SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and it’s an important marketing tactic for introducing your content or campaign to the widest possible audience without overextending your budget. Search Engine Land defines SEO as, “the process of getting traffic from the free, organic, editorial or natural search results on search engines.” Moz calls it, “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”
SEO works hand in hand with your overall marketing strategy. After all, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines, effectively making them the gatekeepers of who sees your content. When a user enters a query or phrase in the search bar, the majority of space on the search engine results page (SERP) will be organic, SEO-optimized pages. It’s no surprise that 53% of trackable website traffic comes from organic search.
Each of the major search engines uses its own algorithm to rank search results. Ultimately, they’re looking to improve user experience by serving the most relevant content for each query. In the past, content creators could “game” the system by stuffing blogs or landing pages with keywords. That approach no longer works. As the algorithms get more sophisticated, factors such as the context of keywords and the number of backlinks influence the page rank. That’s why it’s important to optimize content for SEO rather than write for SEO. Useful, unique content should be the ambition. SEO optimization helps useful, unique content find the widest possible audience.
How Can SEO Help My Website?
SEO optimization can benefit your website and overall business in a number of ways, including the following:
Increasing Organic Traffic
A well-optimized website that consistently follows SEO best practices will continuously grow its organic traffic over time. By improving your website’s visibility in relevant search results, you enable more users to find your content and visit your website.
But remember, SEO is a long-term strategy that proves to be more effective over time, and so-called ‘Black Hat’ tactics are no match for a long-term strategy.
Improve Traffic Quality
Getting traffic to your website is great, and getting a lot of traffic to your site is even better, but does that matter if users who land on your site don’t find the information relevant to their search? SEO helps users searching for specific information land on the most relevant websites and pages. The goal of content marketing is to nurture unique into repeat visitors. Trick users into visiting your page and they are unlikely to return.
Conversions indicate whether your SEO efforts are profitable and delivering return on investment (ROI). They also give you insight into how users engage with your website. If you’re earning traffic but users aren’t taking desired action, it could indicate your SEO efforts aren’t effective. Increasing conversions should be as important to SEO managers as increasing organic traffic. Set a SMART goal for each and test relentlessly until the metrics align with your KPIs.
How Marketers Can Reap the Benefits
For a quarter of web users, the first page (SERP) is as far as they will investigate a query. If you’re not ranking on page one, prospects are unlikely to find you. But if you optimize your site for SEO, you can progress toward the first page relatively swiftly (particularly if you can provide relevant content for specific searches around long-tail keywords).
Following a proactive strategy is essential. The fact is that there are more than 4 billion other web pages to compete with. Chances are, users will not randomly find you. You have to leave a trail they can follow to your site by consistently creating content that matches their problems, wants, and interests.
As a long-term strategy, SEO optimization encourages you to focus on delivering useful, engaging content that satisfies your customers’ pain points and needs. As an ongoing process, that will help you build a stronger connection with your target audience and increase your overall authority in your market.
Different Types of SEO
Search engine optimization takes three forms, all of which need to be addressed, tested and refreshed.
Optimize the content that your user actually sees, whether it’s a blog post, product copy, or “About Us” page. Your important keywords should be placed in the headlines, subheadlines, URL, and alt text, for example.
The perceived authority of your page is an important factor in SEO, so focus on building backlinks to your content. The more pages that link to your site, the better your ranking. Nowadays, search engines will penalize sites that purchase backlinks from irrelevant sources, so don’t be tempted to take a short cut. The most effective strategy is to provide quality content that people want to refer to.
While technical SEO is invisible to the user, it is vital for your page ranking. Essentially, it involves optimizing your site to make it as easy as possible for Google (or other search engines) to crawl and index. That means fixing broken links, improving page loading speed, and providing an XML site map.
The guiding mantra for SEO should be to create unique, valuable content. That’s the long-term strategy. At the same time, there are specific structural adjustments and tweaks that you can make to any existing page to improve its on-page SEO. Many CRM platforms will even scan your content to show you where improvements can be made.
Essential SEO Checklist
Optimize your pages for mobile. Even though mobile devices account for more than half of web browsing, too many developers still think in terms of desktop. Responsive pages equal better user experiences, leading to better search rankings.
- Secure your site with a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. Particularly for e-commerce sites, this will change your URL from HTTP to HTTPS, and this is important to establish trust.
- Title tag power. Make sure that the tab at the top of the screen (also the clickable link on SERP) contains a target keyword that is not duplicated on other pages. As a general rule, avoid duplicated content altogether.
- Aim for a clear, accurate meta description. This is the text that is often visible on search results. Make it clear, honest about what the destination page covers, and include at least one keyword.
- Target your URL. Including target keywords in the site URL helps the search engine identify relevance.
- Streamline your image tags. Too many sites skip alt descriptions, the text alternative to images. Not only do these help search engines discover what images are for show, but they are also important considerations for accessibility (e.g., text to speech).
SEO is more than just satisfying the search engines — your content should primarily serve to satisfy the people using search engines to find information. SEO is about understanding what users are searching for online, the words and phrases they’re using to find answers, and the type of content they’re seeking online. Understanding these things allows you to connect with the right audience.
SEO can help your website rank higher in the search engines, which will ultimately drive more traffic to your site and lead to more conversions. However, keep in mind that part of an effective SEO strategy includes driving the right quality traffic to your site as well. When done effectively and well, it helps businesses achieve goals that will ultimately lead to success.
Interested in supercharging your website’s SEO? Reach out today for a free consultation with one of Hawke Media’s digital marketing experts to learn how.