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  • Writer's pictureJessica Plant

What the Heck Is SEO, and Is It a Big Deal for My Business?

We'll cut right to the chase: yes, it is a really BIG deal. That's why we're here to spill the tea on what exactly SEO is and how you can use it to benefit your business.


Google search bar on a search engine results page

What the heck is SEO?


SEO stands for search engine optimization. Search engines (like Google) exist to serve the user – they take whatever the user types or dictates into the search bar and scour the internet to produce the most accurate, relevant results for that particular query.


SEO refers to the techniques employed to increase visibility within search engines, aiming to earn more organic (a.k.a unpaid) traffic. It's a set of processes that businesses can use so that Google (or any search engine) considers their website to be a valuable search result when users search for target keywords in their industry.


To earn one of those top spots, it's essential that your website produces relevant, high-quality content and provides the best possible user experience.

The meaning of SEO, what, why and how

Why Bother with SEO?


Think about the sort of things you type into Google (or, if you're brave, take a stroll through your browser history). We can make the most niche, outlandish, barely comprehensible requests, and yet, somehow, Google always delivers. Its ability to determine what a user is looking for and then serve it up on a silver platter is remarkable, and it all comes down to SEO.


Billions (yes, billions) of searches are conducted daily as users seek products and information. Knowing this, it's no surprise that successful websites receive large volumes of organic traffic! The key to achieving that success and harnessing the potential of this abundant traffic source lies in SEO practices, which propels your website to the top search results for your specific keywords.


At its core, it’s very simple: higher rankings correlate directly to more traffic.

Those top three organic search result spots (affectionately known as the Map Pack, 3 Pack or Local Pack – more on this in next month's blog!) hold the most power by a substantial margin, receiving over half of all clicks. This makes sense – when searching for something on Google, how often do you reach the bottom of the page before you find what you're looking for?


SEO plays an integral role in a website's ranking.


Strong SEO practices result in better rankings, which in turn result in higher traffic. This traffic ultimately leads to new customers and increased brand awareness.


To put it bluntly, SEO is not something to be ignored. It is the most direct and reliable route to one of a business's most important traffic channels, and neglecting SEO leaves the door wide open for competitors to swoop in and take that traffic for themselves.


How search engines work

How the Heck Do Search Engines Work?


While there is a range of search engines for users to choose from, Google is by far the most popular choice (but all search engines function in generally the same way).


To effectively locate and rank content, Google employs the following technique:

  1. Crawling: Using advanced computer programs (commonly referred to as "bots" or "spiders"), Google scans the web and looks for web pages.

  2. Indexing: After crawling and locating those pages, Google uses analysis tools to determine each page's content. This information is stored in Google's database, the Google Index.

  3. Serving Results: When producing results to respond to a user's query, Google considers the quality of a page and the relevance of its content to determine which results are best for that particular query. Those results are then ranked in Google's search engine results pages (SERP).


SEO Best Practices


At The Brand Brew™, one of our jobs as your website strategist is to help search engines crawl and index all the pages on your site that you want them to and none that you don't.


Through several actions and best practices commonly called technical SEO, we can ensure your pages' crawlability and indexability.


1. Keyword Strategy


Any strong SEO strategy hinges on keywords. They help you identify the topics your audience is searching for so you can target them with relevant content. Determining the relevant keywords for your business is a crucial first step, but it's just that - a first step.

Here at The Brand Brew™, we offer an SEO Keyword Strategy Report so that you have the right keywords in hand and the strategy necessary to leverage those keywords and place your website, blog, social media, or entire online presence in front of your target audience.


2. Content Creation


Once you know your keywords, the next step is to craft unique content that engages your reader and contributes to your rankings. Creating and optimizing strong website content is integral to an effective SEO strategy!


When Google produces results for a user's search query, it displays ten results per page. Consider the last time you searched through the second or third pages of Google results… if ever.


That's why ranking among the top ten results is crucial for SEO and driving organic traffic. Essentially, your content needs to be among the ten best on a particular topic.


