What is search engine optimization?
Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is the application of tools and techniques to try to legally manipulate the output of search engines so that they show your own content at the top of their search results.
Perhaps a more optimistic way of describing SEO would be like this:
SEO is the art of trying to help people find your content.
SEO is a huge topic, and many sophisticated SEO tools exist to help website owners research, analyze, plan and track their search engine optimization efforts.
Who uses SEO?
SEO is used to some degree by practically every major business and even by hobbyists and freelancers!
Whether it’s an enterprise company, mid-sized business, small business, startup, or just a personal blog site, every website can benefit from applying SEO strategies.
🤷♂️ Why? Because SEO helps drive new visitors to your website, product, or service!
How does SEO work?
At its core, SEO is all about keywords and search engine results pages.
Let’s take a quick look at each one…
What are keywords?
🗝 Keywords are simply the terms that people type into search engines that help them find things.
For example, Google’s search engine allows people to find web pages on the Internet.
Keywords can be just a single word, or a combination of many words to create a phrase or a question.
The text that a user types in the search field is called a search query.
Search engines will look for those keywords in your webpage content to determine if they should include your page in their search results.
What are SERPs?
Search engine results pages, also known as SERPs, are ordered lists of web pages that the search engine thinks would best match the user’s search query.
SERPs are often paged, which means that search engines usually only show around 10 items at a time. Then, they offer a way for the user to load the next page for more results.
The gotcha is that most users never load in more than the first page. In fact, less than 3% of clicks usually come from the second and subsequent SERPs.
As you’d expect, the first result on the SERP gets the most clicks. Incredibly, the result in the 1st position gets around 10 times more clicks than the result in the 10th position!
PRO TIP: If you’re hoping for organic traffic from search engines, it is super important to make sure your web pages show up at the top of SERPs for your target keywords.
What are the uses and benefits of SEO?
There are many aspects to SEO, but they can be divided into these major categories:
Market research includes things like competitor analysis, keyword planning, researching market trends, identifying potential customers, marketing planning, and understanding your target audience.
Content creation includes analyzing and optimizing existing website content, as well as coming up with new topics for new content. This also often involves reviewing competitor sites, the keywords they use, and the websites that link to their content.
Tracking has to do with keeping track of keyword data, SERP rankings, organic traffic, paid traffic, competitors, and website content over time.
Auditing has to do with evaluating a website to find HTML errors, opportunities for improvements, keywords, backlinks, and all sorts of other juicy data.
Marketing and traffic generation have to do with trying to get more visitors to your site, either through organic traffic or paid traffic. This often involves building backlinks to your website, finding optimal keywords, and optimizing your social media posts and paid advertisements.
SEO is a large topic with lots of moving parts and a wide variety of SEO tools, techniques, tips, and tricks that you can use.
Luckily, you can easily get your hands on a professional, all-in-one SEO software package at a very reasonable price. There are many out there!
My personal recommendation for an SEO toolkit is to start with either Semrush, Ahrefs, SE Ranking, or Serpstat.
All four of those offer a free trial or a free-tier plan! 😍