The rise of technology and the internet led to the appearance of numerous new professions.
If you ask people working in a related industry what they’re doing, you might hear a lot of abbreviates such as SEO, PPC, SMM, etc. Most of these phrases might sound like gibberish if you’re a layman, so it makes sense to be lost for words.
One of the more intriguing new professions is SEO or search engine optimization. It can be regarded as a part of internet marketing and represents a process that can have a profound impact on your web traffic.
Because of its importance, SEO has grown in popularity and today a serious internet business can barely go without it.
What is SEO?
As the name implies, SEO is the optimization of a website which helps it reach a higher position within a particular search engine, in most cases Google.
So, why is this important and why should you care?
When web users browse the internet, they usually focus on the first several results. The first position gets the majority of online traffic, 2nd and 3rd positions get smaller percentages of it and after that, the number of clicks significantly fall off. If you’re not ranking on Google’s page one, there is virtually no benefit for your site and business. This means that only a small number of websites will actually get any benefit from the search engines.
Unfortunately, search engines are also among the most important sources of web traffic. By completely ignoring them, you’re doing your company a huge disservice. At the same time, it is really hard to survive without this traffic which is why SEO makes so much sense.
What can SEO do and what it cannot do?
There are lots of misconceptions regarding SEO even among people who are aware of it.
Here are some of the things that search engine optimization can help you with:
- Helps your website rank higher in Google and other search engines
- Increases your overall web visibility and has a profound impact on your internet marketing
- Goes well with your other marketing efforts
- Positions you as an authority within a particular niche or industry
- Can lead to increased conversion and positively affects other sales channels
- Creates brand identity
- Helps ensure pole position in poorly saturated industries and niches
Of course, while optimization sounds great and it truly has strong benefits, there are lots of things it cannot do:
- It doesn’t work overnight
- Even if you manage to reach top positions, this doesn’t guarantee any profit
- Often doesn’t help poorly conceived business models
- Your expectations should be gauged based on beatable competition; they often cannot help against top brands
Search engine optimization is not a “pay to win” model. Keep in mind that most of your competitors are also optimizing their sites. This means that you have to go against numerous businesses who have the same goals and tools at their disposal. In that sense, it is very similar to any marketing effort where your future depends on the efficiency of the marketing team performing the optimization.
It is very hard for search engine optimization to topple big brands in a particular industry. Back in the day, that was partially possible but search engine algorithms are much more sophisticated nowadays and do not allow old, renowned companies to be overtaken just like that.
What does SEO entail?
The process can be quite complex and involves numerous activities. It is also affected by third-party companies such as Google, Yahoo!, Yandex and Baidu so changes are common and expected.
The value of a search engine optimization expert lies not only in his ability to perform certain actions but also to adapt to the ever-changing landscape.
Given the current state of popular search engine algorithms, here are 3 aspects that yield results:
- Site architecture
The site architecture is the basic building block that enables all other processes to bear fruit. Without a proper architecture, everything else that you will not yield expected results and in some cases, will not yield any results whatsoever. With it, you’re able to increase the functionality of a website, improve navigation and bring about a level of aesthetics that will be pleasing to visitors but will not affect their experience in a negative way. In a nutshell, the architecture of a website allows it to work as intended. Users should be able to jump from page to page in an instant, to view the site properly on all devices, to easily find their way from one page to another and so on.
For the longest time, backlinks have been at the center of SEO. By getting links from other sites, you’re able to increase the relevancy and authority of your web pages. While this factor has subsided a bit, it still remains among the most important elements of optimization. Furthermore, link building is highly sought after and people are prepared to pay a hefty price for a link from a highly authoritative source. However, bear in mind that backlinks can also hurt your SEO so make sure you know what you’re doing or hire an SEO company to help you with that.
Content is the reason why people visit your site. Articles, videos, images, and other multimedia can be regarded as content forms. Nevertheless, websites usually rely on text content and to a certain extent – videos. Content has an important function of keeping visitors on site and making them browse even more. According to some SEO experts, factors such as the bounce rate, time spend on a site, pages visited during a session are important factors affecting SEO. There is still a lot of debate regarding these so-called “user experience metrics” but it seems they are increasing in importance with each passing year.
These 3 aspects represent the pillars upon which sites are built and optimized. Keep in mind that things such as social media and even pay-per-click have their values and impact your site. However, they cannot be regarded as SEO.
