You may be wondering: What is SEO and why should it matter to me?
Great question! You certainly aren’t the first one who has asked it.
SEO stands for search engine optimization and, in a nutshell, it means getting a website to perform better in search engine results. That matters for a lot of reasons, especially if you are a small business owner or a blogger who hopes to get visitors to your site.
In order to truly understand SEO, let’s first start with an example of SEO’s power:
Let’s say that you own a small family restaurant in Chicago. You know that everyone uses the internet now, so you built a website in hopes it will help bring you more customers.
Hungry people in your neighborhood are going to search for things like “Restaurants in Chicago” or “Best Greek food in Chicago.”
If your website harnesses the power of SEO, your restaurant will come up much higher on the Google search results page (or whatever search engine these hungry potential customers are using).
If you don’t leverage SEO, your customers won’t even know you are there and your business will suffer.
Below you’ll find 3 keys to factors to understanding SEO and how it can help your business
1. Understand How Search Engines Work
Every search engine is unique, but there are some key similarities that can help show why SEO is so important to your business or blog.
Every search engine’s goal is the same: to help their users find the content they are looking for. To this end, every search engine expects clarity and quality from a webpage. They also want to know that a site is trustworthy before referring their users to it.
In summary, a search engine is a tool that does its best to view a webpage from a human’s point of view. If your webpage has a clear theme, helpful content and is visited, shared, and recommended by a lot of people, that page will rank higher in the search engine’s results.
2. Keywords: The Core of SEO
Now that you have a basic knowledge of what SEO is and why it matters, let’s look at how to make sure your site performs well.
The core of SEO is keywords. What are keywords?
Keywords are anything that a person might type into a search engine (E.g. “Best Greek food in Chicago.”) Every different keyword will lead to slightly different results. A search for “Best Greek food in Chicago” will return different results than “Chicago Greek restaurants.”
So how do you make sure that your site shows up in the results for the keywords that people are actually searching for?
First, you have to understand what your potential customers are actually searching for. There are a number of different tools you can use to do this, but Google Keyword Planner and Moz Pro’s Keyword Explorer. Google’s Keyword Planner is free (if you sign up with a Google AdWords account). Moz Pro’s Keyword Explorer offers a free trial, but then requires a paid subscription.
Once you’ve identified keywords that potential customers are using, you then need to put them to work. How? By putting these keywords into your website in a handful of strategic places.
2. How to Use Keywords
There is one place that implementing keywords matters most: The Title Tag. Any time someone searches on Google (or any other search engine), the list of results will show webpages with blue titles and a black description:
That blue headline is your page’s title tag, and it’s the main way that search engines locate and read your page’s content. If you ever want to have a chance at ranking on the first page of Google for a search of “Best Greek Food in Chicago,” you need to make sure that exact keyword is included in your page’s title tag.
Keep in mind: Every website has a number of pages, and each page should be optimized for appropriate keywords.
3. Investing in SEO
Hopefully it is now clear how SEO works and why it matters so much. Lastly, let’s talk about the cost to your business.
SEO produces what is called “organic” traffic to your site. That means that you don’t have to pay a recurring fee to search engines to show up on the first page. Instead, your ranking comes from optimizing your website. Different keywords will include different levels of competition, but the more optimized your site is, the higher the odds of you appearing.
Yes, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is an option if you want to keep shelling out money month after month But using SEO to create the best possible site for search engines and your potential customer is a much better long-term option.
A little work up front can make a lasting difference in your search ranking and in the health of your business. By understanding SEO’s power and putting it to work, you can drastically improve your website’s performance and help attract new customers to your business or blog.