The term “SEO,” or search engine optimization, gets thrown around a lot, especially among digital marketers. It’s touted as the be-all, end-all of web-based marketing, and without it, your company will surely be doomed to failure.
Despite the common perception – that SEO is a must-have skill for anyone even loosely related to marketing – mastering the art of SEO can be easier said than done, especially when few marketers are willing to provide a clear-cut explanation.
What Is SEO Marketing?
If SEO is so important, what does it actually mean?
In essence, search engine optimization refers to practices that drive web traffic in a natural and organic manner. Unlike paid search engine marketing that relies on purchased ads on website banners or Google, SEO makes use of free techniques that can increase your presence on search engine results pages, both in terms of ranking and visibility.
SEO has three basic parts: quality of traffic, quantity of traffic, and organic nature of search results. As a business, you need to attract users who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer, drive adequate traffic to meet your needs, and find ways to attract traffic that doesn’t cut into your bottom line.
How SEO Works
Your website is more than a URL and some content that describes your business. Instead, it’s a complex entity that drives everything from your reputation to your sales.
Whether you know it or not, the little details, from the links you use to the keywords and phrases you employ, play into how your website ranks, and thus your SEO marketing. The wrong phrases or bad meta titles can be all it takes to drag your rankings down, making it harder for customers to find you.
Google’s ranking algorithms are significantly more sophisticated today than ever before, and they’re always changing, evolving, and growing. While it’s impossible to know exactly what Google looks for when ranking sites – apparently, over 200 factors are included in their ranking methodology – it’s important to have a well-rounded approach to SEO to maximize your likelihood of coming in number one.
Per industry research, the most important onsite criteria include:
- Keyword usage in title, H1, and meta description copy
- Keyword usage throughout website content
- Content length
- Canonical tags
- Image optimization
- Updated content
- Outbound links
- Internal links
- A sitemap
- Domain trust
- Server location
- Mobile optimization
While there’s no way to prioritize every single item on Google’s checklist, all of these aspects should be included in a strong SEO marketing strategy. Forgetting or ignoring even a few can lead to ranking challenges from which your site may struggle to recover.
Why Your SEO Marketing Matters
Do you think your company will show up in the SERPs without paying attention to SEO principles? It may, but it also may not. Google is essentially the gatekeeper of all web traffic. In 2017, they controlled 79% of desktop search traffic worldwide and received approximately 63,000 searches each second. Marketers realize the importance, too; 82% believe that SEO will only become more important in 2018 and 61% think that improving SEO is a top priority.
Whether you love it or you hate it, there’s no getting around SEO’s prominence in digital marketing. At the end of the day, no matter who you’re targeting or your overall goals, your approach to keywords, content, tags, and links can drive who sees you and how you’re ultimately perceived. Want to hone your own strategy?