SEO, or “search engine optimization,” involves making changes to your website that are designed to make it more appealing to the search engines.
The theory goes that, if the search engines understand the content of your site and you believe it to be valuable to the people querying them, they’ll rank you higher in the results displayed whenever users search for terms that are relevant to your business, resulting in an influx of new site visitors.
Ranking higher comes with tangible benefits. In a previous company a few years ago, I saw a keyword that earned a 5% CTR paid ad position #1, but a 33% CTR for the same keyword in the #1 organic spot. That was before Google started withholding performance data, but it remains clear that there’s value in earning top rankings, apart from paying for them with PPC ads.
There’s also a separate set of local specific SEO best practices, which is most often used by small businesses with brick-and-mortar locations to ensure their sites are displayed whenever local search terms are queried (such as “best ice cream shop in chicago”).
Ultimately, though, SEO tactics can be broken down into three sections:
- Link building
- Content creation
- On-page optimization
Time to see results:
“Many SEO firms will tell you that it takes 4 to 6 months to start seeing results. That’s generally accurate, but bear in mind this is when you start seeing results, and SEO results grow over time. Whatever results you’re getting at 6 months should be considerably less than what you’re getting at 12 months.”
Part of the variability inherent in SEO campaigns is that the practice is largely depending on the search engines’ algorithms. Google, Bing, Yahoo an others are continually refining their strategies, forcing SEO to evolve along with them.
As an example, take Google’s recent prioritization of mobile websites.
When to use it:
Bake SEO into the start of your campaigns, preferably from the launch of your website. Beginning with a proper SEO foundation save you time down the road (versus having to undo costly errors), in addition to amplifying the impact of other on-site promotional methods.
There’s little point, for instance, in investing in content marketing if the search engines’ automated indexing programs aren’t able to read your site’s content properly due to an SEO error. This is typically a quick fix you’ll make when you start an SEO campaign, which is why it’s important to implement proper SEO.