SEO is a sustainable way to market your website. Using SEO to create a regular audience and generate consistent leads is essential for a website’s success.
Rather calling this blog ‘What is SEO?’, I thought it would be more practical to frame the question as ‘Why is SEO important for your website?’
If we thread some high level SEO theory in the practical application of why you need SEO for your website – the concepts are easier to understand, and easier from me to write! I hope you find this blog useful.
Why SEO is so important?
More than 70% of B2B researchers start their buying process with a generic search. (SearchEngine Journal)
89% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases. (Retailing Today)
93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. (Techjury).
The way we buy things has changed dramatically over the last few years, and even more so with the COVID pandemic changing our normal patterns of life.
Imagine that just ten years ago if you wanted a new TV for your home, or a new machine for your business your generally bought it from your local store or from a salesperson that cold called you.
This has entirely changed. Here’s how:
Example: B2C (Business to Consumer)
In 2020, you now research the best TV in your budget range. You then order it from the online retailer with the best price. If you want the TV ASAP, you go to the nearest store and tell them to match the price, or you’ll just order it online.
Example: B2B (Business to Business)
For the machine for your business – let’s say a new industrial oven for your restaurant kitchen. You research the commercial oven providers (and brands) in your region and only ask two or three of them to come to see you. Long gone are the days of cold calling reps opening up conversations.
A businesses website now does the preliminary part of the sales process. After the research phase, the prospect calls the potential suppliers having done all the initial evaluations and sales process upfront.
Good SEO gets your foot in the door at the start of the evaluation process. You can’t afford to not be there when your client is looking for your products and services.
What is a Search Engine?
In the western world, the largest search engines are Google, Youtube, and Bing. Google is by far the largest and most relevant for boosting the traffic to your website.
Most people don’t realise that Google is only an index of all the pages on the internet. What this means is that when you type your query into Google, it actually searches its own index, and not the internet. That’s why Google is so fast to give you your search results. Once you click on the search result, Google redirects to it.
Website pages that are not listed on Google and other search engines are part of the Dark Web, but that’s for another blog post.
Google’s rise as the largest and most used search engine is because they are the best at providing you with the most relevant answers to your questions.
SEO’s goal is for your website to be one of the answers Google provides. Enter the art of SEO.
The Search Engine Results Page
After you’ve typed in your search query and clicked enter, you will be redirected to the Search Engine Results Page or SERP. When you are doing SEO, it’s essential to understand what the page is made up of, because you can target different areas of the SERP.
Although simplified, the image below shows what a SERP looks like. The red and yellow sections at the top are paid for using the Google Ads platform. The rest of the results are to do with organic ranking and for the maps section a combination of organic ranking and geographic location.
We call the process of ranking and marketing a website for organic results – SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). The green and purple sections are where your website will appear if you are doing SEO. As a rule of thumb, higher up you are on the page the better your SEO is.
We call the process of ranking and marketing a website using paid ads – SEM (Search Engine Marketing). The red and yellow regions below are where you will appear if you are doing SEM. The higher you are up on the page for paid ads is a combination of your websites’ relevance to the users’ search query and how much you are prepared to pay for the top spot.
What Are the Main Elements of Search Engine Optimization?
On-site SEO are the improvements to be applied to the content on your site to ensure that it’s search engine friendly. When optimizing your webpages for search engines, you want to signal to search engines exactly what the webpage is about in a variety of ways.
With On-site SEO, you’ll deal with the structure of your website, SEO keywords, internal links, image alt attributes, and other techniques to help the search engines analyze and assess the content of your website.
While keywords are no longer the only SEO technique that matters, they’re still crucial to your website’s search engine ranking. When we speak of keywords, we are referring to specific words and phrases that potential customers use to find answers online.
Picking the right keywords for your website and content takes diligent research, and it’s important to aim for the sweet spot of high volume ratings + low competition. At Alter Endeavors Digital Creative, we offer an SEO Foundational package when building sites that leans on extensive keyword research to ensure the language used across the site includes high-volume keywords relevant to your industry.
The content you choose to write and share on your website is essential to reaching and engaging with your audience. Say you owned a window treatment business, like our client ABC Blind & Drapery does – to increase your visibility in that industry, we’d suggest a series of blogs exploring the types of window treatments, from modern window treatments to smart home automation through motorized blinds, etc.
So, when a local user searches a question concerning a type of window treatment, your blog shows up. This allows you to start a conversation with a potential customer by providing them valuable information that they are actively searching for. And when they’re ready to purchase their new window treatments, who will be the first to come to mind? You. Your content should be educational, engaging and shareable.
If you own a local business that only serves the Austin area, your website is not ranking in other cities. Search engines pull the user’s location to make suggestions that are within a certain range so that they can make a quick decision rather than sort through businesses that are nowhere near at that point in time. So, if someone wanted to find the best sushi in town, they’d do a quick google search, browse the top results around them, and make their decision. Which means if your business isn’t showing up as a top result when it should be included, chances are they’re taking their business elsewhere.
Ways to improve your local SEO include using local keywords, claiming your directory listings, and creating pages for your businesses on platforms such as Google My Business and Google Maps.
Off-site search engine optimization techniques involve efforts made on websites outside of your own to push your own ranking higher. The key element to off-site SEO is link building or “backlinks,” which is an effort to have other reputable, high-traffic websites link back to your site.
Backlinks are a signal of trust to search engines and they can play a huge part in your ranking position. Ensure that the links are coming from well-known and trusted sites and your ranking will be positively affected. Don’t try and trick the search engine into recognizing bad links, using “black hat” tactics, because more likely than not, you’ll get penalized and potentially banned from search engines.
After overviewing what search engine optimization is, why it’s important and how to implement — keep in mind that SEO should be treated as a positive practice with long term benefits, not an exact science with immediate results. Your rankings highly depend on who you are competing with, including the size of the company, years in business and their own on and off-site SEO efforts.
Improving your digital presence is an ever-growing task, but these tips on how to improve your SEO should help you get the ball rolling. If you have any questions or are looking to build a powerful digital ecosystem for your brand, we’d love to chat!