If you're a business owner, you've probably seen dozens or even hundreds of articles discussing the importance of SEO. While most business owners have heard about SEO, many are unsure of what it is, how it works, and how it can help their businesses. Here's everything you need to know about this essential digital business practice and how it can help your business reach its maximum potential.
First Off, Just What Is SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a broad set of practices used to rank websites or individual web pages higher in the results of search engines like Google and Bing. The point of SEO is to help your site rank highly for specific keywords used by people who are looking for the products or services you offer.
Although described as a single field, SEO includes an extensive range of individual practices. From using searched keywords a certain number of times in your site's written content to including keywords in the image metadata, there are many different ways to help your website rank higher for search terms. Internal and external linking also play a significant role in search engine ranking algorithms.
In addition to being a wide-ranging set of practices, SEO is also a constantly shifting and evolving field. Search engines routinely update their algorithms to show users the best and most relevant search results, requiring SEO experts to update and improve their strategies constantly. Increasing competition for specific keywords also drives the SEO ecosystem as sites move up and down search rankings in comparison to one another.
Specialty and Local SEO
It's also worth noting that there are many sub-specialties within the SEO world. Some businesses, for example, choose to focus their marketing efforts on YouTube. Though not generally thought of as a search engine, the video hosting platform is one of the largest search engines in the world. It has a unique set of SEO rules and algorithms that users must understand in order to get their videos ranked for specific search terms. Likewise, SEO practices can be carried over to any platform on which user-generated content is searchable.
One of the most important branches of search engine optimization is local SEO. This subdivision of the SEO field involves ranking for search terms that include specific regions, states, or cities. Local SEO is extremely important for businesses that operate mostly from brick-and-mortar locations since they need to attract customers within a reasonable distance of their locations.
Generally speaking, businesses that need local SEO services choose to work with SEO companies that operate in their area and have significant experience helping businesses rank for local keywords. A business operating in Philadelphia, for example, would usually be best off hiring the best SEO company in Philadelphia, rather than trying to hire a firm from elsewhere in the country that may never have ranked sites for Philadelphia-specific keywords before.
So, What Can SEO Do For Your Business?
While SEO can become quite complex and technical, the point of investing in it is to help your business attract more customers. Through proper SEO practices, a website can increase its traffic from search engines and introduce the company it represents to customers who otherwise would never have heard about it.
To understand just how important SEO practices are for generating website traffic, consider the breakdown of traffic for Google search results. According to the most recent available statistics, the top organic search result on Google for any given keyword receives 32.5 of the total search traffic. The sites that appear on the first page of Google search results, meanwhile, can expect to divide up about 91.5 percent of the available traffic. In other words, if your site isn't ranking on the first page of Google results for relevant keywords, you're missing out on more than nine out of every ten potential customers.
By implementing good SEO practices on your site, you can bring in more traffic and ultimately expand your customer base. Of course, you'll still need to have an effective strategy in place to convert web traffic into sales. With more traffic generated through proper SEO, though, you'll have more opportunities to convert and create a higher level of awareness for your brand.
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Guest blogger - Samantha Higgins