What is SEO?

/What is SEO?
What is SEO? 2017-10-10T18:51:10+00:00

Continuing in our quest to simplify the world of search engine marketing (SEM), we would like to help people understand what SEO is. I recently read an article stating that 45% of online entrepreneurs did not know what SEO was.  This is the people actually working online, so imagine what the percentage is for the average business owner.  It made me realize how those of us in our industry really need to break down the business better so people understand. That way you can make the best decisions and also avoid getting scammed by people that prey on those of you that don’t know what SEO is or how it works.

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it refers to ranking highly in the search engine results pages, sometimes referred to in the industry as SERP’s. SEO refers to working to boost your organic or natural listing.  The typical SERP will have a few different sections.

The typical SERP will have a few different sections. The top and bottom of the page will include paid listings, often referred to as PPC, or incorrectly as SEM. The Google brand name for this is Adwords and you can learn more about that in my What is PPC? page. Then there is sometimes a section that includes a map and pins for local businesses. This is often referred to as local search. Lastly, there is the list of unpaid links that shows up that is due to SEO tactics and is sometimes called natural or organic rankings.

SEO is typically known to have the highest return on investment in search, though as markets get more and more competitive, it becomes more costly to get found for the terms you want to.  SEO is an ongoing process.  Often web developers will tell you they are including SEO on your site. There is an aspect to SEO that they can do when they build it. There are many factors involved in SEO.  They are primarily broken down into three categories.

On Page Optimization: The actual content of the page of your site that you want to rank for a particular search phrase or concept.  This includes

The actual content of the page of your site that you want to rank for a particular search phrase or concept.  This includes meta-tags and headlines and good content.  A web developer can help you label your pages properly with meta-tags when they build your site, and at one time, and sometimes in markets that are not competitive at all, this will help you get presence. However, 99% of the time this is not enough. Sometimes people get a bad taste in their mouth because they pay for SEO and this is all that is done. This is often the case with web development companies that build sites and throw in SEO.

Off Page Optimization: Search engines like Google need to differentiate between millions of pages out there.  One way to narrow it down is by content. Of

Search engines like Google need to differentiate between millions of pages out there.  One way to narrow it down is by content. Of course if a page is about auto parts, you aren’t going to present it for a search for chiropractors.  However, with so much content out there, it comes down to other factors to place one result with similar content over another.  Once you have good content, the other factors are the main differentiators.  The biggest of these is inbound links. Google views a link to your website from another site as an online referral or a vote of credibility. The more links your site or pages on your site receive from highly reputable or highly relevant sites, the stronger your site becomes. There are a lot of scams built around this because it is such an important factor. To stay strong and relevant, you need to constantly build links. Frequency and recency of your links are also factors in your ranking ability. Google believes that businesses should generate links naturally over time by being credible and creating content.  Though this is true, a good SEO will help accelerate this process through their own relationships to strong sites and building bridges to highly relevant local or industry sources. A business should try to translate all of their

The biggest of these is inbound links. Google views a link to your website from another site as an online referral or a vote of credibility. The more links your site or pages on your site receive from highly reputable or highly relevant sites, the stronger your site becomes. There are a lot of scams built around this because it is such an important factor. To stay strong and relevant, you need to constantly build links. Frequency and recency of your links are also factors in your ranking ability. Google believes that businesses should generate links naturally over time by being credible and creating content.  Though this is true, a good SEO will help accelerate this process through their own relationships to strong sites and building bridges to highly relevant local or industry sources. A business should try to translate all of their

A business should try to translate all of their off line relationships on line through links.  This will boost their strength.  Link strength is often the most costly and difficult part of SEO and most companies have no idea how to do this or build generic plans where they get everyone the same 5 links and hope that does it.  This typically doesn’t work and is why it often leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, because it just doesn’t work that way. If your SEO plan doesn’t include ongoing link services, it will not work in the long run. However, link strength is relative. If you are a local business competing against other businesses that all have 5 or 10 links, then you just need to get better links. If you are a national company competing against sites with thousands of inbound links, you are playing at entirely different level. It is important to do a competitive overview before building a plan, and every plan should be built custom to the client, because each market, industry, and geography combination is different.

In Page Optimization:

The last large category of SEO factors is the technical aspect, which I like to call in page optimization. This is another important aspect that your developer can help you with. This refers to the speed that pages load and whether they are mobile-friendly. It also includes issues such as broken links and duplicate content that can arise on websites.

Google is in the business of presenting the best search results, so they don’t want to present a page that takes ten seconds to load. That will knock you down the list.  Now that more than 50% of searches are on mobile devices, if your page is not mobile friendly, that will get you pushed down. If Google tries to follow your links on your site and finds many of them lead nowhere or to 404 error pages, they are going to hold your site down, as it appears that nobody is at the wheel.  There are good tools that Google will provide to tell you if you have speed or mobile-friendliness issues.  Keep in mind, that like links, this is all relative. If you are competing against sites that are all scoring 60 on speed, a 70 score is actually better. If you are competing against 80’s it is worse. Generally, you should always be trying to make your site load more quickly, just for general user experience, which is generally what Google’s job is to provide.