What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization, a.k.a. “S.E.O,” is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic through organic search engine results. Organic traffic refers to any traffic from search engines that is un-paid. Alternatively, traffic from advertisements is referred to as paid traffic. SEO develops brand exposure and is as much about people as it is search engines. Why? Because optimized websites publish content that answers people’s questions!
So how do you know what questions people are asking? Keywords! Search engines like Google provide any user free access to their index of keywords and how often they are searched each month. Short-tail keywords are short, such as “hot dog.” Long-tail keywords are long, like “how are hot dogs made?” Either one can be targeted with content that places those keywords in the right places.
And how are these questions answered? Blog posts! Of course, there are other forms of content that appear in search results pages – web pages, product pages, youtube videos, Real Estate Listings, QA pages – the list goes on. But the most frequent, simplest to implement, and most ancient are blog posts.
Search Engine Results Pages or “SERPs” have become increasingly advanced over the years. As search engine developers gain a better understanding of what people are searching for, they add features that correlate with user needs. Some of the SERP features offered include “ask” boxes, image carousels, weather forecasts, local packs (the maps that show local businesses, descriptions, and reviews), featured snippets (short descriptions of definitions etc.,) and “people also ask” boxes. It’s to the benefit of search engine providers to keep users on the SERPs because it increases the likelihood a user will click an ad, which is how search engines generate revenue.
Why is SEO Important?
The majority of online traffic is generated through search engines. It trumps paid advertising and social media. Search engines receive way more clicks than paid advertisements. Out of all US searches, only about 2.8% click on paid advertisements. In brief, SEO has around 20 times more traffic opportunity than pay-per-click advertising on both mobile and desktop.
A significant advantage to SEO is that, when set up correctly, it continues to pay dividends over time. If you provide a valuable piece of content that ranks for the right keywords, the traffic can snowball. On the flipside, advertising requires continuous funding to send traffic to your website. It doesn’t ever stick without continuing to require advertiser money.
Should I Hire an SEO Professional, Consultant or Agency?
There’s no correct answer here. Depending on your willingness to learn and the complexity of your website(s), you can certainly perform some basic SEO yourself. But if you’re not too tech-savvy or don’t have the time, your best bet is to hire the help of an expert. Whichever path you choose, either method is perfectly okay! Just be prepared to not know a lot of things if it’s something you plan on doing yourself.
It’s important to know that SEO services can vary widely in quality. Nikolas James Agency has a great guide on how to choose a good SEO company that you should definitely check out for further insight!