What is Search Engine Optimization? S-E-Ohhh

A valuable digital marketing and sales tool

You’ve heard the term before, but who really knows what SEO means? With many using it as a verb, “can you SEO that for me?” it makes sense to discuss what it is and isn’t. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ISN’T something easy or immediate. SEO can’t have you ranking #1 for any term you want in just a few hours. It IS a valuable digital marketing and sales tool that, if done right, can increase your overall web traffic and online presence.

The Beautiful Painting No One Can See

Let’s say you’re an artist, who spent countless hours to create a beautiful painting. It’s your masterpiece and you have it on display at an art gallery. There’s just one problem, the art gallery doesn’t have any doors, so no one will be able to enjoy your work. You need that door to give people the ability to come in and see your painting. SEO can be that door.

You may spend months working on the best ways to design your website, but it doesn’t do you much good if no one can find your site. SEO can help with that. When done properly it will maximize the number of visitors coming to your site, so you’re able to show off your pretty, new website, and more importantly the products you sell or the services you provide.

The Basics

I could spend hours talking about SEO, and all of the different algorithms and ranking factors involved . . . whether or not anyone would listen is a different story. However, at its most basic level, SEO is a continuous process in optimizing a website with the goal to maximize the number of visitors to that site. To break it down a bit more, SEO is broken into two different types of strategies, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. Each have their advantages, but an effective SEO campaign will include both.

Different types of SEO strategies

  • On-page – On page optimization is just as it sounds – optimizing the content or code that lives on the page level of your site. If you have some familiarity with SEO you have heard of the term keywords. KEYWORDS, KEYWORDS, KEYWORDS! If you want to rank on Google, just add the keyword a bunch of times and your on-page SEO work is done. Right? Wrong! When the internet was young it was as easy as throwing the one keyword you wanted to rank for on a page. Today, everyone is looking for the best rankings, and on-page optimization is much more than adding your keyword as many times as possible. A few examples of on-page optimization:
    • Content –Repeating your focused keyword is not effective. Instead focus on the quality of the content overall and include some “long tail keywords” related to your topic. If you’re able to effectively write about your topic, Google is a smart cookie, they will understand what you’re writing about and rank you accordingly.
    • Meta Data – Meta data and title tags are information that describe the page you are on. There are several different types of meta data, but to keep it simple there are two main types: Title tags are what you see as the titles in search engine results, and meta descriptions is the blurb of info below it. Let’s jump into specifics:
        1. Title Tags – SEO experts may debate whether or not title tags have an impact on rankings, but regardless it’s a search engine’s first impression of your site, and first stop for it to understand what that page is about.
        2. Meta Descriptions – These descriptions don’t directly affect your rankings, but they do serve as your short ad to the user, persuading them to click on your result rather than your competitors.

Regardless of the ranking impact, both your title tags and meta descriptions should always be optimized.

    • User Experience – How frustrated do you get when you’re on Google, find a result that looks like the winner and click on it only to have it take FOREVER to load? Slow load time is just one of many factors that can hurt user experience. Poor navigation, strange formatting, and confusing layouts can also hurt the user experience. You want to ensure that when a user lands on your site, the page loads quickly, and the layout and navigation are all intuitive to the user’s needs.
    • Responsiveness – (Part of user experience, but so important it deserves it’s own bullet.) Having a responsive website is now a must. If you’re out and about, and want to check the hours of a new restaurant, what do you do? If you’re on your lunch break and want to price out an airline ticket, what do you do? I could go on, but I’m sure you answered, “check on my phone”. People are using phones and tablets to browse the internet for their daily needs more than ever, so it’s key to have a site that works on any device.
  • Off-page – Off page refers to any ranking factors that don’t occur on your site directly. The most common off-page technique, and really one that fully encompasses all off-page strategies is link building. Link building refers to actively looking on the web for high quality sites that could potentially add a link back to your site from their site. As other ranking factors have come and gone, having high quality links seems to be a mainstay. It is as if Google is looking at your site saying, “Well, site X linked back to them and site X is great so this site must be pretty good too.”  I’m confident Google’s ranking algorithm’s are just a tiny bit more complicated than that, but there’s no doubt having high quality links from sites that are relevant to your industry is a major factor in building your websites reputation and authority.

Leverage Your Website

Your website is one of, if not your strongest and most versatile, marketing tools, and frequently your best sales tool. What good is your most powerful sales and marketing tool if you’re not utilizing it properly? Would you take your best salesperson and assign them your smallest territory? Absolutely not, because you would be underutilizing their talents. Leverage the power of your strongest marketing/sales tool and have your site optimized for search engines, and ready for traffic. Build the doors, and open the doors to show off your masterpiece! Want to learn more? Download our free SEO Glossary

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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