What Is SEO?

What Is SEO?

What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) has become one the most profitable avenues of marketing for global and small, local businesses. SEO enables you to connect with potential customers better than any other online medium — so much so that businesses are spending $65 billion per year improving their search presence.

What is SEO?

SEO is the process of informing search engines of what your business does, where you are located, and why you’re the best source of information for the searcher. Search engines use this data to connect your business with users when they perform a search.

In a nutshell, optimizing for SEO helps consumers quickly and easily find what is most relevant to them.

Search engines have gotten so good at indexing websites through SEO that searchers rarely click beyond the first few results on the first page. Optimizing your website for SEO can propel your business from the fifth page of search up to the first.

SEO works at the local and global level

There are two kinds of SEO:

Global SEO is necessary for businesses with a national or global presence. For example, online businesses like Amazon and Ebay operate around the world and optimize their websites for global SEO. Global SEO is also ideal if your customers are not in a specific geo-location.

Local SEO is necessary for businesses with a state or city presence. For example, if you run a restaurant in downtown Seattle, you would optimize your website for local SEO.  There is little point in ranking outside of Seattle because your business is not (generally) relevant for searchers in London or Sydney. Local businesses are much more likely to outrank major brands when they optimize their website for local search.

SEO helps customers connect with businesses

The goal of a search engine is to provide a searcher with the most relevant websites based on a search query. If they return low-quality sites that are irrelevant to the searcher’s needs, there is high probability that the searcher will not use the search engine again. A perfect example of this is AOL Search. It dominated the search engine market for years in the early 2000s, until competition arrived offering consumers a better search experience.

If your website is correctly optimized using the best SEO practices you will increase your online presence and drive more potential customers to your website.

What if my website is not optimized for SEO?

If you don’t optimize your website for SEO, it will still appear in search results, provided it’s indexed correctly. However, search engines may be confused about what your business does, where it operates, and who your website is best suited for.

If a search engine does not have all the data it requires to index your website, it will rank your pages lower. Try searching for your main keywords on a browser you never use. If your website fails to appear on the first page, there is a good probability it’s because of a lack of SEO or SEO tools.

Which search engines use SEO?

Only a daily basis, consumers use several search engines that use SEO algorithms to rank webpages. The most popular are:

  • Google
  • Bing
  • Yahoo

Between them they receive 98.8% of the entire search engine market share in the U.S.

When optimizing a website for SEO, your objective is to rank organically on all three of these search engines. As they rely on similar ranking factors, there’s no need to optimize your website individually for each. You only need to make changes once and the effects be apparent on each.

How does SEO work?

SEO currently is based on 205 unique ranking factors (this number is always rising). Factors include domain name factors, social media profiles, content, external links, and engagement on social media.

There are two core aspects to SEO:

On-site factors – these are the variables that are within your control and you can optimize for. Examples include the speed of your website, the code on your website, keywords, and the URL structure of each page.

Off-site factors – these are variables outside the scope of your website. They include online reviews, links directing to your website (as well as the quality of these links), and brand mentions. Although off-site ranking factors are typically out of your control, they are just as important as on-site factors.

Content is key to a good SEO presence. If you optimize your website for SEO with lots of great content, you’ll see many positive off-site factors, such as brand mentions, backlinks, and social shares. Content is the medium that merges on- and off-site SEO. The businesses that provide the best content are the ones that rank highest. 

SEO is dynamic

SEO ranking factors are continually changing. This means your site requires ongoing optimization to maintain a high ranking.

If you obtain a first page ranking for a keyword, without continual monitoring there is no guarantee that your business will occupy that slot forever. This also applies in the reverse: if your competitors are ranking on the first page of search for your targeted keywords, you can outrank them if you optimize your website and offer better content.

Why should I optimize my website for SEO?

Remember that we told you earlier that businesses are spending $65 billion a year on SEO? You’ll lose out in this digital age if you fail to keep up with the trends.

SEO offers a lot more than a ranking on the first page of search results. It also improves all other areas of your online marketing strategy. For instance, search engines take into consideration the time users spend on your website, whether they revisit, and how they interact with your pages. Many SEO techniques increase the usability of your website, and good usability can instantly increase conversions. Customer experience is becoming more important than price and product — SEO is all about customer experience.

SEO is not rocket science

Search engine optimization may sound like an intimidating marketing term, but it’s really not that scary. Like any sustainable marketing strategy, SEO requires time, effort, and monitoring. It also demands frequent tweaking, as search engines are continually updating their algorithms to provide users with the best possible experiences.

Are you looking to increase your online search presence through SEO? Get in touch with us today to receive a free consultation with one of our marketing specialists. You should also check out our SEO basic training for tools and tutorials about the latest best practices.

This post was originally published September 2016 and has been updated to be current in the new year.

Colton Miller
[email protected]

Colton is the Director of SEO Strategy at Boostability testing and defining the products and processes that make Boostability's customers successful. He has been a part of Boostability for over 7 years. Colton loves hanging out with his family and gaming. He runs a personal blog over at www.coltonjmiller.com where he discusses gaming, life, and SEO.