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SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a very big part of any comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Although it takes time, good SEO can bring a lot of traffic to your website in the long run. Better still, you don’t have to pay for every additional website visitor, like you do with advertising. In this article you’ll find out:
- What is SEO marketing?
- How does SEO work and why SEO is important
- How to improve SEO
- How much does effective SEO cost
What Is SEO Marketing?
Did you know that Google gets around 63,000 searches per second on any given day? People search for everything on Google; from high-end cosmetics to a local dentist, and more. With this volume of searches, it’s very likely that your prospective customer is searching for your product or service. All you need to do is make sure your website shows up in their searches. That’s really what SEO or Search Engine Optimization is about. SEO means using certain methods and techniques to ensure that your website ranks highly in search engine results. People who are already searching for what you have to offer, see your website as an answer to their search. They are much more likely to click on your website and give your product or service a chance. Now, not all business need an online presence, but it is highly recommended. Also note that SEO is no walk in the park, it takes a lot of time, knowledge, dedication, and resources – and even then there is no guarantee; Therefore, many companies may opt to outsource their SEO activities for their website to a professional or specialized digital marketing agency.
How Does SEO Work?
To understand how SEO works, we first need to understand how search engines like Google operate. Here are some key factors that affect how SEO works.
Search engine crawlers
Search engines use programs called crawlers or spiders to search the internet and analyze each webpage. This analysis is done on the basis of certain terms used that are related to the content of the page. These are known as “keywords”. In a webpage about software engineering courses, likely keywords would be words and phrases such as: “online courses in software engineering”, “how to become a software engineer”, “software engineer job qualifications” and so on (all of those were long-tail keywords, or key phrases – there are also short-tail keywords, and single-word keywords as well).
The crawlers analyze and index web pages based on terms that occur frequently and in important parts of the page. So unless your webpage uses keywords in the right places, the crawler won’t know what your page is about.
Quality of the content
Of course, keywords aren’t the only thing that matter to search engines. The quality of your content is also key. You can have all the right keywords but if your content isn’t seen as unique and authoritative by the crawlers, you won’t get a high rank.
Note: it seems that sometimes your content may be unique and good quality, maybe even authoritative and/or popular, but you may find that it’s pushed below less relevant content, even for several pages, or it may not appear at all. This could even be the case when such content or similar may have ranked higher in the past, as multiple conservative voices have pointed out concerning Google and Youtube on certain topics and with certain creators – it would seem politically sensitive, despite what these platforms claim to be.
Google and other search engines also are supposed to make sure that a website has the right reputation and authority (as these platforms see fit at least – their interpretation of reputation and authority). This is supposed to indicates more reliable content, which in turn is supposed to translate into a higher ranking. The way search engines establish authority is by checking how many other ‘reputable’ sites link to the webpage in question.
The loading speed of the website is also very important. Google and other search engines like to prioritize websites that load quickly and provide users with a seamless user experience.
Of course, these are not the only factors that search engines take into account. Search engines have complex algorithms that use many variables, and change from time to time. However, these are usually the most fundamental and important ones. SEO basically involves optimizing your web page to make sure these things are taken care of.
Why SEO Is Important
Many companies tend to ignore SEO because it doesn’t give instant results, unlike advertising. However, investing in SEO techniques can yield enormous long-term benefits for the company. Here’s why SEO is a ‘must-have’ in your digital marketing arsenal.
Search engines contribute the most towards website traffic
According to research by Forrester, 93% of all website traffic comes from search engines. SEO is the best way to rank higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). So if you’re not focussing on SEO, chances are you’re ignoring a huge chunk of potential traffic and revenue.
Higher ranks get more clicks
Did you know that 67.6% of clicks go to the first 5 results on a search engine results page? This means that it’s not enough to rank on the first or second page. You have to make extra efforts to make sure you rank in the top 5 for some target keywords. A comprehensive SEO strategy is pretty much the only way to get there.
Cheaper in the long run
While SEO activities can take some time to show results, they’re more sustainable in the long run. PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising helps you get instantaneous traffic for your website. With SEO, however, you start getting organic traffic and don’t need to pay for every additional website visitor. Once you’re up there in the rankings, you just need to make sure you undertake basic SEO activities.
How Much Does SEO Cost?
Here are some of the different ways that SEO agencies price their services, and their pros and cons. What works for you will depend on what your needs are.
In this case, you pay a per-hour fee to the agency or individual. According to a Moz survey, the average hourly rates range from $75- $150 an hour. While this method helps bring transparency and accountability, SEO tends to take time and you may end up paying more than you need to.
The pricing for this model can be anywhere between $1,000 to $7,500 based on the nature of the project. This is great because it’s one lump sum payment. You don’t have to worry about the costs adding up over time. However, if you’re not very aware of how SEO works, you may end up overpaying.
These are great for companies looking to completely outsource their SEO. The average monthly SEO retainer costs $1,500 to $3,000. While this relieves the company of a big burden, it may become difficult to quantify ROI with retainers.
This means you only pay the agency when your website actually starts ranking for pre-decided keywords. While this seems like an ideal scenario, it’s not always an option, especially when your target keywords have high competition. You’d also need to find an individual or agency willing to work with this type of pricing.
How To Improve SEO: Important Tips and Techniques
Write quality content
This should be, and should always be, the most important factor in ranking higher. You can use every SEO trick in the book. But if your content isn’t excellent (again, according to the search engine’s point of view), your website likely won’t go anywhere.
Building your website’s reputation is very important for it to rank highly. There are a number of strategies you can use to get quality backlinks for your website. These include guest posts, broken link-building, internal links, interviews and press coverage, etc. Just make sure the backlinks are from ‘reputable’ websites, otherwise all the effort will be in vain.
Use the right keywords
Doing some keyword research and aligning your content accordingly is a must. You need to do everything in your power to make it easier for Google’s crawlers to find you. Google Keyword Planner and SEMRush are both great tools for researching your keywords. Of course, never go overboard with your keywords and risk your content sounding forced and unnatural.
Focus on user experience
The loading speed and ease of navigation of your website is another key to a high search engine ranking. Besides, smooth user experience will also help you increase repeat traffic and conversions on your website.
While there are many quick-fix SEO solutions out there, they aren’t usually sustainable. In fact, many of them can eventually impact your rankings negatively. It’s best to work on the SEO fundamentals discussed in this article.
Author’s Bio: My name’s Pawel Tomczyk. I’m a huge fan of fintech, blockchain, and technology in general. I’ve been a marketer for 7 years, and started my own creative agency in 2016 called Cyberius.