Investing in SEO isn’t new. It’s as old as the internet, and like the internet, Search Engine Optimization has evolved over time. In fact, SEO marketing is a proven way to drive traffic to your website and revenues to your bottom line. The internet has grown more complex since its inception with new technology developing more sophistication. Search engine technology has grown much smarter and well able to read your content and match it to appropriate search queries.
What is SEO?
For a brief refresher, let’s discuss what SEO is. SEO, search engine optimization, is a way to add clues in your content to signal search engines so they know what your content is about. In the beginning, it was necessary to leave giant clues, because search engines weren’t very good at picking them up.
However, that’s no longer true. Google and other search engines are constantly being developed and tweaked to better understand which content matches search queries. You can optimize your website, mobile app, social media marketing, images, and videos to tell Google what they are about. New methods are developed continually that will load your pages faster, and return appropriate answers every time someone searches for content.
SEO has been proven many times over to drive significant traffic to websites. A 2019 report in Search Engine Journal stated the top three acquisition channels for Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) business were:
- 61% – Social media
- 51% – SEO
- 50% – Direct traffic
This report shows that SEO is driving over 50% of traffic to these websites. Even if you aren’t in a D2C business, maybe your business is Business-to-Business (B2B), you can see that SEO is a marketing stream that you cannot neglect.
How Does SEO Work?
In order for SEO to work optimally, your website must contain the clues necessary to signal Google. Those clues include optimizing your website, landing pages, articles, blog posts and product/service pages with coding in the appropriate places. Additionally, your website should load as quickly as possible, because page load speed is part of what search engines look for.
What SEO Elements Does Google Look For?
Google looks for specific SEO elements to understand and match your content with search queries. In order to get the right traffic, people who are actually looking for what you sell, you need to embed the elements with the right information. This is where keywords come in. Your keywords (or phrases), tell Google what your website and individual pages are about. You should be optimizing these places:
- Website (overall topic of site)
- Individual website pages – information, blog posts, articles, product pages, customer service pages
- Landing pages – on and off your website
- Linked blog posts or articles outside your site
- Social media marketing posts that link to your site
The elements that you need to optimize on each page if possible are:
- H1 Title
- H2 Headers
- Structured Data
Structured data is one of the newer additions to SEO that lays out the information on each page for search engines to read. It legitimizes content and explains it in a way that search engine technology can read and categorize immediately. You can test your existing webpages for structured data using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
In addition to general SEO, there is also Local SEO to consider. Local SEO is what drives local traffic to your website and brick-and-mortar location. If a searcher inputs “restaurants near me” and you are a restaurant in that location, your website will come up in search results if you are optimized for local SEO. Local SEO is really an extension of general SEO that includes local clues. Therefore, when you decide on keywords to include when optimizing, you add your location or locations when appropriate.
Organic Search vs. Paid Search
SEO is used for both organic search and paid search. Organic search includes the search responses that come up due to matches between your SEO on your website and search queries. Paid search is paid ads that also use SEO to match queries, but they come up more often because they are paid ads instead of free organic search. All of the information we’ve listed here about website SEO is also used for paid search ads.
Mobile search is similar to standard Google search, but has some extra elements. The SEO is the same with one exception. The addition is that if your website is mobile-friendly, it will get a boost in mobile search. When people search for information on their mobile devices, smartphones and tablets, they prefer to use websites that are configured for different-sized screens. Mobile-friendly sites either have separate pages for mobile or are responsive and change sizes and configurations for mobile devices.
Google has had image search for a while, but they are currently working on improving it. The new technology will allow you to code high-quality images for search, and will be able to search 3D images. Videos can be uploaded to many video and social media sites. Videos are another search channel, especially for humor and education. Optimizing your images and videos is an added way to drive traffic to your website.
Newer Search Technologies
Search technologies continue to be developed and you should be aware of them. The most notable are voice search and artificial intelligence.
Voice search is epitomized by Amazon’s Alexa. When you talk to Alexa through a microphone on any Amazon device, you are using voice search. You ask Alexa to look for something or answer a question, and Alexa returns an answer. Other companies are also using voice search, but Alexa is currently the best known.
We are only seeing the beginning of artificial intelligence in search technology, but you can see how it works in a few places. If you are an Amazon Prime customer, you will note that Amazon retains your last few searches, and offers you related items when you log in. Another example is chatbots. Websites are using chatbots to handle simple questions, and respond immediately to customer service issues. When you type in your question or problem, the chatbot gives you related answers. If that response doesn’t solve the problem, then a live person comes online to help you.
As you can see SEO can help you drive traffic to your website from numerous channels. Search technology just keeps developing and expanding. If you are not focusing on optimizing your website, you can lose significant business to your competition. If you want to learn more about how SEO can drive more revenue to your company’s bottom line, please contact us.