When it comes to online marketing, the acronym SEO gets thrown around a lot. But what is it and how can it help you grow your business?
A Brief Definition of SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is simply a way of ensuring search engines (such as Google and Bing) find your website. When people use a search engine, they usually type in a word or phrase that brings up a list of relevant results. SEO ensures the search engine includes your site in that list – preferably on the first page. If you run a coffee shop in Hackney, for example, you want people who type ‘Hackney coffee shop’ into Google to see your business near the top.
How Is SEO Used?
Search engines work using algorithms. The most effective SEO techniques figure out how these algorithms work in order to improve the target site’s visibility. The most obvious way to use SEO is to add content that tells the search engine that your site is relevant to a particular search. Examples include incorporating targeted keywords and phrases into articles and other text, posting images or video, and adding links to external sites. SEO techniques can be used on a local or national level, depending on the business’s geographical reach.
To measure the success of your SEO techniques, there are various analytical tools that you can use. The best known of these is probably Google Analytics.
What Are the Pitfalls of SEO?
SEO is very easy to get wrong. Search engines are always on the lookout for sites that try to manipulate the system or use duplicate and poor-quality content to boost their ranking. Indeed, there have been some high-profile crackdowns by Google that have penalized many such sites. The concepts of ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’ SEO are beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that underhanded SEO techniques are best avoided. So you can be sure your strategy will have a positive impact on your business.
Since its inception in the mid-90s, SEO has developed considerably, and it continues to be an ever-evolving marketing strategy. However, the aims remain the same: improve visibility, drive visitors to your site and, ultimately, increase sales.