What is SEO, and Why Does it Matter?

You have likely heard the term “SEO” thrown around by marketers advocating for its effectiveness in growing your business. SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, is the process of making your website more visible by improving its rankings in search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. But while SEO is often flaunted as the simplest solution for improving your organic traffic, the actual process of optimizing your site can be a bit mystifying, especially with the search engines’ algorithms constantly changing. Below, we will break down how SEO works, and why it matters for your business.

Why SEO Matters

It is important that you use search engine optimization best practices on your website. When you search a topic on Google, the first few results that pop up on the search engine results page (SERP) are usually pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Underneath these paid ads are the organic search results, which are ranked based on Google’s organic algorithm.

Although organic results rank below paid results, they are overwhelmingly favored by users. In fact, organic results receive 94% of total search engine clicks. Users are far more likely to click on organic results that rank at the top of the SERP – 75% of people selecting one of the first two results. And unlike ads, these valuable slots cannot be paid for – they are earned through high-quality content that has been optimized for the search engine’s algorithm.

How Search Engine Optimization Works

Search engines such as Google use “crawlers” to collect information about every page on the internet. The content tells the crawler what the page is about and how it’s connected to the other pages in the search engine’s index. Then, when a user searches for a topic, the search engine uses this data to recommend what it believes to be the most relevant and valuable content based on its algorithm.

While search engine algorithms are complex and constantly changing, SEO experts have recognized a few key factors that influence how a page is ranked. These include link features (such as backlinks to a page from external websites), keyword usage, traffic and engagement, content quality, social metrics, and brand metrics. It’s important to note that the algorithm does not simply consider the page by itself, but the overall credibility of the domain where it is located.

On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO

There are two equally important elements that impact your content’s broader SEO: on-page and off-page SEO.

On-page SEO is based on your website content. Each article on your website should be based around one or two long-tail keywords, which should be integrated into your title, section headings, metatags and body copy. (However, it’s important to avoid keyword “stuffing,” which will harm your rankings.) It is equally important that your content is well-written and easy to read, which involves using short sentences and breaking long articles into smaller sections with subheadings. It should also be unique and regularly updated, as duplicate and outdated content will harm your rankings.

Off-page SEO is more difficult to achieve, as it does not actually happen on your website. Off-page SEO usually involves earning backlinks from other websites. When you produce valuable content and establish yourself as an authority, other sites will link to your website in their content to improve their credibility. This signals to the search engines that your content is high-quality, and it also improves traffic to your site, another important SEO factor. Link building doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s an extremely important factor in how your site ranks in organic search. In fact, 91% of pages on the internet never get organic traffic from Google, which is mostly due to not having any backlinks.

Optimize Your Website Today

While paid ads can improve traffic to your website, there is no better way to grow your brand than through organic traffic. And the experts agree – 70% of marketers believe that SEO is more effective than PPC advertising at driving sales for your business.

It is important to remember, however, that SEO is a long-term approach. You likely won’t see a huge surge of traffic overnight, but it will result in more website visitors over time. Plus, by following SEO best practices, you will establish yourself as a credible authority in your industry. This will lead to even more traffic and sales.

Cider House Media has been selected among the Top Massachusetts SEO Companies by Designrush

Need SEO?

Our experts can manage your SEO and content strategy to ensure long-term success. We can write and post articles, update old pages, add descriptions to new products, and more, so you can guarantee this critical aspect of your business doesn’t fly under the radar.

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