SEO and marketing
It is really hard to define SEO as a discipline and where it belongs. It is a profession that has elements of programming, writing, web design and so on. You need a really versatile team to create a well-balanced site and perform continuous optimization after that. If we have to sum it up, it is a multi-disciplinary profession that is continuously evolving.
Because of all that, it is oftentimes hard to classify SEO. Nevertheless, if we have to be specific, it is best to describe it as a part of web marketing. No matter how you look at things, the main purpose of search engine optimization is to increase visibility, get more clicks, and with it, achieve higher conversion and more sales.
Nowadays with the internet and globalization, the business landscape is in continuous flux. Who knows what the future will bring and how marketing will look like in a few years from now. At this point in time, we can tell with certainty that internet marketing and SEO, in particular, take the frontstage helping businesses increase their market share.
SEO and business
Because of the fact that web marketing is so important for the survival of a modern company, SEO has become one of the company’s main activities.
If you just take a look at the big corporations worldwide, less and less is spent on traditional marketing channels. TV, radio, and newspapers have all become obsolete. When people look for information, they usually do it online. As a result, business owners are trying to utilize the internet to the best of their ability.
SEO has become an integral part of every company’s development. This is especially true in the case of new products and markets. Optimization works the best when there are not many competitors and experienced marketing team is allowed to reach top spots with little to no effort. In that sense, you might say that SEO has become the business itself.
Development of search engine optimization led to an interesting phenomenon. If you know how to optimize a webshop, you have a clear advantage over all other competitors. In that sense, the knowledge of SEO is the same as knowledge of business: you don’t have to be a financial manager to make things work.
As more and more traditional shops are closing down, online business has become the staple of modern society and economy. Selling and shipping products over long distances have become much easier nowadays and this method has a clear cost advantage over traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
With that being said, it is interesting to see what kind of a business role SEO will have in the future.
SEO and web design
As already mentioned, SEO relies on several different disciplines and professions to make things work. One of them is web design.
When it comes to the site’s design, our perception has changed immensely over the past several years. Initially, companies were vying to create the most intriguing, complex web design possible. At one point, it was very important how your site looked like. Appearance alone could’ve guaranteed your sales as it resonates with potential customers and gives them more confidence in a brand. Furthermore, this profession had an advantage over site optimization as company owners were more focused on esthetics partially because they didn’t understand how search engines work.
But things have changed immensely as of late. Google has brought about several updates that prioritize site speed over everything else. Company’s pursuit of better user experience had a profound impact on web design as we no longer try to just make sites prettier but instead focus on their functionality and speed.
With that, the role of web design has reduced immensely. This coincides with the fact that today, business owners understand that there is no point in having a visually appealing site if no one is going to land on it or return to it once they have left.
Anyway, this doesn’t mean you don’t need a good web design team; professional appearance is as important as ever. Unfortunately, designers have much less leeway when it comes to how sites look like. But there is much more to web design than just search engine optimization. Speed is very important for user experience and we have seen how visitors’ preferences have changed over time. If your pages do not load quickly enough, the visitor will leave the site never to return.
In this new, altered ecosystem, web design still plays a role. While it doesn’t have the same aesthetic impact as it did back in the day, it is very important to have a well-optimized site with proper architecture and this is something designers can definitely help you with.
SEO and social media
No matter what you might think, search engine optimization and social media marketing are much closer to each other than it appears. They both belong to a group of internet marketing activities and are meant to drive traffic to your site.
Most big companies are doing both strategies; while they’re optimizing their pages for search engines such as Google, they also have active campaigns on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The social media campaigns can either be paid or organic and which one you’ll use depends on your long-term goals and budgets.
While these two activities are completely different, they do have some similar principles. Both SEO and SMM are heavily reliant on content as the focal selling point. Given that both professions depend on third-party platforms, it is very important to stay in the loop and get updated with the latest changes.
When used together, SEO and SMM have enormous potential. They allow companies to “attack” on two different fronts and maximize their web potential. No matter which platform web user is using, they are more likely to reach your site.
Of course, there are also some major differences that set them apart but the prospect of them working in conjunction is much more intriguing and leads to numerous debates among social media and search engine experts.
Like with all other professions, it is very important to hire the right SEO expert. However, you should also be realistic regarding your expectations. Even if you do decide to invest in this form of advertising, it is always recommendable to explore other options. And remember, SEO shows the best results when paired with other types of marketing services and when done continuously over time!