What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the process of improving a website in order to rank higher in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). Despite its complexity, implementing consistent best practices yields tangible results. The goal is to attract a qualified audience that is looking for what you have to offer and can become customers, clients or advocates of your business.
People turn to search engines for answers and information at all stages of their buying journeys. A recent DemandGen survey found that 67% of B2B buyers start their research with broad web searches. They then evaluate potential solutions by reading reviews, requesting demos and inquiring with vendors. Search engines have the unique ability to connect you with interested, ready-to-buy audiences.
To serve the right content to the right users, search engines (like Google) scan billions of webpages and create a library of them called an index. They then use complex algorithms to determine what page should surface when someone searches for something. The algorithms take into account many factors including the relevancy of the content to the search query, the authority and trustworthiness of the website (domain), and other criteria.
As the world becomes increasingly digital, optimizing for organic search is critical. Search engines like Google are constantly evolving their algorithms to improve the quality of their search results. This has led to an increase in the amount of work required to maintain a high organic ranking. It is also important to understand the differences between optimizing for search on Google versus other platforms that use their own search algorithms, such as YouTube or Amazon.
There are a few core components to achieving optimal SEO:
On-page optimization — This involves making changes on the website that directly impact search rankings. Common on-page optimizations include updating URLs to incorporate keywords, using relevant search terms in the title tag and meta description, and ensuring that ALT text is included with images. This allows for search engines to read the content of a page even if the image is not displayed, and can help boost click-through rates from SERPs.
Backlinks — Links from other websites are the number one factor in determining search engine optimization, and can have an even greater impact than on-page optimization alone. Link building is an ongoing process that requires strategic planning and execution.
User experience — This is another metric that influences search engine ranking, and includes elements such as website speed, mobile usability and security. It is becoming increasingly important to have a responsive, user-friendly site that can be accessed on all devices.
Finally, conversion rate optimization is the process of improving a site to increase the number of visitors that convert to customers, clients or advocates of your business. This is typically done through A/B testing with software such as Optimizely. This process can be time consuming and technical, but the results can have a significant impact on your bottom line. For more information, check out this blog post on the key elements of a successful conversion strategy.