Search Engine Optimization or SEO has been a large element of digital marketing for many years. Due to the constant updating search engines such as Google go through, SEO is an ever-changing field. This means that most business who come to me for help with digital marketing are left asking what SEO really is, and how they can implement it on their company website. Here I explain exactly what SEO is, so you can see how a targeted digital marketing approach that includes search engine optimization will benefit your business.
Why You Want to Rank on Search Engines
While it may be obvious now why you want to rank on search engines, it wasn’t so obvious years ago. Long before the internet, most people received information about products and services available to them through paid advertising and promotion. Billboards, TV, magazines, newspapers, flyers, phone calls and product shows were the only way people could get information about products and services, and they had little control over these options. The advent of the internet and search engines changed all that, as people can now proactively search and understand options for themselves.
Why Search Engines Matter
SEO as a practice is all about making your site search engine friendly. This means that when someone enters search words relating to your business, like “Digital Marketing Bay Area,” your company website is one of the first to show up in the search results. A successful SEO strategy means you don’t have to go looking for customers with pushy promotion and paid advertising, but your ideal clients naturally find your business.
Research has shown that 89% of consumers turn to Google, Bing, or other search engines to find out more about products and services before making a purchase decision. On the other hand, it means if your company’s website is not showing up high enough on the search engine results, you could be missing out on the best opportunities for your business.
How Search Engines Work
Search engines work by scouring the internet’s content and “indexing” it to be shown in their search results later on. Think of it as a giant library and every website is a book within that library. Except this library knows every word in every book and there are around 1 billion books. This library also doesn’t have any shelves or really much organization at all, until you search for something.
Once you conduct a search, the Search Engine Results Page, or SERPs for short, is where the search engine will display its top 10 results. Results are listed in order of their relevance and value pertaining to the search terms, with the most relevant and important pages listed first.
Now let’s take a step back and think about something we don’t nearly appreciate as much as we should. Every time you search for something, rather it be as broad as “superman” or as specific as “2008 Mazda 3 hatchback headlight bulb,” the search engine still must perform a check against the billion websites it has indexed and come up with the relevant ones. And it typically does this in less than a second. It should make you wonder how it all works.
How SEO Works
SEO consists of a series of practices and techniques that are designed to boost the ranking of a website naturally. Search engines use several dynamic criteria to decide which pages are most important and relevant and should, therefore, be listed first in the search engine results. Consumers are much more likely to click on the first couple of websites in the search results than websites that show up on page two or three of the results. By studying the algorithms and criteria search engine use to rank pages, an SEO expert can optimize a website to help it rank higher in search results.
What Can You Do to Improve Your SEO?
So next you want to know how you can improve your website’s SEO to take advantage of this effective marketing strategy. Well, you can do a lot. There are a lot of resources online for the do-it-yourself businesses that would rather handle their own SEO. However, you do need to be careful. The success of SEO has made it one of the most popular marketing strategies worldwide, and competition for those top search engine results is fierce. This has led more unscrupulous agents and companies to manipulate, spam, and fool search engines. These techniques are called black hat SEO and while they might work in the short term, search engines eventually catch up and penalize sites using these techniques. It’s always best to let professionals handle SEO, especially if your company depends on your website. Black hat techniques have bankrupted businesses, so it’s important to stay away from any SEO resources that appear fishy, and if you go with a marketing company to handle your SEO, make sure they are reputable.
Choosing an expert marketing agency who uses safe ‘white hat SEO’ techniques is the best way to get a head start in the SEO game. Professional marketers have a finger on the pulse of the rapidly changing search engine algorithms and can put the time and energy into keeping your site optimized and updated, so your company can climb the search engine rankings.