It was around 2012 when I first heard the term SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I did some research and discovered that it involved using keywords to help people find a website when using a search engine like Google. That was the gist of it and for a while, I didn’t find anything that really went deeper because I didn’t know what to look for. I used keywords but I didn’t use it in a strategic way that could really help me or my website. Over the years I have found some amazing people who talked about SEO in a way that has helped me understand proper use, execution, and some great resources for SEO (Gini Dietrich and Andy Crestodina, please take a bow).
A few days ago my sister sent me an article she had written for her business’s blog. As I read it, I thought to myself, “I wonder if their site is search engine optimized?” My guess was no. I texted her and the question. The response was along the lines of, “What does that mean?”
Some of you may have heard of SEO but aren’t quite sure what it is. Some of you may have never heard of it at all. That’s ok. This article is going to be a basic, high-level overview that familiarizes you with SEO and why it’s important.
But let’s not jump ahead of ourselves.
What is SEO?
I’m not going to give you a definition of SEO as much as I’m going to show you how it’s used. As I previously stated part of SEO is using keywords. While using keywords is helpful for SEO, there is a problem with it. Many of the biggest companies have those keywords locked up. Let me give an example.
Teri started a business focusing on software. It only makes sense that Teri’s website is going to be optimized using “software” as the keyword. The problem is, Teri is new to the game and she is going to have to compete with software companies like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, SAP, Symantec, HP, EMC, and Salesforce.com. She is also going to have to compete with companies who sell software like Amazon and New Egg. There are only about ten results per page on Google. Teri isn’t going to get on the first page of Google when competing against these titans. Most people don’t go past the first page of their search (I do but I’m kind of weird like that). And, as Andy Crestodina likes to say, the best place to bury the bodies is on page two of the Google results.
So what is Teri going to do? If she uses a strategy of using the keyword “software” she is going to be buried on page two or three or five. One option is to use key phrases instead of keywords. Just a few minutes ago, I googled “the largest software companies” to find the names of the software companies I used in the previous paragraph. More often than not I don’t search using a word, I search using a phrase.
Using phrases raises the probability of getting on page one of the Google search results but there are other things that impact SEO. (A quick disclaimer: I know there are other search engines other than Google such as Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, AOL, and DuckDuckGo but Google is number one by a wide margin. There is a reason people use the term, google it.)
It’s about credibility
There are other factor’s other than keywords and phrases that impact SEO. The credibility of your website plays a big part. But how do you find out if your site is considered credible? Let’s take a look.
There are companies that have built their companies around SEO. One of those companies is Moz. Moz offers some free tools to help determine your websites domain authority. Think of domain authority as credibility. Moz measures domain authority on a scale of one to 100. The higher your domain authority, the more credible your website and that credibility will impact your ability to compete for page one of Google. Let’s look at an example.
Teri has been working hard building her website’s domain authority (we’ll talk more about this in another article). Moz tells her that the domain authority is 48. Teri has done her research to determine the best key phrase to use for her blog article. She has also done research to determine how she stacks up against the competition that is also using a similar key phrase. Her competitor’s domain authority ranges from 40 to 68. This is great news as Teri will be able to compete for page one of the Google search results because the domain authority (credibility) of her website is in the same range as the competition.
In future articles, we will look at SEO more in-depth. What I hope you were able to come with was a basic understanding of SEO as it is a valuable piece of your marketing communication efforts. Everything in marketing communication is a puzzle piece and it must all fit together. SEO is a piece of that puzzle.
You likely created your website for a variety of reasons such as creating awareness, selling products, sharing your knowledge amongst others. While you should be using other methods such as social media to promote your website, forgetting SEO is like forgetting to tell anybody your business is open. You can build it but that doesn’t mean they will come but with an SEO strategy you can at least give them a map to find you.