What is SEO and Why is it Important?
Recent studies show that 86% of consumers use the internet to find a local business, and over 90% of Google users don’t bother to look beyond the first search results page. This means that if you’re not on the front page of Google, you’re not being found.
So, what is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is the process of increasing the visibility of your website to attract more people, and gain higher quality visits to your site (focusing on your target market and people who are likely to become a customer).
Simply put, it’s the art of getting more valuable, relevant traffic to your website by making your website searchable through non-paid (organic) search results.
Google, the most widely used search engine, processes over 40,000 search queries every second1, and with over 130 trillion pages across the web, the importance of securing your spot at the top is increasing, as is the competition. Even a small increase to your SEO can mean the difference between a customer choosing you over the competition.
Google search 101:
Even before you search for something, the Googlebot is busy crawling and storing sites in its Search index, looking for new or updated web pages.
Google then analyzes the content of the page, cataloging and indexing images, videos and text, essentially coming up with an understanding of what the page is all about.
In less than a second after you initiate a search query, Google serves back results from its index of over 30 trillion unique sites.
“If you’re not on the front page of Google, you’re not being found”
Then, Google monitors what happens and adjusts your page rank accordingly – if they believe many users are finding value spending time on your site, they will continue sending more traffic to your site and may even move you up on the Google search page. However if users are leaving quickly and trying another search, Google may adjust it’s results to deliver other options, and move your site down in the rankings accordingly.
The SEO ‘Game’
Google has over 200 different ‘signals’ that it uses to analyze a website and determine it’s placement on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Each of these signals carries a different weight, from nearly insignificant to absolutely critical, and they all play a part in the overall success of your website.
However, Google is constantly iterating their algorithms, policies, and practices in order to push the envelope and maintain their status as top dog. Because of this, the SEO landscape is always changing, and what was best practice one day can be yesterday’s news overnight.
The trick to staying on top of this is knowing that all of Google’s metrics for ranking ultimately seek to answer two questions: does this website have what the user is looking for, and is the website providing the best possible experience? This means that starting off with the strong foundation of having your website designed and built with SEO in mind gives you an advantage over your competitors.
Keys to good SEO
It is helpful to understand the relationship between a search engine and its users when considering SEO.
Search engines form a symbiotic relationship with their users: the better they do at providing users with exactly what they are looking for, the more likely a user is to come back and use it again. This increases the odds that they will click on ads or sponsored content that generates revenue for the search engine.
This means the ultimate goal of Google et al. is to find websites that are as relevant to what people are searching as possible, and to make sure its users have the best experience possible on it’s platform.
Three Pillars of SEO
1. Content – Content is the main reason people want to visit your site, and as a result it has a major impact in your SEO. Good content engages users and entices them to stay on the page longer. On top of that, people are more likely to share good content which increases site traffic, and when those users engage with and share your content the effect starts to snowball.
2. User Experience – If we compare a website’s content to a dish at a restaurant, the user experience is the menu that helps you find what you want to eat. User experience (UX) encompasses many factors that influence how people feel about your website. When designed well, most people won’t notice (when was the last time you heard someone say, “That button is just the right size to be clicked on!”); but when done poorly it is the first thing that will turn people away. All of Google’s metrics for ranking are ultimately seek to answer one of two questions: does this website have what the user is looking for (content), and is the website providing the best possible experience (UX).
3. Indexability – It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest content on the internet, if Google’s bot can’t find what it’s looking for, your website won’t show up in a search. It’s important to not only display information in a way that is good for your users, but also in a way that makes it easy for the bots to discern what you’re talking about.
So, what does it take to boost your SEO?
Time. There is no ‘magic’ when it comes to optimizing your website for search engines. It is a culmination of hundreds of small factors, and can take months for a dedicated SEO project to show results. By making Search Engine Optimization a factor in your marketing strategy and consistently making improvements, you can build a strong SEO profile over time. As your website builds momentum, the increase in traffic will help fuel further growth and development.
Optimizing your website for Search Engines is an ever-changing and competitive discipline. As the digital landscape evolves, so too does SEO. Google regularly updates their algorithms and new factors impacting SEO are frequently discovered. If you’re not staying on top of the change, you risk losing your search result spot to someone who is.
Could you benefit from an SEO boost?
Here are a couple of quick checks you can perform:
Go into your web browser’s ‘Private’ or ‘Incognito’ mode so that Google doesn’t use your previous search data, and perform a few searches on Google for your website, your industry or services, and specific content on your website.
If you’re on the first page, you’re doing okay, if you’re on the top half of the page, you’re doing well, and if you’re ‘above the fold’ (the search results that show up before Google’s other widgets), you’re doing great.
|First 3 Non-Paid Results
|Your Industry or Services
|Specific Content on Your Website
1Google Search Statistics, www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics