Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a word you’ll hear a lot in web marketing. It’s a technique that’s important for a business or organisation of any scale.
SEO is famously hard to do and with good reason. Like all things, it wouldn’t be worth doing if it wasn’t. There is always value in committing to it, and we’ll demonstrate why with everyday examples.
What’s SEO, anyway?
Search engine optimization can be summed up as work you do to rank better in search engines. The outcome is desirable for any business; the better you are at SEO, the more customers will find you when browsing the web.
That’s a broad definition, but it covers most SEO techniques and goals you can expect to come across.
With more eyes on your page, you’ll see higher conversion and clients in your mailbox, your office, or served in your restaurant, whatever the services you offer may be.
SEO’s main goal is to acquire new business. Once a customer has established a relationship with you, they’re less likely to rely on their search engine. Customers first need to know that you exist to get to that stage, and that’s where SEO comes in.
How do you use the internet?
Do you remember web directories? I’m barely old enough to have a vague recollection. I haven’t touched one in years.
Dmoz, the last great web directory. The website finally shut down in 2017 after 19 years online. © 2014 AOL Inc / CC-BY 3.0
Directories were curated platforms. If you ran a recipe site, you’d submit your page to be listed, and after review, it would be added on. It would then end up in a sub-sub-subcategory of Food, to be seen by the 5 people that browsed that far into it. It was a long, strenuous and often unfair process.
The worst part is visible in the screenshot above; Dmoz listed about 5 million websites in 2013. For a globally facing site, this number is absurdly low. The internet is too large, too fast-moving as pages go up and down, change, and new people enter and want eyes on their site.
Enter the search engine. You as the user, enter a search term and get a set of relevant results back from a clever algorithm, from all around the endless1 web.
You’ve likely used a search engine today. Our data tells us that’s how people tend to come across our blog. Research on user habits demonstrates the search engine’s importance in modern life.
Whether on desktop, mobile, or a smart fridge, people interact with a search engine on a regular basis. Put simply, every time you use a device, a search engine will be on hand and see a lot of action. And when it comes to e-commerce, it follows that it’s a key component of marketing online.
Side effects of good SEO
Search results are often competitive. A lot of SEO work involves knowing your market and compiling lots of data on how keywords and competitors stack up.
At first glance, the data you get is SEO-specific. Seeing what people search for can produce some truly strange correlations.
Think about the different words you could call plain white ice cream:
- We could call it ‘plain’.
- ‘Basic’ is a related word you might find.
- It’s often ‘vanilla’, though it isn’t always the actual ingredient and amounts can vary.
- You might see it labelled just as ‘ice cream’, as it’s the ‘default’ flavour in much of the world.
If you love ice cream, you might be in pain just hearing these descriptions. It comes down to your background, dialect, and knowledge of the product.
When the product is identical – at least in the customer’s eyes, you want to get their attention and show them how you do it. Maybe you can even correct their misconceptions down the line.
By knowing the words your customers use when they look something up about your product or service, you’ll know what language works, what doesn’t, and importantly, what your competitors aren’t saying – opportunities ready to be seized shall present themselves.
- Figures taken from Internet Live Stats