Search engine optimization (SEO for short) is simply the process of obtaining website visitors (or traffic) from “free” or “organic” search results in search engines like Google or Bing.
All major search engines have primary search results that are ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. We call these organic results because they are free and not driven by paid advertisements.
Search engine optimization helps maximize the number of visitors to a particular website or page by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of organic results returned by a given search engine.
Here is Google’s definition of SEO:
Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results. You’re likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide, because they’re essential ingredients for any webpage, but you may not be making the most out of them.
Notice how Google states they are small modifications? There are lots of small changes you can make to your website or blog that will have positive results on ranking. It’s the process of making changes together, in a planned and methodical manner, that drives big results.
An SEO factor is something that influences where a website or piece of content will rank in a given search engine.
No single, standalone SEO factor will produce top search engine rankings. It is the combination of research, planning, and optimization within the website and outside of the website that produces tangible and long-term results.
SEO factors have varying weights and no SEO consultant knows the exact weight of each or when these weights change. This is because Google (for example) has over 200 SEO factors and over 10,000 sub-signals for ranking.
Whoa! That is a lot of information to digest and remember. But guess what? You don’t have to remember or even know all of the factors that influence search engine optimization.
You just need to learn about what is important and why it matters. Once you have that down, the rest of the details fall into place.
If you’re like most website owners, at one time or another, you’ve asked if your website really needs SEO. It’s a fair question, but one I can quickly dismiss.
The majority of web traffic is driven by the major search engines like Google or Bing. Although social media and other types of traffic can route users to your website, the bulk of website traffic is driven by search engines. This statement is true regardless of your website’s purpose.
Search engines are powerful because they provide targeted traffic. Or in other words, search engines bring users that are seeking what you offer or sell. Targeted website traffic provides revenue and exposure like no other channel of marketing. Investing in SEO can have a much higher rate of return when compared to other types of marketing efforts.
You need solid SEO to compete online and to obtain traffic. Period.
I’ve had companies show me a beautiful website that they spent lots of money on, but completely forgot about SEO. Guess what happened in those situations?
They built it and no one came. No one saw the beautiful website they spent months working on.
Beauty is important and usability is even more critical, however, neither will work for your revenue stream if no one comes to the website.
SEO is the tool to drive people to your website or blog.
Search engine optimization is a long phrase and it can feel very intimidating. I understand it can seem scary, but it doesn’t have it be. Trust me, I was very intimidated by the term SEO when I started learning it over a decade ago. I’m not scared of it anymore, but that is because I’ve spent the time to learn about it and understand it.
SEO is not simple and it is not easy. It is part art, part science, and part instinct. But know this – once you get it, you get it and it becomes common sense.
I believe that everyone can learn search engine optimization. With enough time and effort, SEO can be learned and mastered by virtually anyone. I’ve witnessed it within myself and with others.
The question is not if you can learn SEO. The question is do you want to learn it?
If you have a website or blog, then you should want to know about search engine optimization and how you can use it to increase your site’s traffic.
There are two main routes you can take to improve the SEO of your website or blog. You can hire a professional consultant or you can learn SEO and perform your own optimization.