry insiders.
◍ More links will be pointed at your website from credible sources resulting in skyrocketing domain authority (DA).
◍ We will help produce shareworthy and rich content, which will result in more social media shares.
◍ We will gear our content strategy around sending signals to Google on which keywords to rank for.
◍ Content will be used to internally to link one page to another and build your internal link profile.
◍ We will ensure that your website has quality and useful content, which will keep users on your site and lower your bounce rate.

WE ONLY USE WHITE-HAT SEO TECHNIQUES TO GET YOU AHEAD.
Rank improvement in strategic keywords in search engines will result in qualified leads.

 

 

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The pillars of strategic SEO.

Site Architecture
In the world of search engines, it is all about being found by users and listed by crawlers. It is mission-critical to have a site architecture that speaks the language of search engine spiders, so they are easily able to identify your website. We speak directly to these crawling robots and communicate your content. We ensure that the 301/302/307 redirects, canonical tags, permalinks, URL, PageSpeed, sitemaps, indexing, schema markup and 404s are all properly configured. Navigation is seamless and crawler-friendly through internal linking and siloing. To sum it up, The Rank Squad optimizes your website’s searchability for users and readability for robots.

Keyword Strategy
The underlying science of search engines revolves around keywords. It is also the starting point of our research efforts, where we identify and rank for coveted, industry-rich keywords. We data scrape your website’s on-page elements and metadata. After compiling a list of keywords, we categorize them. The frequency and relevance of keywords are quantified, qualified and geo-targeted. Using our analytic-powered research to guide the process, we build a keyword strategy around them. The goal is to increase inbound traffic, users average time spent on the site and conversion rates.

On-Page Optimization
On-page optimization is an umbrella term that describes all the measures that can be directly taken within the website’s own framework. The goal is to improve crawlability, indexation and navigational structure. A site auditing analysis will enable us to go page-by-page to examine content, structural and navigational issues that negatively impact the site’s ranking. These weak points will be remedied and optimized. This auditing and consulting analysis will allow us to offer recommendations, create long-term content strategies and improve relevancy signals. Some of the on-page optimization factors we check are:

  • That the content is valuable and engaging to reduce bounce rates.
    ● The UX (user experience) is maximized with fast page loading times, mobile-responsiveness, and has an modernized layout.
    ● There will be a comprehensive keyword strategy in place.
    ● The content will be shareable as social media channels will be built-in and available on-page.
    ● Each webpage will have to meet The Rank Squad’s 15-point crawlability checklist.
    ● The metadata, scheme and rich snippets will be optimized.

Analytics
SEO is a science – it is defined by numbers and can be quantified with a wide range of metrics. The metrics can tell different stories so we track the ones that are the most important to your business. We demystify the datasets and track certain signals to monitor the efficacy of a particular SEO campaign. We look at metrics such as click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates, social media reach, landing page conversion rates, email signups etc. to measure your success. A goal can be as simple as seeing a steady monthly spike of a 15% increase in email signups for your newsletters. With your goals as guiding points, The Rank Squad will build analytic-rich SEO campaigns.

Link Building
Links are referrals and votes of confidence on the Web. When people link from their website to your website, they are vouching for your business. In the SEO world, this makes a huge impact on your trust flow. Building a steady stream of high-quality, high PageRank inbound links is crucial for any ranking profile. We know that not all backlinks are the same, so we build a network of diversified, reputable and niche-relevant links that will enhance your online authority. Engaging only in white-hat techniques that are organically grown, our policies align with that of Google, Bing and Yahoo. We oppose any black-hat schemes, which are being heavily penalized by search engines and can result in being blacklisted from search engines, entirely. Not all links are created equal, which is why we only strive for trustworthy backlinks that will build your website’s authority. We aim to establish you as a thought leader by improving your content, expanding your reach and initiating conversations.

