What is Search Engine Optimization?
Most people have heard of the term ‘search engine optimization’, but few understand what real meaning. If you are one of those who are confused when it comes to search engine optimization, here’s your answer. Well, search engine optimization comprises of methods, techniques, and strategies to make your website more visible in search engine results. It is actually a misunderstood and misinterpreted terminology.
SEO is a powerful weapon in any business’s marketing arsenal and anyone can wield its true power, if they understand the concept thoroughly. Nowadays, products and services are purchased by searching for them on search engines, so having an optimized website is crucial in order to reach your intended and targeted audience.
History of SEO
Search engine optimization started about 10 to 15 years ago. At that time, the internet was a relatively new place; major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN were fairly new and people were just beginning to comprehend and understand the implications of the internet and e-commerce. E-commerce existed, but it was not as developed as it is now. Many online businesses witnessed the majority of their customers arriving on their websites through search engines and most of them didn’t bother looking beyond the first page of the search results.
They just considered the results on the first page and didn’t pay any heed to the rest. For example, if you were a shoe seller and your website was on the second page in the 15th place, you would probably receive little to no customers.
Eventually, businesses realized their predicament and started manipulating the results of search engines by stuffing their websites with keywords; so for example, a shoe seller would use the term ‘shoe sellers’ in their web content as many times as possible, so that their website would be ranked the highest in search engine results.
All the major search engines adopted a common method; they would look for websites with the highest number of keywords and phrases and display the results accordingly. However, this tactic quickly became unethical and is now termed as ‘blackhat SEO’.
Nowadays, implementing this strategy would get your website banned and penalized; instead, optimizing your web content with particular keywords is the secret sauce of success now.
SEO in Present Times
Search engines weren’t happy with the way their results were being manipulated, so they quickly updated their algorithms to penalize any website that stuffed keywords in their content and instead, began determining how various keywords and phrases were being utilized in web content.
This method of organic search engine optimization allows search engine algorithms to monitor the amount of time users spend on a particular website and how that website fares on social media platforms.
Therefore, SEO doesn’t only mean making your website more visible; it also involves making it more efficient, attractive, and appealing. Composing engaging and high quality content and enabling it to get shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, etc. is an ideal way to rank higher in any search engine’s results.
Generally speaking, SEO has made the internet a much better place with reliable, trusted, and sufficient information available at your fingertips. With an SEO optimized website, a business can expand their base of operations and acquire new clients, including international customers. Thus, companies obtain new leads and by providing information on a specific topic, they can build their brand.
Remember that people are more likely to trust and purchase the products and/or services of an established brand. Through SEO, your business will become a reputed leader in the particular industry it serves as long as you supply information through blogs, articles and different types of content with the right kind of phrases and keywords.
The Benefits of SEO for Businesses
Ever since the arrival of SEO, the world of e-Commerce changed significantly and the way people purchased products and services through the internet was revolutionized.
Nowadays, the majority search for products and services online, often with the use of a search engine like Google. Therefore, it’s imperative for any business, whether small, medium or large to not just have an online presence, but have a presence which is influential and prominent.
If you have a beautifully and professionally well-designed website with engaging content, but at the same time, you don’t see many visitors and you’re wondering why, it’s because you haven’t implemented the most critical component of marketing: search engine optimization!
You may have used search terms in order to search for your favorite product or service on a search engine, read reviews from other customers, and then made a decision regarding its purchase. This is where SEO becomes crucial. If you’re a business owner, here are the main reasons why you need to implement an effective SEO strategy immediately:
Your Investment will Pay Off
SEO is not an expensive technique; it is rather affordable and it offers a high return on your initial investment. When used in conjunction with other marketing tools like social media platforms, email marketing, and content marketing, SEO becomes extremely powerful in raising brand awareness. Additionally, SEO is cost-effective; meaning, it is customizable according to your requirements.
SEO techniques like keyword analysis and link-building are tailor-made according to your target audience. SEO agencies carry out a thorough research before designing and implementing an SEO strategy.
Your Business will Receive a Higher Exposure
Did you know that as many as 3 billion people use search engines on a daily basis and about 75 percent of them do not go even look at the second page of the search results? It’s a statistical fact. What does this mean for you? It means your business website needs to have higher search engine rankings in order to receive the maximum amount of coverage amongst your intended audience.
