What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, is a marketing strategy for increasing a website’s relevance. Search Engine Optimization is the process of increasing the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via organic or search results.
The higher your website ranks on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP), the more searchers will visit your site.
SEO experts consider how search algorithms work and what people are searching for. The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process involves various components such as a website’s coding and structure, site presentation, content, and copywriting, as well as troubleshooting and fixing issues that might prevent search engines from indexing your website.
If your website isn’t indexed by search engines, it would be impossible for you to get high visibility rankings on search engines. Consequently, the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process is of paramount importance to your business to ensure that your websites are properly indexed by search engines.
SEO can also refer to “Search Engine Optimizer” which is an industry term that refers to agencies and consultants that carry out the Search Engine Optimization process for their clients, or in-house company employees who perform SEO services.
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and different agencies and consultants might employ different SEO methodologies to achieve high organic rankings for websites.
In most instances, an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process requires changes to the HTML source code of a website, hence SEO tactics are often incorporated into website development and design. As a result, almost all credible SEO agencies and consultants will start by looking at the design and back-end architecture of a website before starting any Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process to ensure that SEO is carried out effectively.
Search Engine Optimization as a Marketing Strategy for Businesses
The main goal of implementing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to a company’s website is to drive targeted traffic to it. Studies show that searchers often scan a search result page for relevant results from top to bottom and left to right.
If your site appears near the top of organic listings rankings (i.e. the web results that are listed on the left-hand side of the SERP), it will dramatically increase the likelihood of searchers visiting your site.
A successful online marketing campaign does not start and end with good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) though, it also usually involves the use of paid advertising on search engines, building high-quality Websites to engage and persuade visitors to take action (either through inquiries or online sales), setting up analytic tools to allow site owners track and measure their progress and successes, and improving a site’s conversion rate.
Benefits of SEO for Businesses
The benefits of SEO to businesses are many, ranging from helping to increase brand awareness, to getting sales leads and increasing sales revenue. Businesses can get the following benefits from Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
- More targeted traffic- SEO increases visits to your site from people who are actively searching for your product or service.
- Increased brand awareness- Apart from helping to give your brand a high international profile, you can also use SEO to create brand awareness for individual services or products by optimizing related product/service key phrases to rank higher on search engines.
- 24/7 Brand Marketing- SEO would help your website get exposure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – without ceasing.
- Higher sales- SEO brings you targeted traffic, and with targetted traffic comes a high possibility of increased sales of your product or service.
- Long term positioning- With a well-designed website and proper SEO in place, rankings on organic listings should be consistent whereas the cost for paid online advertising is ongoing.
- More value for money- Once your website has achieved high organic rankings for various key phrases, you will not have to pay for each visit to your site. Compare that with Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising where you need to pay for each click or visit your website to enjoy high ranking visibility on search engines.
With all these benefits in view, it is, however, important to ensure that your dedicated Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency abides to search engine guidelines when optimizing your sites so you can have a successful SEO implementation.
White Hat SEO VS Black Hat SEO
There are two techniques to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), White Hat SEO, and Black Hat SEO. White hat SEO techniques are those that search engines recommend as good practice while black hat SEO techniques are those that search engines disapprove of.
White hat SEO is generally summed up as creating content for users, rather than for search engines. Rather than intending to trick search engine algorithms from their intended purpose, the created content should be easily accessible to search engine spiders.
The principal rule of White hat SEO is to stay on the safe side by creating relevant content for your target audience as search engines value relevancy and will rank a site higher on their organic listings if the site’s content is what searchers are looking for.
Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings using techniques that involve deception or that are disapproved by search engines. One well-known black hat technique is to use hidden text, either as text coloured similar to the background of the website, or positioned off-screen to trick search engine algorithms. Another common technique known as cloaking involves loading a different page depending on whether the page is accessed by a human or a search engine spider.
Search engines punish sites that use black hat techniques by either reducing their organic rankings or even by removing them completely from their database. This can be very costly for businesses especially if competitors keep enjoying free organic traffic from search engines by ranking high for major key phrases.
White hat SEO techniques often produce results that last a long time. Black hat SEO techniques may get a website to rank well initially, but the effects usually won’t last long as the site will eventually be banned either temporarily or permanently once search engines come to terms with the techniques that have been used.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance to ensure that your SEO agency isn’t employing black hat techniques as you wouldn’t want to be blacklisted by search engines which could translate into loss in sales and profits.
Keyword Research – The Key to Successful SEO Implementation
Before implementing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to your website, you must know the key phrases or keywords your target audience is using to search for the products or services that you offer. It’s important to remember that there is a good chance that many people have never heard of your company, and these people can be converted to your customers if only they can find you on search engines and buy from you. It is a well-known fact that building awareness is the first step to take in landing a new customer.
For example, when advertising a new phone on TV, the phone seller hopes that whoever is viewing the advert is looking to buy a new phone at that moment. In reality, however, only a relatively few people are in that situation at any one time. Majority of people who saw the TV advertisement have no interest in buying a phone at that moment even though they might someday.
Consequently, advertisers know that the messages – the phone model and company name in the adverts will stick in viewers’ minds and they might remember the message the next time they are looking to buy a phone. It is the same process with SEO.
Searchers might be unaware that your company offers a particular product or service unless they see your site listed on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). Unless they see your listings, they will probably never think of you. A lot of times, people searching for a product or service for the first time might not even be aware of any specific company or brand that offers what they are looking for.
According to iProspect, over 55 per cent of searchers expect to s
ee big brands listed at the top of search results while over 66 per cent of searchers believe that sites listed at the top of the SERP are the top companies in their field. Imagine how these statistics can affect a company’s brand awareness.
If your company’s website is not listed at the top of search results, your company wouldn’t be perceived as a “big brand.” Therefore, you need to optimize keywords or key phrases that your target audience will use to find the product or service that you are offering.
So which keywords or key phrases should you choose to optimize? You should target keywords that are relevant to the content of your website. Keywords can be broadly grouped into 3 types: “Too Hot” Keywords, “Just Right” Keywords, and “Too Cold” Keywords.
Too Hot keywords are single word search terms like “Automobile” and “Publishing” which do not seem to be targeted enough to get conversions. Although they usually bring in high search volume and are therefore naturally tempting to optimize, however, the conversion you get may not be as ideal as targeting keywords that are “Just Right.” Optimizing “Just Right” keywords like “Automobile Servicing” and Publishing Agency Lagos” would direct more targeted traffic to your website and increase the chances of conversions.
Determining the right keywords to optimize is the real beginning of any SEO effort. After determining the right set of keywords to target, you can then start the search engine optimization process.
Why you need to outsource your SEO
SEO can be very time consuming as continuous fine-tuning and monitoring needs to be done. It is advisable to hire a search engine optimization agency to handle the planning and execution of a blueprint for your website’s SEO.
A professional SEO agency would audit your site and make recommendations on how to increase your search engine ranking and website traffic. Once they start optimizing your website, they would provide recommendations and regular progress reports. It is also very important that your SEO agency work closely with your website designer to achieve successful optimization results.
This is to ensure that your company’s website is both visually appealing and search engine friendly for you to achieve high organic rankings as well as conversions.