SEO Stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization,’ But What Does That Mean?
These days, you can’t start a business without hearing about the importance of SEO for growing your brand online. While you may be aware that SEO stands for search engine optimization, actually understanding what this means for your business is another thing entirely.
Just how big of an impact can SEO have on your business? Data from Impact BND reveals that 70 percent of marketers actually find SEO to be more effective than other digital marketing solutions, like pay per click advertising.
Understanding just what SEO is and how it can benefit your business will help you devise a strategic approach to digital marketing that allows you to find more paying customers.
So, What Is SEO, Anyway?
Breaking down the term “search engine optimization” helps clear up much of the confusion surrounding SEO and what it is. Search engines are a big part of how we use the internet nowadays, with Google easily being the biggest source of online search traffic.
An online search is how many people find out about news events or research a product they are thinking of buying. In fact, it’s estimated that 94 percent of consumers now conduct an online search before they make a purchase.
Needless to say, the results your potential customers get after using a search engine will be highly influential in their decision-making. Google’s algorithm uses a wide variety of ranking signals to determine each web page’s perceived authority and relevance for a particular search, and then delivers results in an order that it determines will be of most use to the customer.
“Optimization,” then, naturally refers to the variety of practices businesses can use to improve their status within the search engine ecosystem. By adhering to Google’s best practices and providing high-quality content on your website, you can increase your rankings over time.
In other words, SEO stands for a variety of strategies that can help businesses big and small achieve higher search engine rankings so they can gain more customers.
How Can SEO Grow Your Business?
Now that you have a better idea of what SEO stands for, it’s time to look at how a successful SEO strategy actually helps grow your business.
The statistics of how people actually use search engine results goes a long way in showcasing the importance of SEO. According to Forbes, as many as 92 percent of web traffic clicks go to the first page in the Google search results. A mere six percent go to websites on the second page, and the results get even lower from there.
Breaking down the numbers even further, managing to land a spot in the top five search results on page one can also make a difference, with these listings receiving roughly two-thirds of all clicks.
In fact, an analysis by Backlinko found that the number one search result averages a 31.7 percent clickthrough rate — nearly one-third of all the clicks. Even increasing your ranking by a single spot can increase your clickthrough rate by an average of 30.8 percent.
All those added clicks will pay big dividends for your business. More traffic helps make your website appear even more authoritative to Google, which will help you maintain a high ranking. And of course, more visits from customers who made a search relevant to your brand means more people who are likely to make a purchase.
Preparing for SEO Success
Knowing what SEO stands for and that it can make a big difference for your business’s online growth isn’t nearly as helpful as having a competent strategy in place. While there are several specific practices businesses can use as part of their SEO strategy, you aren’t going to be successful by choosing keywords and tactics at random.
Instead, a successful SEO strategy requires careful planning that is tailored to your business and industry. Understanding your target audience and the level of online competition you face is crucial for developing a strategy that will deliver meaningful results.
Needless to say, this starts with in-depth research, much of which should be based around the current status of your website and an analysis of your chief competitors. You need to understand who else is trying to get your target audience’s attention when they conduct a Google search. This includes a careful analysis of their backlink profile and the keywords that help them achieve traffic and revenue.
Knowing what strategies the competition is currently using will make it easier to identify your current weaknesses. It can also reveal your competitors’ deficiencies, highlighting opportunities where your own SEO efforts could have the biggest impact.
Unlike some marketing strategies, however, SEO is not a “set it and forget it” tool. Google’s algorithms are constantly updating, and its web crawlers are continually re-evaluating ranking signals to fine-tune search results. As such, a big part of your preparation should include finding a reliable marketing partner who is committed for the long haul.
Key Elements of a Successful SEO Strategy
The end goal of a successful SEO strategy is to build your website’s perceived authority and deliver a high-quality user experience so that Google will rank you higher in relevant search results. While there are many tactics involved in this process, a few broader strategies tend to be included in almost any campaign.
A lot of people immediately associate the term “SEO” with keywords — and for good reason. Keyword optimization has long been a part of SEO marketing. Understanding which terms your customers are searching for online and then integrating those terms into your headlines, image alt text, meta descriptions and other content can help improve your site rankings.
However, keyword optimization must be done with a more mindful approach. Keyword stuffing will ultimately backfire, resulting in a garbled mess of writing that doesn’t help customers and signals bad SEO practices to Google. Some keywords are simply too competitive or broad to be an effective part of your strategy.
Choosing the right keywords can help set the tone for the rest of your efforts. Because of this, many campaigns focus on long-tail keywords — longer phrases like “reliable auto mechanic near me” rather than the broader term “auto mechanic.” Such keywords tend to have lower competition and drive less traffic, but they are often used by more relevant customers who are ready to buy.
If you want to build a strong online presence, you’re going to have to produce a lot of content. Content marketing includes blog posts, infographics, videos and more. All of this content should be relevant to your brand, include keywords and most importantly, provide actual value to your target audience. It also needs to be original — duplicating another’s content isn’t just unethical, it will also get you penalized in search rankings.
In an interview with Content Marketing Institute, Amanda Maksymiw explains, “Traditional advertising shouts at prospect customers whereas content marketing talks with them. Essentially, it is about the creation and participation in meaningful conversations and development of relationships. Content marketing can benefit your company by increasing sales leads and positioning your company/brand as a thought leader, in addition to increasing the number of visitors to your website.”
Of course, to keep customers coming back, you must continue to produce engaging, relevant content. Quality content can also help you generate backlinks to your website as others quote your articles. When high-authority sites link to your content, you’ll also get a big boost to your Google ranking.
While back-end technical work may not be as exciting as other elements of an SEO campaign, such issues can make or break your campaign.
As just one example, site speed is a top-cited ranking factor for Google’s algorithm. However, a slow-loading site can also harm your conversion rate — Google reports that 53 percent of internet users will abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. Compressing images and videos and other programming tricks can go a long way in fixing this issue.
Other technical issues that can affect your site ranking include using SSL certifications (to enhance security), providing accessibility options for those with disabilities and simply remembering to include basic business information like an address and phone number. A wide mix of seemingly small changes will make your site easier for users, which leads to more time spent on your site and higher Google rankings.
Digging Deep With SEO
At this point, you now hopefully understand more than the fact that SEO stands for search engine optimization. By following SEO best practices on your website and committing to producing high-quality content, your online presence will gain authority on Google and become a trusted resource for potential customers.
Unsurprisingly, a dedicated SEO strategy that helps you rank higher and gain more customers requires a lot of time and effort — not to mention ongoing monitoring of Google’s ever-changing algorithms. KAHA will help you develop and oversee a winning SEO campaign so you can focus more on other essential business tasks. With over 15 years of SEO experience, we’re so confident in our abilities that we guarantee to get you to page one of Google within 90 days.
Interested in Working with KAHA to Improve your SEO?
Let us help you generate and execute a comprehensive search engine optimization strategy that drives meaningful results. Our services are competitively priced and backed by our 90-day ranking guarantee. Learn how to transform your SEO with KAHA and book your FREE strategy session ($1,000 value) today!