SEO, by definition, sounds pretty simple. It’s short for Search Engine Optimization, which basically means optimizing something (in most cases, a webpage) for a search engine. Beyond the literal description though is where it gets a little tricky. Ask a couple different marketers what SEO means for them and you’ll get a couple different answers.
(Seriously, try Googling ‘what is SEO’ and count how many different definitions you get).
For instance, MOZ defines SEO as driving more “quality traffic” to your website through organic search engine results. RedEvolution, on the other hand, says it’s an activity that “attempts to improve search engine rankings.” And good ol’ Wikipedia says it’s when you affect your website’s visibility in a “web search engine’s unpaid results.”
So What IS SEO (and what’s the Big Deal)?
Even if there is no universal definition, these sample definitions all share one common feature: search engine results. So let’s put it this way: SEO is basically doing what you can to make sure a search engine can find you. This way, when someone searches something related to your company, you actually show up on the search engine results page (SERP).
For instance: you’re a pet supply store. Someone searches “dog leash.” If you pop up on the SERP, the chances of them buying your product have just increased tenfold. You’re selling organic shampoo. Someone searches “buy organic shampoo.” If you’re the first result, a sale is practically guaranteed.
Ranking: The Race to First
This is why companies pay good money to get SEO experts working on their website. In this day and age, where “Google it!” is a grammatically correct, socially acceptable answer, your rank on the SERP is everything. The higher you are on the page, the more people will assume you are relevant to their question and therefore you are to be prioritized. If you’re on the second page of Google’s SERP, chances are you’re never going to get clicked on.
Think about it; when was the last time you visited the 2nd page of Google results?
My point exactly.
So, without further ado, here are some things you can do for your online/digital marketing strategy to bump your business up to first class (page). Because believe it or not, it takes more than just a few strategically-placed keywords and a couple paid ads to land that sweet spot.
Keyword Research is a MUST
It’s not so much where you place the keywords (although that’s important too!), it’s more of what the keywords are. You need to know what words or phrases people are using to actually get the answers to their problem. You might not think there’s much difference between “organic shampoo for sale” and “buy organic shampoo,” but believe me; there is.
Have Credible Content Creators Give Quality Content
When was the last time you shared something to your social media network that you found dull, boring, irrelevant, uninspired, or downright crappy?
If you’ve got quality, shareable content, then obviously people are going to want to share it. This social sharing leads to link building and amplification, which works wonders for your SEO. Amplification and social sharing also raises your site’s credibility, which in turn leads to improved ranking overall.
Slow & Steady Does NOT Win This Race
How many times do you refresh a page before you give up and hit ‘quit’? Most users can appreciate a pretty UI as much as the next person, but they appreciate quick and easy even more. People should be able to get on your site and get what they want in as little time as possible. No fuss, no muss, and no unnecessary animations that cause the page to hang.
In other words, you need to optimize your website for speed. Find the balance between ‘quick loading’ and ‘great visuals,’ and you’re good to go.
Get Crawlable, Accessible, and Easily Understood URLs
Googlebot’s got spiders.
These spiders are responsible for visiting websites, understanding the content that’s on it—from text posts to images to videos—and then tucking that information away into their web index for future reference. Bringing back the organic shampoo example, once a Googlebot spider goes on your website and reads “organic shampoo,” it will then file you away as a possible result for organic-shampoo-related search queries.
This also means that if, for whatever reason, a Googlebot spider cannot understand your website, you basically don’t exist.
This one is a little tricky to pull off, but doing so successfully can mean so much more traffic for your website. Perform an SERP investigation to figure out what Google believes is relevant content for specific keyword searches. From here, you can puzzle out the intent and type of content (i.e., video, blog post, social media account) that is required.
Once you have that, you can go even further and figure out the gaps and holes. You might be able to figure out where specific content is not being provided. In other words, you can find out what people are missing—in regards to their search queries—and then serve missing thing accordingly.
At the end of the day, yes; SEO is extremely complicated. Everyone’s competing in an oversaturated market, and they’re all doing roughly the same thing to get noticed. Which is why equipping yourself with all the facts, data, and knowledge you can find is the best advantage you can give yourself at this point. Continue to apply what you know and then test and measure, test and measure accordingly. Eventually, it will pay off.