It may seem like everyone and their beloved pet knows what SEO is and when and how they can use it. Let's see see what really SEO is and what it brings to us.
What is SEO?
Of course, SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization" and is usually referred to the industry or a process of optimizing websites to be well interpreted by the search engines. A SEO is a SEO expert or anyone practicing search engine optimization.
But those were the basics. Years ago, SEO was used to make sure the site ranks well in the search engines by placing the keywords strategically throughout the page, and it was natural to understand SEO as 'optimizing for the search engines'.
Years have passed, the search engines became more sophisticated, the people began to realize that search engine traffic alone is not equal to online business success and SEOs started paying attention to other things, influencing online people behaviour.
In essence, search engine optimization has become a more holistic approach to website optimization and promotion, taking into account not only website crawlability and search engine rankings and traffic, but also conversion rates, social marketing and customer retention rate.
Now, I am more inclined to compare a solid SEO with an internet marketer, who knows the current trends not only in the search engine industry, but also in usability and acessibility, follows the latest web design techniques and knows what is going on around social bookmarking.
How do I learn SEO?
If you want to get more search engine traffic to your website, you may be willing to optimize your site(s) yourself. To learn SEO, you need to:
- read SEO forums, such as Cre8asite Forums
- read various SEO blogs
- read any articles and SEO interviews that anyone with knowledge links to
- filter the advice by applying common sense to it and asking yourself, 'how does it give value to my customers?'
- practice by implementing the best advice on your own website
When studying SEO, you need to be patient, because this is not something you can master in one day. If you are absolutely new to the Web, you'd rather practice on your hobby site (create one, if you don't have it), instead of working on your business site.
If something works on your hobby site, you can implement it on your business site. However, if you apply something to your site and it breaks (or stops bringing traffic), it'd rather be your hobby site, than something that you (and others) live on.
If you don't have months or years to learn SEO from cover to cover, you'll probably need a SEO specialist. Even if you do decide to get one, you will still need to know basic SEO things to be able to estimate the professional level of the person, you will be partnering with. Generally, it may be wise to use the SEO services on a small project (or a part of the website) to see the results and proceed from there.
At first, you may be better off hiring a starting, yet skillful SEO professional, who will be able to fix the most stuff on your website and not charge an arm and a leg for it. Later, when most of the options to get more customers are exhausted, you can try more expensive professionals.
Overall, if you are looking to get a SEO expert now, you may very well get into the social marketing thing with him/her - as it is the latest craze and has not yet been spoiled by the masses (it is beginning to smell, though).
A holistic approach to SEO
As I said earlier, back in the days SEO seemed to be a pretty straightforward job of including your keywords in some meta tags, while now it requires a thorough understanding not only of how the websites are built, but also of the people. As only people buy from you, you'd rather pay attention to them, while keeping the search engines in mind, when creating your website.
One astonishing thing about this whole approach to SEO is that every aspect of it aids the old SEO. If you research your customers, you learn the words they use, when referring to your product, and you use the words on your site. Thus, you get more targeted search engine traffic.
By knowing how people view websites and what motivates them to buy, you will be able to restructure your pages and remove the unnecessary clutter, thus increasing your sales from the same amount of visitors
Additionally, an accessible website will be accessible not only to the people with disabilities directly and through accessibility search engines (and US and UK websites are required by law to be accessible), but to the search engines and mobile visitors, thus bringing you even more customers.
In the end, you will not only be serving a larger amount of people, but they will be able to make their decision faster, enjoy buying online and being your customers. Need I say that joyful customers are more likely to become your loyal ones and refer others to your online shop?
Though, currently, SEO still remains a pretty focused field on optimizing websites, it is already becoming a part of the overall online marketing strategy and, possibly, in the future will be absorbed by marketing completely.
Read more about the place of SEO: