Marketing Decoded: How to Get the Most from Your Search
Type a search term or phrase into Google, scroll past the ads, then click on the first link, click the back button, click on the second link, and so on, until you finally find what you’re looking for. Maybe. Sound familiar? It’s a majority of people’s interaction with search engines, and it has to do with how well the pages in the results do at SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit, but what is it really, and how can you use it to get the most out of your search?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is optimizing your website along a combination of factors which are calculated to determine your placement on a search engine results page (SERP). A website’s publisher is in direct control of on-page factors, while off-page factors are influenced by readers, visitors, and other publications.
When you conduct a search, the first organic (unpaid or free) link you see is Google’s best attempt at fulfilling your search based on their frequently-evolving algorithm. They use ranking factors to calculate and return a search engine results page (SERP) full of links to user-friendly and trustworthy content you are looking for.
So how can you use this knowledge to make your search experience as efficient as possible?
Get the Most from Your Search
Scenario One: You know exactly what you’re looking for.
Say you just heard the news that SQL Sentry Plan Explorer PRO is now free, and you’d like to download a copy for yourself. Head over to Google and try the most direct search (“Plan Explorer”). You should see something like this:
Each result tries to communicate to you that this is the best result for your search by using the following:Title
- "SQL Sentry Plan Explorer" is included in the blue text of that first SERP result. In this case it’s a representation of the content you can expect to find on the page.
The URL right underneath shows you’ll be taken to our official company site, as the root domain is sentryone.com, and the URL contains meaningful keywords, i.e. Plan Explorer.
Finally, the block of text underneath offers a more detailed description of what a reader will see on the page, offering additional confirmation that this page contains information around SQL Sentry Plan Explorer.
Sometimes the result you’re really looking for is in the second or third position, or maybe it’s further down. Reviewing these three pieces of information allows you to rely less on your back button, and more on clicking the right link the first time.
To present this result to you, Google has taken into account on-page factors, including the quality of the content on that page (is it well written?), the presence of vertical content (images, video, etc), mobile-friendliness, structure (to make it easily crawl-able and user-friendly), checks for nefarious practices (are keywords "stuffed" or overused in an unnatural manner?), and several others.
Google checks all of these for you within their algorithm, and marketers abide by best practices to comply. This way, when you see a first organic result returned that seemingly fits your search, as illustrated above, you can feel confident that you’re clicking on the best possible link for your needs.
Let’s use one other example to explain off-page ranking factors.
Scenario Two: You have a need, but you’re unsure of the specific company, product, or content that can help you.
Maybe you're a new DBA - you know there are free tools to make your query tuning life easier, but you’re not sure which one to use. This is where a long-tail keyword will become your best friend. Simply put, it’s a four or more-word search term that is highly detailed.
You may decide to search for something like "free sql query optimization tool", yielding results similar to the image at right (note that the ads you see before the first organic search result may differ for you).
In addition to Google’s on-page ranking factors, off-page factors such as trust (determined by quality, level of user engagement on this page and more), social media (indicative of this page’s reputation), links (quality, quantity and authority of sites linking to this page) and other factors, are again calculated by Google to make the first SERP you see full of the best web pages for your search.
- Google does almost all the heavy lifting by using on and off page ranking factors to bring you the best possible search results.
- Review titles, URLs and meta descriptions to ensure that the first result you decide to click on will be the most likely to fulfill your search.
- Direct and descriptive searches that are four or more words will yield the best results.
- How quickly you leave a page, if you share that page on social media, if you write a blog and link back to a particular website, are all visitor-influenced (off-page) factors that Google weighs when determining how to rank a web page. As a visitor to a site, you have more influence on Google search results than you think.
Why am I telling you this?
You might wonder, why is this relevant to SQL Sentry customers (or potential customers)?
Well, we want to be sure you know we strive to show up in relevant searches. We want to be there when we have a solution that solves the problem you're searching about, but we would rather not be noise when we don't. We'd love to hear about your experiences - did you find us through a search? do you use a search engine to find more details about our software? do you think we rank appropriately in relevant searches? Feel free to leave any details or comments below.