What Is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the art and science of getting pages to rank higher in search engines such as Google. Because search is one of the main ways in which people discover content online, ranking higher in search engines can lead to an increase in traffic to a website.
In Google and other search engines, the results page often features paid ads at the top of the page, followed by the regular results or what search marketers call the “organic search results”. Traffic that comes via SEO is often referred to as “organic search traffic” to differentiate it from traffic that comes through paid search. Paid search is often referred to as search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC).
What Is SEO?
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 on 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.
Why is SEO important for marketing?
SEO is a fundamental part of digital marketing because people conduct trillions of searches every year, often with commercial intent to find information about products and services. Search is often the primary source of digital traffic for brands and complements other marketing channels. Greater visibility and ranking higher in search results than your competition can have a material impact on your bottom line.
However, the search results have been evolving over the past few years to give users more direct answers and information that is more likely to keep users on the results page instead of driving them to other websites.
Also note, features like rich results and Knowledge Panels in the search results can increase visibility and provide users with more information about your company directly 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), your website, your social media properties, and more.
The Benefits Of SEO
Search engine optimization is a key part of online marketing because search is one of the primary ways that users navigate the web.
Search results are presented in an ordered list, and the higher up on that list a site can get, the more traffic the site will tend to receive. For example, for a typical search query, the number one result will receive 40-60% of the total traffic for that query, with the number two and three results receiving significantly less traffic. Only 2-3% of searchers click beyond the first page of search results. Thus, even a small improvement in search engine rankings can result in a website receiving more traffic and potential business.
Types Of SEO
There are three types of SEO:
- Technical SEO: Optimizing the technical aspects of a website.
- On-site SEO: Optimizing the content on a website for users and search engines.
- Off-site SEO: Creating brand assets (e.g., people, marks, values, vision, slogans, catchphrases, colors) and doing things that will ultimately enhance brand awareness and recognition (i.e., demonstrating and growing its expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) and demand generation.
You maintain 100% control over the content and technical optimizations. That’s not always true with off-site (you can’t control links from other sites or if platforms you rely on end up shutting down or making a major change), but those activities are still a key part of this SEO trinity of success.
How Do Search Engines Work?
Search engines provide results for any search query a user enters. To do so, they survey and “understand” the vast network of websites that make up the web. They run a sophisticated algorithm that determines what results to display for each search query.
Why SEO Focuses On Google
To many people, the term “search engine” is synonymous with Google, which has about 92% of the global search engine market. Because Google is the dominant search engine, SEO typically revolves around what works best for Google. It’s useful to have a clear understanding of how Google works and why.
What Google wants
Google is designed to deliver the best search experience to its users, or searchers. That means providing the most relevant results, as quickly as possible.
The 2 core elements of the search experience are the search term (the user input) and the search results (the output).
Let’s say you search “Mailchimp guides and tutorials.” This is a clear, unambiguous search. Google understands what you’re asking for, and it delivers a useful page as the top organic result—Mailchimp’s own page with that title.
How Google Makes Money
Google profits from people trusting and valuing its search service. It achieves this by delivering useful search results.
Google also provides businesses with the opportunity to pay for an advertorial placement at the top of search result pages. The word “Ad” indicates these listings. Google makes money when searchers click on these pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements, which you purchase through AdWords. You’ll see these ads on more generic queries in particular.
Other than the small label, these search results look almost indistinguishable from other search results. Of course, this is intentional, as lots of users click on these results without realizing that they’re ads.