Off-Page Optimization
Unlike on-page optimization, off-page optimization cannot be directly changed. They are factors that influence a site’s search rankings but take place outside the actual website. While it is outside the confines of a website’s code, the off-page measures can be positively impacted through sound strategies. While backlinks, which are incoming links from external sources, are crucial to build site authority – it is not the only important factor. Social media signals are becoming increasingly important because they signify user engagement and social shares. Using creative and technical tactics, our comprehensive offpage strategies will bolster the trust, quality and credibility of your website. We tell Google, Bing and Yahoo that you are an influencer in your industry and your website deserve to have a high ranking.

Content Marketing
Content is the currency of the Web. We have often heard the expression that content is king – this is true because people and search engines believe in this mantra. Content holds such an extremely high position because it is multi-purposed: it informs, entertains and/or provides opportunities. Content provides us with the right information at the right time. Captivating content is the backbone of any successful SEO campaign because great content can go viral. It can result in a strong backlink profile with organic links, anchor texts and referral traffic. In order to attract external links, your content needs to be worth linking back to. The Rank Squad will guide you on how to write great trending content or can provide in-house copywriters to write organic content for you. Great content results in qualified search traffic – we combine proven SEO techniques with great content marketing to boost your conversion rates.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) marketing is a direct way for a site to generate traffic by paying marketing companies, such as Google, to advertise for search terms. PPC offers a competitive edge as it offers a lot of control. A business can directly and quickly select which keywords they want displayed in a clickable ad campaign – which appear at the top of each search query page. A good PPC campaign can attract in-market customers that can yield high return of investment (ROI). PPC can be highly effective because it attracts customers at the right stage of the buyer’s journey through targeted keywords. The Rank Squad will analyze search queries and create instantaneous traffic by building strategic PPC campaigns through Google AdWords, Bing Ads and Yahoo Advertising. A synergized PPC and organic SEO campaign will yield the highest ROI for your business.

The Stages of SEO Process

– Discovery: We discover brand opportunities by combining business goals with search engine marketing. We gain insights by combing through your website with various audits.
– Strategize: Our inbound marketers will mine through current analytics, listen to social channels and analyze quantitative data to form our strategies.
– Optimize: With a cross-channel approach we extends beyond on-page and content ideation, by venturing off-page to strengthen back-links and network profile.
– Reporting: We create tailored reports which will showcase user segments and performance progress of the marketing campaign. We will focus on the conversion rate.

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Our SEO process.

1. Discovery
We discover brand opportunities by combining business goals with search engine marketing. We gain insights by combing through your website with various audits. Discover mode beings after we form a partnership. We start understanding your branding information, opportunities and challenges. We drive an Internet-deep and site-wide auditing analysis to create baselines, which entails:
● SEO Audit – keyword research, on-page, off-page.
● Velocity Audit – website’s content creation, optimization, analysis.
● Technical Audit – website’s site architecture, structure, speed.
● Social Audit – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn.
● Competitors Audit – industry leaders, gap analysis.
● UX Audit – website’s visuals, layout, user experience, usability, navigation.

2. Strategize
Our inbound marketers will mine through current analytics, listen to social channels and analyze quantitative data to form our strategies. To roll out a successful SEO strategy, you must combine the arts and sciences of various disciplines – digital strategy, social media, content strategy and public relations. Formulating a strategy that is holistically centered around these disciplines will allow your business to take control of the entire digital lifecycle. The Rank Squad will gather critical information about the current state of your website’s performance. After the information is gathered, we develop strategies and execute – we use these baselines to create an innovative, technical and creative action plan. The strategies will focus on: outreach to influencers, optimizing the website’s code and creating a content marketing road map that will be published across multiple channels. The action plan will prioritize and define values, resources and timelines in both on-site and off-site platforms.

3. Optimize
With a cross-channel approach we extends beyond on-page and content ideation, by venturing off-page to strengthen backlinks and network profile. In the optimization stage, we start the implementation process using best-practices to improve rankings. After auditing, we make on-page and site-wide modifications. We go page by page and make the necessary technical backend changes, which includes: indexation, improving PageSpeed, meta descriptions, title tags, schema,, site architecture, navigation, breadcrumbs, robots.txt, sitemap and other necessary adjustments.
We then turn our attention to the creative and content side of things (the front-end). The front-end is optimized through: keyword placements, internal linking, content length, headings, relevant terms, social share buttons, alt-text multimedia and outbound links. We publish and submit content on multiple platforms and ensure that is aligned with the overall SEO goals.

