Alright, folks! So today, I thought to talks about what SEO means, and why I always suggest that businesses should focus on users rather than search engines. This, coming from an SEO guy, is ironic, right?
So, firstly, what does SEO stand for?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The practice is the improvement of a website so the site gains more visibility in search engines when keywords, relevant to the site, are searched for.
You see, when a site has visibility in the search engines, the site is able to attain visitors.
And this folks, is the lifeblood of a website. Visitors, i.e. traffic.
When you have a website that’s used for acquisition purposes, you want the site to have traffic to it, real people visiting it.
Why? Because this allows you to begin the process, within your domain, of convincing people to take the action you would like them to take – buy a product, service, request/enquiry, or something else.
So you want people visiting your site.
The question then is how do you get people to visit your site?
One of the ways, is to attract people via search engines.
Search engines, like Google, for example, are used by billions of people to find all sorts of things.
All sorts of things, which includes the offering you show you have with your website.
The purpose of search engines is to show people a list of websites that match what they are looking for.
When people look for something, using a search engine, they look for it with keywords.
One of the many goals of SEO, is to identify the keywords people use to search for something, using a search engine.
By doing this, the website the SEO person works on can be optimized for the identified keywords. This signals to search engines that the site is a match for the keywords being searched, and is shown to people when they search with those keywords.
This, as a very topline overview, is how people end up visiting one’s website via search engines.
I say all of this to say that when SEOs optimize a site, it is for the purpose of attracting people to it.
Although SEO is Search Engine Optimization, we don’t optimize for search engines.
We optimize for people! We attract people via search engines!
I’m aware this comes across as a play on words.
But, I think it’s necessary to distinguish.
I think it’s necessary to distinguish because when this distinction is clear in your mind, in your organisation, you’ll avoid the temptation to want to ‘game’ the search engines, especially when the pressure is on to get more traffic through it!
Now, let me delve in a little more into what ‘gaming’ search engines mean.
‘Gaming’ search engines is the attempt to manipulate and outsmart their algorithms into ranking your site higher than others, and by such, increasing the traffic you receive from the search engines.
Now, you may be wondering, why is this a problem?
Surely, if I can manipulate search engines into considering my site over others, bringing me more traffic, it’s a plus, not a minus.
Here’s why it’s a problem…
When you engage in trying to manipulate search engines, this becomes a practice that leaves you at the mercy of search engine algorithms.
Search engine algorithms change all the time. I mean constantly. I mean daily. I mean quicker than you can react.
And if you’re busy trying to react to search engine algorithms, you can end up losing focus on users. Guess what happens when this happens…?
You end up losing more of the organic visibility you get from search engines.
Because search engines focus on users, and their entire set of algorithms are designed to find and present websites that focus on users.
It’s ironic, isn’t it – that SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, yet by optimizing for search engines, you risk having less organic visibility than you would if you optimized for users.
This is why Google, the biggest search engine, globally, discourages marketers from trying to manipulate their search engine.
It’s simply not worth it! You’re far better off focusing on optimizing your site for users. This way, you’re aligned with search engines. This is much better than, figuratively, battling them.
So, SEO, despite its full name, is for users, not search engines.
What does SEO involve?
Think of SEO as a channel that has 3 main strands – 3 pillars, as it’s known.
You have On-page SEO, Off-page SEO and Technical SEO.
Ideally, you want to have all 3 pillars active at the same time, and always-on.
There is never a point when SEO is done, completed, finished. As SEO is essentially to improve your website (for users; via search engines), there is always going to be something that can be improved on your site, or for your site.
Now, each pillar of SEO is vast. The type of SEO your business needs depends on where your business is in its SEO journey.
If the 3 pillars were ordered linearly, you would have Technical SEO as the starting point, with On-page coming after, and Off-page afterwards.
But again, ideally, you want to have all 3 running concurrently. You’ll have the best opportunity to attain the highest organic visibility, consistently.
Now, I’m sure this has crossed your mind. Do you need traffic from organic search?
Organic search is one of the best sources you can have that brings people to your website.
It’s too important of a channel to be put aside.
As I said, traffic is the lifeblood of a website.
When you have a website, especially when it’s built for the purposes of acquisition, you want to always have a source that brings traffic to the site.
Organic search is THE ONE traffic source you want to have.
It’s a traffic source that has a limitless traffic potential.
And once you have the SEO channel activated, and see the growth of your site, there’s no inkling to turn it off. It’s that important of a traffic source!