Search Engine Optimization
What is Search Engine Optimization and why does your business need it?
What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
“Search engine optimization” or “SEO” is a term used in online marketing to refer to a combination of tactics or strategies to improve your visibility and rank on organic (unpaid) search engine results. Using SEO techniques increases exposure and brings in potential clients from search engines, directories, and relevant referral sources. SEO may include some of the following factors:
- Keyword research based on your location and industry
- Online directory management
- Content optimization and development
- Technical advice about website structure, development, hosting, and code
- And others
SEO helps you ensure your site is optimally designed to be searched and analyzed by search engines. SEO is a process, takes time, and is not a one-time service.
Changes in SEO through the years
In the ‘90s and early ‘00s, search engines used a more basic approach to delivering results. For a simple example, if a certain keyword phrase was used on a webpage a certain number of times, it would be considered more relevant and, in turn, be in the top search results because of the keyword density. Before long, webmasters were manipulating the search algorithms by using inaccurate information for their site in order to rank higher and using keywords as many times as they could on a page (also referred to as “keyword stuffing”).
In response, search engines developed more complex algorithms to combat the manipulators and enhance the user experience. Nowadays, search engines take into consideration a number of factors to determine relevancy for a search query, which include on-page content relevancy for the term or question, inbound links, location, directory information, and many more. Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo do not publish their algorithms, so SEO experts draw conclusions based on experience and public industry observations to determine what factors are important to search engines.
Black Hat Techniques vs. White Hat Techniques
In the SEO industry, “black hat” means techniques that deceive or are disapproved by search engines while attempting to manipulate rankings. “White hat” refers to the techniques that follow search engine guidelines. White hat techniques focus on creating useful content for searchers, not for engine robots.
Notable Google Algorithm Updates
Google made several significant updates in the past few years to their search algorithm or “recipe”—namely, Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird.
Panda (2011): This update targeted low-quality sites that had spammy links or ads and lowered their rank. High-quality sites that had good, user-friendly content rose in rankings.
Penguin (2012): Targeted websites that violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (a set of best practices and tips for user-friendliness). No more “black hat” techniques tolerated and an emphasis on natural link building instead of link schemes, keyword stuffing, etc.
Hummingbird (2013): Google’s algorithm change that effected every searcher for the better. Now the entire search query is looked at in a conversational way. Designed to deliver you better results based on the way we naturally converse and search. Places a huge emphasis on content marketing.
All of these updates —as well as other small, incremental changes—have dramatically changed the scope of search engine optimization to include a wide spectrum of online visibility and overall inbound marketing.
Advantages to Hiring a Professional Agency to do SEO
The SEO industry changes often because algorithms change often. For example, Google made over 500 changes in 2010. The average person and business owner might not have time to keep up with all the latest industry happenings. A professional agency has experts dedicated to looking out for these changes, developing strategies, and creating roadmaps to continuously help your business stay ahead of competitors and remain visible on search results.
Q: How long does SEO take?
A: You’re never finished with SEO because it is on-going process to increase your visibility, credibility, brand awareness, and traffic online. Sometimes you can see results in two months, but often it takes several months to start seeing results from your SEO efforts. A good way to measure your success is to focus on search engine results page visibility, maps, and directories that influence your organic traffic.
Q: How does SEO work in an online marketing strategy?
A: SEO can play a large role in your online marketing strategy. SEO increases exposure across the web and helps bring more relevant traffic to your website, which in turn, brings you more potential customers.
Q: Can I hire someone internally to do my SEO?
A: Of course! It is better to have someone working on it than no one. However, this person might not have the technical skills or deep knowledge of how SEO works to give you desired results. SEO companies, like OrangeSoda, have high standards and proven track records with both small businesses and large corporations.