Every week, we answer a common question about marketing or an aspect of business. This week, our question comes from a fan who entered our giveaway for an Amazon Firestick and Echo Dot bundle. Today, we will answer the following question: “what is SEO?”

When you are thinking of ways to help grow your small business, what are some of the first things that come to mind? Social media marketing, email campaigns, cold calling…? What about the term search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization, usually called by it’s abbreviation, SEO, is one of the most vital aspects of growing your business. Following SEO best practices improves your odds of your pages ranking well on search engine result pages, such as those provided by Google.

Understanding SEO 

In order to understand what SEO is and how it works, you need to understand what the definition of it is. Wikipedia states that “search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of growing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine.”

Put more simply, SEO is how you get people to see you on search engines. Consider the following example.

You run a lawn care business in your city. You want to drive more traffic to your business when people search for “lawn care in Chattanooga.” Ideally, you want to show up as one of the first three results.

How do you do this? There are several ways and SEO can become very complex. Some of the basic techniques include using keywords in the writing on your web page, making sure you don’t have typos or dead links on your pages, and making sure your pages are generally well designed. Follow SEO best practices and you will start to see organic traffic come in from search engines.

Search Engines Are Smarter Than You Think

A long time ago, you could stuff a bunch of keywords onto your page and rank high on Google. It was really that simple. As you can imagine, though, this led to a lot of low-quality pages ranking way too high. Google, Yahoo, and Bing all got smarter and started accounting for user experience.

It’s not enough to simply use keywords. Good SEO requires good website design. Your website needs to be sensibly structured, free of careless errors, and easy-to-use. Search engines are smart enough to predict the user experience that searchers will have, and their algorithms prioritize sites that give users good experiences. (So don’t try to game the system!)

How can SEO help my small business?

If you effectively use SEO, more people will find your website when they search for specific queries on sites like Google. This, in turn, can bring your business more leads and even more sales!

It couldn’t be simpler, but the truth is that SEO is really important. Many digital marketing agencies, our own included, consider SEO to be one of the most cost effective strategies, right up there with email marketing. You can potentially make a lot of money by making small tweaks to your existing web presence.

Need specific advice on how to optimize your website for search engines? Our favorite free resource is SEO Site Checkup. Type in your website’s URL and it will give you specific pointers on how to improve your SEO.

Final Thoughts

SEO is one of the best methods to organically grow your small business. To make the most of this powerful form of digital marketing, imagine your customers’ needs. Think about what they’re searching for and make pages that they want to find!