What Does SEO Mean? | In-depth Explanation
Business owners have to juggle several different facets to run an efficient setup, of which marketing is a significant part of it.
Not focusing on marketing can be detrimental to a company. There is hence, an urgent need to understand one of the crucial facets of marketing channels- search engine optimisation.
So, what does SEO mean?
In simple terms, SEO stands for search engine optimisation, which is the process of enhancing and developing your website/ web page. This enhancement explicitly allows the growth in organic and passive website traffic from search results on major search engines that proves very useful.
To understand this better, read further as we explain the benefits, tactics, and intricacies of SEO to give you an in-depth answer to the question “what does SEO mean?”.
The benefits of SEO
The consensus, in general, is that SEO is complicated and not worth the effort. Considering that search results account for 93% of website traffic, the effort to learn SEO is worth it.
The ultimate advantage of SEO is the improvement in website traffic metrics, however, that is not the only benefit. Some other core benefits of SEO include:
High CTR and quality of website traffic
The Click-through rate (CTR) is the relative proportion between the people who click a link and the total number of people who view the page. Understanding CTR or click-through rate is needed to understand how website ranking impacts organic traffic.
Thus, the higher the website ranking on Google, the better the website traffic.
So how does CTR tie into gaining a high volume of quality website traffic?
With Google dominating the search engine land with a market share of 86.19%, it is critical to understand the impact of CTR.
For starters, the first result on Google has a CTR of around 31.7%, and this decreases as you go from one position to the next on the first page of the search result, with only 0.78% of users clicking on the search results from the second page.
Organic vs paid results
Targeted advertisements or paid ads at scale are an expensive proposition. In comparison, using SEO to improve search engine traffic organically is far less expensive (premium tool or hiring SEO experts ) and often free.
Moreover, learning SEO to optimise Google rankings is worth it if time isn’t a factor.
Google’s average cost-per-click (CPC) is $2.41 across industries. At scale, this paid search results cost will grow as your volume of target audience grows. Additionally, if you have dabbled with digital marketing processes like email and social media marketing processes, a spike in website traffic is commonplace.
SEO, on the other hand, however, gives you consistent traffic in comparison. Thus, search engine marketing is better since it is an inbound marketing process.
Not to forget, the focus of ads on social media sites and email marketing is on having fresh content on the surface. In contrast, the organic traffic from search engines rests on the volume of searches, which is consistently high.
How does SEO promote brand awareness, credibility, and user experience?
SEO boosts website traffic, but it doesn’t stop there. The organic search traffic coming to your website is augmented to become quality leads. Such an increase in recognition of your website leads to greater digital brand awareness.
Additionally, better performance on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) leads to the business growing credibility and trust among the user base. So, ranking well on Google or other search engines prompts the impression that your website is a credible source.
Moreover, UX focuses on creating a seamless experience for users. In essence, SEO and UX go hand-in-hand.
Decoding search engines: Crawlers, indexing, and search engine algorithms
It is vital to understand how search engines work. A search engine, in general, is a mechanism that uncovers and ranks websites based on the user’s search query. It has three major components- crawler, search index, and search engine algorithms.
- Crawler: It is the discovery procedure that involves the exploration of content through the use of URLs.
- Index: It is the inventory that stores the content from the discovery process. Once indexing of a website is complete, it is open to ranking.
- Algorithm: It is the process that retrieves and ranks websites from the index.
Thus, in terms of search engines, Google is the best due to both its search index and algorithm.
SEO strategies to improve search results
Different SEO techniques improve search rankings and bring organic traffic to websites. The components broadly categorise themselves into four core pillars. These pillars encompass several minor strategies that aid in optimising the website.
The four components require in-depth understanding and occasionally require the intervention of experts.
But unlike other forms of marketing channels, SEO requires a significant time investment. So, to get the different facets of SEO right, give yourself a solid 6 to 10 month period.
Pillar 1: On-Page SEO
In a nutshell, On-Page SEO is the practice of on-page optimisation of keywords with page-specific elements on the landing page. The optimisation and alignment of keywords help Google and other search engines to understand the website better.
The page-specific components are:
1. Meta Description and Title Tag are page-specific elements that influence ranking and Click-through-rate (CTR). Search engines utilise these header tags from the website to form snippet previews on search results.
So, the better the snippet preview, the more likely the users are to click on the website link.
