• Jenni Fox - Smiling Catz Digital Marketing

SEO Blog No. 1: What is SEO and why is it important?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it is a crucial element of your digital marketing plan. You want to make sure your company is represented when someone does an online search for your product or business. Unsurprisingly, with the vast expanse of the World Wide Web, SEO can be one of the trickiest marketing components to master.

Because of the importance and the complexity of SEO, I’m going to break it down into bite- size, easy-to-digest morsels. Over the next few weeks, I will publish a series of blogs that will help define SEO and explore the many ways to improve your company’s appearance in online search results without “breaking the bank.” In this first blog of the series, we will take a deeper dive into learning what SEO is all about and how it works.

According to Wikipedia, “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. SEO targets unpaid traffic (known as "natural" or "organic" results) rather than direct traffic or paid traffic. Unpaid traffic may originate from different kinds of searches, including image search, video search, academic search, news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.” More simply stated, SEO helps to direct the traffic that is not sent there by ads or by directly typing in the site url, to your company’s website.

The importance of SEO is obvious – the more people directed to your site, the better your business! Organic traffic typically accounts for about 85 percent of your audience, so even though it can be challenging to optimize your site for search engines, the benefits of doing so are innumerable.

It helps to understand a bit about how search engines work. The leading search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, use crawlers for their algorithmic search results. A crawler browses the web in an automated manner for the purpose of indexing content. Crawlers can look at all sorts of data on your website, such as content, links on a page, broken links, sitemaps and HTML code validation. They can then help to properly index downloaded pages so that users can find them faster and more efficiently when they are searching. The pages are ranked based on key words or phrases found on pages, and that is how results are displayed when a potential customer types in a particular word or phrase in search.

It’s important to note that Google produces almost 90 percent of all web searches (including Google Images, Google Maps and YouTube), so even though it’s beneficial to optimize engines such as Bing and Yahoo, Google should definitely be where you pay most of your attention.

The first thing to focus on when optimizing your pages for the search engines is your content. Using keywords and phrases in headers, sub headers, and body copy can help a crawler index your pages appropriately. Including a blog is also a fantastic way to incorporate keywords and phrases. Write blog articles about your products and services, best practices or “how-tos.” Make sure you regularly add content and keep it fresh.

If you already have a website, and you want to see how you are performing in searches, Google provides a free tool called Search Console that lets you create an account and then monitor, maintain and troubleshoot your site’s presence in the search results. You can also build a site map and submit it to Search Console that determines which pages of your site should be crawled for search results. You can create your site map manually or there are a number of tools that can assist you.

We will learn more about creating site maps in SEO Blog No. 2: Helping Crawlers & Customers Discover Your Content! Watch for it very soon!