When talking with other business professionals, I sometimes forget what is common knowledge about online marketing, and what is not. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), for example, is so central to everything we do as a company that I just assume everyone else has some passing knowledge of what it means.
But you know what they say about making assumptions.
Recently a friend reminded me that not everyone gets SEO. So I wanted to dedicate some space here to explaining what search engine optimization is and why it’s important.
Let’s start with the last word in the name: Optimization or optimize. Dictionary.com defines it this way:
- To make as effective, perfect or useful as possible.
- To make the best of.
- Computers . to write or rewrite (the instructions in a program) so as to maximize efficiency and speed in retrieval, storage, or execution.
So to optimize something is to make it the best possible. When it comes to computers and their functions, we want “to maximize efficiency and speed…in execution.”
Search Engine Optimization
In regards to SEO, execution refers to being found by a search engine, and ranking high.
When you put it all together, you could define search engine optimization as the practice of making a website the best it can possibly be so it will be found and rank high in search results.
SEO is necessary for your website to be found in search. HostingFacts.com reports that 95% of Americans use the internet to find the products or services they need. In addition, 91% of all searchers never look past the first page. These facts illustrate just how important being found in search and ranking high really is.
For a website to appear in the search results, Google must understand what the site is about. To do that, it indexes websites that it “understands.”
Being indexed allows a website’s data to be stored in a database. That’s necessary so it can be called up later and presented in the search results when a relevant search is made.
Without SEO, Google can’t understand what the site is about. When that happens, the website will not be indexed.
SEO, then, makes it possible for a website to be found, indexed and recalled in search. This is the basic value of SEO.
Beyond just being found by Google, SEO can also help you rank higher than your competition in the search results. Ranking higher gives you a better shot at getting clicks to your website. In fact, according to HubSpot.com, being in the first position gets more clicks, 34 percent. That’s more than any other position.
When determining where a website will rank on the search results page, Google’s algorithm looks for additional factors beyond just search optimizing your site. By meeting these criteria, and doing so better than your competitors, you can rank higher.
In today’s online world where the internet plays such a central role, being found in search is vital for both B2C and B2B companies. The importance of SEO for any business is emphasized by these two facts: 1) The vast majority of people use internet search to find things they want or need; 2) Most searchers never leave the first results page.
If you can’t be found on the first page, you are missing out on business.
Do you have questions about SEO for your company? Call me at 513-237-5530.
Bob Turner is a Digital Marketing Consultant with RevLocal in Cincinnati, Ohio.