SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It is essentially the practice of influencing or being able to control some of the results that Search Engines show when someone types in or speak a query to the Search Engine’s system. This is standard practice for search sites like Bing, DuckDuck, Yahoo. But we are primarily focused on Google because Google has about 86% market share worldwide with a few exceptions.
So SEO is a tactic. It’s a way of controlling how Search Engines interact and render one’s web content. It’s not a business goal. No one forms a new company or sits down with their división and says, “Okay, we need to rank all these keywords”. Instead, what hopefully is happening in your teams is, “ we have these business goals, so we want to grow our online sales”. That’s a true business goal. We’re trying to build a bigger audience. In order to do that, we have marketing goals that we want to achieve, things like we want to build brand awareness, we want more people to know who we are, to become aware of our selling proposition because people who have heard of us are going to be more likely to buy from us. So that is a good marketing goal, and SEO can help us with that. You might want to grow the top of your conversion funnel, we want more people coming to the site overall so, that we can do a better job figuring out who is the right audience for us and converting some of those people, retargeting some of those people, capturing emails from some of those people, all those good things.
SEO, as a strategy is essentially a set of tactics, things that you will do in the SEO world to rank for different keywords in the search engine or control and influence what already ranks in there so that you can achieve your marketing goals so that you can achieve your business goals. Don’t get this backward. Don’t start from a place of SEO. Especially if you are an SEO specialist or a practitioner or you’re joining a consulting firm, you should always have an excellent idea of what these are and why the SEO tactics that you are undertaking fit into them. If you don’t, you should be asking those questions before you begin any SEO work. So SEO can don things like rank for low demand, things that don’t have a lot of searches per month but they are high conversión likely keywords, you could try and earn traffic from high demand, low competition keywords that are less focused directly on e-commerce, and you might be trying to do things like building content that attracts links and influencer engagement so that in the future you can rank for more competitive keywords.
SEO can do some amazing things, but there are also things that it cannot do. When we compose an SEO strategy, a set of tactics that tries to accomplish marketing goals that tie to business goals, SEO can do things like attract searchers that are seeking your content. It can control how your Brand is seen in search results when someone searches for your particular name. It can nudge searchers toward queries by influencing what gets suggested in the auto-suggest or by suggesting related searches. Anything that shows up in the search results, nearly anything can be influenced by what we as SEOs can do. But SEO cannot grow or créate search demand by itself. So if someone says, “Hey, I want us to get more traffic for this specific keyword,” if you’re already ranking number one and you have some videos showing in the results and you’re also in the image results and you’ve got maybe a secondary page that links off to you from the results, you might say, “Hey, there’s just not more demand,” and SEO by itself can’t créate that additional demand. SEO also can’t build a brand, at least no by itself, it can certainly be a helpful part of that structure. But if someone says,” Hey, I want us to be better known among this audience,” well, SEO can help a Little, but it can’t build a brand on its own, and it certainly can not build Brand perception on its own.” People are going to go and visit your website. That’s going to be far more of a Brand builder, a Brand indicator than just what appears in the search results. So SEO can’t do that alone. It also can’t directly convert customers. A lot of the time what we find is that someone will do a great job of ranking, but when you actually reach the website, when visitors reach the website, they are unsatisfied by the search. When Google sees over time that searchers are unsatisfied by a result, they will push that result down in the rankings and find someone who does a great job of satisfying searchers, and they will rank instead. So the website has to do this. It is part of SEO.
Finally, last but least, SEO cannot work overnight. SEO is a long-term investment. It is very different from paid search ads, PPC, also called SEM sometimes, buying from Google ads or from Bing ads and appearing in the sponsored results. SEO is more like a 24-month long process. The fundamental concept is when you have a new website, you need to earn these things- links and engagement, and historical performance in the rankings. As you earn that thing, other people are linking to you from around the web, people are talking about you, people are engaging with your pages and your brand, people start searching for your brand specifically, as all those great things happen, you will grow your historical engagement and links and ranking factors all these things that we sort of putting into the bucket of the authority and influence of a website. As that grows, you will able to first, over time, this might be three to six months, you might be able to rank for a few keywords in the long tail of search demand. After six to nine months, you may be able to rank for more and more competitive keywords. As you truly grow a brand that is well-known and well thought of on the internet and by search engines, 12 to 18 months in, maybe longer, you may be able to compete for tougher and tougher keywords.
Why SEO is important
While paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines.
Organic search results cover more digital real estate, appear more credible to savvy searchers, and receive way more clicks than paid advertisements.
SEO is also one of the only online marketing channels that, when set up correctly, can continue to pay dividends over time. If you provide a solid piece of content that deserves to rank for the right keywords, your traffic can snowball over time, whereas advertising needs continuous funding to send traffic to your site. Search engines are getting smarter, but they still need our help.
Optimizing your site will help deliver better information to search engines so that your content can be properly indexed and displayed within search results.
Should I hire an SEO professional, consultant, or agency?
Depending on your bandwidth, willingness to learn, and the complexity of your website(s), you could perform some basic SEO yourself. Or, you might discover that you would prefer the help of an expert. Either way is okay!
If you end up looking for expert help, it’s important to know that many agencies and consultants “provide SEO services,” but can vary widely in quality. Knowing how to choose a good digital marketing company can save you a lot of time and money, as the wrong SEO techniques can actually harm your site more than they will help.