What the heck is SEO?
The most popular question I’m asked by clients, friends, and business associates is the following: “So, what the heck is SEO?” This term is thrown around so often in the marketing world that it’s almost taboo these days. I believe so much of the confusion regarding it lies in its ambiguity.
SEO’s (short for Search Engine Optimization) goal is to increase the amount and the caliber of your organic web traffic. Organic, in this case, means traffic that is not generated from paid ads (not the kind you look for in quality produce). This could be for your website (most common), podcast, Google Maps listing, YouTube video, Amazon product page, or any other online platform. I am going to be speaking to the most popular demographic here by writing in regards to websites. I could write a novella on each specific example here, but since they are more niche, we can save that for another day.
Get me on the first page of Google!
For what? If you own a car dealership and someone finds your website by searching for the “largest squirrel in the world” is that really going to benefit your business (by the way, the answer is a black giant squirrel, and they can weigh almost 3.5 lbs)?
Of course it won’t — people looking for large squirrels typically aren’t looking to buy new cars. The key here is finding relevant and volume keywords that people actually search for when looking for the type of service or product you are offering.
Is SEO a scam?
No, SEO is not a scam, but just like in any other industry, there are those looking to make a quick buck through deceit and deception. If SEO is performed using nefarious or blackhat methods, it has the potential to cause much more long term harm than any short term gain. Purchased backlinks, cloaking, or stuffed or hidden keywords all can cause irreparable harm to your rankings.
One thing to look out for when speaking to an SEO company is guarantees. A common tactic among the shady folk is to make promises to rank 1st page for various keywords. These keywords might sound amazing! However, what’s the monthly search volume for those keywords? If you’re the only one searching for those terms just to see if you’re on the front page this will be of little benefit. The goal is to rank for highly searched, and highly relevant keywords using SEO best practices.
How Does It Work?
Google and other popular search engines are incredibly intelligent pieces of technology. The best SEO is organic. Quality on-site optimization with proper heading structures, title tags, meta tags, a well functioning responsive build, and engaging and targeted content are the essential building blocks to having a solid SEO framework. If you are providing quality content to your end user, then they are more likely to stay on your website, decreasing your bounce rate and improving your standing with Google. If your content is compelling enough and provides value, the goal is to ultimately be linked back to by other websites. This is the “link juice” you really want.
Do I Need It?
SEO is a long term strategy where every little bit makes a difference. Optimizing your content for relevant keywords, having a well-built website, and keeping up with the regular posting of blogs can provide incredible value over the life of your website. Don’t expect overnight results, but the investment is well worth it in the long run!