SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is becoming a foundational cog in any marketing strategy. SEO refers to the process of creating and curating a search-engine-optimized website for your business.
Companies who pay attention to SEO can generate consistent organic traffic from showing up in search engine results, making it a potentially lucrative marketing strategy for both online and brick-and-mortar businesses alike. However, SEO takes up-to-date techniques and some know-how to make it worth your time. Here are a few of the fundamental elements of SEO to help you interact with it knowledgeably.
How Does SEO Work?
Search engines evaluate virtually all the content on the internet via algorithms and “bots” that scan web pages for information. Complicated formulas analyze and order pages in their search results according to those analyses for any relevant search term. Here are a couple of common SEO terms you should know:
- Ranking: Your search engine ranking refers to the position where your website or web page would appear in the list of results someone would receive after typing in an associated search keyword. For example, if your website was about training Labradoodles, when an individual types “training Labradoodles” into a search engine, it would arrange all the pages across the entire internet about labradoodle training into an order based on the way it perceived each page’s relevance and value. The page is deemed most applicable would appear in spot number one, and the rest would fall underneath in descending order.
- On-site SEO: Two main types of SEO exist. On-site SEO refers to treatment to and within the website or page itself. As an example, this could look like including strategic keywords in the body of the text on a webpage at an optimized density.
- Off-site SEO: Off-site SEO refers to building a perception of authority for your web property by garnering links to your site from external websites. Search engine algorithms value when links to your content exist on different websites because it indicates that other people already found your content valuable. Search engines give more weight to these links when they’re found on .gov or .edu sites since those are generally more curated.
- Metadata: Metadata refers to text descriptions that are not displayed on a website for a visitor to read, but rather included in the code that search bots can use to determine what the page is about. When building a website, it’s strategic to make sure that each of your pages includes good metadata that contains strategic keywords to ensure the highest ranking possible for each of your pages.
When is SEO Applicable or Advantageous?
As with developing any marketing strategy, certain considerations should be made before launching into a robust SEO campaign. Some questions that can inform how to prioritize SEO as part of your marketing strategy:
- Is your target audience looking online for the solution you offer? (Usually, this answer is yes, but not always.)
- Does your business model lend itself to converting cold leads from a web search? Some businesses are better suited for more personalized or hands-on sales methods. In these cases, SEO’s ROI can be limited.
- SEO can be done in a one-time treatment of your web property, but to work well it needs maintenance and upkeep to maintain its effects. Do you have the resources – either the time to do it yourself or the funds to pay someone to do it for you – to maintain an ongoing SEO effort?
Though a robust SEO strategy can be resource-intensive, it is almost imperative for every business owner to have at least a basic understanding of SEO if they want their web property to be discoverable. These basics will help you better understand your website’s SEO and guide you if you decide to pursue it more concertedly.
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