SEO is a methodology used to gain traffic by making your website visible in search engine results via organic or paid techniques. The term organic means using natural ways to enhance website visibility without using a pay-per-click service. There are many ways to implement SEO, such as using relevant keywords, quality content, and optimal multimedia content on your web pages.
In the past, people implemented underhand techniques (black-hat SEO) to gain website visibility. Google Search, Bing, and Yahoo! Search are the most prominent search engines used to locate information on the Web; and with these search engines getting smarter by the day, it is imperative that you use legitimate tactics to achieve natural visibility. Therefore, SEO can also be defined as the art or science of affecting website visibility in search results, ruling out using manipulative ways to trick the search engine.
Google has laid out guidelines that must be adhered to, to ensure that site owners use appropriate tactics to implement SEO.
What are the benefits of SEO?
SEO is not a cost but an investment that imparts results in the long term. You cannot
expect a miracle to happen overnight—it takes weeks or even months to reach the
top-of-the-results chart. There is no fixed way to accomplish this; however, a
combination of several methods can help you achieve higher rankings in a calculative
(and not manipulative) way.
The following are several benefits of implementing SEO in your web design
- Catering to a massive audience: SEO is organic, and as your site goes up the rankings, you get more traffic. Studies related to various factors of SEO (link building, user-engaging content, and so on) indicate that sites visible in the first few pages of search engine results garner more traffic than the rest. For example, if a user wants to buy sneakers online, they usually click site links that appear on the first or second SERP without bothering to scroll through the rest; they do not want to spend too much of their valuable time and are looking for a quick resolution. Not only will traffic increase as a result of SEO, but the recommendations of users visiting your website will help you get more hits and attract new customers (a lot depends on the content or what’s on offer— you learn about that in subsequent chapters). The reach and scope you achieve by implementing SEO leads to a larger target audience.
- Permanent results: When you use a pay-per-click approach, your site appears at the top of the SERP; however, the moment you stop paying for ads, the site will no longer be visible. On the otherhand, SEO results are not dependent on ads, and with efficient maintenance, your site will appear at the top of the charts without having to advertise. You do not pay Google or advertising vendors to achieve the top spot on the SERP. (Note that at times, you may need the services of a digital marketing agency for various reasons, such as providing quality content on a regular basis or obtaining better online advertisement and exposure)
- Low cost of implementation: In earlier days, marketing consultants advocated the use of brochures, ads, and television to advertise products. The amount of money spent on advertising was huge. Today, creating and hosting a website is not expensive. Hiring a digital marketing expert or using the services of a professional SEO organization can be a viable option, depending on your line of business or niche. In the long run, you can stabilize your site’s position among the search results with minimum upkeep, resulting in a huge return on your investment for SEO implementation.
- Data and analytics: Earlier, data was used for monthly, annual, and sales reports by the top brass of an organization. However, data is used as a resourceful alternative with the advent of data science. Data helps you gain insight into customer preferences, marketing trends, and much more. You can get detailed analytics that help you determine game-changing factors for your business. For example, Google Analytics and Google Search Console let you gather data that can help you understand key aspects and drawbacks related to your site’s visibility. You can also see conversions and bounce rates for the users visiting your website. For example, you can better judge the number of users actually buying something on your website vs. those who visited but did not make a transaction.
- Staying ahead of the competition: A plethora of free and commercial enterprise-grade SEO tools (for example, Google Analytics and Google Search Console) lets you see results and reports not only for your website but also for sites owned by your competitors. Therefore, you can compare your results with your competition. You receive statistics about various aspects of your competitors’ business, such as the use of certain keywords, localization factors, and analytics. Thus, you can gain a better understanding of important competitive factors and steer clear of your competition
- Usability: SEO and user experience go hand-in-hand. The future of SEO leans toward creating an enhanced user experience. For example, internal links on your website that point to relevant pages and content not only help search engines crawl your site but also result in easy navigation. Ultimately, SEO implementation should focus not on search engines but on the user’s requirements and intent. Keeping this broad picture in mind, attracting users with engaging content and design is a recommended SEO trait that, in turn, aims at creating an awesome user experience. For example, Google advocates for mobile-friendly sites and ranks those sites higher, because mobile has become the de facto platform for business compared to desktop- or laptop-based sites.