What is SEO?
It’s by far the most common request we get: I want to "do" SEO.
Or the more advanced version: I’m searching for my business on Google and it doesn’t show up. I want to be the first result.
Yeah well… don’t we all!?
Let’s define the terms.
SEO: Search Engine Optimization
SEM: Search Engine Marketing
The first, SEO, is what is most commonly referred to when asking to show on top of Google Search results, but it’s by far the hardest. Think of this: if it was easy, wouldn’t you and your competition all be on top of the list? But which of you would show as #1 and #2?
That is where Google’s complex indexing algorithm comes into play. (Think of "Indexing" as "reading & understanding" and "algorithm" as a process done by Google’s "robots"). It judges your website’s pages according to many, many rules to determine where you will rank for a certain search phrase.
Here are some of the criteria you’ll be judged on:
- Content: how useful the content on your website is for the person searching...
- Technical: how detailed & structured is the website’s coding; is it mobile friendly…etc.
- How authoritative is your website: do a lot of other websites link to your website, are you mentioned on social media, what country you’re in vis-à-vis the person searching...etc.
Here is a nice chart of SEO Success Factors by Search Engine Land. (See full PDF).
The most important thing to understand about SEO is that it’s not a one-time thing and that there are no quick fixes. Once you start working on your SEO, you need to know that it’s an ongoing effort. Else, if you stay still, others will easily replace you and you will slowly (but surely) lose your rank.
The second term, SEM is your chance of showing on top quickly (and that is fairly within your control). It’s basically paying on Google Adwords in order to show up on top of search results.
Ultimately we all want to have a site that is so optimized that we don’t need SEM; but that is never the case as competition gets more aggressive every day.
If you really want to show on top, organically for free, then you need to invest in your website and often times in a company that specializes in SEO or in a specialized in-house team that will drive your SEO strategy. More specifically, you need to invest in creating good content. Get to know your audience, what they’re looking for and give them that. There is no better way than supplying content that gives an added value for your potential leads to bring them to your website. Finally, make sure your website is intuitive, easy to read and mobile friendly.