No matter how successful your online business is, without SEO, you’re under a glass ceiling.
For something that has the power to exponentially grow website traffic, visibility, and online presence, it’s surprising how many companies haven’t yet utilized SEO as a predominant tool in their marketing.
That’s the gap; there’s the opportunity. SEO puts you ahead of the competition – and most of the competition doesn’t even know it. Here’s the beginner’s guide to all things SEO and everything you need to know about it.
What is SEO?
SEO is search engine optimization.
SEO is the process of utilizing keywords in content to optimize your website’s ability to generate organic traffic from search engine results. It’s designing a website’s structure and content to make the website more attractive to search engine algorithms.
SEO is about understanding both search engines and how people think when they are searching online. It’s about figuring out which words people type in when they wish to find certain information. Using these keywords in content helps search engines place your website as a top result.
Once you understand what your customer’s intents are when they search, you can create content that is relevant to them and that search engines will present as an answer to their search.
For example, let’s say your company sells fake eyelashes. You want your website to appear as a top result when people type in anything about “eyelashes.” This word is an incredibly common search word and it will be very tricky to be a top result for it. You’ll want to create content that signals to Google that your website is a legitimate answer to the results that the search desired. This requires aspects such as using relevant headings, calls to action, and keyword-rich content.
The process is similar to a hierarchy of needs. The lower levels are elements such as crawl accessibility, having compelling content, and the use of keywords. Working up the pyramid, you focus on elements such as user interface and user experience, share-worthy content, and strong titles and URLs.
SEO influences search engines to “trust” your website and to present it as a top result when people are searching online.
Why SEO is Important
The majority of online traffic comes from search engines. While paid advertising is a way to be placed as a top result, SEO generates traffic organically. Consumers are more inclined to trust un-sponsored results than results that show up with an “Ad” or “Sponsored” label beside them. Paid advertisements do not seem as credible and receive notably fewer clicks than organic search results. Only 2.8% of all US searches click on paid advertisements.
The correct use of SEO can produce snowball success. Content that utilizes keywords, correct structure, and provides information that people want to know, will generate more and more traffic over time. This directly grows your website’s visibility and online presence.
Search engines process millions of searches every single day trying to provide solutions to consumer’s questions. The vast majority of searchers will click on one of the top 5 results. SEO helps your website appear in these top-ranked spots.
The 3 Elements of SEO
There are three crucial components to SEO:
- Technical SEO
- On-site SEO
- Off-site SEO
These components work together as a guiding framework and are all important for successful SEO.
The technical aspect focuses not on content, but on the technical side of optimization. This is about making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site to “validate” it.
On-site SEO is about the content, layout, and structure of your page. It needs to be easy for search engines to understand the context of your content and signal it to show up for relevant searches. Search engines don’t read like humans. Instead, they’ll take signals from structure and keywords to interpret credibility. This is where the correct use of titles, headings, links, and images comes into play.
Off-site SEO is about using backlinks. Search engines want to present results that will satisfy the intent of the search user. A big factor in what determines the ranking of a webpage is the number of backlinks it has (incoming links from external sources). The more backlinks from credible sources, the more authoritative a search engine will deem your page. This directly affects how high your website will rank in results.
How to Get Started?
Depending on your company’s bandwidth, complexity, and resources, an external SEO company can save you time, money, and vastly improve the performance of a website. More often than not, a good SEO company can produce significant results in a matter of a few months.
There are four initial steps to getting started with SEO.
1) Figure out what your customers are actually searching for.
Consumers know what they want but aren’t always successful at articulating it in a way that will yield relevant search results. It’s impossible to optimize a website without knowing exactly what your customers are looking for. For example, if you’re a personal fitness instructor in NYC, potential customers are probably making searches like:
- “NYC trainer”
- “Work out in New York”
- “Personal trainer”
By exploring searches like these, you’ll be able to identify keywords, top-ranked results, and other related searches.
2) Creating content optimized for searches.
Pages need to be structured in a way that both satisfies search intent and is also enjoyable. This is where the user interface and user experience affects on-page optimization. Pages should be structured in a way that makes it easy to consume content and is free of anything that could be annoying, like pop-ups or email sign-ups.
3) Make a website that is attractive to both humans and search engines.
To be a valid top search result, your page needs to please both human readers and search engine algorithms. A proper understanding of how bots interpret information will help you structure content in a way that makes it easy for algorithms to trust and validate them.
4) Building backlinks.
Building backlinks is just as important as creating good content. Backlinks have one of the strongest influences on Google’s ranking algorithm; Google itself has admitted that backlinks are one of the “top 3 ranking factors.”
The New Wave in Search Marketing
With an abundance of information and everything moving online, SEO is now more important than ever. SEO is one of the most potent digital marketing strategies that drives long-term results and helps place your company as a top search result. By increasing search visibility, site traffic skyrockets. SEO gets you the traffic, visibility, and online presence. Your company takes it from there.