Updated: Oct 9
All About SEO: Everything That You Need to Know
SEO stands for “Search engine optimization.” It is an effective practice in increasing the amount of people that visit your website. With a proficient SEO strategy, people can effortlessly discover your brand through organic search results.
Although the acronym sounds very technical, SEO is more about understanding others rather than how the search engine works. Half of the battle is knowing is knowing what others want, the rest is understanding how to input information for search engine crawlers to find and distribute results.
What are search engines?
Think of a search engine as a phone operator. Their goal is to sift through billions of contents and evaluate thousands of considerations to decide which results will appear on your screen.
Through a process of “crawling and indexing”, search engines find our desires by seeking and organizing all available content on the web. (Images, PDFS, videos, etc.). The final process is “ranking” which is how the search engine sorts out the order of search results.
Organic Results vs Inorganic Results
Search engine results pages are filled with advertising and organic dynamic content (Also known as results page features). Examples of these features include image carousels, shopping results, AdWords links, etc.
One example of these search features is displayed when a person searches for sandwiches in Phoenix. As you search for the sandwiches you will see a pack of related search results.
Out of the four results presented, two are inorganic and two are organic. Subway and Jason’s Deli paid for their placement. Zooks and Ike’s sandwich shops hold a higher rank than the other unpaid results because they have maintained consistent search traffic.
It is important to note that search engines make money out of the people that they wish to advertise to. Their objective is to get better at solving search queries and keep searchers coming back to keep the results on the search page longer.
Organic features on results pages are influenced by SEO. When a website pertaining to an answer is frequently clicked, the result has a high chance of being featured. This can be done through snippets known as “people ask boxes”. Heavily discussed topics such as “Are tomatoes a fruit?” may be represented in these boxes.
What makes SEO so important?
Paid advertising and social media may generate traffic to websites, but most of the traffic is handled by search engines.
Organic results cover more digital ground, look more trustworthy to tech-savvy users, and ultimately receive more clicks than relying on paid advertising.
When set correctly, SEO is the only marketing channel that can continue to pay dividends constantly. If you can provide great content that climbs the search ranks with effective keywords, then your traffic will build over time. This contradicts paid advertising which needs constant funding to deliver traffic to your site.
Even though search engines are getting smarter, they still need to know what we want. They need our help.
Optimizing your website will assist in delivering better information for these search engines so that they can be properly indexed and displayed within the results page.
Who can help me with SEO?
Based on your willingness to learn, bandwidth and website complexity, you could perform the basics of SEO. Or you may discover that an expert can handle your situation better. Both approaches are completely acceptable.
If you end up seeking an expert’s advice, it is important to note that many agencies and consultants provide SEO services but vary greatly in quality. Deciding on what is a good SEO company can help save you a lot of a time and money.
White hat and Black hat SEO
The way that people employ search engine optimization strategies can be categorized as white and black hat.
White hat SEO refers to proper SEO techniques, practices and strategies that follow search engine rules. Its focus is to provide value to people.
On the other hand, Black hat SEO refers to socially engineered techniques and tactics that attempt to spam/fool search engines. Although black hat SEO can work, it puts websites at risk of being penalized or being de-indexed (removed from search pages) and carries ethical implications.
These penalized websites have made businesses go bankrupt. This holds another reason to be careful when considering an SEO expert or agency to assist with your company’s goals.
Always Keep Your Users Fulfilled
SEO is most effective when you fully understand your users. Instead of violating guidelines to trick search engines, you should focus on understanding and fulfilling the intent of your audience. When a person searches for something, they have a desired outcome in mind. It may be an answer to a question, concert tickets, or puppy photos. What they search for is known as “user intent.”
If a person performs a search for “bands”, could they be searching for wedding bands, a music group, band saws or something else?
To get good perspective on user intent, you can start by googling your desired keywords and evaluating what is on the results page. For example, if you see a photo carousel then most people use that keyword to search for an image.
It is also wise to evaluate the content that your top-ranking competitors are providing that you are not. Try to consider how you can increase the value of your website.
Providing strong high-quality content on your website will help in climbing the ranks in search results. Also, this makes for a wonderful method of establishing credibility for your audience.
Please note that before you do any of this, you must understand that the goal of your website is to execute a strategic SEO plan.
Recognize Your Website/Client Goals
Before using SEO, it is important to know that each website is different. It is best to take time to really understand the specific business goals for your website. This will not only help in determining which areas of SEO need focus, but also on where to track conversion and how to set benchmarks.
Also ask, “What will your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) be to measure the return on your SEO investment?
Here is a list of common indicators to consider:
Contact Form Submissions
If the business has a local component, you will want to define KPIs for your Google My Business listings, as well. These may include:
One may ask, “Why isn’t ranking and click-traffic included on the list?” The reason why is that in SEO, ranking and traffic are only a means to an end. It is important to have people not only click on your page but bring business to you. More is earned when providing for 400 monthly visitors and having 50 people filling out a form, rather than having 1,000 visitors and only 3 people signing up.
Remember to establish your business goals before using SEO to reach them. Realize that this tool does more than provide vanity metrics. It is capable of increasing your business’s virtual presence.