Note: Only title tags influence both ranking and CTR, while the meta descriptions only influence the CTR.
2. H1-H6 tags help search engines analyse the website to understand the different sections. These tags help in dividing the content into sections. This division, in particular, makes the content accessible and helps improve search rankings and organic search traffic.
3. Alternative text helps elevate your content through the use of pictures. It is as pressing to have a description for these images as it not only improves accessibility but also helps search engines understand the essence.
4. Internal links help users navigate to a different part of the site. These are in the form of clickable text that cumulatively improves ranking power across the website.
Pillar 2: Off-Page SEO
The SEO strategy isn’t limited to the optimisation of the website. It also involves aspects such as website trust and overall authority.
So stellar on-page optimisation alone will not enable strong organic search. Instead, for your website to be a part of organic search results, there must be an online echo of the information.
Google and other websites of a similar ilk acquire this from external links and local search verification.
Additionally, link building is a go-to SEO strategy, where the acquisition of links from other sites forms a part of the ranking factors. These ranking factors of links are higher if the web pages linking to your website have high authority and high-quality content.
For example, link building from a source like Forbes is far better than a random blog post from other websites. This is because the authority of those web pages directly acts as off-page factors that bring in more traffic. As such. the likelihood that search engines discover your website drastically improves.
Thus, off-page SEO should be a core part of your SEO strategies.
Pillar 3: Technical SEO
Technical SEO, in essence, is the approach to improving the technical requirements of the website. This enhancement in ranking leads to an increase in organic search results.
To put it in a nutshell, it is a mix of technical characteristics that leads to preferential treatment from search engines.
Search engines prioritise websites that utilise specific technical components. Hence, technical optimisation is as vital as including a title tag and search queries in your content.
Limiting digital marketing to just creating content, google analytics, content marketing, and paid search is detrimental. Instead, under the banner of technical SEO, digital marketing should include elements such as site architecture to help in optimising websites.
Keeping in mind the fact that these basics of technical SEO can help your website perform optimally, here are some technical SEO that you should keep in mind:
- Robots.txt Filing
- SEO Auditing
- Google Search Console and Webmaster Tools
- Image Compression
So, although technical SEO can seem daunting due to the need for coding, avoidance, however, will lead to a low search engines rank.
Pillar 4: Content and UX
Content has always been the foundation of SEO. This means that the extraction of relevant search results is through the content available on the website, and the inference around the content that people search for on Google or any other search engine is just a mix of relevant keywords.
As such, there are five significant facets of Content and UX that you must keep in mind:
1. Content relevancy is the key to unlocking high search engine rankings. If the content on your website is highly relevant to the search term, then higher would be the likelihood of better performance.
2. Newness of content is a requirement for some content categories.
The latest the content, the more popular it performs on search rankings. So, having an up-to-date blog dramatically helps.
3. Keywords are search phrases that the target audience is searching for. Keyword research and acquiring keyword data are mandatory steps in achieving a solid website ranking.
Here, keyword research means the is the search for popular phrases or the search queries that people explore. The process allows a website or web page to appropriately use them in their content, which notably enhances their SERPs.
This can be done in-house or through keyword research tools like SEMrush, KWFinder, and GrowthBar that make life easier, especially when you’re looking to develop landing pages for your marketing campaign.
4. Type provides the webpage with variety and dynamism to perform well.
It includes a blend of aspects such as pictures, videos, recordings, and text to ensure that your website has consistent organic website traffic and has the hook to hold on to users.
5. Quality content is a must when trying to optimise your website. The content is what drives your SEO strategy.
Note: The article focuses only on white hat SEO techniques and not on any black hat SEO methods. The core difference is that black hat SEO utilises manipulative methods to trick Google into overvaluing a website.
A quick recap
There is a need for a considerable amount of time to master SEO. The alternate options such as paid search and advertisements do not give you the ability to grow organically. Hence, you must look to capitalise on organic and consistent growth instead of short spikes in website traffic.
But to rank higher on search results, you need to learn the ins and outs of tools like Yoast SEO, Ahrefs, SEMrush, etc. However, these tools are a means to an end, and the actual difference to your website will come with you and your willingness to incorporate SEO.
Furthermore, unlike other digital marketing strategies, SEO is manageable internally at little to no cost. Thus, perceiving SEO as a way to enhance your website’s performance is a more accurate representation than viewing it as the ultimate solution.