Before Google, there was WebCrawler, Lycos, Excite, and AltaVista. Back then, all a website needed to rank #1 was to stuff a page with keywords and get as many backlinks as possible. It was the Wild West of Search.
But things are different now. In 1998, Google came onto the scene and gained overwhelming popularity thanks to its innovative PageRank formula. And as Google continued to improve its algorithm, search engine optimizers scrambled to keep up.
But wait, let’s slow down a bit. First, what is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving a website’s visibility on organic search engine results. Search engine optimizers analyze page ranking data to build strategies that improve rankings, grow brand awareness, and increase web traffic.
The 4 Areas of SEO
The SEO toolbox contains a variety of skills that vary in difficulty and impact. While some people may specialize in one or two areas, they should be familiar with them all.
Technical SEO helps search engines crawl and understand website content. While it may seem complicated, a strong technical foundation will boost the power of other SEO tactics. Common technical optimization tasks include site speed improvements, mobile-friendly design, and sitemap management.
Content SEO aims to attract search traffic by developing online content. The more high-quality content on your site, the more keywords you'll rank for. Keyword research also falls under this category.
On-site SEO helps search engines and people understand the topic of a web page. These skills are some of the oldest in the book. Popular on-site tasks include adding keywords to page titles and meta descriptions, making effective calls-to-action, and writing descriptive URLs. On-site tasks are some of the quickest to put in place but have low impact without the support of other SEO areas.
Off-Site SEO builds authority by earning backlinks from other websites. There are many ways to do this, such as promoting blog posts on Facebook or writing guest posts on other blogs. There are also many unethical tactics of link building, which we don’t recommend.
SEO Benefits for Businesses
Create better brand experiences.
In the early days, black-hat SEO ran rampant. But things aren’t like that anymore.
It’s in every search engine’s best interest to provide users the most valuable experience it can give. This means having an extensive index of updated websites and an advanced ranking system that accurately measures the quality of a web page. It also means penalizing websites that try to cheat the system.
So, since search engines are incentivized to favorably rank high-quality websites, SEOs have consequently spent a lot of time learning how to improve the user experience. This is a lot of work on your part, but it’s worth it.
If search engines didn’t pay so much attention to UX, a lot of websites on the internet would still suck. Thankfully, the system has encouraged website owners to invest in the quality of their sites, improving the quality of the internet for everyone. And by investing in SEO, your business will be contributing to its goodness.
Improve your findability online.
Think about how many times you use a search engine each day. Business that can’t be found online miss out on a huge opportunity to capitalize all those searches.
The people who actively look for answers on Google are more likely to be interested in your content than someone you’ve targeted on Facebook. After all, these people are looking for you to help them. And with the right SEO strategy, you can make sure you’re there to do just that.
Focus your marketing strategy.
SEO doesn’t exist on an island. It’s a wide-reaching discipline that impacts web development, creative, social media, public relations and overall marketing strategy.
Keyword research especially gives your business insights on what topics people are searching for and in what direction to focus your efforts.
Hiring an SEO Expert
Once you’ve decided to incorporate SEO in your marketing strategy, you need to choose whether to hire in-house or hire an agency. Who you choose should depend on your needs, knowledge, budget, and bandwidth.
Either way, it’s worth it to invest in this marketing tactic because search algorithms change all the time and SEO is never a one-and-done job. Moreover, it can take months of work before you see results. But after you’ve made the right improvements to your site, the results last a long time.
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