Search engines rank websites according to different factors like quality of content, ease of use, ease of navigation, etc. In SEO, your website is optimized through various techniques and strategies so that it has a higher ranking in search engine results and thus, it appears on the first page of the search results.
Acquire Quality Visitors and Leads
Once you conduct SEO, you will obtain visitors who will genuinely be interested in your products and services, rather than a stream of low quality, random visitors. This is because, SEO involves proper research into your target market; the keywords being searched are determined and analyzed, the size and scope of your audience is determined, and the intent behind the search is also deduced.
Once that is done, the problems and needs of your target audience are addressed through the solution offered by your business. This builds trust and hence, increases the rate of conversions.
Long story short, search engine optimization puts the limelight on your business and gives it that extra boost it always needed. If you’re a small or medium-sized business owner, your business will eventually become a brand and if you have a large corporation, it will be able to leave a digital footprint on the internet.
The Truth about SEO
Although search engine optimization might seem and sound complicated, it is most certainly not. However, it’s technical in nature. Many businesses hire the services of an SEO agency to carry out the process for them, so that they can focus on running their core business. If you feel the need to recruit an agency, you can and you should.
On the other hand, there are a few important facts you need to keep in mind about SEO. Here they are:
Rocket Science and SEO are Not Equal
As mentioned earlier, SEO is not difficult or overly complicated; but, it might be a bit technical. However, if you dedicate yourself in learning SEO on your own, you will discover that it is rather easy and it involves common sense. You will find many free resources on the internet to help you get started.
The Content is Not as Important as You might Think
A common misconception prevails that the content of your website matters the most in attracting visitors. There’s no doubt that that is true, but think of it like this; what would happen if there was no one to read your content? You need to employ a method to make your content visible and the only way to do that is through SEO.
SEO is Not the Ultimate Solution
Confused? Read on. SEO doesn’t work like a magic wand and magically increase the number of visitors you receive on your website or the number of sales you generate. Yes, it does help in creating more visibility for your website by improving its ranking in search engine results, but in order to be truly successful in search engine marketing, you have to put an effort in understanding the audience you wish to target, their problems, your business’s mission and brand, and any other functions contained within.
Common Mistakes Made During SEO
While SEO can be outsourced to an agency, some businesses choose to carry out the technique in-house. If you are willing to do the same, you need to be aware of certain mistakes and blunders commonly made by many businesses. These mistakes can cost them visitors, leads, and hence, customers and revenue.
Using Inappropriate Keywords and Phrases
Businesses often implement the wrong kind of phrases and keywords that can negatively affect their search engine results and reduce their visibility. Such keywords are often used in the following scenarios:
- Using keywords intended for audience searching for free information.
- Keywords applicable to an international audience, when you’re serving local customers.
- Keywords having no specific purpose.
- Commonly used keywords that face heavy competition.
Keywords don’t need to be stuffed in the content as well because they degrade the customer experience. Instead, incorporate keywords which are directed towards your target audience and those which refer to your particular product or service.
Not Using Analytical Tools
There are many analytical tools used for the purposes of SEO such as KISSmetrics; such analytical tools help you determine the number of conversions taking place from your phrases and keywords. However, many businesses don’t consider using an analytical tool to avoid unnecessary costs and wasting time.
Analytical tools aren’t expensive at all; in fact, a few good free ones are available too. By analyzing, you will be able to deduce which keyword or phrase works best and then optimize your business website according to the results.
There’s No Anchor Text in the Web Content
An anchor text is a phrase or a keyword that is hyperlinked to other webpages of your website. It improves the user experience by making easier to search for the information they seek. Therefore, the inclusion anchor text boosts a website’s search engine rankings. But in many cases, it is not included and general terms like ‘click here’, ‘see more’ or ‘this post’ are added.
You should make an effort in including anchor text in your web content by using multiple variations and combinations of highly optimized keywords and phrases. Don’t forget to add anchor text in the call-to-actions as well.
Keeping the Meta Descriptions and Meta Titles Same
The Meta titles and Meta descriptions are used by search engine algorithms to search for and display your website in their results. They are an important part of SEO and they need to be different and unique for every webpage of your business website. If they are the same, your website will lose its ranking, visitors, and thus any potential customers.
Always create separate Meta titles and Meta descriptions for your web content and try using the correct set of phrases and keywords. Don’t forget to add your company name at the end of each description and title.