What Is SEO? A Guide to the Basics of Search Engine Optimization

Key Points:

  • SEO (search engine optimization) is a set of practices designed to improve the ranking of web pages in organic search results.
  • When people search for information, services, or products, Google uses an algorithm to decide how to rank the most relevant and trustworthy results.
  • A well-optimized website or web page ranks better on Google to deliver more traffic, increased brand awareness, industry dominance, and more sales.
  • While many people know the term SEO, only a few understand the practice correctly to use it to generate revenue for their businesses.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is designing your web pages to help your website rank higher on search engines like Google. Businesses optimize their websites for search engines to increase visibility when people search for services, products, or information related to their business on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines.

The higher the ranking in search results, the more likely you attract new and existing customers to your business and garner more attention. However, for people to find your website on Google, you must outrank millions of others, which calls for serious work, including:

  • Creating pristine content
  • Optimizing the content around targeted keywords
  • Building backlinks

To better understand how the three above co-relate to improve Google ranking, let us explore how search works.

How Do Search Engines Work?

Search engines use algorithms that crawl the web to find pages and put them in an index, like a giant library. The algorithms constantly analyze the pages, taking into account several ranking factors to determine the ranking order of the pages.

When a user searches for something on Google, the algorithms rank the pages depending on what the search engine considers the best result. Google will scan hundreds of billions of pages to find a set of results that best address the search query.

While search engines don’t reveal the inner working of their algorithm to the public, Google’s file patents and statements show that it ranks sites based on three primary factors:

  • Relevance
  • Authority
  • Usefulness

Google’s primary aim is to give its users the most relevant result from an authoritative and trustworthy site. Optimizing your website and content with these factors in mind can improve ranking in search engines, and it’s what marketers call SEO.

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SEO: One of The Most Valuable Marketing Tools

Search is a huge traffic source. Over 60% of web traffic comes from search engines.

According to a Search Engine Land report, search brings 10X more traffic than social media. The world conducts trillion searches every year with the commercial intent of finding information about products and services.

A website that ranks better on the search engine will have a competitive edge. The only problem is that SEO takes time because Google doesn’t just trust any website. You’ll need to build backlinks to build trust.

Backlinks Are Integral

Backlinks are links from other sites pointing to your website. Search engines consider backlinks as votes from other websites reinstating that your content is valuable, credible, and useful. Websites with many backlinks rank high because Google sees their content as accurate and trustworthy.

While all search engines have made innumerable changes to their algorithm since they started, backlinks have remained a critical ranking factor. It’s nearly impossible to rank on Google’s top page without backlinks. And like other aspects of SEO, building backlinks takes time.

How to Get Results with SEO

While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all SEO strategy, your first step to getting results is executing a website audit. A site audit will compare your competitors with your site, reveal what everyone else is doing, and allow you to implement what’s already working for others.

To run a site audit, you’ll need an SEO tool such as:

  • Ahref
  • SEMrush
  • Moz

The right tool will help you:

  • Compare competitors’ backlinks with yours
  • Check if your site is mobile-friendly
  • Check your organic traffic
  • Execute competitor analysis
  • Analyze your backlinks
  • Improve your on-page SEO

Go through all your competitors’ backlinks and try to acquire them for your business. If it’s working for your competitors, it will likely to work for you.

Use the tools to spy on your competitor’s best keywords, check for page ranking for the keywords you can target, and identify sites that link to those pages. The information from the audit is invaluable because you can draft a game plan and strategize based on your competitors’ actions.

You’ll also spot your shortcomings and have a chance to improve your content to be better than anyone else. From the analysis, you’ll spot influencers in your industry to build relationships.

SEO Can Transform Any Business

SEO can work for you regardless of the industry you’re serving. After all, no organization creates a website to sit still and look pretty.

Every business builds a website to help people get information, sell products or services, generate leads, answer customers’ questions, or show off their videos or photos. Here’s what you stand tyo gain if your website shows up in the search engines:

  • Reach more people
  • Support content marketing
  • Get more qualifiable results
  • Gain a competitive advantage
  • Boost your business’ credibility

Your business will enjoy more benefits than just getting traffic, which can lead to long-term exponential growth. Companies that rank top on search engines develop credibility and trust with their customers, which can be pivotal in digital marketing.

You Can Turn SEO Strategy into Sales

Many businesses have SEO marketing strategies. However, converting those strategies into revenue has proven to be quite a task for many.

Once you get someone into your website through SEO, you’ve fought half the battle. The remaining half is all about turning that visitor into a customer. To convert traffic into customers, you should optimize your website for conversion — a practice many businesses skip,, to their detriment. A beautiful website is useless without conversion.

One way to optimize your website for conversion is placing all the information that matters at the top of the website to intrigue both phone and computer users to scroll through the site and take action. After providing valuable information, a firm call to action is all it takes to nudge your readers to take whatever action you deem necessary to make a sale. This can be anything from adding a contact link or redirecting them to the sales page.

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