What is SEO?
Clients who have not done SEO before often have no idea what the term means or what the acronym even stands for. In this post, I will explain what SEO is and why it’s important for any business or organization online.
SEO (search engine optimization) is the optimization of your website with the goal of ranking higher in search engines such as Google and Bing. Your site’s placement in the search engine results is called its natural or organic rank and it is free. This is in contrast to PPC (SEM), which is a sponsored ad. There are two main methods of improving your site’s rank in search engine results: on-page optimization and off-page factors such as inbound links.
When an SEO professional talks about on-page optimization, they mean that each page is easy for the search engines to crawl (meaning the site loads quickly and does not have an excess of needless code) and that each page is clearly indicating to the search engines what it is about and what terms it should rank for. On-page optimization involves doing extensive research to determine what phrases each page should attempt to rank for and then ensuring that every ranking factor within each page is optimized to support the chosen keyword phrases.
The most important factor for optimizing a page is its content. Every page should have a good amount of unique, quality content that is relevant and useful to the visitors of your site. Everything else that is done for SEO in the back-end (coding) is intended to support the content by sending the search engines the right signals. Search engines ‘listen’ to certain bits of code for hints about the subject matter of a page and SEO is done to make it clearer that the content is talking about a certain topic.
Off-page optimization is usually much more difficult than on-page, but it is crucial for any site trying to rank in a competitive market. Incoming links from other sites are the focus of off-page optimization, as search engines see links from other sites as votes of confidence. Having links from credible and relevant sites to your own website can boost your site’s reputation and increase its ranking within the search engines.
Link building has become a potentially dangerous endeavour due to several recent updates from Google, however. It’s very important to be discriminating about which sites you seek links from. Quantity is not better than quality; in fact a large amount of poor-quality links can result in a penalty to your site’s ranking. The best way to build links is to provide high-quality content on your site that visitors will naturally want to share with others. There are strategies that go beyond this, but that’s for another blog post!
Why You Need SEO
The main advantage of SEO is that it has long-term results and your natural ranking in the search engines is free. If you have an existing website that is ranking but not as high as you would like, improving your SEO is the only way to get yourself on the first page of search results. If you have the time to devote to creating great content for your site, SEO can be relatively inexpensive for you.
Basic SEO is straight-forward and can probably be done by any moderately tech-savvy individual once they’ve been educated on the ranking factors. However, basic SEO is not going to help you compete with the companies on the first page of the search results that have hired professionals to do SEO for them. The more competitive your industry is, the more difficult it will be to outrank your competitors. If you want to compete, you will need to use advanced SEO strategies such as the ones we use to help our clients outrank their competition.
If you do not have the time to invest in learning SEO, keeping up to date, or doing the actual implementation on your website, we offer a variety of SEO packages for businesses of all sizes. We also offer SEO consulting to businesses that want to bring their SEO in-house but are inexperienced and do not know how to get the most from SEO.