What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
I asked Wikipedia what is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is the process through which we optimize websites, to better fit a search engine’s paradigms. That’s what Wikipedia says. However, this is the very brief and quite lackluster definition of SEO.
It does not take into consideration the colossal amount of work that is part & parcel of delivering quality SEO services, which inherently mean paid services that optimize a website’s properties, so as to increase its ratings in Google’s search engine results.
So, what do we mean by SEO?
SEO is a relatively new science, and it represents the combination of several older fields of work – marketing, content creation, sales.
In SEO, we work with a website’s content, trying to mold the way it is perceived by both users and search engines, like Google. Oftentimes, we go far beyond merely improving perception. We work on ensuring our efforts generate added value to users and their experience.
For example, no matter how gorgeous a website you might have, if it loads in say…10 seconds, no one will ever want to wait that long.
Another example would be the case of websites with an unintuitive and overly-complicated structure, which make it very difficult to find the information you want. Let’s say we’re looking at an online retailer’s website, whose best products are hidden deep underneath categories and sub-categories that no one browses through.
Clients will simply leave that website, because no one has time to go through tens of pages, just to find that one bit of information they need. They’ll simply look it up on another, more streamlined website.
What is the utility of SEO services?
Now that we know what SEO is, let’s see why do we need it. In short, SEO services are what bring together buyers and sellers, in the online environment. In other words, a well-structured website, with fast load times and all the right tags will most certainly top Google’s results pages.
We all use Google to find solutions for our issues, on a daily basis. SEO makes it so that the best websites, with the best potential results, show up first on our results pages.
“Just as competition is the engine that drives evolution, so is SEO the engine that powers the online world.” – Marius Enache, SEO specialist
Moreover, through the intricacies of their work, SEO experts can dramatically increase the quality of any website, by regularly checking aspects like load times, page responsiveness, content clarity, user experience and mobile friendliness, just to name a few.
In addition to this, due to the strenuous demands that search engines have nowadays, SEO experts also have to ensure that any content which appears on a website has to be well-written, researched, edited, engaging, appealing, and useful.
Therefore, if we were to take another stab at answering the aforementioned question of „what is SEO?”, with an ounce of courage, we might be bold enough to say that SEO is the technological equivalent of religion, for modern day websites. There are some basic rules, tenets or commandments, and you have to abide by them, if you want to be successful.
However, just like with religion, you do not have to interpret everything ad literam. Whilst you do have to respect certain criteria, it is wholly unnecessary and genuinely not even recommended to go out of your way, just to build a website that fits Google’s or any other search engine’s mould, to a tee. Learn how to play by the rules, and then make your game around them, so as to appease your crowd – a.k.a. your clients/visitors.
Who needs SEO?
In our opinion, any website that wishes more visitors or a better experience for its users, will want to employ the services of a good SEO specialist. Therefore, anyone and everyone can use a little bit (or more) of SEO.
From online retailers and exhibition websites, to personal blogs, news rooms and company websites – all those who want a website that stands out in search engine or social media results, will benefit from SEO. If you want to get your name out there and make a splash, SEO can help you achieve that.
That being said, the exact method of delivering SEO services – from the overall strategy, to its implementation, will be dependent on each website’s specific characteristics and niche. This becomes even more apparent when you consider the fact that SEO can be done in two major ways – on page and off page. Each of these two ways feature their own specific steps, processes and undertakings that lead to them increasing the quality of a website.
What is On Page SEO? What is Off Page SEO?
Out of the two, On Page SEO deals with work that happens primarily on the website’s pages. You work to improve its contents.
On the one hand, you might handle micro aspects, like managing special SEO markers – titles, meta descriptions, alt tags, and headlines, or you might deal with key words, website images or its load times.
On the other hand, you could engage in macro work, by issuing out an overall optimization strategy and coaching the website’s owner on why you have to engage in X or Y activity. Whilst this may seem like a wishy-washy task, it bears more weight than you might believe at first, because future content will have to match the high standards of quality and SEO criteria that the current content boasts.
