Originally posted on https://www.thehoth.com/blog/what-is-seo/
There are lots of ways to market your business, but using SEO to ranking highly in search engines like Google is one of the most powerful, highest ROI ways to get more leads and sales.
So what is SEO, why is it important, and how does it work? In this article, we’ll be breaking down everything.
Let’s get into it!
What is SEO?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of optimizing a website to increase the amount and the quality of targeted organic traffic from ranking in search engines. Search results that appear higher on the page generally tend to get more clicks than results that appear further down.
In fact, studies show that 30% of searchers tend to click on the first search result on the page, 15% click on the second result, and around 10% click on the third result. The click-through rate drops significantly after that with positions 4-10 getting only around 2-5% of clicks.
With SEO, marketers need to focus not only on getting more traffic from search engines, but also getting well-targeted traffic that is interested in the website’s content.
Why Is It Important?
Before search engines became popular, people use to get information by reading newspapers, looking in phone books, and searching through other offline sources. Search engines revolutionized how people find information and Google alone gets over 3.5 billion searches each day.
SEO allows marketers to attract targeted traffic to their websites which can result in more sales for businesses or the ability to build an audience for brands that are doing content marketing. Ideally, you want to rank your web pages on the first page of Google in the top three results as the top three results get 55% of clicks from searchers.
Getting web pages to rank in the search engines can drive qualified leads to your business who are actively seeking what you are offering.
For example, people searching for “wedding invitations” on Google are likely shopping for invitations for their wedding. If your website sells wedding invitations, then ranking on the first page of Google when someone types in “wedding invitations” will send you lots of targeted leads that are ready to buy your products.
This free traffic from the search engines could result in lots of revenue for your business. It does take time and resources to rank your web pages for competitive keywords. But if you succeed, your website could get valuable traffic on an ongoing basis.
And if you keep creating more web pages and continue doing SEO, your traffic can continue to increase over time which will allow your business to grow.
How SEO Works
So how do websites get targeted traffic from the search engines? Here is a quick overview:
Step 1 – Keyword Research
Before executing an SEO campaign, you need to decide which keywords you want to rank for in the first place. You need to find keywords that will send targeted traffic to your site and also have enough search volume to be worth your efforts.
Google Keyword Planner is the most popular keyword research tool because the data comes directly from Google. After creating an account, you simply enter a keyword or phrase that you think people might use to find your content. Keyword Planner will show the search volume for that keyword along with related keyword phrases and their search volumes.
Keyword Planner does have some limitations. Since it is designed for Adwords users, it does not provide much data on long-tail keywords, i.e., keywords with low search volume.
For this reason, people sometimes also use other keyword tools to discover more keyword opportunities. Some other popular keyword tools include KW Finder, SEM Rush, and KeywordTool.io. You can also use The HOTH free keyword reserach tool.
Once you have decided on which keywords to pursue, you are ready to create and optimize your content.
Step 2 – On Page Optimization and Content Creation
When planning out content creation, start by doing a quick search to discover what content is currently ranking for the keywords you are targeting. Take notes on what makes those pages good and areas where you think you can create something better or different.
Try to create web pages that are of higher quality than what is currently ranking. Higher quality content will attract more people, receive more links, and have increased chances of ranking higher in the search engines.
Asides from focusing on quality content creation, you also have to optimize your content by including keywords in it.
The title tag is an important field as it tells search engines what your web page is about. Make sure to include your keywords at least once in the title tag.
Also, include your keywords in your meta description field as this description sometimes appears in the search results under your title tag. The meta description is not used as a ranking factor but can encourage people to click your link and visit your website.
Your keywords should also appear on the actual web page at least once. Write your content naturally and then look over it to make sure the keywords you are targeting are included at least once on the page.
Step 3 – Off Page Promotion and Link Building
Creating content is not enough. You also need to promote your website and your content so that people find out about it.
One important factor that search engines use to determine a website’s quality is the number of inbound links to the site. A link from another website is like a vote of confidence that your site contains quality content. Getting a lot of links to your site shows search engines that you are trustworthy and creating content that people want to see.
Not all links count the same. A link from a site like CNN is worth a lot more than a link from your friend’s personal blog that only has a few subscribers. CNN has a lot of traffic and tons of inbound links from other sites, so it is considered a high authority website.
Publicity can help websites attract links naturally. Big brands get lots of links each day from other websites mentioning them.
But you don’t have to be well known to start getting links to your site. Even brand new websites can get links by doing marketing activities like doing email outreach to build relationships with other website owners or asking for links to quality content.
Website owners have countless options for getting links to their sites. Some link building tactics include blogger outreach, getting press coverage, or reverse engineering competitor backlinks.
Step 4 – User Experience
Creating a good user experience should be another goal as search engines are getting better at measuring user experience factors. Be sure that your site is easy to use and has intuitive navigation so that people can quickly find the content they are looking for.
Websites should load quickly as slow loading sites frustrate users and cause them to leave, which can hurt your website rankings. Websites should also be mobile responsive so that they can be viewed and accessed easily on multiple devices and different browsers.
Avoid having too many advertisements on your site or having an excessive number of pop-ups.
These are just a few key factors that influence search engine rankings. But if you focus on these factors, you will do well and your site will see an increase in targeted traffic from the search engines.
Through the process of SEO, you can increase the traffic of your website, get more leads and increase your sales.