The Importance of SEO: Why SEO Is Essential for Small Business Growth
Any legitimate business with a website needs to use SEO strategies if they want to have any success online.
This seems like a bold statement, but it makes sense when you think about it. The importance of SEO becomes clear when you think about the fact that nearly every business has a website. How are you supposed to stand out in a sea of websites, with many of them doing very similar things?
We'll cover this idea in a little more detail, explaining the why search engine optimization is so important today.
- 1 The Importance of SEO: Why SEO Is Essential for Small Business Growth
- 1.1 The Importance of SEO
- 1.2 Backlinks
- 1.3 Keywords
- 1.4 Site Architecture
- 1.5 Quality, Original Content
- 1.6 Interested in Learning More?
The Importance of SEO
Before we cover why SEO is so important, it is essential that you understand what it is and how it works.
What is “SEO?”
The term “SEO” is an acronym for “search engine optimization.” This term might seem self-explanatory, but it gets a little more complicated when you look into it. It is essentially the act of tailoring your website to become more visible for users online.
Let's say that you're online one morning, looking for an interesting coffee cup to buy your significant other. You don't really have anything specific in mind other than the words “interesting coffee cup,” so that's what you search. You pick your favorite search engine, type the words, and look at the results.
It's probable that you're going to click on one of the top five results because one of them is likely to strike you as the right one. The thing is, if you were to scroll through the endless result pages on your search, you would likely find that many of them, all the way through, would have the thing you were looking for.
How do those chosen few find their ways to the top of the front page? The answer is search engine optimization.
It All Starts With the Search Engine Algorithm
All of the information that we have about optimizing websites comes from what we know about how search engines work. Search engines have to have a way of taking a few key phrases and coming up with results that reflect what the user is looking for.
Just like everything else in business, search engines have a competitive incentive to perform. They need to have an algorithm that takes the user's search, runs it through the billions of websites on the internet, and comes up with the site that most closely matches what the user wants. That's a pretty difficult thing to do.
Most estimates state that search engines use roughly 200 factors in determining which sites come up in their searches. There are, however, a few factors that are consistently the most important. These factors are keywords, links, site architecture, and content.
These are the factors that we, as website owners, have to utilize in order to maximize our results. We'll cover each one of those terms in this article, but first, we should cover another thing that search engines look our for – pandering.
Stay in Google's Good Graces
Pandering is the act of trying to appeal to someone or something with the intention of getting a reward. This applies to search engines because people frequently think that they can con the algorithm.
Take keywords, which we'll cover later. Someone could load an entire webpage with one keyword in hopes of being the first page that comes up when a person searches that word. There are a number of other ways that a person could pander like this, and these methods can get a website unlisted from search engines.
“Unlisted? I Thought Search Engines Used Every Website Online.”
That would make sense, but there is actually so much information on the internet that it would be almost impossible for a search engine to constantly have access to all information on the web. What actually happens involves archiving huge amounts of sites.
An archive of websites, such as Google's, is developed over time with the use of something called a “spider.” Spiders “crawl” through the internet, documenting sites and taking in key information. The name is essentially a way to conceptualize something that is actually very complicated.
In essence, though, the spider moves through the internet through a series of hypertext, also known as links, in order to get from place to place and document site to site. Imagine links as little doors throughout the huge mansion of the internet, each one revealing a different room that the spider can enter and learn about.
This brings us to our next important idea in SEO – links.
Links may be the most important factor in search engine optimization. If the search engine was like a government, and respective pages were politicians running for office, links would serve as votes in favor of that webpage.
Links aren't, however, quite as easy to gather as it may seem. The process of gathering valuable links requires some time and effort. This is because links aren't seen the same in the eyes of the search engine, with some garnering more value than others.
It's important to have a healthy balance of internal and external links on your site. Internal links are ones that direct the user to another site within your website. Use these when relevant, looking to embed them seamlessly within the text of your site.
External links come in with a little more weight than internal links do. The external link directs users outward to different sites. It is wise to add links to sites within your niche, as they will connect you more tightly with other sites, making you seem more relevant.
The heaviest hitter, though, is the backlink. Backlinks are those that direct the user to your site from another website. It's clear, at first glance, that these links hold more weight because they signify that your page has enough value for someone else to “vote” for it with a backlink.
They show that you are a site that is respected within your niche, and your content is relevant to the keywords that are in that page. Backlinks from sites within your niche are more valuable than those from other niches. Additionally, backlinks from more popular sites hold more weight than unpopular ones.
