People use the internet for three things: to find information, share information, and to make a purchase. Understanding this and some of the basics to SEO will help keep your business relevant to consumers and searchable by all.
Some business owners may be intimidated by that “SEO” thing because it just sounds scary and complicated. But it’s a lot less difficult and confusing than you may think.
First thing’s first, ‘SEO’ stands for ‘search engine optimization.’ In order to get increased traffic from internet search results, your website needs to be aligned with the standards and recommendations of search engines (read Google). Web pages, listings, images, videos, etc. are shown based on what search engines consider most relevant to users.
This SEO technique is highly frowned upon by search engines. Black hat SEO involves attempts to deceive search engines; sometimes by hiding text in the background of a page or throwing keywords and phrases all over a site that are irrelevant to the actual content. Using this method will eventually get your website and business temporarily or permanently banned.
Conforming to the search engines’ guidelines, this SEO technique does not involve any form of trickery. Take note, however, that search engine rules and regulations are not written out as a checklist in a handbook. White hat SEO is about certifying that the content a user will see is the same content search engine indexes and spiders will see.
In response to a keyword search query, the ‘search engine results page’ returns results that the search engine considers to be a match. The three main components of SERP are: the actual search query, organic search results, and paid advertisements. Having your business and website show within the first 10 results of a SERP is essentially the end goal of a good SEO plan.
The listings that appear on search engine results pages because of the relevancy between the content and the search query are organic search results. Organic results are considered to be the “real” results of an internet search, as opposed to the non-organic search results that may also be displayed on the SERP, such as paid advertisements, because of the quality of content on their site, not how much was paid to get it there.
Technically, Pay Per Click (PPC) is not an SEO tactic since it focuses on paid ads instead of organic results. Also called cost per click, website managers and advertisers typically bid on keywords and phrases relevant to their business and target market. The highest bidders will obtain positions on the SERP. PPC advertisements are shown on search engine results that have similar related content or websites that have agreed to display ads. Content sites that allow ad displays typically charge a fixed price per click instead of the bidding option.
When someone conducts an internet search, they type in a word or two, or sometimes a whole phrase that describes what they are looking for. These are ‘keywords’. Knowing and deciding what keywords are relevant to your business is the first step. They can be short-tail or long-tail. Long-tail keywords are generally three words or more and they tend to target people who are looking for something specific, rather than short-tail keywords that would generally target a larger group of people, looking for a broader, more general topic.
Producing quality content is essentially the core of SEO. You should be creating content with the focus on it being valuable and engaging to your end users. Instead of attempting to fool the algorithms with keyword jamming and other black hat SEO techniques, differentiate your business from others in your market by producing relevant quality content for uses.
Having a strong presence across social media platforms that are appropriate and applicable to your business and industry can help bring your ranking up in search results when you promote relevant content through the different avenues.
The algorithms are constantly changing and search engine optimization methods are endlessly evolving. It can be overwhelming and frustrating at times, but it’s ultimately benefiting the way users can reach the information and content they are searching for. Maintaining a strong organic presence is a continual fight against yourself and your competitors.