SEO Search engine basics

Learning about SEO and what it is all about will be beneficial in building and strengthening your knowledge and understanding of SEO as you proceed into the chapter.

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It involves enhancing the quantity and quality of a website’s traffic and increasing your brand exposure through organic search engine results. Search engine optimization is not just about the search engines but also about the target audience. It involves knowing what your target audience will be looking for and the keywords they will type into the search engine to get the information they seek. When you know the answer to these, you can get connected to your target audience. In this guide, you can learn how to determine your audience intent and how to make your website available to meet their needs.

Search engine basics

Search engines are specifically made for the purpose of providing answers. They search through millions of online content, examine them and determine which will be the most suitable content to answer a question. This is done by finding and cataloging every content on the internet through a process called ‘crawling and indexing’. After crawling and indexing, each content will be ranked based on how well it answers the question.

What are organic search results?

Organic search results are results which are gotten via effective search engine optimization and are not paid for. Search engine result pages are called ‘SERPs’ and constitute of more advertising and dynamic SERP features than has ever been in existence. SERP features include answer boxes, image carousels and so on. As time goes on, a number of SERP features continue to unfold based on the requests of the people. Keep in mind that search engines generate their funds from ads hence their aim is to answer questions from online users within SERPs to encourage them to keep returning and remain on SERPs longer.

There are organic SERPs features on google which can be affected by SEO. They usually include featured snippets and similar questions. There are a number of search features that cannot be influenced by SEO – despite not being paid ads. These features usually have data which have proprietary data origins such as WebMD, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

Why is SEO important?

SEO is important because a high percentage of online traffic is pushed by search engines. Organic search results are seen as more trustworthy to online users, cover the majority of digital real estate and gets more clicks than paid ads do.

Search engine optimization is the only online marketing channel which can constantly pay dividends when properly set up. That is, if your content is seen as very useful and is seen worthy to be ranked on search engines, your website traffic will begin to increase. With advertising though, you constantly need to fund it to bring your site traffic.

When you optimize your site, you can help provide credible information to search engines, making it easier for your content to be indexed and shown within search results.

Should I hire a professional for my SEO?

You can learn to perform basic SEO on your own, based on how quickly you learn, your bandwidth and your kind of website. You could also decide to hire a professional to help with your SEO. It is simply important that you make whichever decision will be best for your website.

If you decide to hire a professional, ensure you hire a very good one. Hiring a well versed professional can help improve your website and also save you lots of money while hiring a bad one can cause more harm than good to your site.

White and Black hat SEO

White hat SEO are SEO techniques which follow search engine rules strictly with a goal to provide value to people. Black hat SEO are SEO techniques which attempt to deceive search engines. Although black hat SEO might work, the website faces a high risk of getting de-indexed and penalized.

Search engines and the SEO industry have similar goals

Most search engines want to help your website grow. For example, Google provides websites a started guide for SEO. They also support the efforts of the SEO community. Webmaster guidelines usually vary based on the engine but their basic principles are the same. Do not try to deceive search engines, focus on giving your web visitors a good online experience. To achieve this, you can follow guidelines from search engines and meet user intent.

International, national or local SEO?

Local businesses often use local intent keywords to improve their rankings on search engines such as ‘near me’, ‘service’ and ‘city’. These keywords often appeal to local customers who are seeking services in those particular localities. Asides local businesses, there are also businesses that are not fixed to a particular location and have target audience all over the country, continent or globe.

Fulfilling user intent

Fulfilling user intent will do your website a lot of good than violating guidelines and trying to increase your ranking by tricking search engines. When an online user searches for information and they get a fulfilling content – it could be pictures, an answer, tickets, videos and so on. The fulfilling content is what is called a ‘user intent’.

If an online user searches for ‘cakes’, could their intent be to find wedding cakes, birthday cakes, anniversary cakes, etc? As an SEO, it is your job to provide online users with the content they seek.

Some user intent types include:

  1. Navigational: Looking for a particular website e.g. “Amazon”
  2. Informational: Seeking information e.g. “What are beginners guide to starting a blog?”
  3. Transactional: Searching to purchase something e.g. “Good deals on iPhone 8”

By evaluating the current search engine result page and searching for your desired keyword, you can find a peak of user intent. When you provide valid contents on your webpage, your webpage will rank highly on search engine results and can also help you grow a strong, credible online presence.

Every website has different goals, therefore it is important to understand the business goals of a particular website. Not only will this help you figure out the SEO areas to improve, but it will also help you find talking points when negotiating your SEO projects. You will need to state your Key Performance Indicators to help you gauge the progress of your SEO investment. Your Key Performance Indicators can be sales, email signups, downloads, phone calls, and contact form submissions.

If your website has a local constituent, you can define your Key Performance Indicator to include ‘clicks-to-website’, ‘clicks-to-call’ and ‘clicks-for-driving-directions’.

If you are wondering why ‘ranking and traffic’ are not included on the Key Performance Indicator list, it is because while SEO can help rank your website highly on search engines and increase your website’s traffic, ranking and traffic are the means, not the end. If no one is clicking on your page, the ranking has little importance and even if your website has high traffic but is not reaching your business goals, then traffic has little importance.

Before taking on search engine optimization, ensure you have your business goals laid out first before customizing SEO to help you meet your goals.

Looking for an SEO Agency?