What the hell is SEO and why is it so damn important?
A TALE OF TWO CURSE WORDS
If you have ever asked the question "What is SEO?" then you have no doubt felt the sting of comprehending the answer. The question itself is like that of the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland. The more you understand, the deeper it goes, and the answers just produce more and more questions. If you are a fan of using colorful (expletive sprinkled) language, then you may rejoice in the fact that you're not alone. At different times in my marketing career, acronyms like SEO and WTF could be used interchangeably.
Obviously if you found this blog article in a Google search, you also found what feels like a million other similar articles. In your quest for concrete answers you may feel a little despondent, but do not fear. This post is tasked with simplification. If you are a business owner or department manager, much like I am, then my goal is hit the high level points (in laymen terms) and provide some additional external resources that helped me. I will confess right now, I love using analogies. It helps relate a confusing topic to one that is easily understandable. Let's get into it.
WHAT THE HELL IS SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. You knew that already, so let's keep moving. Search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo essentially organize the Internet. Each uses their own methods of organization, most of which have been constantly adapted and honed since the 1990's along with both independent and accompanying web browsers. Web browsers are applications (apps) that allow you to see the Internet and they utilize search engines to organize the information within.
For example, Google Chrome (a web browser) uses Google (a search engine), and Internet Explorer (web browser) uses Bing (search engine). With most browsers you can select which search engine you would like to use. As you might imagine, Google is high atop the mountain and king in this space. So if you are looking to optimize your website, or hire an SEO company to do it for you, then all parties should be using Google's standards as the standards to live by. After all, in 2017 Google maintains a global marketshare in terms of search usage of over 77%. Bing is a distant third at just over 7% (but still important to note).
Now that we have plucked the "SE" portion of SEO out, let's consider the "O" (or optimization). You perform optimization tasks several times per day every day, even though you may not have realized it. For every time you wash dirty dishes in the sink, dry them, and place them in drawers and cupboards, you have optimized the kitchen experience. Sure the dishes were still available in the kitchen when they were in the sink, but it required several steps to get the dirty dish to a point it could be used again.
One of my favorite movie scenes that illustrates optimization at work was in the 2017 movie The Founder starring Michael Keaton as fast food titan Ray Kroc. Ray learns the secret to the McDonald's success in fast food. Optimization. By streamlining, literally harmonizing, the kitchen area inside the restaurant, they were able to cut out wasted movements and produce quality meals in minutes. It was revolutionary. And of course, you know how that story goes.
To optimize your website, is simply to streamline or harmonize or organize it in a way that search engines can interact with it. You might say, "Why should I care about search engines?" Well, you don't really need to care about them but you should be affording the utmost courtesies to their users, also known as, your customers.
The search engine must be able to review your website, understand the purpose of the site and each of its pages, index it accordingly, and then display results that apply to a viewer's search query. Think of a librarian. Inside the library there are thousands upon thousands of books varying on subject matter and writing style. You are seeking a book on SEO (let's say). The librarian can point you to the isle and section where SEO books are organized. That simple action alone just saved maybe hundreds of hours of searching for what you want.
Your website should do the same. It is, after all, a lot like the library. Your site has sections with varying bits of information about products, services, and your company. Organizing it in a way that Google can display a page from your website that perfectly answers a viewer search query is the holy grail. Especially when you consider that the Internet only gets bigger and bigger, stuffed with more and more information, daily. The bigger it gets, the harder this job is.
To do this job expertly, search engines have instituted a complex collection of rules and algorithms. And, they are ever-changing. Each time more is understood about how viewers use search engines, new and better rules can be implemented to produce relevant search engine result pages (SERPs). For you and I, this means the better we are at optimizing our websites, the better our SERP rank will be (positional rank on the search result page).
Now, to avoid writing a blog article near the reading length of Tolstoy's War and Peace, let's move on to the importance SEO and your website. Don't worry, if you have questions about what we've discussed so far or if you just want to handoff SEO management right now, we are happy to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.
WHY IS SEO SO DAMN IMPORTANT?
Now we can get into the meat of the article. In order to understand the importance of something, it's important to understand what that something is. So we have done a cruising altitude review of defining SEO and now we can discuss why you should be concerned. In no particular order, here are my TOP 9 MILLION reasons why SEO is so damn important;
THE END GAME
Yes, we start at the end. As a business owner or manager, why did you go with a website in the first place? Whether you ventured into the unknown to build your own site or hired it out to another company, there was a goal in mind. Maybe it was informational, maybe it was to sell something, or maybe you felt like the only business owner in town who didn't have a website.
Regardless, you needed a website. I can assure you of this, in the time your website has existed, business has changed. Customers are doing research online before, during, and after every purchase. Customers have all the power now. For people in business longer than 10 or 20 years, that sounds like a scary statement. But it is actually an empowering statement. Customers are actively researching your business offerings and they are willing to tell you exactly what they want. Remember using "educated guessing" to pinpoint what they wanted? No more.
The point is, if your website fails to convey what it is your business does then you will in all likelihood lose the opportunity to speak with that customer at all. Optimizing your website means you win a chance to place your business right in front of a customer. The answer to their question is on a page on your website, but without SEO, the answer might as well be at the bottom of the ocean.
CAN'T WIN FOR LOSING
Timing is everything. There are a good amount of website owners who were fortunate enough to have either taken advantage of available SEO knowledge and incorporated it into their websites or accidentally stumbled onto the right formula. To both, we say "Huzzah!"
The SEO game is a living, breathing monster. Just when you think you have mastered it, the rules change. I'm sure you read articles (like I did) talking about high traffic websites suddenly losing SERP rank because they were "over optimized." Reminds me of a job interview where you get turned away for being "over qualified." And you're left exclaiming, "Really? I am not good enough because I'm too good?!?"
The point is, your business and its website will need to adapt to the changes. That doesn't necessarily mean you need to be a pioneer in the space. Quite the opposite actually. If you haven't already figured this out, the secret to SEO (like so many other trades) is to emulate the leaders in the space. The big boys in business usually have a bit more budget than you do, so we can tip our caps and thank them for experimenting with their own hard earned cash.
HAVE A POINT!
For those of you who have taken in the film classic Planes, Trains & Automobiles, you will remember the hotel room rant where Neal Page blasts away at Del Griffith about his incessant yapping. He proclaims in his own condescending but informative way about Del's storytelling, "Have a point!"
If your website is an extension of your marketing and sales department (and it should be), then it should be a conversion machine for the products or services you offer. This is one of the top reasons clients choose BridgeHouse Marketing for SEO and other marketing services. I review a lot of websites. One of the first things I look for is a clear explanation of service or product and a call-to-action (CTA). All too often, the service page just leaves us as viewers scratching our heads.
To be quite honest with you, I like being sold (when it is done correctly and/or well). Sure, I don't want to bombarded with ads either but when one strikes you, leaves you with chill bumps, isn't that great? So let's give the viewers what they came for! They want to learn more about your services and products, so let's make a compelling case to buy. This all happens with a focused SEO strategy, time, and patience.
ARE WE THERE YET?
This is probably a good stopping point. I bet you're glad I didn't actually list 9 million reasons right about now, right? Those are three that will help. Now, if you are asking yourself "How come I didn't get a complete blueprint for top shelf SEO practice??" then I would remind you that my agency does that. And for lack of a better excuse, it is how we get paid. Before you roll your eyes begrudgingly, I will pass along one final secret. I like to yammer on and on about this sort of stuff, so if I were a betting man, I'd say you could lift some of those SEO tips by simply picking up the phone and calling me. I admit it. I'm easy.