SEO, known in the industry as Search Engine Optimisation, is one of those buzzwords thrown around by digital marketing experts as a service that they offer and can use to help your business drive more customers and make more money.
But what does it actually mean, and does SEO really work?
What is SEO?
SEO refers to the use of organic search results to drive a high number of the right customers through to your website. In short, it relies on the use of different content streams and sources to show Google and other search engines what you do and how you can help the end customer – so that they can, in turn, highlight your website on the results page of a relevant customer search.
Much of what we do for SEO is built around keywords and search terms, and this stems from research into the industry you operate in, and the kind of words being used by your competitors to drive traffic.
An effective SEO strategy looks at two different types of keyword for effectiveness:
- Short-tail, generic keywords. For example, a jewellery brand could use terms like ‘jewellery’, ‘necklace’, ‘jewellery gift’, ‘gift for her’.
- Long-tail, more targeted keywords. For example, that same brand will now use ‘jewellery maker in the UK’, ‘sapphire ring with diamonds’, etc. These are the keywords which are specific to what you sell and are the kinds of terms that customers search for when they know what they want.
How does SEO drive customers and sales?
The biggest focus of an SEO strategy is on driving high quality customers to your website, who are actually interested in your brand and your products, without you having to pay a penny to attract them. Paid ads are a whole other ballgame in the digital marketing sphere and have nothing to do with your SEO plans – so park those where they are and let’s talk more about keywords and optimising your search terms.
Search engines send crawlers out into the big wide world of the internet, every time a user makes a search. The results that they feed back to the user are based on the match those crawlers find between the search terms and high quality websites available – matching those crucial keywords, and any other credibility factors it can find quickly and easily.
It’s not all keywords when it comes to these search engines, with crawlers also looking at high quality links (both internal and external on your website), the quality of the user experience on your site, the content and context of the copy on your site, and even the positioning and formatting on the images and videos you include. But SEO is the main driving force in framing the way that Google sees your site, and the way that users find and interact with it – by optimising and fine tuning every element of the site from load times to content and the customer journey as a whole.
Does SEO really work?
This is the big question, and for the most part the answer is yes – provided you have a strategy in place and don’t just throw keywords around for fun. The first thing to realise is that Google algorithms change regularly and so your approach to SEO needs to be fluid, flexible, and adaptable at a moments notice. Having said that, having a high quality user experience which delivers on what you promise and is designed to provide solutions to users never goes out of style, and so provided that your website is authentic and safe to use, SEO is simply there to help you guide the right audience towards it.
One of the major misconceptions we see is the idea that SEO is a quick fix that you can implement overnight and instantly see results. This is not true. SEO is a long game solution to ensuring that your organic traffic is higher in both quantity and quality – which in turn leads to more website visitors, more customers, more sales, and more profit. And that’s just the top level wins. Some of the other benefits that businesses will recognise as they implement an effective SEO strategy include:
- Keyword Growth – as your website grows and becomes more SEO-friendly, you will find that you rank more highly for better keywords. That is, more of the common search terms will be built into your SEO strategy, meaning you appear on more search results pages in a higher position, and attract more website visitors.
- Traffic Growth. Not only will you see more website visitors, but you will find that these visitors are actively engaged with your website, your brand, and your product – which also means that you get…
- Higher Quality Traffic. Genuine customers who are looking for what you can offer.
What do all these benefits prove? That once you start to build an SEO strategy in your digital marketing, your SEO possibilities and options will only serve to grow and develop even further. What better proof could you ask for to show that SEO really does work?!
Provided you spend the time researching your place in the market and finding the right keywords for your SEO strategy, the question of whether SEO really works is all down to implementation and getting the buy in of your entire digital team. One of the easiest ways of ascertaining the best keywords is to use analytics and immerse yourself in research around your main competitors – what words are they bidding on, and how do they implement keywords across their website. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – just finetune your own plan based on examples that are already working.
As time goes on, you will find that more doors are opened to your business and search engines becoming increasingly friendly towards you – all because of a little SEO focus that you can start right now.