What is SEO and why do I need SEO?
If you are operating online or researching to make a new start on the internet, you will surely have come across the term SEO many times. You may have even read an article about SEO or got an SEO-Friendly website quote and maybe there they gave you an explanation of what SEO is. You may even think you have an SEO-Friendly website, but your site is nowhere to be found in search engine result pages (SERPs).
In the following article, we will try to explain the concept of SEO and analyze its importance by providing interesting information for both beginners and more informed users.
What is SEO?
The term SEO comes from the initials of the words Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is a digital marketing strategy. As part of any digital marketing strategy, SEO is a combination of practices. With these practices, you can increase both the quantity and quality of your website traffic through unpaid promotion, known as organic traffic.
Organic traffic is the traffic that comes to your website from the search engines. Search engines are answer engines (eg google.com, bing.com, yahoo.com), that is, engines that try to answer users' queries.
When you search (make a query) on a search engine, the search engine tries to answer your query by displaying the most relevant websites. (Although most search engines are trying to answer queries on their own, without requiring a website to appear eg if you search for "20 kg in lbs" or "New York weather").
The first criterion for displaying and ranking websites is the search term. That is the words that users type in the search field. These words are called keywords.
All the other criteria in combination with keywords is SEO.
That is, SEO is a set of techniques that can influence the order of websites ranking as well as which websites will be found in the search engine results. Simply put, SEO is a set of techniques that can put your website on the 1st page on search engines.
SEO can increase the organic traffic of your website and this means you will have more opportunities to convert your visitors to customers. With SEO you can build strong relationships with your visitors and put your business high on the list of trusted and experts in the field you are active in.
After looking at how search engines work, we will move on to the most important elements of SEO and will see how SEO can help you achieve your goals.
How do search engines work?
It doesn't matter if the myth came from trying to highlight the complexity of Google's algorithm or from a Google press conference on May 10, 2006. What matters is understanding the way search engines work and learning and understanding of the most important and unquestionable factors for ranking websites. All of this information we will try to break down into a series of SEO articles, of which you are reading the first part.
As mentioned above, search engines are answer engines. Their job is to find, understand and organize the content of the internet, to find the most relevant answers to the users' queries.
Search engines have three main functions:
During the crawling process, search engines recruit a group of robots (crawlers or spiders) who send them to the internet to find new or updated content. Content can be a webpage, a video, an image, a PDF file, etc, but regardless of the format, the content is discovered through links.
In the indexing process, search engines process and store the information they found during the crawling process in a huge database. Google's database is called Caffeine and is a giant database of URLs that is retrieved when you search for information that matches the content of that URL.
Once you make a query in a search engine, the search engine does not search the internet to find the most relevant content, but its index. It then classifies and displays the results to be able to give the best answer to the question you asked.
This relevance of search results is called ranking. Generally, we can say that the higher the ranking of a website, the more the search engine considers that the website will be more relevant to the search query.
Of course, search engine results also depend on other parameters such as the location of the user, the device in which the query was made, etc., which we will discuss in our next articles.
At this point, it is good to mention that SEO to be implemented is not the same for all search engines. But is it worth applying SEO techniques to other search engines? The answer is that with Google holding more than 90% of searches on the web, if we include Google Images, YouTube and Google Maps, no.
What is organic traffic?
As mentioned above, the term organic traffic represents the number of visitors that arrive on your website as a result of unpaid (organic) search results. Organic traffic is the opposite of paid traffic, which is the visitors that are created as a result of advertising.
Similarly, organic visitors are the visitors who find and visit your website when they do a query on a search engine.
Organic traffic, or the number of organic visitors, can be modified and increased through SEO techniques.
Nowadays, search engine results pages (SERPs) contain more than ever, GoogleAds and features or snippets. Such functions are e.g. the answers "boxes". "People also ask" boxes are SEO influenced.
Keep in mind that the main goal of search engines is to make a profit. And the profit increases as visitors stay longer on the search results pages. The longer the staying, the more clicks. The more clicks, the higher the profit for the search engines.
Some of these functions, such as the response boxes and the "People also ask" boxes mentioned above, can also be affected by SEO.
In addition to organic traffic, there are other types of traffic, such as direct traffic, social traffic and referral traffic, which we will study in our next articles.
Why do I need SEO and why is SEO important?
Why is SEO important and why do I need SEO? There are other ways to promote and direct traffic, such as pay-per-click or social media, mentioned above.
As far as pay-per-clicks, from what we know and according to Google itself, we could say that a combination of pay-per-click with proper SEO is the best you can do to earn visitors, as each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Pay-per-click or Google Ads, as Google's pay-per-click service is called, is a quick and easy way to get visitors, whether new, small or big, to your business.
SEO is the traditional cornerstone of successful internet marketing. It gives your business the best chances to be found in the queries of the users, but the SEO development process takes time.
Social media is another fast but also a cost-effective way to attract visitors to your website (social traffic). But social media have two major disadvantages. The first one is that on social media, the information does not reach the user when they need it and search for it. The second one is that there are very few chances that users following you will be interested in what you are trying to promote. Especially when targeting a limited-volume audience, in comparison to e.g. Google users.
