The Importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
While you’ve heard that SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a useful and necessary digital marketing tool, you may not be exactly sure what SEO entails in this day and age. This guide breaks down what SEO is, why it’s important, and how to implement best practices so that your brand is more discoverable than ever online.
What is SEO?
SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. A higher ranking when someone searches a term in your industry increases your brand’s visibility online. This, in turn, gives you more opportunities to convert qualified prospects into customers. When done correctly, SEO can help your brand stand above others as a trustworthy company and further improve the user’s experience with your brand and website.
Why is SEO Important?
Visibility and Rankings
When searching for a service or product online, users are more likely to choose one of the top five suggestions that the search engine shows them. SEO helps you rank higher in search results and garner more visibility online, making potential customers more likely to click over to your site and convert.
To put it simply – if potential customers can’t find your website, sales opportunities are being missed. SEO increases your organic search engine traffic, in turn increasing the number of visitors your page sees each day. This directly correlates to an increase in sales – because the more relevant people that see your site, the more likely you are to sell to them.
The better your SEO score is, the higher you’ll appear on search engines like Google and Bing. While ranking higher on Google is appealing to all brands because on increased visibility, a secondhand benefit is the trust you gain with potential customers. Users tend to defer to the recommendations that a search engine generates, so having a higher position for the keywords a user is searching for will, in turn, solidify your product or service as trustworthy in the user’s mind.
A well-optimized website clearly communicates what product or service is being offered, how to obtain it and answers any questions surrounding it. By catering the site build to the user’s experience, search engines like Google and Bing are able to easily pull the information they need to then relay to users. If a user struggles to navigate your site, chances are that search engines do as well.
There’s no doubt about it – SEO is key to the growth of your brand. As we mentioned above, the higher you rank on a search engine for a variety of high-volume keywords, the more organic (aka non-paid) web traffic your site will receive. It’s as simple as that.
A website that is well-optimized is more likely to gain more customers and make more sales. People are also more likely to then share your brand across other social platforms like Facebook or Instagram once they’ve found your website through a search engine.
What Are the Main Elements of Search Engine Optimization?
On-site SEO are the improvements to be applied to the content on your site to ensure that it’s search engine friendly. When optimizing your webpages for search engines, you want to signal to search engines exactly what the webpage is about in a variety of ways.
With On-site SEO, you’ll deal with the structure of your website, SEO keywords, internal links, image alt attributes, and other techniques to help the search engines analyze and assess the content of your website.
While keywords are no longer the only SEO technique that matters, they’re still crucial to your website’s search engine ranking. When we speak of keywords, we are referring to specific words and phrases that potential customers use to find answers online.
Picking the right keywords for your website and content takes diligent research, and it’s important to aim for the sweet spot of high volume ratings + low competition. At Alter Endeavors Digital Creative, we offer an SEO Foundational package when building sites that leans on extensive keyword research to ensure the language used across the site includes high-volume keywords relevant to your industry.
The content you choose to write and share on your website is essential to reaching and engaging with your audience. Say you owned a window treatment business, like our client ABC Blind & Drapery does – to increase your visibility in that industry, we’d suggest a series of blogs exploring the types of window treatments, from modern window treatments to smart home automation through motorized blinds, etc.
So, when a local user searches a question concerning a type of window treatment, your blog shows up. This allows you to start a conversation with a potential customer by providing them valuable information that they are actively searching for. And when they’re ready to purchase their new window treatments, who will be the first to come to mind? You. Your content should be educational, engaging and shareable.
If you own a local business that only serves the Austin area, your website is not ranking in other cities. Search engines pull the user’s location to make suggestions that are within a certain range so that they can make a quick decision rather than sort through businesses that are nowhere near at that point in time. So, if someone wanted to find the best sushi in town, they’d do a quick google search, browse the top results around them, and make their decision. Which means if your business isn’t showing up as a top result when it should be included, chances are they’re taking their business elsewhere.
Ways to improve your local SEO include using local keywords, claiming your directory listings, and creating pages for your businesses on platforms such as Google My Business and Google Maps.
Off-site search engine optimization techniques involve efforts made on websites outside of your own to push your own ranking higher. The key element to off-site SEO is link building or “backlinks,” which is an effort to have other reputable, high-traffic websites link back to your site.
Backlinks are a signal of trust to search engines and they can play a huge part in your ranking position. Ensure that the links are coming from well-known and trusted sites and your ranking will be positively affected. Don’t try and trick the search engine into recognizing bad links, using “black hat” tactics, because more likely than not, you’ll get penalized and potentially banned from search engines.
After overviewing what search engine optimization is, why it’s important and how to implement — keep in mind that SEO should be treated as a positive practice with long term benefits, not an exact science with immediate results. Your rankings highly depend on who you are competing with, including the size of the company, years in business and their own on and off-site SEO efforts.