This article is intended to introduce SEO to those who are still living and doing business in 1990 and have therefore never heard about it.
To help clear up the most dangerous misconception about the discipline of SEO for many people who have been poorly informed about it.
And finally, it is to educate those who already have an idea of what SEO is, and wish to learn a little bit more.
DEFINITIONSearch Engine Optimization is the process of building or rebuilding your website so that it can be easily found on search engines (like Google search or Bing) when web users are looking for information that you have on the site.
It is a discipline that combines some IT skills with marketing ideas to help you make adjustments to your website (or building one from scratch) with the intention of making it easier to use and more visible to your desired audience.
SEO is an important branch of digital marketing that serves as a good "meeting point" for the others. This is because a business' website is its most centralized source of information for outsiders. (always remember this)
Hence, SEO is best when it is taken into consideration before your website is built at all.
Caution: perhaps the more commonly understood, but wrong definition of SEO among its unscrupulous practitioners is the claim that they can get your website to the top of Google Search results.
You need to be very careful with this because SEO cannot manipulate the search engines. There are rules and guidelines. And those who violate these rules often get punished.
Indeed, there are certain skills (especially in technical SEO) that can greatly increase your chances of ranking at the top of search results, but this is certainly not an outcome that any one can truthfully predict.
The best thing you can do is follow the guidelines and do your best to increase your chances of getting ranked for the keywords that matter to you. But there is no use trying to manipulate the search engines. Google search is increasingly learning how to find the best web pages to show to its users. Therefore if you make your website user friendly and promote it properly to them, you are on the right path.
BENEFITSThere are many benefits of search engine optimization, but I just need to mention a few to get your mouth watering.
1. It gets your website visibility (product & brand) on most search engines (not just Google). And these search engines are accessed all over the world, millions of times daily.
2. It makes your website more friendly and easier to use by visitors, of which many of them could be your potential customer or target audience.
3. It sharpens your performance at the Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT). What do I mean?
When people search for your brand or (and especially) your competitor's brand online, that moment is a ZMOT - an opportunity for you to dominate your industry. This is too exciting to begin to discuss here. (call me for a consultation)
4. It will eventually make you understand your business better. It is hard to explain this to you now, but trust me, after some time of commitment to SEO, you start to know much more about your business you never knew.
For now, I don't know anything about optimization for Yandex (the main search engine used in Russia) or (the Chinese search engine), but I know that SEO for Google, Bing and Yahoo search are very similar in many ways. And since Google is by far the most popular search engine in Africa, I will be referring to that example in this post.
SEO is the branch of Search Engine Marketing that deals with organic results.
But let me again warn that SEO cannot automatically get your website to the number 1 position on Google.
Anyone who promises to get you to the top of Google is either a dishonest or an unskilled SEO (search engine optimizer) who will take your money, and could end up getting your website heavily penalized by Google.
Now organic results are the options that are presented to you in the larger area of Google's search page (as in the image below). This area fills MOST of the screen starting from the left to the right, and also fills most of the screen starting from bottom to the top. I say most because sometimes there are some small advertisements options on the right, and some larger ones at the top (eventhough these have a different color to distinguish them from organic results).
Anyway the reason they are called organic results is because they are presented as the NATURAL options to your particular search. People cannot pay for an organic search position, and cannot do anything that can guarantee the position there either. Which is why I said anyone who promises you the top spot is dishonest.
However, there are some very honest and acceptable tactics that can help you greatly improve your chances of getting there - especially here in Africa (and depending on the industry you are in) where not too many of your competitors may have taken SEO seriously yet.
So Google presents those organic results as what it considers to be the most reliable and informative options that are related to the search terms you typed into Google.
This process is handled entirely by a complex system of algorithms (robots or computer programs) that use a very complex set of rules to determine what they rank as the best organic results for each search term. This process is still far from perfect, so you may not always find the best results on the first page. But I think Google does a much better job than any other search engine in providing the closest thing to the best results in the organic area.
But at the end of the day, SEO is still more about chasing after your online audience than anything else. And it is important not to ever forget that. SEO consultants would help you develop decent strategies through keyword research and keyword aided brainstorming. Web analytics consultants would help you restrategize through analysis of your website's visitors.
But ultimately, you have to commit a decent amount of time and thinking effort to the process as well, to make it truly worthwhile and magical.
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