We setup analytics and tracking tools that help us gather, sort and process relevant information. This helps us establish points of references to track vital metrics over time to assess efficacy of the campaigns. We monitor and measure SEO performance and evaluate the progress by investigating various sets of information in comparison with industry trends.

4. Reporting
We create tailored reports which will showcase user segments and performance progress of the marketing campaign. We will focus on the conversion rates.

We analyze KPIs, individual keyword performance progress and keep refining tactics to improve rankings. In this phase, there is a test and measure process where vital data will be combed through to help guide the future course of action to improve rankings. The end goal of any SEO campaign is to always rank on the first page of Google, Bing or Yahoo for valuable keywords and improve conversion rates. The reporting mechanism we have in place will emphasize improvements and what the next course of actions should be – our recommendations are always supported by data.

Despite widespread claims by some SEO agencies, a first page ranking can never be guaranteed – SEO specialists are working in an environment where a lot of information is not disclosed by search engines. We can only guarantee that we will make every effort to make calculated and smart decisions that will improve your SEO campaign. The Rank Squad has an impressive track record of making the right decisions for their clients through various techniques that add value to their search engine marketing (SEM) campaign.

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Timeline of Google’s search engine updates.

Google – Google was founded in September 1998. Google put great emphasis on backlinks, while other search engines looked at how many times the keyword appeared on the page. Google currently has over 72% of the search engine market share.

Bing – Microsoft rolled out MSN search in 1998. It had aggregated search results and displayed them. Going through various re-branding phases, Bing was created in 2009. Bing has over 10% of the market share.

Yahoo – Yahoo was founded in 1994 by Stanford University students, Jerry Yang and David Filo. The Yahoo’s database were categorized and sub-categorized. Currently, Yahoo occupies just under 8% of the search engine market share.

Timeline of Google’s Search Engine Updates

Google is the most popular search engine in the world. About three-quarters of the world uses Google as their primary search engine to get their information. Google’s scope enables them to have a great impact on the rest of the search engine market – with many other search engines following their lead. While many people view Google as being extremely secretive, they do have some open book policies in place to let the world know what they are doing – this is known as Google updates.

Google updates are released whenever Google makes a change to their algorithm to improve the quality of search results for their users. Oftentimes, these changes are minor and have minimal impact. However, the major changes usually have considerable consequences on rankings factors. We have assembled some of the biggest updates that Google has released below.

PANDA UPDATE – February 2011
The Panda update was designed to readjust the ranking landscape. The algorithmic update was meant to elevate the status of high-quality websites and downgrade lower-quality ones. This had major consequences as valuable content-producing websites such as social media platforms and news websites were given a major boost in rankings. Panda eventually became an algorithmic framework where several updates were applied to on a regular basis at first, with updates become less frequent later on.

PENGUIN UPDATE – April 2012
Google Penguin was rolled out to penalize websites who were using black-hat tactics to trick Google’s system into giving them positive ranking points – these websites were deliberately trying to deceive search engines by acquiring low-value links from black-hat techniques, such as link networks. The end-goal of Panda was to crackdown on websites who used manipulative practices that prevented users from finding authentic information.

HUMMINGBIRD UPDATE – Sept 2013
The Google Hummingbird update prioritized speed and accuracy. This update was meant to take a more holistic look at the keywords and their context, instead of focusing on just matching the keyword to the search query. In a nutshell, Google Hummingbird focused on the conversation surrounding the keyword and not the actual keyword. This allowed Google to provide more relevant search results.

PIGEON UPDATE – July 2014
The Google Pigeon update was focused on giving preference to local rankings. Google tried to ensure that the location you were searching from was a major ranking factor. By using geo-location, searchers were able to get more relevant and accurate local search results. This ranking shift was also applied to Google Maps, which were now being prominently displayed in search results. If searchers were searching for specific products or services, Google Maps would show the businesses proximity to the user.

