What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization, which is also known as SEO, is the process of increasing the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via organic or search results. The higher your company’s website ranks on Search Engine Result Page (SERP), the more searchers will visit your site.
As a marketing strategy for increasing site’s relevance, SEO consultants consider how search algorithms work and what people search for. A SEO process may involve a site’s coding and structure, content and copywriting, site presentation, as well as fixing other problems that will prevent search engines from indexing your company website. If your company’s website is not indexed by search engines, there will be no chance at all for your site to get high visibility rankings on search engines. Therefore, it is extremely important for businesses to take note of SEO and make sure that their websites are properly indexed by search engines.
The term “SEO” can also refer to “Search Engine Optimizer”. This is an industry term that refers to agencies and consultants that carry out search engine optimization process on behalf of their clients, and by employees who perform SEO services in-house. Every agency and consultant has their own SEO methodology; therefore they may use different methods to achieve high organic rankings for websites. In most cases, in order to have effective SEO, it may require changes to the HTML source code of a site, SEO tactics will be incorporated into website development and design. That is why almost all credible SEO agencies and consultants will first look at the design and back-end architecture of a website before starting any SEO process. This will ensure that SEO is carried out effectively.
Search Engine Optimization as a Marketing Strategy for Businesses
So how should businesses use SEO as a marketing strategy? The primary objective of implementing SEO to a company’s website is to drive targeted traffic to it. Eye tracking studies have shown that searchers scan a search result from top to bottom and left to right, looking for relevant results. Therefore, if your site is near the top of organic listings rankings (organic listings refer to the web results that are listed on the left hand side of the SERP), it will most likely increases the number of searchers who will visit your site.
A successful online marketing campaign may usually involve SEO, but it also consists of the use of paid advertising on search engines, building high quality websites to engage and persuade site visitors take action either through enquiries or online sales, setting up analytic programs to allow site owners to measure their successes and improving a site’s conversion rate.
Benefits of SEO for Businesses
Businesses can benefit from SEO in a lot of ways, be it to increase brand awareness, get sales leads or increase sales revenue. The following is a list of benefits that businesses can get from SEO:
o Get more targeted traffic. SEO can increase the number of visitors to your site who are actively searching for your product or service.
o Increase brand awareness. SEO can give your brand a high international profile. You can also use SEO to create brand awareness for any new service or product by optimizing related product/service key phrases to rank higher on search engines.
o Marketing your brand 24/7. With SEO, your website will get exposure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – without stopping.
o Higher sales. As SEO brings you targeted traffic, it can mean increased sales of your product or service.
o Long term positioning. Once a properly optimized & designed site is in place, rankings on organic listings should be consistent whereas the cost for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising is ongoing.
o More value for dollars. Once your company’s website has achieved high organic rankings for various key phrases, you will not have to pay for each visit. Whereas for PPC Advertising, to enjoy high ranking visibility on search engines, you need to pay for each click or visit to your site.
However, to make sure that you have a successful SEO implementation, you need to make sure that your dedicated SEO agency abides to the guidelines of search engine when optimizing your site…
White Hat SEO VS Black Hat SEO
When it comes to SEO, there are 2 schools of thoughts – White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO. White hat SEO is techniques that search engines recommend as good practice and black hat SEO is those techniques that search engines do not approve of. For SEO consultants who practise white hat SEO, they tend to produce results that last a long naked url time. Black hat SEO techniques may get a website to rank well initially, but the site will eventually be banned either temporary or permanently once search engines discover what they are doing.
So it is very important for you to know the best practices in the SEO industry and make sure that the SEO agency that is handling your account uses techniques that conform to the search engines’ guidelines and involves no deception.
White hat technique is generally summed up as creating content for users, not the search engines. The content that is created should be easily accessible to search engine spiders, rather than intending to trick the algorithms from its intended purpose. So, the general rule of thumb is to stay on the safe side by creating content that is relevant to your target audience. Search engines value relevancy – they will definitely want to rank a site higher their organic listings if the content on the site is what searchers are looking for.
Black hat technique usually involves techniques that attempt to improve rankings that are disapproved by search engines, or involve deception. One common black hat technique is to use hidden text, either as text coloured similar to the background of the website, or positioned off-screen. Another common technique known as cloaking is to load a different page depending on whether the page is accessed by a human or a search engine spider.
Search engines will penalize sites which use black hat techniques, either by reducing their organic rankings or even eliminating them from their database completely. This is a very costly mistake on the business point of view as you will lose out a lot of grounds as your competitors are enjoying free organic traffic from search engines due to their high rankings for major key phrases. One infamous example was in February 2006, whereby Google removed BMW Germany from its database for use of black hat methods. However, the company has quickly apologised and cleaned up the offending pages and were eventually restored to Google’s database.