Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the easiest and most cost-effective way for a business to increase its online search presence.
What Does SEO Stand For?
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Let’s break down each component to explain why it’s such an essential and useful marketing tool.
When a potential customer is looking for something online – it could be a product, service, advice, video, review, directions or content – they use an online search engine, like Google. If a customer already knows your business name, they’ll still type it into a search engine, instead of entering your business domain.
Using SEO, you aim to make sure search engines return your business in the results given to people who are searching for a particular term or phrase, or your business name. If your website isn’t SEO optimised, at this point, your customer is at risk of being directed to your competitors. Your potential customers are on search engines right now, and your competitors are gaining ground from it.
When a person enters a search term or question, the search engine uses an algorithm (systems) to return what it calculates to be the most relevant and useful results. They are looking for specific criteria, like how dense your keywords are and what your meta tags reveal, to understand what your pages are about. They also check which other websites have linked to your pages, which they believe indicates your pages contain credible, quality content.
They search engines use ‘crawlers’ to explore the web and are continually adding these results to their database, or ‘indexes’. When a consumer hits ‘search’, the engine returns prioritised results for users from its index, not the live Internet.
When the search engine delivers a set of results, they are ‘ranked’, so the most useful and relevant appear first on a page. As a business, you want your website to appear in the first, or near first, results pages for the search terms. When you optimise your content for the search engines, you’ll achieve this.
The algorithms used by search engines are becoming more sophisticated daily. They penalise websites that use dodgy SEO techniques and reward content that is well optimised for search engines.
Why Does My Business Need SEO?
Some businesses don’t think that using SEO strategies will help their brick-and-mortar business. Or, they believe it is too complicated. Neither of these is true. SEO helps your business in many ways.
- Your website rank improves. More visitors will find your pages in search results.
- SEO pulls in quality traffic. Search traffic that is already interested in your products and services will find you.
- SEO increases sales and leads. SEO traffic converts more than other sources of traffic.
- Good SEO delivers a high ROI. You are only ‘paying’ to reach those people interested in your business. As a marketing tool, there is no ‘wastage’.
- SEO is cost-effective. You don’t have to advertise if you have a strong SEO strategy. You will boost website traffic without having to pay per click.
- SEO gives small businesses an edge on bigger companies. Larger companies tend to rely on advertising, such as AdWords. With an effective SEO strategy, you can acquire customers without a large advertising investment.
- SEO drives offline sales. People will research online before they visit your store or contact you to buy your products.
- SEO can help you break into new markets. Use keywords of new products or services you want to offer, will enable search engines to drive qualified traffic to the area of business you want to expand in.
- Local SEO will optimise your digital properties for a specific area. Local people looking for your services can find you quickly and easily.
- SEO gives your brand visibility. SEO will help people discover your brand.
- Your brand becomes an authority. By ranking high on search engines, your business will build trust and credibility with your audience, and more sites will choose to link to your pages.
The benefits of SEO are numerous. It’s one of the most important marketing investments you can make and will become a long-term asset to your business. It will help your business grow and thrive by generating new traffic, leads, and sales, without the need for cold calling or any forms of ‘push’ advertising.