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  • What is SEO…And Do You Really Need It?

    What is SEO?

    If you have owned a website for any length of time, you may have researched ways to get your site noticed by online customers. New site owners may look into this before getting started. And this will inevitably lead to search engine optimization (SEO) because search engines can significantly increase site visibility.  And SEO is often the foundation of many online marketing strategies.

    What is SEO?

    SEO involves certain tactics and techniques that you can use to get your website included on search engine results pages (SERPs).  SEO is often viewed as the natural way to drive traffic to your site.  You are simply improving your site’s capability with search engine algorithms which are used to index rank sites for SERPs.

    SEO typically focuses on your website design, underlying codes, and content.  The idea is to make your site as search engine-friendly as it is customer-friendly.  Once your website is up and running, you can submit it to search engines for inclusion on SERPs.  Search engines get your submission request and, at some point, visit your site to index its contents.  Through the use of algorithms, search engines give your website a value that determines its placing on SERPs.  Algorithms vary by search engine, but all are intended to provide the best search results to search engine customers.

    Do You Need SEO?

    The short answer is that whether or not you need SEO depends entirely on the purpose of your website.  If it is a site you primarily share with friends and family, then you likely do not need SEO.  The Web is a great place to be heard, even if nobody is listening.  Or perhaps you cater to a particular group of individuals and you can communicate with them in another format to let them know about your website.  These are real situations in which you may not need SEO.

    However, if you want your site to be visited by the general public because of the information you provide or products and services you sell, then you will need SEO.  Sites that are intended to produce revenue will need SEO to have traffic driven them.  Site visitors have to know about you before they even think about visiting your site.  And there are factors beyond that tell visitors if they should become customers or not.

    There are myriad benefits to optimizing your site for search engines.  If you are new to SEO, it is well worth your time and effort to do what you can to implement on-page and off-page SEO strategies to help you get noticed by prospective customers.

    Benefit #1: Improve Search Engine Indexing

    Using specific SEO techniques can make it easier for search engines to index your site.  These include, but are definitely not limited to, using keywords in title tags, providing quality content, and creating a sitemap.  When search engines decide you offer relevant content to their customers, they want to include you in search results.  But since they use algorithms, it is important to use SEO measures to meet the strict requirements of the algorithms.  Otherwise, your site may not be indexed appropriately.  SEO can get your site indexed faster.  Once your site is ready, submit it to the search engines you want to be included on and provide an optimized sitemap to be considered sooner for indexing.  If you don’t do this, you will have to wait for your turn to be indexed.  And that can take awhile with the trillions of web pages currently online.

    Benefit #2: Manage Content on SERPs

    SEO gives you control over what search engines do with your content.  You can tell search engines not to index certain web pages. This entails using a robots.txt file which provides directions to search engines when they visit your site. You can optimize photos for better SEO results.  The more you are aware of how SEO works the greater control you gain over how your web pages are presented on SERPs.

    Benefit #3: Increase PageRank

    PageRank is an algorithm that basically looks at your links to decide if you are an authority site or not. PageRank is an important indicator that many customers look for when visiting a site, especially if they plan to spend money.  This score is Google’s valuation of how relevant and important your site is to their customers.  It is a numerical value from 1 to 10 that determines if your site will ever be seen on SERPs. You want a score that is closer to 10 than 1.  And you most definitely want to be considered a high-trust domain so that you consistently get high rankings on search engines.

    Benefit #4: Help Customers Find Site

    You cannot hand out your business card to every prospective customer and unsolicited emails will get you into trouble.  So, if you want customers to find you online, you need to be included in search results.  Google, Yahoo!, and Bing are the leading search engines but there are actually over one hundred currently available.  When you consider that the majority of time spent online is on one of these sites, the importance of SEO cannot be overstated.  Also, consider that with billions of websites currently in existence, it becomes more challenging to find a domain name that matches your business.  This, in turn, presents a challenge for your current customers who wish to visit your website.  SEO can smooth the way for your customers.

    Benefit #5: Can Focus on Local SEO

    Local small businesses often feel they do not need SEO because they have a targeted customer base.  The reality is that SEO can help with local businesses.  It is wrong to assume that SEO benefits only global or national businesses.  If you want a strong local online presence, SEO is still the way to go.  This is not to say you will not take advantage of other options such as mobile marketing.  But, local SEO can benefit you faster than other options.

    Benefit #6: Better Customer Experience

    This may not, at first glance, seem like an obvious benefit.  In fact, once you become more experienced, you will find the exact opposite approach should be taken.  Many site owners spend more time on making sites attractive and do not really consider user experience.  As a result, they end up with a really cool website that customers don’t like and can’t use.  Approach site design from an SEO perspective, and you have a greater chance of providing an excellent experience for your customers.  When indexing, search engines look at how easy your site navigation structure is as well as whether the content is suitable to customers.  This means having multiple web pages that are related but focus on separate keywords. Moving through the site is logical and completely pain free.  At the first hint of frustration, you can expect visitors to leave your site.  Implementing SEO best practices can help you gain customers and have a neat website at the same time.

    Benefit #7: Establish Online Reputation

    All of the previous benefits serve as the building blocks to establish your online reputation.  A good reputation helps you maintain your rankings and keep customers.  It is a marketing tool in and of itself.  Customers share their positive experience via word-of-mouth and social media.  You can get even more traffic to your site which can increase your PageRank as your customers use social media and blog comments to link to your site.  This is an ongoing process that is possible only with SEO.

    Benefit #8: Greater Return on Investment (ROI)

    It may not be exceedingly expensive, but it does cost you money to have a website.  From the design to the hosting, you want to attract enough customers to get a decent ROI.  With SEO, you get that and more.  You can actually make a substantial profit using SEO best practices.  These tactics will help you get noticed, but you will need to actually convert your visitors to customers.

    If you truly want web traffic to your site, you need to be ranked in the top 10 on SERPs for your keywords.  Nearly 80% of search engine users never go beyond that first page of search results to find what they are looking for while 98% never go beyond the third page – they know the relevancy continues to decline with each subsequent page.  SEO is your best friend when you are trying to achieve that status.

    Unlike paid advertising, SEO is an organic approach to getting traffic.  You are not interrupting or annoying customers with anything.  Instead, your content is simply being included in search results based on keywords.  It’s a win-win for everyone.  Your task is to get ranked high enough that search engine customers actually see, read, and click on your link so they get taken to your website.

    The benefits of SEO are numerous.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money on SEO if you do not want.  However, a reputable SEO company can make sure your site is properly optimized. They can complete these tasks much more efficiently and faster so you can start seeing results sooner.

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