In its simplest form, search engine optimization is anything done to improve the ranking of a website on search engine results pages (SERPs). The goal for most businesses is to increase their website visibility or traffic and ranking high for targeted search terms or phrases on search engines like Google and Bing will do just that.
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” In simple terms, it means the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business. Regardless of the exact definition, you prefer, if you have a website and want people to find and see it, you should care about optimizing your site. This leads me to the next basic question I usually discuss with business owners.
Why is SEO Important?
SEO is Google’s way of determining which sites deserve to rank highly for each query entered into its search engine. Without modern SEO, it would be extremely simple to manipulate the search results so that the site with the most links or the most pages is all easily generated by software consistently ranked #1.
SEO is important because it keeps the search results fair. It reduces the ability to manipulate these results as much as possible so that the sites appearing for each search are there because they deserve to be there. Hard work and a website that appeals to visitors correlate with high search engine rankings, so if your site meets these criteria, you’ll have a better chance at showing up in the results.
In sum, SEO is the foundation of a holistic marketing ecosystem. When you understand what your website users want, you can then implement that knowledge across your campaigns (paid and organic), across your website, across your social media properties, and more.
What Search Would Be Like Without SEO?
Without SEO, it’s hard to say how we would ever find websites, businesses, or the information we seek daily. The search engine results would be too easy to manipulate, and as users, we would have to look much longer and harder to find valuable sites instead of the ones simply manipulating the results to get to the first page.
Basically, SEO is important because it ensures that typical people don’t have to search for more than a few seconds to find the information or products they want. It establishes a sort of “natural order” online that would be missing without it.
SEO Strategies: Black Hat Vs. White Hat
When it comes to SEO, going for quick gains is often referred to as “Black Hat SEO.” People who implement black hat SEO tend to use sneaky tactics like keyword stuffing and link scraping to rank quickly. It might work for the short-term and get you some traffic to your site, but after a while, Google ends up penalizing and even blacklisting your site so you’ll never rank.
On the other hand, White Hat SEO is the way to build a sustainable online business. If you do SEO this way, you’ll focus on your human audience. You’ll try to give them the best content possible and make it easily accessible by playing according to the search engine’s rules.
Let me shine some additional light on these topics:
Duplicate content: When someone tries to rank for a certain keyword, they might duplicate content on their site to try and get that keyword in their text over and over again. Google penalizes sites that do this.
Invisible text and keyword stuffing: Years ago, a black hat strategy was to include a ton of keywords at the bottom of your articles but make them the same color as the background. This strategy will get you blacklisted very quickly. The same goes for stuffing in keywords where they don’t belong.
Cloaking and redirecting: When it comes to redirects, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. The wrong way is buying up a bunch of keyword-rich domains and directing all the traffic to a single site.
Poor linking practices: Going out and purchasing a Fiverr package promising you 5,000 links in 24 hours is not the right way to build links. You need to get links from relevant content and sites in your niche that have their traffic.
SEO has become a critical component of the online success of businesses. Those who want to make sure that their organizations have a strong presence and are ready to engage the modern customer need to invest in learning SEO and becoming domain experts.