What is SEO and Why is it Important?

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What is SEO and Why is it Important?

SEO is probably something you have heard of. If not, then now is absolutely the time to get familiar because, without SEO best practice, you might not be getting the most from your website.

In short, SEO, or search engine optimization, is about one thing: improve websites Google ranking. To do this, you first need to understand what Google wants from websites and then use SEO best practices to ensure that your website is competitive on these terms. However, as Google changes the ranking algorithm constantly, competing for that top spot is a constant battle.

Why Does My Business Need the Top Spot?

In the last year, how often have you gone beyond page one when Googling a search term? Probably very rarely. And that is completely normal.

Most people don’t even bother going much further than the first search result and 33% will click that link and a mere 2% will click the 10th link. This means that if you want as many people as possible clicking on the link to your website (and why would you not?), then you need to do your very best to rank at the top of the search results.

In order to rank in the top spot, you need to think about the keywords you want to rank for and then use SEO best practices to get there. A good starting point is your company name. If nothing else, you definitely need your company to rank in the top space for searchers who have typed in your company name. Sometimes this is quite easy to achieve by picking a weird name, but you may also need to compete if there are other companies with a similar name.

For example, if you type black sheep into Google, the search results might show up the brewer, the wool company, a Wikipedia entry on black sheep and the nursery rhyme. All of these links are competing for the same term but only one can get the top spot.

How Does SEO Work?

There are a lot of different SEO methods you can use to boost your website up the rankings. The most common and popular are:

  • Using keywords
  • Content optimization
  • Location pages
  • Link building

Keywords have been at the core of SEO for a long time but the way they are used has developed over time. Where you could one put the keyword in over and over again, stuffing the page, now Google requires that keywords are used within the correct context and make sense for the website. In other words, the text should read naturally to a human reader.

Content optimization makes use of keywords, but it is also about finding ways to make the website more appealing, easier to read and more densely packed with useful information. This includes optimizing videos and images as well as other things like URLs, tags and headings. The main aim here is to make the site more approachable to users, but also to inform Google of the contents of the site. Since Google doesn’t necessarily recognise a picture of a panda eating bamboo, you need to tell it in a tag that’s what it is.

Content optimization is also about adding pages that will give people more chances of entering your website. This is essentially why so many sites have blogs attached – they are an easy to way to add content and compete for different keywords that may not sit naturally on the main website. Location pages are a good example of this.

Location pages are also a great idea because Google often uses the location of the searcher to influence results. This is why you may get different results depending on where you are at the time.

Location pages are essentially landing pages that are optimized for a particular location. So you might have a page called “My Bakery in Devon” and another called “My Bakery in Lancashire”. But you should be as specific as you can to optimize on views so “My Bakery in Topsham” might be better, or “My Bakery in Burnley”. Once a searcher is on your landing page, they should then be easily directed through to your main website.

Finally, link building is an excellent way to SEO your site as it borrows the authority of other sites to promote yours. The best way to link build is to provide bloggers with some content which contains a contextual link to your site. The blogger will then share the content and hopefully their followers will click through, showing Google that your site is relevant and popular.

Can I Do SEO Myself?

The short answer is yes, but the better answer is another question: do you have the time?

SEO is a constant job that requires your attention every week, if not every day. As the algorithm changes and your competitors improve their sites, you need to keep up and continue competing at the highest level. This means that you should be creating valuable content, going through your website to update keywords and optimizing existing content, link building and more just to keep up.

For many businesses, SEO is one of the things that should be outsourced to a professional to get the best results. Even if you think that you could learn all the best practices and dedicate some time to it each week, the reality is that running a successful business takes a lot of time and SEO will inevitably take a back seat if something else comes up.

Having said that, you should be keeping an eye on your website’s SEO progress anyway. Knowing what the best practices are and how they work will enable you to pick the best SEO company to do the work and should inform you of their progress too. While many companies and marketing agencies like to portray SEO as a form of magic that you simply won’t understand, you should know that the premises are simple, even if the execution takes a lot of effort. Pick the company that is open, honest and careful to explain the details of what they are doing and you really will see the benefit.

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