SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of increasing the visibility of a website in search.
In simple terms, SEO involves specific changes on and off the site that are aimed at attracting visitors through searches for relevant queries.
Although SEO strategies vary depending on the type of query, their main goal is always to fulfill the intent behind queries.
The importance of SEO
SEO is one of the most effective forms of digital marketing for a number of reasons:
68% of all online experiences start from a search engine, according to BrightEdge. These interactions include not only informational searches, but also commercial and transactional. Hence the opportunity for businesses to reach the right people.
According to Backlinko, the top 3 pages in Google search results receive more than half of all clicks. Therefore, it is important for websites to rank as high as possible in the search results, which is the main focus of SEO.
- The higher a site ranks in search results, the more visitors tend to trust it.
- Although SEO does not directly require money like paid advertising, it can include financial investments in tools and content. If you use paid advertising on social networks or search engines, then you can only maintain visibility until you stop paying. In the case of SEO, if your site’s pages already rank high for popular keywords, it might continue to passively receive visitors for a long time. Thus, the results of effort, time and money invested can be multiplied without the need for additional costs.
Hence, SEO helps to bring more visitors and trust to your website, thereby increasing your business’s online presence.
How do search engines work?
When referring to search engines, most people imply Google, as it is the most popular search engine with a global market share of 93.12%, according to Statcounter.
The goal of search engines is to provide users with high-quality and relevant results. For that, search engines perform three main functions: crawling, indexing, and ranking.
Crawling means browsing the web using a special program called a crawler or spider. After a successful crawl, if no problems are detected, the web pages of the site are indexed, that is, stored in the search engine’s database. And when users perform a search, the search engine tries to understand the query and select relevant web pages from its index. It then sorts the results in the SERPs based on its algorithms.
How does SEO work?
As we’ve discussed above, the main task of search engines is to discover your site, understand it, and evaluate its relevance and quality. These three stages is what we always focus on at our agency.
SEO has parts aimed at each of these aspects, namely:
1. On-page SEO. Optimization of the components of a web page, including its content. The main purpose of this process is to make the page easier for search engines to understand, fulfill the needs of the searcher, and provide a smooth user experience. On-page SEO includes tasks like placing keywords, structuring headings, and creating quality content with people in mind.
2. Off-page SEO. Involves changes that are done outside of a website to increase its visibility in search results. These actions are aimed at increasing the authority of the site in the eyes of both search engines and users. Off-page SEO examples are link building, getting positive reviews, and content marketing.
3. Technical SEO. The optimization of a web page so that search engines can effectively crawl, understand, and add it to their index. This part of SEO can also include changes done to improve user experience. Examples of technical SEO are loading speed improvement, site structure creation, and sitemap submission.
Pros and cons of SEO
- Targeted traffic. People who are searching, whether it’s for a product, service, or just information, are already interested in the results that the search engine will show. If someone is searching “best laptops for students”, for example, he is very likely interested in buying a laptop. Thus, for commercial or transactional keywords, the searchers are very likely to take action after visiting your site.
- Ease of measurement. With web analytics tools, you can easily track which queries are getting the most traffic, which pages have high click-through rates, the average time before the site, and much more. This data helps to understand problems with SEO and test new tactics.
- Trust. Users tend to trust websites that appear high in search results. People often associate top ranking sites with authority and expertise.
- The lifespan of a webpage. A well-optimized page can consistently attract visitors for years, as long as it remains relevant. Therefore, the effectiveness of an SEO strategy should be evaluated on the based on its long-term potential and success.
- Results take time. Noticable SEO results appear within 3-6 months on average. This process can be slower in highly competitive niches, and faster in less competitive ones.
- Algorithm updates. Search engines are constantly improving their algorithms in order to improve the quality of their search results. Most of these updates are minor and unnoticeable, but sometimes search engines make major changes to their algorithms that can have a big impact on rankings. As a result, many websites may experience a sudden drop in traffic. Therefore, it is important to create pages with the searcher’s needs in mind, which is in the best interest of search engines.
- It is hard to predict results. Even with the correct consideration of all factors, it is very difficult to exactly predict the success of a particular SEO strategy. Search engine algorithms are very complex and constantly changing, leaving many factors out of the control of SEO specialists.