Understanding SEO: How it Works for Today’s Business Model
It is well-known that marketing is a useful method of promoting your business to garner the interest of prospective clients, partners or society in general. Marketing takes on many forms, from brochures to commercials to internet marketing strategies. If you own a business in Durham or Newcastle, a friend or colleague may have suggested that you employ SEO (search engine optimisation) to enhance your online marketing techniques. But what is SEO?
SEO is a form of internet marketing and the goal is simple: to increase the number of qualified leads to your website by placing your website organically higher in search engine ranks. What is the benefit of this? When potential consumers search for something online, they tend to believe that the websites that appear first on the search engines are the best, and often do not look past the top few.
If SEO is not something that has ever been on your radar, you may have not given any thought to the links that appear first when you Google a specific term or inquiry. However, it is not random or magic that places these websites atop search engines: it is effective SEO strategy. SEO strategies are made up of both technical (link building) and creative (content building) elements aimed at improving rankings, driving more traffic to your site and turning qualified leads into closed deals. Therefore, the goal of an SEO campaign is two-fold: to make your site both search-engine friendly and user-friendly.
In terms of making your site more friendly to the search engines, there are certain techniques that we use to bring more visitors to your site and increase attention surrounding your brand. Search engines are constantly evolving and improving their technology to crawl the web to find relevant results for their users. Every search engine wants its user to be able to easily find content the user is looking for; search engine algorithms essentially rank relevance of pages and determine where to put them.
If your website ranks on the first page of Google, there is a greater probability of increased traffic than if you ranked lower. However, converting that traffic into business for your company depends on how user-friendly the site is, based on ease of use, access to information, aesthetic design and readability. Good SEO firms will know how to seamlessly intertwine the technical and creative elements of an SEO campaign to ensure that both search engines and users are attracted to your site.
You are probably still wondering what exactly those “technical” and “creative” aspects of SEO are and the work they entail. The main goal of SEO is to get a website to rank higher for certain terms or phrases typed into the search engine. For example, SEO companies in Durham or London want to rank at the top of search engines when a user types in phrases such as “Digital Marketing Services North East” or “SEO company near me,” and so on. Keyword research is therefore one of the most important and high return activities in the field of SEO.
It is imperative that a website ranks for the right (and most relevant) keywords; this will attract not only visitors, but the right type of visitors to convert leads. Some keywords are much more competitive than others, meaning that much more people search that term, making it more difficult to rank for those terms. There are tools that SEO experts use, such as Moz Keyword Explorer, to determine the competitiveness of certain keywords and even for suggested additional keywords. However, just because it is more competitive in terms of keyword research tools, does not mean it will be more valuable to your website. You need to decide what keywords are most relevant to your site’s content; if searchers will find what they are looking for on your site when they type that particular phrase in; and if those visitors will convert into sold products or services based on targeting of those keywords.
Another technical aspect of SEO, one of the traditional cornerstones of successful SEO campaigns run by professional SEO companies, is link-building. And while most people know in theory that links help rankings, they do not understand what that truly means. Links are essentially a walkway between various websites. Search engines view links as a way to determine the importance or popularity of a website. If your website has high authority links pointing to it, Google and other search engines will begin to trust your site, see more relevance in it and move it up the ranks. Link building is an art, and it also happens to be the most complex and expensive part of running a successful SEO campaign.
Before investing in link building, it is important to come up with strategies and engage in research to determine if a particular link would be beneficial to your site. One way to determine the importance and relevance of a link is to see what phrases the page links for; if the keywords are the same it would help significantly to purchase this link. In addition, a top SEO company will review your top competitors backlink profile to discover what links are helping the competitor achieve its ranking and purchase those same links for you. There are many different types of links that you can get to point to your site and it usually best practice to build a varied link profile.
There are editorial links, which are given naturally by sites that want to link to your content; to obtain these links you need worthy content (which is one of the creative aspects of SEO that will be discussed below). There are also outreach links; these are created by submitting sites to directories, paying for listings or contacting bloggers for links.
Examples of these include submitting an article to Forbes and convincing the editors your content is worthy of being published and offering a scholarship program through your company for college students.
The more creative aspect of SEO stems from your website itself. It is a common to see that the websites that rank the best are the ones that are easy to use; provide information upfront relevant to the search; are professionally designed and aesthetically pleasing; and provide credible, relevant content. While “keyword stuffing,” or flooding your website with your keywords repeatedly, used to help improve rankings, this no longer works.
Instead, it is crucial to write grammatically correct, useful content with words and phrases used by those searching for your product or service. Content must be original, put in an easy to read format with headings and offer some value to the reader. It is also critical to use examples and imagines, as these items keep the reader on the page longer, which can improve ranks and lead to successfully finding another customer. The content must also be linkable: if people cannot link to your content, the search engine will likely not rank it, meaning you can have fantastic content that no one will ever get to read. In terms of the website itself, it is also crucial to have relevant title tags and URLS to drive traffic to your site.
Many people fear SEO as something that is not measurable. Any business owner of course wants to know what their return on investment (“ROI”) is and SEO, an ongoing marketing tactic, can sometimes be difficult to measure. Some business owners even believe that the wait, which could be upwards of a year, is not worth the expense.
Your rankings, referrals, links, conversion rates and content creation is all tracked by SEO experts to determine how you have improved from one day, week, or month to the next. This investment overtime is certainly worth it if at the end of your term your website went from being nowhere on Google to the first page; there is no doubt that this will increase your traffic and business.
SEO may be frightening to those new to the arena of online marketing. Unlike a brochure, in which you can touch and see a finished product, SEO is an ongoing strategy, that you cannot conceptually “see” for sometimes three months, six months or a year. Despite this, it is definitely worth the wait.
Today, most people take to Google if they want to know the best restaurant in Newcastle, the best furniture store in the local area or the best whatever in Edinburgh. If you are attempting to promote your business online and have a professionally made website, it does no good if it cannot be found.
The strategies employed by SEO companies can take your website and place it right in the eyes of your online target market, leading to more traffic on your website and more profit to your business. Although the results are not as instant as having a brochure printed, over time you will no doubt see improvements to your business through the addition of a successful SEO campaign, including keyword planning, link building, site changes and content creation.