What is SEO?

The world of marketing has changed drastically in recent years. Most businesses recognize this and have begun shifting their focus toward digital marketing. A quality website and online ads have become advertising bread and butter. The question becomes then, if everyone is promoting themselves in this way, how can I set my business apart in the digital marketplace?


This is where SEO comes in. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. And digital marketing that has an SEO foundation is key to making your business stand out from the internet crowd.


Simply put, SEO is the reason a company’s website jumps to the top of the organic (non paid) list when someone performs a search online. And it’s the reason those companies are getting the most client conversions, therefore the most revenue. It’s kind of a big deal.  


Think about what happens when you or a friend need something. You search for it online, or you might ask a friend. But that friend, instead of answering, might turn around and say “just google it.” There’s a reason ‘Google’ has become a verb. It’s what we do. Search engines like Google are the all-knowing oracles.


So we know people who are looking for a product or service turn to search engines. If you’re asking, “how important is it that people see my website when they search for a related term?” The answer is: absolutely critical to your company’s success.


There are plenty of in-depth guides to SEO on the web. We recommend Moz’s SEO beginner’s guide if you have some time on your hands. If you’d rather get the gist of SEO in the next five minutes, here’s our simplified breakdown of how SEO works.


How smart are search engines?


Google and other search engines have become quite smart, but they still cannot think like a human. Search engines use something called ‘web crawlers’ or ‘spiders’ to crawl through your website and index it based on several factors.


How on earth do search engines analyze and categorize all the information on the web? Hear straight from Google Engineer, Matt Cutts, about how search works.


The web crawlers are looking for:


  • The right terms or phrases, also known as keywords
  • Quality original content
  • Crawlable pages (sometimes not all of your content can be seen by the spiders)
  • Popularity of your page (trust)
  • Links to your page from other reputable sources on the web

Ranking in search engines


When a search is performed, the first three results get the overwhelming majority of the clicks. So how does a company rank within those first three results? There are a lot of ranking factors to think about, but for now, we’ll focus just on on-site SEO.


SEO marketers know how to optimize (meaning use the right words in the right places) everything related to your site: from domains, to title tags, meta tags, snippets, content, photos, keywords, and the the list goes on.


These ranking factors show us that it’s entirely possible to have a great looking website and still be buried under your competitors in search results.
For instance, there could be an awesome photo on your site, but if the text describing the photo isn’t optimized, the search engine can’t necessarily detect and index the information properly.


User Experience, Content, and Trust


You might be thinking: but there must be more to success on the web than titles, tags and keywords. And, you’re right.


The web’s metrics for ranking have become more and more sophisticated. And though keywords are still important, an overall positive user experience on your website should not be underestimated.


A clean, straightforward website with plenty of quality content will provide a great user experience. That user then might share the website with a friend, write about it on social media, or include it in a blog post, all of which increase your ranking.


Also, Google will begin to see your website with authority. As your site grows in popularity, search engines will develop trust for it. This comes from the number of users, the links pointing back to your site, and consistently fresh, true content. These external validating factors are what we call off-site SEO.


Great Content is:

  • Fresh
  • Keyword optimized
  • Relevant
  • Easy to read
  • Error-free
  • Contains links to other trustworthy sites


The bottom line in SEO is relevance

If you’re creating the content people are searching for and utilizing online (if your information is more relevant and trusted than the next person’s), then your company will rise to the top of the list. Knowing precisely what people are searching for is critical. Incorporating that information so the web crawlers can find it, is where an SEO or internet marketing agency comes in. The companies who invest in SEO marketing have a clear advantage in this age of Google.

Read the next blog in the series to begin or spruce up your online ads: Understanding PPC Ads in 3 Easy Steps