What Does SEO Stand For? The Basics of Search Engine Optimization
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing all aspects of your website for search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Without optimizing for search engines, your website will be nothing more than a point of reference for customers who already know your business.
Implementing SEO will allow your business to be discovered by thousands of potential customers searching for keywords related to your industry. But what does “implementing SEO” mean and how can you get started on the path to making your website profitable?
Types of SEO
SEO can be broken down into three main categories: on-page, off-page, and technical. Each of these serve very different purposes but they are all equally important.
On-page SEO relates to all aspects of your website that a user sees and interacts with.
Altering the on-page aspects of your website is important because it gives search engines an idea of what your site is about. Once search engines have a good grasp on the type of content you offer then they can start ranking you for related search queries.
Examples of on-page SEO:
- Content such as blog posts
- Keyword optimization
- Title tags and meta descriptions
- Internal links to other pages on your site
Off-page SEO will include any efforts you make outside of your actual website.
This type of SEO was practically invented by Google when they realized they could not rely solely on the contents of a website. They knew their algorithm needed to incorporate some indication of a website’s authority. And thus, backlinks were born. Backlinks are links from other websites pointing back to your site. Google, and now all search engines for that matter, use backlinks as way to gauge how popular your website is.
A website with thousands of backlinks from other well-established sites tells search engines that your site must be valuable.
Search engines now consider other authority signals such as social media engagement and ratings from directory sites like Yelp.
Read our detailed explanation of backlinks and their importance here.
Examples of off-page SEO:
- Guest blogging
- Social media referrals
- Directory submissions
Technical SEO will encompass any technical aspects of your website that affect search engine rankings such as speed and security.
Some digital marketers may argue that there are only two types of SEO: on-page and off-page. This argument has some merit because any technical SEO changes will be made directly to your site, which means they fall under the on-page category.
However, I like to separate technical SEO from on-page SEO because any search engine marketer will be able to make simple on-page changes such as adding titles tags.
But technical changes will often need the assistance of a web developer with knowledge of how websites are built.
For example, one of the most common performance issues with websites is CLS, or cumulative layout shift. CLS is a measure of how smoothly your page loads on slower networks. On a fast network, your website will likely load in the blink of an eye with no visible oddities. But on a slower network that takes 10+ seconds to completely load a website, many sites will load unnaturally with images, text, and buttons moving all over the place.
Being able to identify the exact causes, and a solution, for CLS takes the skill of a web developer who understands HTML and CSS structure.
Examples of technical SEO:
- Site speed
- URL structure
- SSL certificate
Why Do You Need SEO?
Search engine optimization’s only goal is to allow your website to become profitable. Without it, you can only expect traffic from people who already know your business and either search for it by name or by the exact URL.
A well optimized website can bring in thousands of new customers who had previously never heard of your business.
A Business Before and After SEO
Let’s say we have a business called Joe and Jack’s Jamboree. This fictional business supplies the equipment and services necessary for throwing large parties.
The unoptimized version of Joe and Jack’s website will probably rank for searches like “joe and jacks jamboree”. Search engine algorithms are intelligent enough to rank your website for searches related to the business name regardless of how much SEO has been done.
However, Joe and Jack shouldn’t expect much more than that with an unoptimized website. They get about 50 visitors a month, but they find that most of these users are repeat customers just looking for their contact information.
Now let’s compare this to a situation where Joe and Jack have taken the steps to optimize their website for search engines.
Keyword research has been done and it was discovered that “party organizer in boston” will give them the best chance of success. They litter the website with this phrase and start writing posts about anything related to organizing parties.
Their SEO specialist has taken the time to put their website on all review directories related to their niche. Blog writers were contacted, and Joe and Jack’s Jamboree got mentioned in a few blog posts.
Now, they rank in the second position for “party organizer in boston” and many of their blog posts are ranking on the first page for keywords like “how to organize a large party” and “what equipment is needed for a wedding”.
They are seeing 500 visitors a month and they are on track to double this by the end of the year. But what’s even more interesting is that most of these visitors are brand new customers who found them from a blog post and are interested in their services.
Start Implementing SEO Today
While the previous story is a fictional representation of how SEO can transform your business, it is based of thousands of true success stories from businesses who have taken the steps to implement SEO.
Is SEO the only form of digital marketing that you need? Of course not. But it is one of the crucial pieces of the puzzles needed to have a well-rounded and profitable digital marketing strategy.
If you have not taken the steps needed to optimize your website for search engines, then I advise you to contact a local SEO professional today.