Whether you’re new to the world of digital marketing, or you’ve been in it for a few years, you will no doubt have seen many references to SEO. This is a concept of significant importance in digital marketing, but what does it mean? What is it? Today we’re going to take a look and demystify this concept for you. Understanding SEO is a critical part of any digital marketing plan.
What does SEO Stand For?
The initials SEO stand for Search Engine Optimization.
This refers, first of all, to online search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo, among many others.
These search engines are one of the primary ways that Internet users find information. They use them by typing keywords or questions into a text input bar on the search engine’s main page. The search function can also appear as a widget inside other applications.
When the user requests a search, the search engine displays relevant results that it pulls from across the Internet. These results can include web pages with original content, advertisements, videos, and images.
Over the years, search engines have gotten very good at displaying the most useful information. They do this through the use of specialized programming algorithms that read and analyze website content. Based on what they find, they assign ranks to the pages. When a user makes a search, the search engine displays the content according to that relevance ranking.
Most often, searchers will assume that the top results that appear are indeed the most relevant to what they’re looking for, and they won’t spend too much time scrolling through the many thousands of other pages of results.
As a consequence, one of the most important digital marketing activities is to optimize your content so that it appears near the top of these search engine results pages, or SERPs.
What is SEO?
So this is where the word optimization comes in, and this is where most of the work in understanding SEO takes place. You want to make sure that the content on your web pages gets recognized by search engine algorithms as relevant and useful when somebody searches for specific keywords related to what you offer.
This doesn’t necessarily mean getting into complex mathematics or programming, although the code behind a web page can affect how it appears to search engines. You will need to address that, but mostly, it has to do with how the content itself is written.
It’s about using the correct keywords in the right ways, and with the right frequency. That’s so the search engine that finds your page will recognize it as useful and high-quality content that will answer somebody’s questions well.
In the past, when search engines were relatively new, the algorithms were simple and easy to game. The web pages that appeared highest on SERPs we’re the ones that simply used the key words most often.
This led to problems where a page would be 99% gibberish lists of random keywords, and only 1% content that may or may not have even been useful.
The search companies quickly addressed that issue, and the algorithms have only gotten more sophisticated since then.
It’s now important to make sure that your keywords appear naturally within the body of your website content. A ratio of about one appearance per every other hundred words tends to be the ideal, and good content should have at least a minimum of 300 words per web page.
The more effort you put into improving the genuine quality of your content, the easier it will be to appear on the top of a search engine result.
Another important feature of understanding SEO is how the search engine algorithms measure the importance of your website based on the links it contains, as well as other pages that link back to yours.
This aspect has become less important in recent years than it was at first. It’s still a good idea to make sure that the blog posts that you create link back to your own home or call-to-action pages, though. They should also contain links to external resources from other content creators.
Generally speaking, the more links that you can build in ways that are natural and relevant, the better for your search engine results ranking.
Why Does SEO Matter?
You don’t just want people to notice and read your content; you want them to engage with it.
One of the primary purposes of content creation is lead generation. By getting people interested in what you have to say, you can encourage them to provide you with their email address, or other means of contact, so that you can follow up with them via newsletters or direct sales calls.
SEO is simply the process of making your content more visible to more people, so that you’re able to contact more of them, and make more sales at the end of the day.
If your websites don’t appear on the first page when somebody searches for keywords that are relevant to what you offered, it’s unlikely that they will ever see your services.
Keep in mind that it’s still not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Understanding SEO should be just one component of your overall digital marketing strategy. You don’t want to become overly reliant on search engines funneling traffic to you. That’s mostly because they change their algorithms almost every day.
What works today may not work tomorrow, but on the other hand, the search companies always publish their recommendations for the best way to work with them.
Always make sure that you’re keeping tabs on the most recent updates from Google and other search companies about how to make sure that your content gets seen by the people you want to work with!