You’ve probably heard about SEO one way or another. Whether you read about it on the web or from one of your friends, you’ve probably wondered if SEO is really worth all the hype.
So What exactly is SEO and do you really need it? Is SEO a myth and a scam?
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for “Search Engine Optimization”. According to wikipedia, it is the continuous process of improving your website’s search engine page ranking by organic or unpaid methods.
To put it more simply:
When you type something in a search engine and press enter, the search engine results page (SERP) returns a list of websites that contain your search terms (also known as keywords).
SEO is a technique that allows search engines to find and rank your website for a given keyword.
Different search engines use different factors to rank websites. They usually use complex algorithms to determine the quality and relevance of your website.
When we talk about search engines, Google is probably the first name that comes to your mind. According to Netmarketshare, Google has about 78% of the global market share.
From the top 15 most popular search engines, Google ranks first with more than a billion estimated unique monthly visitors. Naturally, SEOs (Search Engine Optimizer) optimize websites for Google.
How does Google see SEO?
The most daunting question you can ask an SEO is how does Google rank websites? Well, the answer is nobody knows, except for Google. Besides the occasional updates, guidelines and hints, Google doesn’t reveal how they rank websites.
However, through research, experience and testing, SEOs and marketers have come to know what good ranking factors are.
Google uses a complex algorithm with more than 200 signals to give a score to your website. Depending on this score, websites are ranked in the search results. Optimizing your website for search engines means getting the highest scores you can.
Matt Cutts, Google’s former head of web spam team explains how search works in this video:
Google tries to measure if the website provides something valuable, unique or interesting for google searchers. Three main factors that can affect your score are quality, trust and authority.
For example, if someone who sells hats online gives the same product description as other websites, then you are not offering anything unique. Even though your hats might be great, google does not have a way to determine that your hats are better than anybody else’s.
Search Engines want to show websites that are trustworthy and credible. They penalize websites with consistent bad reviews resulting in low rankings. Building a fan base through social media and getting people to share your content is a great way to build your trust and credibility.
So SEO is basically the process of proving to search engines that your website is the best one, most authoritative, most trusted, most unique and interesting site that they can offer to their customers.
On-site SEO refers to all the optimization techniques you can do on your website. It involves tweaking the website data and content to become search engine friendly.
Some important on-site SEO factors that need to be considered are:
- Original, high-quality and relevant content with more than 500 words
- Keywords in URLs, headings, sub-headings and body
- Images relevant to the topic in discussion with “alt” attributes and captions
- Good english with correct spellings and grammatically correct sentences
- Social media links and user reviews or discussions
- Mobile-friendly websites
Off-site SEO is everything that happens outside your website. It is basically using other websites to validate your website authority.
As the number of inbound links increase to your website and more people are talking about you, your website authority and trust improves with the search engines.
Some off-site optimization techniques include:
- Submitting your website or blog to various search engines
- Register your business and website to online directories and maps
- Submit your blog articles to article submission website
- Get involved in forum discussions
- Actively use social media
Why do I need SEO?
SEO can make or break you. Some of the top reasons your business needs SEO are:
- Everybody is Online – Around 80 – 90% of customers check for reviews online before buying a product. With the number of internet users and websites increasing, this number is more likely to increase as well.
- Most people look at the first page only – Most people only click on the top few pages in the SERP because they feel the results are more relevant. According to Marketing Land, 71.3% of the searches resulted in a page one click of which 67.60% clicks were on the first 5 results.
- SEO is here to stay – SEO changes over time and companies that adapt with it are seeing the results. The spammy link building techniques are being penalized by Google now and the only way to compete is by producing quality content. As long as the internet is not dead, SEO will not die out.
- Your competitors are doing it – Your competitors are probably doing SEO to get high rankings. If you are not improving your rankings as well, you will be losing the competitive edge.
- High ROI – SEO is one of the most cost-effective online marketing techniques. SEO is an investment that can have a high return.
Getting Help with SEO
SEO is constantly changing and hiring professionals who keep up with the fast moving SEO world is the solution to total SEO domination for your website.
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