What Does SEO Mean? Here’s Everything You Need to Know
There’s a good chance that you have heard about the term SEO. But, what does SEO mean?
You may have overheard other business owners or marketers talk about how important it is to digital marketing or maybe you’ve read the benefits of SEO & why every small business has got to have it. But, what does SEO mean, really?
SEO is short for search engine optimization, and though it may only be three letters long, it can make a world of difference in your digital marketing strategy. Below, we’ll answer the question, what does SEO mean? We’ll also look at some other frequently asked questions about search engine optimization to help you better understand what it is and why it’s important to your business.
What Does SEO Mean?
So what does SEO stand for? In simple words, search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making changes to your website design and content in order to help it appear on search engines. By optimizing your website for search engines, you can increase your visibility through the organic, or unpaid, search engine results.
If you’re wondering how this works, here’s a quick breakdown. Search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing scan your site, looking at design and content elements to help them determine what type of topics your website discusses and how user-friendly the site is. This process is called crawling. It helps the search engine deliver more relevant and useful search results to its users.
By improving SEO, your business is working to make it easier for search engines to understand and index your content. The better your website looks to the search engines, the more likely they will be to recommend your website or post to relevant search engine users when they look for keywords that are relevant to your product or service offering.
For example, Super Lawn Trucks ranks #1 on Google when you type in “lawn trucks”. They do not pay for the organic traffic they received from searches their customers are typing into search engines.
By making simple (and sometimes more complex) changes to your website, your business can work to improve your SEO and boost your organic search ranking on the search engine results page. The goal for most businesses is to rank on the first page of Google, Bing, and other search engines for keywords and phrases that are relevant to their products and services. The only way to make this possible is to take the necessary steps to improve SEO over time.
What is a SERP ranking?
Now that you know the answer to the question of “what does SEO mean”, let’s move forward. Another common question that we often get is – what is a SERP ranking?
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. Your company’s SERP ranking is where it ranks on the search engines. Improving your search engine optimization can help you boost your ranking, and improve your visibility online. The higher your business ranks on the SERP for relevant keywords and phrases, the more likely you are to be discovered by relevant customers searching for your products or services or relevant topics on the search engines.
For the most part, many consumers don’t look past the first page of Google, Bing, or any other search engine when they look something up. That’s why it is vital for businesses to work to improve their SERP ranking so that they can increase visibility on the search engines and reach more potential customers.
5 Steps For Increasing Your SEO Rankings
Now you may be thinking, how can I increase my SEO ranking? There are a number of factors that contribute to your SEO ranking. Though Google utilizes a sophisticated algorithm to determine your ranking on its search engine, you can still work to improve your SEO ranking by following a few best practices.
Here are a few SEO tactics to increase your company’s ranking on the search engine results page:
Produce high-quality content. One of the best ways to improve your SEO ranking is by investing in content marketing and producing website content that is unique and substantial. The more quality content you produce, the more that the search engines have to read and understand what your site is about and how you help consumers.
Do your keyword research. Another important element of improving your SEO is keyword research. You want to find the keywords that your customers and leads are using to find brands like yours. SEO tools like Google Ads can help you figure out which keywords will yield you the best results. Then, you can build new content around those search terms and phrases to improve your chances of being found on the SERP.
Make sure your site is mobile friendly. If you want to compete in the digital marketplace, your web design must be great. It’s no longer optional to have a mobile-friendly website. Not only does responsive design help improve the user experience on your site, it also contributes to your SEO ranking. Ensuring that your web pages have a fast page speed and can function across mobile devices is crucial to reaching audiences wherever they are.
Adjust your code. Just like your SEO rankings can be affected by the components you can physically see, there are also “invisible” ranking factors at play. Search engine algorithms crawl website code through robots.txt file in order to identify useful information and assign sites to certain rankings. By adjusting your code to include appropriate title tags, meta tags, meta descriptions, and alt text, you end up improving your HTML components and the overall quality of your sitemap. This then helps your website appear more readable and trustworthy to the search engine algorithms.
Optimize your website for voice search. Did you know that according to Google, there are now 41% of adults and 55% of teens who use voice search on a daily basis? In addition to that, based on research from Gartner, 30% of searches in 2020 will be made without a screen. In today’s world wherein many people prefer to use voice search, this can definitely affect a website’s SEO. The biggest difference of voice search and written (typed) search is the keywords used. While someone may type “affordable mattress” when in search engines, if they will use voice search, they will probably say “what are the affordable mattresses I can buy?”. You see, it’s all about long tail keywords. Because in natural human language, the queries are usually longer and more on questions rather than plain keywords.
These are just a few of the SEO factors that are under your control. However, there are also several factors that are off-page, meaning they are influenced by your visitors or readers. For instance, one major off-page factor is link building. Your authority is based on the quality of other sites or individuals who link to your page or share your page with others. The more quality websites that are linking to your content, the better your authority will be. Additionally, your internal links matter to how search engines rank your web pages.
Another off-page SEO factor that can impact your SERP ranking is whether visitors take time to engage with your content or if they leave your site quickly, also known as bouncing. Though there is no way to make sure that visitors stay and engage with your content for a long period of time, you can improve your click through rate by creating compelling content that visitors will want to stay and read.
