SEO, or Search Engine Optimization for those of you wondering, is the process of analyzing and improving a website in order to increase rankings on search engine results pages. When a user searches for something on Google, those pages that come up on the first page as the most relevant and best results, the ones the user clicks on and respects as the most relevant answer to their question, is there because the owner of that website has optimized it to be there. They have SEO built into their digital marketing strategy and if you don’t, then read on because we’re about to tell you why you should.
How does Search Engine Optimization work?
SEO focuses on the optimization of a website to attract organic traffic. This is traffic that visits your website after entering a relevant keyword or search term into a search engine, such as Google or Bing. The optimization works on both technical aspects of the site in the backend and the user experience in the front facing side of the site.
Organic traffic often comes from users at the awareness stage of the buyers’ journey, where they are not quite ready to purchase or compare products, but simply reviewing the options available. Users may not even know they have a need for a product or service at this stage, so it is important to present a solution to their problem early on by highlighting the need to them. This will push users further down the research stage of the funnel towards the decision stage.
In an ideal world, we would look at both SEO and PPC working together. They both have pros and cons and work best when supporting each other synergistically. Where you can get SEO and PPC working together, you will often be able to drive results that are greater than their component parts and stand out from the competition as a leader in your niche.
What is included in an SEO strategy?
Generally, SEO will involve the auditing of a website from both a technical standpoint and a user perspective. These areas are typically called Technical SEO and User Experience, or UX. Many may argue that UX falls under another category altogether and is not a part of SEO. However, there are definitely elements that overlap, and it should still form a part of your overall SEO strategy, even if you choose to treat it as a separate entity in your digital marketing efforts. After all, if a user has a poor onsite experience with your business, they are likely to leave, not convert or even give a bad review on another online platform – all of which can affect your overall engagement metrics (ultimately, your rankings) and your brand awareness and visibility.
SEO is all about awareness. The more visible you are to search engines, the more visible you are to users. The idea is that you target relevant keywords and search terms, which puts your business in front of your target audience, in much the same way as if you were to advertise.
Building a clear, solid brand that is consistent across all platforms, both onsite and offsite, also supports your online awareness and visibility. Positive brand mentions and an expert voice in your industry niche will help to increase your relevance and authority, driving more traffic to the website.
Finding your voice in the industry will also help to build credibility and, therefore, trust. Trust is a huge playing factor in the buyers’ journey as this is ultimately what people buy into. Without trust, you have no sale. Many users will trust organic results on search engine results pages (SERPs) over paid ads and so being present in the top results on page one instantly instills trust in the people who have search for a certain keyword and found your website as a result.
Keyword rankings need to be monitored as often as possible, ensuring all onsite efforts target the keywords you want to be found for. Keywords can be optimized in onsite content, offsite content, links, social platforms, images, page titles and headings, meta descriptions and URLs. It is very easy to get carried away and stuff as many of your target keywords as you can in all of these places. However, this is how the internet worked back in the days before Google. This practice today is what we call spam and will have adverse effects on your metrics, and you will struggle to get anywhere with your rankings. Keywords need to be researched and selected carefully and then placed naturally throughout all areas you wish to optimize.
The internet is a mobile first world, quickly moving into an AI first world, and so your website needs to be optimized for mobile users and voice searches on AI assistant devices to ensure you do not lose out of valuable customers to the competition. The key areas to focus on here are: speed, accessibility and usability.
Unlike paid marketing, organic traffic is a long term, sustainable source of traffic, it does not stop coming if you stop working on your SEO. Of course, if optimization stops over a long period of time and rankings are not monitored, you may eventually see the competition outrank you for your key search terms. However, it is a sustainable strategy that can afford to take a cut if a business hits a difficult period and needs to find some financial relief. Due to its long term effects, SEO can also be slow to show results and requires patience, it is not an overnight fix to getting a website on page one of SERPs and it can be especially difficult for new businesses entering the market, depending on your competitors and complexity of target keywords. Content needs to be built naturally and gradually, while solutions such as sustainable link building can be difficult to master and often requires the help of an expert or agency.