When you think about the immense quantity of content on the internet, creating something within the top ten pieces sounds daunting. That's why investing in professional copywriting from experienced website strategists (like The Brand Brew!) is recommended to ensure that your SEO efforts produce the results you deserve.


Interested in learning more about content creation for SEO? Read all about how to create copy that converts.

3. Usability


Usability plays a role in a website's ranking as well. Building a user-friendly site comes down to a few key considerations:


  1. Is your site secure?: Ensure that your website meets standard security criteria, including secure cookies (if it applies to your region) and a site-wide SSL certificate.

  2. How quickly do your pages load?: The quicker they load, the more user-friendly they are. The more user-friendly they are, the higher Google ranks them!

  3. Does your site function on mobile devices?: An element of Google's ranking criteria includes "mobile-first indexing." If mobile users can view your pages and consume your content without issue, Google will reward you with a higher ranking.

  4. Is your website generally easy to use?: A website that's easy to navigate and intuitive by design will not only improve your SEO ranking but will also hugely impact your ability to connect with your consumers and turn browsers into buyers.


4. Link Building


A website's link-building strategy directly impacts how that website will rank.

Link building includes both backlinking and internal linking.


Backlinks are links from other websites that bring users to your site, and internal links are links within your content that bring users to another page on your site.


Backlinks


When other websites link to your site, you gain authority (both within your industry and in Google's rankings).


Backlinks are essentially the act of other (reputable) websites pointing toward your website and saying, "Hey, look, this stuff is good too!"


When Google sees that other high-quality sites are endorsing your website, you gain authority in the search engine's eyes.


Think of it as word-of-mouth referrals from trustworthy sources. If your circle of trusted confidants all recommend the same business, you're more likely to choose that business versus one that you've never heard of before, right?


How backlinking works for local SEO

Note that the key here is high-quality links. Just like you'd trust recommendations from respectable friends, you might disregard recommendations from those who don't share your taste or worldview.


Backlinks which come from spam sites or generally low-quality websites don’t hold nearly as much authority as those coming from high-quality and relevant sites in (or related to) your industry.

Think about it this way: if your website is about health and wellness, would you trust a link from your neighbour's hobby blog more than the Canadian Institute for Health Information? Probably not.


Be sure to look at the domains of the sites linking to yours, too. Backlinks coming from a range of sources do wonders for proving your credibility! High-quality backlinks can help Google find new pages and send referral traffic to your site.


What is link authority to terms of local SEO

Internal Links


In the same way that links from external pages can pass authority to your site, the same is true when you link from one page of your website to another. Remember your business's main goals as you create internal links, and add links in a way that is conducive to those objectives.


For example, if your website aims to generate more business leads, you want multiple internal links pointing toward your "contact" page. This will bring more users to the "contact" page and signal to Google that it's important, both of which contribute to helping you reach your goal of generating more leads.


What About Paid Ads?


A common question surrounding SEO efforts is, "Why not just pay for ads and appear above the organic search results?" The answer is simply that most users scroll past those ads and instead choose organic results.


A google search engine results page that show the difference between paid and organic results

This isn’t to say that paid advertising isn’t worthwhile – it is, and it should be used in tandem with organic SEO practices.

Search engines produce two kinds of results: organic results, where you must earn your ranking through SEO, and paid results, where you must purchase your place through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.


Those paid results are valuable to a business, and PPC advertising is an important channel. It's just different!


PPC and SEO should not be competing efforts but rather two elements of an overarching strategy which work together to produce the best overall results.


It's true that an SEO strategy takes time and effort to produce results. However, your traffic will soar once you get the ball rolling and start ranking for your target keywords. Traffic is passive, and it won't disappear if you choose to stop paying!


The Brand Brew™ is a full-service strategic branding studio for small to mid-sized businesses. We're all about getting your business in front of your target audience, so it's only natural that SEO is our cup of tea! Reach out to us today to discuss how we can help.

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