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What is SEO? (In Plain English!)

You’ve got fantastic blog content and your products or services are second to none. But you just can’t get potential prospects to visit your website so you can show them.  For some reason, you just can’t get any traffic flowing on your site.  After another long research session on Google, you realize what the problem is.  You need SEO.  The problem is that you don’t know what SEO is or how important it is to your business’s online presence. 

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It’s the process of how you get traffic from the search results on search engines by “free,” “organic,” “editorial,” or “natural” searches. 

Sounds a little daunting, doesn’t it? But guess what? Learning SEO basics doesn’t have to be like brain surgery and can put you in the right place to rank higher in the search results.

Many people don’t realize how many search engines are out there, some of the biggest and most well-known being; Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, AOL, and Yandex.  These attract millions of searches every day. Since Google is by far the market leader, we’ll use it for our reference.

How SEO works

Let’s start by performing a Google search. Type “dog groomers in Ohio” in the search bar. You should see a couple of search listings at the top that indicate they are “Ads” which means they are paid ads most often Google PPC (pay per click) are ads that companies run and pay Google every time someone clicks on them.

Beneath these, you will see a map and three local results that are situated in Ohio. Google shows the most relevant and important results based on geo-location, from where the search is performed. They identify this by using cookies and the IP address of the computer from which the search is originated.

Below the local results, you’ll find organic, non-paid, or SEO optimized results. With good SEO you can get your site or business to come up in the local results if someone is searching locally and in organic results when properly optimized and dominates the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Better Is Not Always First

So why is SEO so important? It’s simple: chances are that you are going to buy from the top sellers, as they made sure their products were seen by willing buyers before anyone else’s by using good SEO practices. 

These products/services may not be the best compared to what you or another competitor are offering, but they are able to sell and enhance their bottom line just because they were there in front of the buyer first. That’s how powerful SEO is, and that’s how important it is for your business in this day and age.

Modern Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not just ranking higher in the search results. It’s combining the art and science of solid, helpful, unique content, and user experience on a compelling website that drives anyone who sees it to click, stay, engage and ultimately buy (if selling products/services). Not to be confusing but although SEO entails ranking higher in search results and non-paid (or organic) traffic, the ranking higher does not guarantee a higher click rate and engagement in and of itself. Here’s why.

Two critical elements to understand are on-page and off-page SEO. On-page SEO, as the name suggests, deals with the optimization techniques implemented on your websites such as the content, titles, description, coding (HTML), etc. on the individual webpages to make it more user and search engine friendly. In contrast, off-page SEO optimization techniques involved in outreaching, building links, and authority in your niche. Don’t feel overwhelmed, there will not be a quiz on this later!  Let’s simplify.

On-page SEO encompasses the appearance, ambiance, functionality, design, technology, etc. of your online presence. Everything has to be as properly laid for the customer, or user, to navigate comfortably just like in real life. For example, a restaurant with a lovely ambiance, an attentive staff, and quickly delivered food (proper systems and processes) will naturally gain attention and be visited often.  It will become popular and reviewed well, becoming known to deliver value to the customer. 

Similarly, to correctly display your website in various search results, Google and other search engines crawl your website content consistently. If your website is not organized successfully in terms of content, site architecture, HTML, etc., it will be impossible for search engines to understand what your website is about, let alone rank it on search engine results pages or SERPs. So good SEO causes search engines to “review” your site well putting you higher in the search page rankings.

You can think of off-page SEO as networking with others in real life and building relationships, trust, and goodwill for your business.  This can be done virtually as well in “real life” situations.  Using forums, and social media to engage with people and build the same relationships is still off-page SEO because it’s not occurring on your site or “page”.

People are more likely to contact and work with you if you have acquired a good name in your industry. Similarly, building more relevant links sends trust signals and elevates your website in Google’s and other search engines’ eyes and rankings.

SEO For You

In a nutshell that really explains all SEO is.  But it’s still not THAT easy!  Just as with anything worthwhile, there is some learning to do when developing practices to create good SEO.  Of course, Google and many search engine platforms have SEO guides that are pretty thorough but can be confusing and overwhelming to a novice (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7451184?hl=en). 

If you’d like to learn about these optimization techniques more in-depth we recommend two great starter guides, and they’re FREE; Yoast’s Beginners Guide to SEO  https://yoast.com/complete-beginner-guide-to-seo/ and the Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo.  Both of these companies are giants in the SEO and analytics business.  Both also offer free and premium solutions that are great.  If you’re on a really tight budget and looking for SEO or analytics solutions check out the offers on AppSumo  http://fbuy.me/v/myidealworkspace_1 

Hopefully, you now understand why learning at least SEO basics is pivotal for your business growth in today’s digital marketing. It can provide steady organic traffic and also helps small businesses level the playing ground and compete with the big companies that have more resources, capital, and marketing budgets.

You can succeed and grow with good SEO! You’ll excuse us for waxing poetic, but there is an art to good marketing.  Even if you never personally create an SEO strategy or a digital marketing plan, knowing the basics and the purpose will ensure you choose the right people to do it for you.  

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