What is SEO & Why It’s Still Important

If you are new to the concept of SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, then this post will provide you with a good understanding of:

  • What is SEO
  • Why is it important
  • Why and How you can use SEO to grow your business.

By the end of this post, you will know enough about SEO to start asking the right questions of your marketing team and partners about how you can use SEO as a part of your marketing mix to get in front of more prospects looking for solutions online.

The key thing to remember is that, like anything worth doing, good SEO takes time.  It also takes commitment to focus on building a technically sound website and creating content of value to your audience.

What is Search Engine Optimisation?

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation.

SEO is simply the process of affecting a websites’ visibility in the search engine’s organic search results.

Another way to look at it is making sure your website gets found when prospective customers are:

  • Looking for solutions to a problem
  • Asking for advice
  • Researching alternative solutions to their problems.

That’s it!  

Despite all of the complexity, the talk of Google Penalties and Algorithm updates, at the end of the day SEO basically means anything that will help you improve the visibility of the pages of your website when someone goes looking for something in a search engine.

Why is page 1 of Google so important to people?

If you have been doing any reading online about SEO, then you know that everyone seems to want to rank on page 1 of Google for specific keywords.

But why is it important to be on page 1 for a keyword?

Well, to be worth anything you are assuming that:

  1. There are a lot of people searching each month using that specific keyword phrase
  2. And when they look at the search results in Google, they will click on the link to your website and ultimately buy something from you.

That’s the process in a very simple nutshell.

Being is on Page 1 is important because studies have shown that most people only click on websites on the first page of the search results.

Furthermore, data shows that the website in position 1 gets the majority of the clicks.

The most recent study of Click Through Rates at various ranking positions conducted by Advanced Web Ranking in July of 2014 found that on average, a website with a #1 ranking on the first page of Google can expect to get 33.86% of the visitors searching to actually click through to the site.

This means a search phrase with 1000 monthly searches may send almost 339 visitors to the website in position #1 in that month.

However, page 1 isn’t what it used to be

It’s important to remember that being ranked #1 in the organic search results is becoming less and less effective as a high traffic generator,  as Google’s own paid ads, image, maps and video results push the organic rankings further down the page.

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This gets worse on mobile devices where the organic listing is not even on the first page when content is displayed.

What you need for your site to do well in organic search

To do well in SEO requires a combination of good solid technical foundations, well-optimised pages and links from high quality, relevant websites.

What does this mean?

Strong Technical Foundations

Like a building, a website needs to be built well so that both users and search engines can easily access the content and that content is easily consumed on any device whether computer or mobile phone.

Technical issues such as slow loading websites, poorly built pages and broken links are one of the main causes of websites that don’t do their job of attracting visitors and converting them into inquires.

Well Optimised Pages

Well optimised pages simply means that a page needs to have relevant content and keywords on the page so that both search engines and visitors know what the page is about.

For search engines, this means having relevant keywords in the page title and headings and relevant content in the body copy.

In the SEO industry, fixing this part of a website is called on-page optimisation.

Links from High Quality, relevant Websites

The final pice of the puzzle is having links from third-party websites that are high quality and relevant.

These links act as a “third-party endorsement” of your site and Google has perfected the skill of ranking websites based on both their onsite content but also based on the number and quality of third party websites that link to yours.

They effectively act as a vote of confidence in your site.

Where does SEO fit in the whole online marketing picture?

Not all online businesses need SEO.

Some businesses have a product that lends itself to a direct marketing approach that can be well served with paid advertising such as Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

If however, you have a product or service where your prospects typically find you by searching for information on search engines, then SEO is perfectly suited to being a part of your long-term strategy.

It’s important to remember that SEO is a long-term activity, one that you need to embed in your ongoing processes.

It is not like a marketing campaign that generates traffic when you start paying money and stops when the budget is finished.

SEO is the foundation of your Online Marketing Platform

I like to think of SEO as the foundation layer that you build all of your online marketing activities.

Why?

Because having a well optimised and structured website is important because:

  1. It’s the ideal place to host your content and educate your customers, no matter what traffic source they came from
  2. Well optimised content with the right information is the fodder for social media sharing such as getting likes and shares on Facebook
  3. When you turn off your paid advertising, a highly visible website will continue to bring you traffic
  4. Your optimised website is the ideal place to host paid landing pages, which can be optimised to function as great search engine traffic landing pages.

How Do you “Do SEO” on Your Website

When you decide that you want to incorporate SEO into your online marketing there is a standard process that you should follow.

This includes:

  1. Building a technically sound and fast website, one that is easily crawled by search engine spiders and so that it’s pages and content can be properly indexed and ranked
  2. Having a logical site structure with unique pages for each product, service or topic you are writing about so that people and search engines can easily find what they are looking for.
  3. Having a well-optimised website where the pages are optimised to rank and get found for the most relevant keyword phrases.
  4. Having unique, comprehensive website copy that is the best answer for prospects who go to a search engine with a specific question or problem in mind.  This means no copied content that you can find on any other website.
  5. Having links from authoritative, trusted and relevant websites so that Google can better assess the worthiness of your pages and site to rank high in the search results.

The process that you follow, whether you use the seo services of an SEO agency or you learn to do SEO yourself is essentially the same.

  1. Fix the technical problems stopping your site from ranking
  2. Improve your understanding of your customers searching behaviour and information needs by doing comprehensive research which includes detailed keyword research
  3. Optimise your pages and content to target the most relevant and high search volume keywords
  4. Optimise your existing content to create new content that answers customers questions, that attracts links or positions you as the authority
  5. Promote your site to attract authoritative, trusted relevant links which will help your pages improve their rankings in the search engines.