If, of course, you are in the process of creating by yourself eg. a facebook page or user profile and making friends and posts trying to gain visitors to your website can be the most cost-effective way to get visitors. Or maybe not;
Personally, I would answer no. Spending time on social media, making friends and creating posts means spending resources. What return (ROI) will this consumption of resources have? Is there something that works better?
There is also a cost-effective way, but it requires more effort and more time. Of course, it has proven to be far greater both in duration and in quantity ROI.
We are referring, of course, to creating content on your website. Proper and appropriate content can help achieve your goals in many ways.
In the first place, it can increase the organic traffic of your website: More content means more chances of achieving some keywords that users are looking for. It can also increase the number of visitors to your website and thus the ranking of your website. Finally, with content, you will show that you are informed of your subject matter, that you love and care about what you are doing so that you can gain the loyalty and trust of your website visitors.
Developing the right content is one of the most important SEO techniques and has all the benefits of SEO. If you do not know how to develop the right content or are unable to create content, you can contact an SEO expert.
Another reason that makes SEO extremely important, as we said in our article "Everything you should know about web development", is because it is the only marketing channel that, if set up properly, will continue to drive visitors to your website over time.
Unlike all other promotions, SEO is the only marketing channel where you do not have to constantly spend resources (time and/or money) to continue to produce results. If you stop eg. paying pay-per-click, your ad will stop. Similarly, if you no longer manage to post on social media or send emails or your emails go to spam, you will not gain visitors.
SEO can and does create a unique connection between organic traffic and your website ranking. Proper SEO can increase organic traffic. As organic traffic increases, so does the ranking of your website. As your website rankings go up, search engines consider your website more important and display more often in their results, thereby increasing organic traffic.
Another reason why you need SEO is that there is a very high chance that your competition is using it.
Before you make any move to develop an SEO strategy, you will have to analyze your competition. You need to explore the strengths of your competition and their weaknesses. You need to find ways in which your competition attracts visitors to develop a successful SEO strategy to follow.
Do I need to pay an SEO expert or can I do it myself?
This depends on many factors such as the time available, your willingness to discover new things, the quality of your website, the goals you set, the money you can spend, and your competition.
In general, let's say you could implement some basic SEO techniques on your own. If you find yourself not satisfied with the results along the way, you can seek the help of an expert.
If you decide to do it yourself, you should know that SEO is a process that, depending on the effort you make and your competition, can take months or even years to pay efforts. If you are looking for an easy solution that will effortless and quickly increase your website's organic traffic, you are aimlessly looking for because it does not exist. It is also a sign that points you are in the wrong way.
If you decide to look for a specialist, you should pay particular attention to the company or person you will give the job. In the best-case scenario, your partner will be worth every euro you will spend and you will be able to quickly depreciate your investment, for example, through sales growth (if that's your goal). In a good-case scenario, your partner will apply some basic but proper SEO techniques, it will cost you a small amount of money and you will see poor results. In the worst-case scenario, by applying black hat SEO techniques can even cost you the exclusion (ban) of your website and your domain name from search engine results, an irreversible situation.
Knowing how to choose the right SEO company can save you from unnecessary expenses and wasting valuable time, as we will discuss in our next articles.
Defining SEO goals
Developing any marketing strategy makes no sense unless you first set the goals you want to achieve. Goal setting will allow you to discover the SEO points you need to focus on, set benchmarks, and evaluate the results of the application.
What will be the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure SEO return (ROI)? In other words, how would you rate the success of your efforts to increase organic traffic? Maybe it's best to note it right from the beginning, even if it's so simple:
For my website, my main SEO KPI is ________.
Some common KPIs you could start with are the following:
- Phone calls
- Contact through the contact form
- Newsletter subscriptions
- Video Views
As you may have noticed, the words traffic and ranking are missing from the list of KPIs, which was deliberate. You should understand that there is little use in boosting your website ranking if no one clicks on your website. Also, there is little use in increasing your website traffic if that traffic does not reach a larger business goal.
What we mean: Suppose you have an online store where you sell plants. You, like everyone else, want to increase the traffic of your online store to increase your sales.
If no one else sells plants online, you will increase your sales with increased traffic, so you are on the right track. But this cannot be true. Hundreds are selling plants online.
You could stand out from the selling prices you have in your online store. If your prices are competitive, you can increase your sales through traffic, so you are on the right track. But most likely, since you don't have a lot of traffic, you do not have a lot of sales and therefore you cannot deliver competitive prices.
Another thing that could make you stand out is your knowledge of plants. To demonstrate this knowledge, you will need to pass it on to your website visitors through the content of your website. In the content development process, a KPI could be the views of your articles and a business goal to succeed could be to attract the right customers.
Through SEO, you can achieve much more than meaningless metrics. Proper SEO can help worthy people and worthy businesses to achieve real goals.
The same logic does not apply to, and is not limited to, an online store, but applies to any business website or hotel website.
Don't leave us! In a few days, we will be publishing Part 2 of our series on SEO: Black hat SEO and white hat SEO.
Cloud O.E. through its knowledge and experience in implementing successful SEO strategies, has developed SEO packages for business websites and online stores, capable of meeting several needs. If these packages do not satisfy you, you can contact us to see what we can do for your specific needs.