What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for “search engine optimization.” It is a process that involves a series of techniques and strategies to increase the amount of organic traffic to a particular website or webpage.
The term “organic traffic” means that people discover your website through search engine results and without the use of paid advertisements.
Using Google (other search engines), users (aka potential clients) enter keywords and phrases related to your business or website niche. After searching, they find your website listing in their search results. The main difference between organic traffic and paid traffic is the associated cost. When a user finds your website organically, there is no cost or fee. On the contrary, every time a user clicks your ad, it costs you money (pay-per-click advertising or, PPC).
The main objective of SEO is to drive targeted visitors who may be interested in your business to your website. The best way to drive targeted traffic is have your website appear in search engine results.
Statistics show that when using search engines, only 10-15% of the users click an ad. Leaving 85-90% of the traffic to the organic search results.
Having an effective SEO strategy gives you a better chance of bringing your website listing toward the top of the search results page. The top 3 search engine results receive 61.5% of the total traffic and only 4.8% of the total traffic makes it to page 2 of the google search results. If you want more website traffic, focus your efforts on search engine optimization.
What does SEO mean for businesses?
Businesses invest in SEO services because SEO can attract targeted leads and visitors to their websites. The better the quality of the leads and visitors they receive, the better chance they have to sell their products or services and make more money. That is why every online business and e-commerce website owner wants to improve their keyword search result ranking. Simply, more clicks = more money.
Keywords, Phrases and SEO
A keyword phrase is a short set of specific words that are descriptive and relate to your company’s theme or niche. Your business website should focus on producing quality content while incorporating the proper keyword phrases into the content. Matching keywords and keyword phrases help search engines find your website, thus, improving your search rankings. For example, if you are a dentist in Cleveland, one of your keywords phrases would be “teeth cleaning in Cleveland Ohio”.
If you need help with keywords, Google provides a tool to help you search for the popularity of specific keywords called Google Ads Keyword Planner.
How does SEO Work?
Most of your SEO practices should revolve around what is friendly to the Google algorithm. After all, Google is the most popular search engine on the internet and drives 92% of all online searches. If you want to boost your website’s ranking and receive more organic traffic, you need to focus on getting better Google search results.
SEO can be broken down into three areas:
- Content and Keywords
- Back Links
- Google’s Search Ranking Algorithm
If you can master these three areas of SEO, then you should see your website rank higher on Google within a few months.
SEO Content & Keywords for SEO
SEO content offers something of value to your website’s visitors. Content comes in many forms, such as articles, videos, pictures, animations, etc. The idea is to produce content that either entertains or educates your visitors. It must capture their attention and make them want to stay on your website without clicking off it.
For SEO marketing purposes, the content must be original and contain targeted keywords. New content should focus on keywords and phrases that your customers search for on Google. If you add those keywords to your website’s content, Google will detect them as it crawls your site. Matching keywords show Google that your website is an authority in your niche.
The Google algorithm also examines your backlinks very closely. What are backlinks? Backlinks are hyperlinks to your website that are published on other websites. If you can manage to get other websites within the same niche to post a link to your website, it creates a backlink for your website.
Google considers backlinks from reputable and relevant websites to mean that your website is a trusted authority in its niche. Some of the most trusted websites include those with .gov and .edu domain extensions. The more high-quality backlinks you have, the higher your website will rank in the Google search results.
Adding a million backlinks won’t help your ranking if they are not from a quality, trusted sources. Low-quality backlinks from untrustworthy sources show Google that your website is not built with quality content and could end up hurting your website’s rankings. Bots can create untrustworthy backlinks, and businesses have been known to spam competitors’ websites with bad backlinks. Constantly monitoring your own website’s backlinks is very important to your site’s health. Make sure your SEO company is monitoring your backlinks!
Google’s Search Ranking Algorithm
Rank Brain is the core of Google’s search ranking algorithm. It utilizes the concept of machine learning to assist in ranking websites. Machine learning is when a machine or program can teach itself new information based on the data it receives. And when it comes to data, Google has a lot of it.
Google processes 3.5 billion searches a day.
Google periodically crawls through the content and metadata of all its listed (also called indexed) websites. Suppose the crawler detects out-of-date content, slow page speed, unsecured web pages, poor user experiences, unoriginal website design, or other website problems. In that case, the algorithm will automatically reduce the website’s rank in Google search results.
Google also releases period algorithm updates which can change the rules for how websites are being ranked. No one knows Google’s exact ranking algorithm but staying informed on Google algorithm updates and recommendations is crucial to your SEO success. What is working great today, may not be working tomorrow. You can learn more about Google’s algorithm updates like Hummingbird, Bert, and Google core updates by visiting the Google search central website.
White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO
White hat SEO and black hat SEO are different methods to approach a search engine optimization campaign. White hat is an SEO strategy that adheres to Google’s SEO and algorithm rules to boost your website’s ranking. Black hat means just the opposite. Black Hat SEO goes against the rules set by Google in an attempt to cheat the system and gain higher search result rankings. Black hat SEO practices put your website at risk of being blocked by Google.
For instance, someone using the black hat method might add unrelated keywords to their website’s content. These could be trending keywords of a different niche that drive traffic quickly. Another black hat method uses content automation software to automatically generate spammy content for your website without requiring you to produce quality content yourself.
Black hat SEO practices might work well in the beginning, but you will eventually get caught. As a result, Google will ban your website from its search listings for an indefinite amount of time.
Is SEO Dead?
No! SEO is not dead, SEO is more important than ever before. Google’s popularity and usage continue to rise. In 2019, 68% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. No matter what industry, every company can benefit from digital marketing and SEO services.
SEO is a fast-changing industry and Google is always changing the rules. Monitoring your website, adjusting to new google rules, and creating content is just a fraction of what SEO entails. Hiring an SEO company will keep your business ahead of the competition.
SEO vs Paid Advertising
Organic traffic should be your ultimate goal. Paid traffic is only useful for immediate results. As soon as the ads are disabled, your website will stop performing. You don’t want to rely on paid traffic forever because it can get quite expensive. Optimizing your website for SEO and creating great content takes time and patience, but the results will pay off exponentially. A steady flow of organic traffic is priceless.