What is SEO?
The term SEO is often used as a way to differentiate from other marketing techniques such as inbound marketing, but when SEO is used in these contexts it is never defined. Rather, it is merely thrown into sentences in its acronym form just as its been done in these first two sentences. At this point you are probably anxious to learn about this mystical acronym and its many benefits, so let’s get into it. In short, SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, but this begs yet another question: what is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization is something companies do in order to make their website more readily shown to people that are using search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.). This is done through the inclusion of key words and other things that make one’s website more relevant than other websites for a multitude of different searches. That way, the website in question is more likely to be shown to customers on the first page of the results rather than the tenth, thus garnering more traffic to the company’s website, and in turn, more money.
Why Use SEO?
Search Engine Optimization is all about creating relevance in regard to search engine queries so that your website will be shown to as many users as possible. However, Search Engine Optimization is specifically for making your website stand out as an organic result within the SERP (search engine results page). There are many websites that pay search engines for advertisement, allowing their website to come up as the first result on a SERP regardless of how relevant it is to the user’s query. “Organic” results are those that are shown to users in order of relevance. Therefore, making your website more readily seen by customers must be done by changing the content within your website, not by paying for customers to see it.
SEO is preferable to paying for your website to be shown to users because users tend not to click on the advertised links within SERPs. According to a recent study, users only clicked on advertised links about 2.8% of the time (Fishkin). As a result, SEO is not only a better way to bring traffic to your website, it is also more cost-effective. Of course, there is a place for PPC (pay-per-click) advertising, especially with companies close to their inception that perhaps do not have the reputability to make users click on their links. However, if you are a company that has genuinely valuable content, and you can make that content relevant to search engine queries, you will find a better ROI with SEO than with PPC.
Social Media and SEO
Social media is playing an increasingly integral role in the marketing industry, as is the same with social media’s role in SEO. Recently, search engines have started to include social media traffic (hashtags, mentions, etc.) into how they rank websites on SERPs (Bodnar). That said, it is important to have social media links on your website/video content to encourage customers to interact with your brand via social media sites. Additionally, you can add website links to the bio of your social media accounts, garnering more website traffic. In turn, this will increase your website’s rank on SERPs, successfully completing the goals of SEO.
White Hat vs. Black Hat SEO
Under the umbrella term of SEO are two forms of this type of marketing: white hat and black hat SEO. While both can be effective in terms of gaining website traffic, white hat SEO is what any reputable company should be doing when investing time into SEO. White hat SEO abides by the rules instituted by search engines themselves. For example, Google’s webmaster guidelines can be found here. Primarily, white hat SEO serves to bring more valuable to the customers rather than trying to make as much money as possible, which is also the search engine’s primary objective (supposedly). Conversely, black hat SEO does not abide by the guidelines set up by search engines, and attempts to fool the engines with keyword stuffing, cloaking, and using private link networks (O’Connor). While these black hat techniques can be effective in the short term, there are repercussions for doing such a thing. Among these penalties are being ranked down in SERPs or being de-indexed completely. When your company decides to invest time and money into SEO, it is important to keep the interests of the customer in mind. Ultimately, tailoring your website to the needs of your customers will create more profit for your company than trying to circumvent the rules instituted by search engines.
Bodnar, K. (2019). The Complicated Relationship Between Social Media and SEO. Blog.hubspot.com.
Fishkin, R. (2019). Is SEO Opportunity Growing or Shrinking? | SparkToro. SparkToro.
O'Connor, P. (2019). An Introduction to Black Hat SEO. Blog.hubspot.com.
Moz. (2019). SEO 101: Why is it, and why is it important? – Beginner's Guide to SEO.
U, S. (2019). Black Hat SEO Techniques And Google Penalty Explained. Subhash Digital Academy.
Support.google.com. (2019). Webmaster Guidelines - Search Console Help.