When it comes to Off Page SEO, we primarily refer to promoting and popularizing a website. In order to achieve this, we have to employ various marketing tactics, such as writing ads, creating catchy banners, generating relevant backlinks, establishing mutual promotion partnerships, and so on. Our intention through off page SEO is to obtain high quality links that send users back to our website.
That is why knowing SEO is only half the battle – understanding how to make use of it is the other.
Harmonizing On and Off Page SEO
When a team of SEO experts begin working on a website, they start with On Page SEO and end with Off Page SEO. They understand the fact that one flows from the other. That’s why the best SEO specialists are those individuals who come up with a plan that manages to blend together SEO requirements, with the business goals of each individual department within an organization.
Such a work plan contains analyses and probes that establish a website’s current optimization rate, as well as the necessary short, medium and long-term endeavours to improve it.
All’s well, but how much should SEO cost?
Before we get into answering this question, we first have to explain the concept of White Hat SEO, which entails those SEO tactics that are fully in line with the terms and conditions of the major search engines. These are things like providing quality, trustworthy, and useful content, or ensuring your website is both desktop and mobile-friendly.
Since most specialists recommend subscribing to White Hat SEO, we’ll be taking this as a standard for the purposes of this article, when discussing costs. What people usually first ask is how much does it cost to overcome our competitors? Well, obviously, that depends on the competition. Furthermore, we have to factor in the website’s current state, its degree of optimization, and its capacity for improvement. However, we cannot state an exact price, for each case is different.
Basically, a good SEO professional bears a striking resemblance to a good doctor. He will know how to diagnose what’s ailing you and provide the most optimal treatment, whilst doing his best to emphathize, connect with and understand his patients/clients current predicament. He takes a genuine interest in each case, investing real emotion into each and every scenario he has to mend.
Now, whilst sometimes with great mastery, comes great cost, this might not always be the case. What to some may seem expensive, others might deem affordable, and vice-versa. Each treatment is different, which also means that costs are always on a per-project basis.
Who can be a SEO specialist?
Besides improving a website’s quality, its popularity metrics, load times, and architecture, SEO helps websites establish a vision and a course for the future, assuming you found the right specialist to help you.
The proper SEO expert is almost completely anchored in the world of modern business, tracking, measuring, deducing, and analyzing everything, improving their knowledge constantly. A good SEO professional inevitably becomes a good business professional, especially if their knowledge is complemented by academic studies in the field or a genuine love for numbers.
This leads us to conclude that a proper expert optimizes not only for today, but for the day after, and the day after and so on, helping you settle in your niche and select your target-audience. Moreover, due to SEO becoming further connected with social media promotion, from Facebook to Instagram, we can see that online & digital marketing has built a sturdy and quite necessary bridge, with search engine optimization. After all, all websites need a bit of charisma, to be truly likeable.
This shows us that a good SEO professional is also a good digital marketing consultant.
How do you rank up in Google’s results pages?
In order for a website to reach the top of Google’s results pages, it has to be optimized from top to bottom. It has to be featured in numerous online mentions, and provide excellent, trustworthy content. It must comandeer lots of social signals. It needs to be structured clearly, so that visitors can find the information they need quickly and people who land on random pages can find their way back home effortlessly.
Your visitors should find your website visually-appealing, which entails having good design, a proper site architecture, captivating colours, as well as engaging images & content.
Here’s some quickfire tips for providing interesting and alluring content:
- Focus on video, specifically interactive video content. If a video progresses based on what people answer, you can rest assured it will attract a lot of attention, since a great deal of people enjoy playing games, especially when their input alters the outcome.
- If not video, focus on infographics. People love orderly, accessible data, and infographics are the very definition of such information.
- Lastly, try to make your website mobile-friendly. With phones becoming ubiquitous, and an increasing number of users interacting with websites mainly through their phones, it is almost silly to willfully ignore this core component of modern, quality SEO.