Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
When it comes to digital marketing, the term “SEO” and “Search Engine Optimization” get thrown around everywhere. But what do they mean? From technical articles about web development to keywords and content marketing, it can be easy to get lost in all the commotion. We’ve boiled it down to a simple explanation to help catch you up with the basics of understanding what SEO is and how it affects your business in the digital age.
SEO: What Is It and Why Your Business Should Care
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of getting targeted traffic to a website from a search engine’s organic rankings. In other words: SEO is all about improving your website’s rankings in the non-paid section of search results. The goal of SEO is to improve both the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through onsite changes. This means making changes to your website’s content and design that will increase your ranking on different search engine result pages. But why does this matter? Why is generating organic traffic important for your business, and why is it better than simply paying for ads?
Every day, millions of people search for different things on search engines such as Google and Bing to find information on a specific topic. A lot of the time, the results contain pages and pages of results that consumers easily get lost in.
In order to help each person find the relevant information that they are looking for in a quick and efficient manner, search engines try to match the user’s search terms with the most relevant information within their database. But how is it organized?
How Do Search Engines Work?
Search Engines work in three basic steps. First, they send ‘crawlers’ through all of the available content on the internet. This includes websites, photos, videos, etc. The ‘crawlers’ then send snapshots of all of the relevant accessible data back to the server.
The information that is sent back to the server is then organized into a ‘searchable’ list, called a ‘search index’. This index serves as the basis for a keyword search, meaning it matches the keywords found in the results with the keywords that were searched for.
Finally, the search engines then rank all of the relevant content using an algorithm to organize the list from most relevant to least relevant to the users’ search. So, this means that the results with the keywords and concepts that are most closely related to the users’ search will be shown at the top, and those that are least related to the users’ search at the bottom—or on the last page of the results list.
So, what does this mean for you?
Anyone with a website, whether it’s a blog or a business page, must utilize SEO to get their website seen on the top results of internet searches.
Why Is It important for My Business?
One of the key functions of an SEO strategy is to therefore increase visibility, making it easier for prospective clients to find your business when they search for something you have to offer. The higher you rank on a search engine result page, the more likely it is that people will see your page and click into your site. The more effective your SEO efforts are, the higher your ranking will be and the more visible it will be to search engine users.
2. Web Traffic
Increased web traffic is the top goal of SEO, as when you increase visibility and rankings you increase traffic to your site. Consider this: the #1 stop on a Google search receives roughly 32% of clicks, and moving up one spot in a Google ranking can increase your Click-Through-Rate by 31%.
So, if you want more people to find your business online, you need to utilize SEO practices that will help you rank among the top positions.
In this day and age, we see more and more ‘bot’ sites that are not run by actual people. Your Page Authority is therefore increasingly important for users, meaning that your site is trustworthy, relevant and has something real to offer. SEO strategies increase your Page Authority Ranking, which helps search engines recognize your page as legitimate.
4. User Experience
It makes sense that the more effort you put into generating an SEO strategy will improve the relevance and usability of your site. The more relevant keywords and information that you input onto your site, the more seamless experience customers will receive.
When you take steps to make your website responsive to what users are searching for, the more usable for all of your visitors to get the information that they are looking for. Similarly, by increasing your page speed, the reduction in bounce rate will go hand-in-hand. Customers expect to get the information that they want in both a fast and efficient manner, and SEO is the way to get the results you need.
But how can you do it?
Crucial Elements of SEO Marketing
Knowing where to start when developing an SEO strategy can be both difficult and overwhelming. The good news is you do not have to be a master in SEO to ensure that your website is well positioned in the organic search engine traffic. We’ve outlined simple steps to build your SEO strategy that will get you the results you’re looking for.
First things first – you can’t really do much without knowing what users are searching for. In order to know what keywords your target marketing is using to find answers to their questions you have to do some initial research. To start, it is best to step into the shoes of your target market and ask yourself: what is the problem and how would I search for solutions? What would you search for in your search engine to get the results you need?
For example, if your company sells vitamins, your customer is probably someone who is concerned about their overall health and wellbeing. Maybe they are searching for the best quality vitamins for dollar value. Start searching. What results do you find? Look at the words used in the snippets and jot them down. Use this list to think about related words and synonyms related to the results and make note of those, too.
Use your keyword research to create engaging content that is valuable to your target market. This includes answers to the questions that users have, providing them with insight and solutions to their problems. Further, use this opportunity to educate your target market on how to be better at what they do and how you can help. It’s crucial to use keywords naturally without over stuffing them into your content. If search engines recognize you ‘keyword stuffing’ it will actually hurt your SEO efforts and lower your ranking or completely removing it from the search index. Additionally, it will not help users to trust your authority or authenticity, which as noted above, is critical.
Use keywords in your website page URLS, as well as in the content on your website. Remember to use them in your page titles, subtitles, and meta descriptions as well.
3. Local SEO
Local SEO becomes important as more and more people use mobile devices and tablets to conduct their web searches. In todays web 2.0 world, over 60% of all searches are performed on a mobile device, and 50% of those have local intent.
What this means is that claiming directory listed, location-specific pages for your site and business are becoming increasingly important if you want to rank on the top results of Google.
Backlinks, or ‘off-page SEO’ is a technique used to link your site to other relevant, external sites to tell search engines that your site is both valuable and high-quality. There are many tactics to backlink building, however the best practice includes guest blogging, infographics and influencer marketing in your content.
5. Search Engine Marketing
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to paid marketing efforts, and it includes things such as social media ads, Google Ads, Pay-Per-Click, display ads, etc. Although SEM is not directly a major component of an SEO strategy, it does still hold a place as it can help you reach your targeted audience. You can also work your SEM and SEO to work together.
The role of SEO has significantly expanded over the last few years and it is only expected to continue doing so. In particular, it has helped consumers when in need, and implementing a quality SEO strategy on your brand’s website and other digital properties will significantly help your marketing efforts.
SEO does have its challenges, but the opportunities it brings will help your business succeed in developing a strong web presence both now, and in the future. To keep up to date on the latest SEO trends and strategies, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!