Welcome to our introduction to SEO!
In this short article we’ll outline the basics of SEO, as well as equip you with the core concepts to make decisions and site optimizations that will deliver results.
Every day, Google handles billions of searches—trillions per year—serving up relevant content (i.e. results) based on consumer’s search queries. Increasingly, the success of a business is grounded in its ability to understand the needs of its customers and ensure that their high-quality, valuable content gets top ranks on search engines.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization—SEO for short—is the practice of fine-tuning your website and individual web pages to achieve higher rankings on search engines like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and others.
The goal is to increase your website’s visibility in results on major search engines—and thereby increase organic traffic to your website (i.e. not traffic from paid advertising or referral links).
By choosing highly relevant keywords and continuously optimizing your website and content—search engines will promote links to your site when users perform searches.
What are SERPs and why are they important?
Search engine results pages (SERPs) are the pages that list results after a user enters a query into a search bar. Though they vary slightly between search engines, SERPs are primarily made up of two elements:
- Paid Ad Results
- Organic Search Results
Paid vs Organic Results
Paid ad results appear first, at the top of the SERP. Search advertising is the primary way search engines collect revenue—as well as one of the fastest methods for driving more traffic to your website. These results are made up of links to pages and content where the owner pays for each individual click. Pay Per Click (PPC) is an effective way to drive website traffic—but that traffic dries up as soon as your ad budget does.
Organic search results on the other hand are not impacted by advertising spend. Organic results appear below paid results and consist of a ranked list of ALL the webpages related to the search term or phrase that was queried. This list provides searchers with links to websites that the search engine believes has the most relevant and high-quality content.
This is where SEO comes in.
The top SERP organic rankings are highly competitive. SEO is intended to increase your website’s relevancy and status with search engines. If your SEO can push your content onto the first page—ideally within the top three (3) organic search results. you’ll see exponentially more traffic to your website.
In fact, a recent study of first page results found that the #1 position result in Google has a click through rate (CTR) of 31.7%. That’s over 10x the CTR of the #10 position result (3.09%) which is still on the front page.
While PPC campaigns can help you quickly drive traffic to your website on a smaller, individual “per click” basis—they require a continuous ad spend budget to keep the traffic rolling in. SEO efforts require a longer runway and higher up-front investment in content and website optimizations—but ultimately build equity in your brand/domain and increase your search engine placement which pays dividends over the long-term.
How Long Does It Take To See Results From SEO?
The answer is—it depends.
There are a variety of things that impact how long it takes to see results. Some of these factors include your current domain authority, current website status and architecture, the keywords you’ve identified and how competitive they are, as well as how much you’re willing to invest into website infrastructure and content development.
With that said—most organizations that put a focus on SEO and other inbound marketing efforts can expect to see some initial results within 3–6 months. Significant results and improvements are often seen after 6–12 months of sustained content generation and optimization.
When and Why SEO is Important
Too often, SEO is a website “afterthought.” But early SEO efforts play a key role in a website’s search performance and success. In fact, building a strong SEO strategy early on is one of the most important efforts you can engage in.
A comprehensive SEO strategy will not only provide you with the needed keywords and insights for building a high performing website—it will also provide direction and help you prioritize your most important content, topics, and resources to deliver value to customers.
SEO is critically important from the earliest stages of your website design.
High-performing websites take advantage of well-defined marketing strategies and customer personas—which all inform early SEO strategies and keyword research. Website URLs and pages should be designed and architected around the highest value keywords to take advantage of higher volumes of user searches. A little extra time spent up front on architecture and strategy can significantly reduce challenges and effort required to adapt your website later on.
SEO is also a continuous effort—with optimization playing a critical role in the development and production of every subsequent blog, newsletter, conversion, or other webpage.
All marketing efforts that translate onto your website will benefit from a comprehensive SEO strategy that clearly outlines the focus keywords, topics/categories, pillars, etc. A robust foundation and strategy will help streamline your marketing efforts and clearly identify goals as your teams grow.
Getting Started on Website SEO
Alright, now that you understand the basics—you’re ready to dive in further to SEO tactics and implementation. SEO includes a wide range of strategies and tactics that all contribute to improving your search engine rankings and therefore traffic to your lead generation website.
Your next step along the SEO journey should be to learn about and understand the 7 Hierarchies of SEO Success. These include:
- Crawler Accessibility
- Engaging Content
- User Experience
- Shareable Content
- Compelling Titles, URL, and Descriptions
Once you’ve had a chance to review the hierarchies for SEO success, we can explore the specific tactics and SEO fundamentals of how to improve your website design and increase organic traffic.