What Is SEO?
It’s likely that, at some point in launching a website for your business, you asked yourself “What is SEO and why do I need it?” As you know, SEO is a complicated beast but it’s most definitely essential for your internet marketing these days.
This post is designed to answer your “what is SEO” questions and hopefully, after reading, you’ll understand why you need SEO and why it’s so vital to your business.
Inbound Marketing guru’s, Hubspot, published a neat slideshare deck on SEO’s past, present, and future, that is embedded below.
If you’re unfamiliar with the basic concepts of SEO, this is a good starting point for you to start to learn SEO, understand SEO techniques, and even perform your own SEO services!
Content Optimization and Inbound Marketing
The first thing to understand is that SEO is never a one-time fix and it’s continually evolving. Google makes regular updates to its search algorithm as do social media networks like Facebook, for example.
The concept of optimizing your content for social media, or Social Media Optimization (SMO), has been around for a few years but has really come to the forefront with the explosion and successes of Inbound Marketing, or what some like to call, Content Marketing.
Content Marketing is essentially the same thing as Inbound Marketing, which Hubspot defines as:
“…the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”
I’ve always been a fan of the ‘pull’ method of marketing. Spending 10+ years in the Canadian music business had me using the ‘push’ strategy to much success, but with the proliferation of the internet and consumer choice reaching a whole other level, ‘push’ marketing proved to be less effective.
Having said that, I believe that the best SEO can come from a solid inbound marketing or content marketing strategy with a little bit of ‘push’ marketing included, but much more ‘pull’ marketing as the basis.
SEO: The Beginnings
Let’s return to understanding SEO from where it came from to how it’s evolved to rely on social media marketing and content marketing in order to be successful.
An effective SEO strategy from any SEO company should include a social and content marketing strategy, using inbound methodologies.
In the early days SEO was simply about 2 things. It wasn’t content and social media at that time.
- Keyword rich copy
- Page Title
- Title Tags and other metadata
- Inbound links and more inbound links.
- Rinse, Repeat
=”https://vpdm.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/seo-definition.jpg”>The idea was to populate your on page copy with as many of your targeted keywords and phrases as you could.
Introducing keyword stuffing! It worked great.
I remember when we’d have a black background on a website and hide keywords in black colour all over the background! I’m certainly not the only one to do that, but I’m happy to say no one told me about this old school technique but I figured it out for myself back in 2004.
The next step would be to get all your friends who blogged or had websites to link to your site, and you’d reciprocate. You’d reach out to as many peers and “online friends” as you could find and get them to do the same.
It was great. These DIY SEO techniques were perfect. At that time there wasn’t an SEO agency like VPDM or any others. To learn SEO and give your website the best SEO ever, you had to learn it all yourself. It turned into a game.
As Hubspot’s slideshare deck says, back in the day, SEO was all about quantity. How many pages you had in the search results. How many keywords you could stuff on your webpages and how many backlinks you had. “Back in the day SEO was about quantity, not quality.”
Every SEO company, agency, or consultant focused on optimizing websites for search engines. It only made sense. Make the search engines happy and your ‘free SEO” website rankings will increase. Seems reasonable and it was. It worked. But it doesn’t work anymore.
What Can We Learn From Past SEO Techniques?
Keywords are only one aspect of the ranking process. It’s best to plan to create a useful and informative piece of content that your users will love, learn, and share, instead of focusing on the keywords of that page.
Long tail keyword searches and semantic search may not have been a prevalent back then do to users starting to learn how to work search engines and how to actually ‘search on the internet” as well as other technological challenges.
However, fast forward to today and long tail keyword and semantic search are very much the reality. People are much more creative in how they search online depending on where they are in their buying cycle.
For example someone at the start of the cycle will likely use broad/general search terms while researching, while someone further along and ready to purchase would use a longer-tail specific keywords when searching.
Voice search on mobile phones also contributes to not only long tail search terms but also to semantic search.
SEO and Content Marketing
Today SEO has changed from being focused on search engine and with on-page optimization. Those fundamentals are still necessary as is link building but there are also more important factors that have come to light recently.
“SEO is all about creating & personalizing unique user experiences”
Every SEO company should be focused on optimizing websites for the user and not the search engines. Write for the user, not the search engine. Create and share compelling and useful content on a regular basis.
According to Google, SEO is
“about making small (meaningful) modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvement, but when combines with other optimizations, they could have noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and perforce in organic search results…(where) your ultimate confirms are your users, not search engines.”
This shows the importance of creating content for users. You need to develop and understand your businesses buyer personas, how they use your website, and what they’re looking for when they get there.
“76% of website visitors want a site that ‘makes it easy for me to find what I want.’”
Is Your Website SEO Ready?
There are several factors from responsive design to page load time that can affect your website SEO and conversions. Your best bet is to focus on producing and publishing high quality content that will engage your users in a meaningful way.
You need to generate and capture leads from as many visitors as possible. Employing inbound marketing techniques like downloadable e-books, podcasts, instructional video, or case studies in return for an email address and other demographic information is a must. Turn these visitors into paying customers.
Remember that the user experience on your website is paramount. Be sure your website uses a responsive or adaptive design so it’s easily readable and formatted for all sized screens. Smartphone’s, tablets, laptops, and desktop computers with large screens.
Don’t forget that many will browse the internet on large HD television screens as well. You’ll want your content (images, video, etc) to render in the best quality possible. You’ll need additional coding to get your website responsive, so be sure to talk to an experienced website developer or contact VPDM and we’ll help you sort it out.
Page speed affects user experience in a major way as well. If your website’s Page load time isn’t optimized properly and your website is slow to load, users who are viewing your site on mobile will bounce off your site to a competitors, if your website loads too slow or can’t be read properly on a mobile device.
SEO: Past, Present, and Future (Slideshare Deck)
As mentioned, the facts above were taken from this slideshare presentation from Hubspot. if you prefer a visual experience, check out this deck and please share this post if you found it useful.
If you have any questions on inbound marketing, content marketing, and/or SEO, I’d be happy to set up a free one hour consultation or website SEO audit. More details on how to get your Free website audit here.