Keywords are exactly what they sound like, and if you've been confused about this term being used earlier in the article, this section will give you some clarity. A keyword, from the website owner's point of view, is the set of words that a person would search in order to find the information on your site.
So, for example, if your site is about left-handed baseball bats (which probably don't exist), and the page you are writing is about the various “bat grips” that you sell, your keyword could be “left-handed baseball bat grips.” This would be a good keyword because there isn't too much else that a person would search if they were looking for the goods on your site.
There are different types of keywords, varying mostly in length and number of words. Longer keywords are going to be more specific and get you higher on searches for that specific keyword, while shorter keywords will reach a larger audience while likely ranking lower. The type of keyword that you use should be dependent on your site and product.
Keywords should be placed organically throughout the text, not appearing too obvious. Overdoing the keywords, as we've discussed, can actually hurt your SEO ranking if you do it consistently. The number of keywords you use should be related to the length of the text on your page, typically with two or three keywords in place every few hundred words.
Additionally, it's smart to have a keyword or two in a heading on your page. But what if you don't know what keywords to use?
For a deeper understanding of exactly how important “Keywords” are to your business and website, please be sure to read our On-Page Optimization Guide. This guide explains how to identify and use your most important and profitable keywords to bring in the business you want and need.
There are a lot of websites on the internet that allow you to get a deep glimpse into the search engine optimization of your competitors. This is extremely beneficial, especially because you can look at what your most successful peers are doing right, and how they are doing it.
Things like demographics, keywords, and more are all available for you to examine online. The sites usually cost a nominal fee to get access, but the results that you get from using the information you get will be well worth the fee.
Site architecture is something that you are likely inherently good at. It really comes down to knowing what a good website looks and feels like. One that is simple to navigate, easy to understand, and organized is a site with good site architecture.
A lot of websites that help you create your own page would not be worth their salt if they didn't have site architecture embedded in their interface. So, as a result, it's not likely that you have anything to worry about here.
If, however, you've gotten complaints about your site's flow, usability, or arrangement, you should look into to tidying things up a bit.
Quality, Original Content
How is your site supposed to come up on a search engine if it doesn't exist? It's common to think of your website as just one “thing.” While this is kind of true, your website doesn't consist of just one page, article, or interface.
Your website is literally every page that your site contains. As a result, every time you create a new piece of content, you expand the tree that is your website. This means that you have another page online that is available to be picked up and used by search engines and users.
You can't just create a bunch of useless pages and expect to become first on a Google search, though. The more relevant and useful your page, the better off you will be. It can seem like a difficult thing to continuously come up with material to post on your website, and for that reason, people often resort to an extremely useful tool: blogs.
Don't stress, content is not as hard as it appears to create. Here is our complete content marketing strategy guide to get you started on the right foot. Remember, you're the expert in your industry, always provide the most valuable information to your customers humanly possible. If you do this and don't even focus as much on closing the sale, they will come to you for your products and services. Never forget and always keep reminding yourself, people love buying but hate being sold to. Give them what they want and they will return the favor and more.
Create a Blog For Your Site
A blog doesn't need to be extremely personal all of the time. Many blogs, like the one you're reading now, are informational and intended to help people who are interested. Many websites have blogs that cover a number of topics relevant to their niche.
Your posts don't need to be specific about your product or service, they can be about things that are a little separated from your product, but still relevant to those that are interested in your niche. Trying to post once or twice a week is a great way to keep your site useful and fresh.
These posts don't have to be that long either. Posts can be as short as 500 to 1000 words, and usually, don't have to take more than an hour to complete. For those who don't have the time or skills to create these posts, there is an alternative option.
Many people hire out SEO services to write their blogs for them, paying a nominal fee for the product they receive. This isn't a shady way to improve your SEO, it's just an effective way to get more content out there. This way, you can have professionals do the work for you while you focus on things that are more important to you.
Additionally, you can hire out professionals to write a lot more than you would ever have time to, and do an exceptional job. The idea behind doing this is to keep a steady flow of content coming out, giving your site the opportunity to be linked to, and link to other sites, making your SEO rating all the more desirable.
Interested in Learning More?
Hopefully, this article has opened your eyes to the importance of SEO. Now that you're in the loop, there is a lot more you can look into. There are hundreds of ways to get faster, better results, and they're only a quick away.
If you're interested in learning more about how to optimize your website for search engines, we have all of the information you need.