Regardless of the industry that you work in, chances are you’ve heard of search engine optimization, or SEO. While it’s easy to think that SEO is just a trendy phrase that marketers throw around to make themselves sound smart, it’s actually a practice that can deliver real results for your business. SEO is the process of attracting website traffic from free, organic, editorial or natural search engine results. The potential benefits of a well-defined SEO strategy that puts your business at or near the top of search engine results can’t be overstated. After all, “I’ll Google it” is the solution to any unanswered question these days. With that in mind, here are some tips on developing an SEO strategy for beginners. 

What is SEO?

When it comes to search engine optimization, knowing the audience that you are trying to reach is arguably more important than understanding the search engines themselves. Keep in mind that people use Google, Bing and other search engines to answer questions. The goal for your business is to know what questions are being asked and answer them in the form of valuable content

Whether it comes in the form of a blog, podcast, webinar or video, content that answers questions, solves problems and is linkable is the essential component of any SEO strategy. This is where knowledge about your target audience comes into play. When you have a deep understanding of what those people are searching for online and the type of content they are most likely to consume, you can leverage search engine optimization to deliver answers organically through search engine results. 

Elements of SEO

While it certainly plays a significant role in determining your position in search engine results, the aforementioned content is actually just one of many elements that make up your comprehensive SEO strategy. Metadata, page speed and URL naming conventions are other important practices that play a role. Customized metadata, a URL with optimum character length and focused keywords along with fast loading webpages optimize content to drive your SEO strategy. However, keep in mind that keywords are only valuable when they are relevant and included in a page’s content. 

The good news is that on-page search engine optimization is completely in your hands. The bad news is that work still must be done to garner the highest possible ranking for your website. Even without the universal control that comes with on-page SEO, there are still steps that your business can take to improve your off-page SEO, starting with linkbacks. Any time your organization is mentioned on another site with a link to your website included, search engines take that as an endorsement for your site, improving your rank. The higher the authority or following for the site that included your link, the more impact it will have on your rank. 

Why is SEO important?

With on-page and off-page elements to consider and the internet becoming more and more crowded by the day, embarking on the search engine optimization journey can be a daunting task for beginners. After all, with a variety of different paid search techniques readily available, why is an SEO strategy even important? There’s certainly value in paid search, particularly in its ability to quickly reach a targeted audience. However, only 2.6 percent of searches result in a click on a paid ad. 

Organic search engine optimization also provides more longevity than its paid search counterpart. Keeping a paid result at the top of a page requires continuous funding from your company, which can prove more costly than its worth if it’s not directly leading to new business. On the other hand, a blog that answers common questions and includes relevant keywords can live at the top of search engine results for an extended period of time, continuing to drive traffic to your website without any additional money spent for years. 

SEO Strategy Goals

Like any other strategy, developing an SEO strategy that will deliver results requires clearly defined goals and objectives beforehand. The most important thing to remember for this practice is that increased traffic and a higher rank are NOT ideal goals for your business. Having a high search engine results ranking and a large number of people visiting your site has little value to your business unless they are clicking through and converting into new customers or clients. 

Determine the overall goals for your business first to provide some key performance indicators when measuring the return on your SEO strategy. For example, let’s say your company is using search engine optimization to increase your number of email subscribers. If you get 500 monthly visitors but only five new email subscribers, was it more successful than getting 200 monthly visitors with 20 new email subscribers? Of course not. An ideal SEO strategy is one that helps you accomplish your business goals, not the other way around. 

Keep in mind that SEO is a continuous practice rather than a checklist to complete and move onto something else. Mastering SEO as a practice takes time. As you begin developing and implementing your SEO strategy, don’t get discouraged if your website isn’t instantly at the top of every page of search engine results. If you’re interested in learning more about search engine optimization and the benefits it can provide, let’s connect. We’d love to have a conversation about how we can help create results for your business.