What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
The short answer is, SEO is a means to an end.
In geek-speak, SEO is a human-manipulated process for appealing to everchanging, self-correcting, algorithmically determined search rankings. We do this by writing keyword-rich content in a way that appeals to people first, and to Google bots for approval (technically, Googlebot optimization is it’s own thing but there’s a lot of overlap).
In simpler terms, SEO is all about improving your website’s SEO ranking factors via organic (non-paid) search results.
In its most basic form, it’s the way websites “talks” to Google. The goal being, to make it as easy as possible for Google bots to “read” any given page, determine the relevancy of its content, and rank it as high as possible in the SERPs.
(To be clear, websites talk to ‘other’ search engines as well but for the sake of context, Google is the standard by which we strive to rank for.)
At the end of the day, SEO is about complying with Google’s standard for qualifying web content to meet or exceed specific criterion (policies) for what can appear in Search.
Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) worth it for small businesses
SEO can provoke a love/hate relationship with Google. And if you’re indifferent to keeping your website “fresh,” or apathetic about building backlinks to your content, or if you live under a rock and are oblivious to the benefits of creating content that caters to featured snippets, knowledge panels, or predictive queries (how Google keeps search relevant), getting your website to rank on the first page will be a lifelong struggle.
SEO requires persistent pandering to Google’s ranking algorithms. And how you use it depends entirely on your understanding of Google’s evaluation processes and how well you stay on top of their unpredictable algorithm updates.
The whole raison d’être behind SEO is to improve the visibility of your website so that it attracts traffic. Preferably, the organic, search-based kind of web traffic.
Of equal importance is the evolution of brand awareness and building a reputation as a trusted authority in your market.
If your business can operate without these things (maybe all you need is a “business card” kind of presence), in which case you can avoid the frustrations that come with the territory.
Different Types of SEO
Implementing an SEO strategy involves a multi-faceted approach, requiring ongoing attention to both technical SEO (ensuring that every one of your website pages is found, crawled, and indexed) and content-related efforts.
The more multilayered minutiae of SEO involve variations of creating an inbound marketing game plan that begins with researching competitive keywords and trends, followed by content generation and/or social media, and/or paid marketing tactics.
As a whole, SEO strategies can range anywhere from basic content generation to more extensive tactics, depending on desired outcomes.
Mastering technical SEO (server optimizations, crawl budgets, links, waterfalls, paint, etc.) is kind of like laying out the welcome mat for Google – inviting bots onto your site and having a look around.
Implementing technical SEO elements makes it easier for optimized content to rank higher and provides a more seamless and faster user experience (UX). And better UX means spend more time on your website (an important ranking factor).
Content Marketing and On-Page SEO
Publishing regular content suggests to Google that your website constantly offers new and “fresh” information to the world, and it wants to reward you for it. The less content you publish however, the less reason googlebots have to crawl your website and it will eventually die an anonymous death. No one will ever know it’s there unless you publish something, alerting bots to new activity.
But optimizing content for Google is more than writing ‘good’ copy. It’s about applying on-page ranking factors that signal Google to crawl your website and index your content. And it’s also about giving visitors a reason to visit your site (not your competitor’s). Neil Patel talks about the value exchange of cornerstone content and its benefit to your efforts at getting your website to rank.
Neil Patel also compares on/off-page SEO with the “chicken and egg” scenario – which one is more important? Admittedly, links from referring domains (backlinks) are an essential element of off-page SEO strategy but they’re not the only one.
Even if content generation is a difficult thing to commit to, off-page SEO offers a kind of ‘lifeboat’ for bringing attention to your website by way of 3rd-party references. Some of these strategies can be initiated by you (eg. Google My Business) but for the most part, they’re unsolicited.
Because off-page SEO is something that you don’t have direct control over, it’s entirely within the grasp of DIY-ers. However, without access to an analytics tool, discovery options (keywords, competitors) are relatively hampered.
When content generation isn’t a viable option for business owners, sometimes maintaining social profiles is. Especially when contributions can be made by others.
An active social media presence garners mucho respect from Google and can earn high-quality links to your website from a combination of social influencer referrals and/or engagement with your own content and/or sharing your content.
Other DIY Strategies for improving brand awareness and organic reach involve promotional activities like, podcasting, video interviews, local events, media outreach, guest blogging, curating relationships with online influencers, etc.
How to Create an Effective SEO Strategy for Small Business
SEO isn’t a role or a job. It’s an investment in branding, reputation, and lead generation. If these things matter to your online business, it’s worth looking at next steps.
Regardless of whether you tackle SEO through an agency, or DIY it, it’s a game of perseverance. Any gains you make by starting a campaign and then backing off, are lost to your competitors’ ongoing efforts. To maintain a strong competitive presence, SEO is a non-negotiable investment.
Benefits of Farming Out Your SEO
I would be remiss if I didn’t end by raising a hand to get your attention for our in-house SEO services.
We look at things like crawlability, indexability (robots.txt, canonicalization, broken links, redirects, schema markup, internal links, etc.), page experience (core web vitals, SSL, etc.), and the rest of Google’s 200+ SEO ranking factors.
To online business owners, Elite Digital Marketing exists to help keep that Google love alive with am SEO campaign for positioning your online business at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). We also give you the option to spy on rival local businesses in your market with a Competitor Analysis report. And who doesn’t want that?
Whether you pursue SEO for your website or not, I hope this brief post provides clarity about how to make your website more visible to Google.
If you’re interested in working with Elite Digital Marketing SEO, reach out. We’re great listeners.
Elite Digital Marketing is a full-service digital marketing agency dedicated to helping businesses succeed in their competitive marketplace. We specialize in developing high impact, cost-effective marketing initiatives that deliver tangible, measurable results.