What factors negatively impact SEO?
Years ago, there has been a heated debate on which of these two methods work faster in increasing your page rank- white hat SEO or black hat SEO tactics. And just as certain activities can help you improve your SEO, there are also several factors that can have a negative impact on your search engine optimization. Here, we’ll cover what factors negatively impact SEO:
Content is “thin” or lacks substance. Some companies will try to take the easy way out when it comes to SEO and put a bunch of lackluster content up on their website. However, content that is lacking in substance can actually negatively impact your SEO. This content is not helpful for site visitors, so Google and other search engines will penalize your site for poor content.
Content is stuffed with keywords. Another thing that can negatively impact your search engine ranking is keyword stuffing. This is basically when you put lots of relevant keywords into your content, but without reason. For instance, you might put the keyword or phrase within a blog post 20 times, but the post doesn’t make sense or provide value. It’s just full of keywords. Search engines will penalize this behavior because again, it does not provide value for the visitor.
Links to content are actually spam. In the previous section, we talked about how backlinks to your content from quality sources can help increase your authority, and thus your ranking on the search engines. However, if you are spamming blogs, forums, and other places with links to your content, this can count against you when it comes to your SERP ranking.
These are just a few factors that can negatively impact your SEO. The best way to avoid being penalized for these types of behaviors is to follow SEO best practices and focus on creating quality content, not taking shortcuts. Search engine optimization does take a little while to work its magic and start bringing more organic traffic to your site. However, following best practices and working hard to create unique and helpful content will pay off in the end.
Does Social Media Impact SEO?
Another common question that we hear is – does social media impact SEO? This is a great question!
There are a few different ways that your social media activity can impact your SEO and SERP ranking. Overall, your social media content helps drive more traffic to your website. By regularly sharing links to your website and blog content across your social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, helps you get more potential leads and customers to your site where they will be exposed to your content. And when you combine other social media marketing strategies, like influencer marketing, into the mix, then you can take this exposure even farther.
Your company’s social media profiles can also rank in search engines. Try Googling your company right now. Do your social media profiles pop up? Companies that work to build their social media presence will often see their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social profiles alongside their company’s website on the search engine results page. The best way to get your social media profiles to rank is by staying active and consistently engaging with your fans and followers across your social profiles.
Sometimes your social authority can even impact your SERP ranking. This means that the search engines consider how many people follow and engage with your social media profiles. They then use this information to help them determine where your brand should rank on the search engine results page. So not only can social media drive up your conversion rate on its own, it can also lead to higher Google search rankings and greater success for your SEO efforts.
Why is SEO Important for My Business?
Now that you know what SEO is and a little bit more about how it works, you may be wondering, why is SEO important for my business?
No matter what industry you are in or how big or small your business is, consumers are looking for brands like yours online every day. One of the best ways to reach these potential customers is through search engines.
Think about it this way. Where do you go when you need to get information about a product or service?
And that’s exactly where your customers are going to find the products and services that help them solve their greatest challenges. For most online consumers, the buyer’s journey begins on a search engine like Google. They will search for keywords and phrases that match their challenges and needs, and then navigate to pages that can help educate them about solutions. If your business shows up first, it can add an extra $100,000 in revenue to your business.
By improving your SEO, you can work to boost your ranking on the search engine results page. This improves your online visibility, increasing your chances of being found by relevant customers online. Through quality content that focuses on relevant keywords and search queries, you can reach out to customers in their moment of need and help them find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.
Search engine optimization is especially important for small businesses that want to compete in the online marketplace. Most small businesses have limited digital marketing budgets. Though they may not able to compete with larger companies when it comes to advertising, SEO levels the playing field a bit. Any company, regardless of size can work to improve their search engine optimization and boost their ranking on the SERP. You don’t have to be an SEO expert to start seeing great results.
Think Beyond the Search Engines
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to your company’s website is that you need to think beyond the search engines. In other words, you need to think about the human beings who will be navigating your website and reading your content. Though it may seem counter intuitive, this is actually one of the best ways to improve your SEO and boost your search engine ranking.
For instance, you can write a piece of content that is perfectly optimized for the search engines, but if it doesn’t make sense to a human, then it will not bring you new business. No matter how many times you use a keyword in a blog post or site page, if that content doesn’t actually help your visitors better understand their challenges, they will leave the page and never return.
Your company should also keep your human visitors in mind when designing your website. It should be easy for visitors to navigate and read your site from their desktop and their mobile phones. The more complicated it is for visitors to find the information they’re looking for, the more likely they will be to leave and visit another site.
In addition, you want to pay attention to your metrics. Using Google analytics software to keep up with your page rank, or even writing content with the help of SEO crawlers, can help you ensure long-term success.
Now that you know the answer to the very important question – what does SEO mean? – it’s time to take what you’ve learned and apply it to your business. Before you start looking for ways to improve your search engine optimization and boost your SERP ranking, you’ll want to take inventory of your website and blog content as well as where you rank on the search engine results page. Once you have audited your content, you will be able to develop a solid SEO marketing plan for improving your company’s search engine optimization.
It’s no secret that SEO can get quite complex. But SEO works, and you don’t have to go it alone.
Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Zinora Media.