MOBILE-FRIENDLY UPDATE – April 2015
Being a mobile-ready website is an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. This was made very clear by Google’s Mobile-Friendly update, which was released in response to the shifting behaviour of users. The explosion of smartphones has realigned many industries, including how users search. More than half of today’s Web users use their smartphones to browse the Internet – a mobile friendly website will improve your ranking profile.

RANKBRAIN UPDATE – October 2015
The RankBrain update showcased where Google’s search engine technology trend is headed. The RankBrain is the code name that Google has given to their highly-innovative artificial intelligence (AI) machine that can learn user’s behaviours on the fly and apply this information to rankings. This self-learning system can acquire knowledge on it’s own without human intervention, such as learning to associate different keywords and key phrases with one another. The RankBrain is believed to be a part of the Hummingbird algorithm and helps sort through search engine results pages (SERPs) to provide more accurate and relevant results.

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Giving you the best chance to rank well on search engines.

Every search engine operates differently and are independent of one another. They do not share their algorithms with one another and there is no collusion on this front. They take great pains and go to great lengths to guard their algorithms from outsiders. It is critical to know that just because keywords rank highly on one search engine, it does not mean they will on others. This is why when we strategize, deliver and optimize, we focus our energies on the biggest search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.

Based on what device you are using or where you are located, SERPs (search engine results pages) can differentiate greatly. With the explosion of mobile devices, search engines have responded and adjusted their algorithms to represent this massive shift in consumer behaviour. Algorithms are search engine formulas that turn your questions/search queries into answers. Google, Bing and Yahoo are always trying to improve their answering abilities. Search engines want to give you the most relevant and pertinent search results. That is why when you’re searching from your mobile, it will most likely produce much different results than when you’re using your desktop in your office. Different devices also can produce different results. Logged-in Android users, for example, will have personalized results that are tailored to their past searching patterns. Search engines are always getting smarter.

To break-through and stand-out on the Web, you need a creative-minded and technically-proficient team. We understand the evolving and changing factors of the SEO world. We will internalize and externalize your business objectives and ensure they are synchronous with search engines. We will form a comprehensive program that is tailor-made and meant to optimize your online presence in a targeted, calculated way. SEO is comprised of various expertise.

The Rank Squad is a Toronto-based search engine marketing company that keeps up-to-date with the latest technological and technical shifts of search engine optimization. In a constant state of flux, our SEO specialists constantly reevaluate strategies to convert in-market prospects and turn them to delighted customers. We start with a site-wide audit and introduce a comprehensive, strategic road-map that results in qualified traffic and incredible search-engine improvements (page 1 rankings).

◌ Start strategizing. We kick into full-gear with a site-wide audit that explores the nitty-gritty to examine challenges and opportunities, such as examining your website architecture/structure and start keyword research.
◌ Start synergizing. We deeply-examine all on-page elements and leave behind no loose ends and ensure they are running at optimal levels. We bring all your internal on-page SEO components up to par.
◌ Start outreaching. We comprehensively examine your current backlink profile, social media marketing and content marketing strategy. We aim to improve the authority and credibility by expanding reach across niche-specific networks and social channels. We build connections by driving credibility and qualified traffic.

Even global brands cannot afford to sit on the sidelines when it comes to search engine optimization. Many large organizations have bolstered their prospects and expanded into new markets by utilizing SEO for their web properties. Despite the obvious gaps that exist between large and small businesses in reality, SEO can become the great equalizer. Smaller businesses can make incredible leaps in the digital world by bolstering their online visibility by outsmarting and often outranking bigger companies. Rank improvement in strategic keywords in search engines will result in qualified referrals and leads. A strong online presence is ranking well on page 1 of Google and Bing, as most users do not venture beyond the first page. Many rightfully turn to SEO companies to help them get over the hurdle.

However, there are too many SEO agencies who do not take your special case into consideration and sell you pre-planned packages. They do not look to enrich your SEO campaign without strategic or creative planning. While others provide short-term boosts that give you minor improvements without any sustainable growths. The Rank Squad provides you with the right recipe for growth rates over the right time period that will generate qualified leads and organic traffic. We will set you apart from your competitors by enhancing your standing in the eyes of search engines through trust and authenticity.

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