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When you create a website for your business, you can’t rely on the idea that if you build it, they will come. There are over a billion sites on the web (and counting), and every one of them is competing for users. To get customers to visit your website instead of your competitors’ sites, you have to beat other businesses at the game of search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO is the key factor that determines where your website ranks when customers search for something that is relevant to your business, so ignore it at your peril. If you conquer SEO, you can expect big returns in traffic for your business’ site.
The easiest way to understand SEO is to think about the way you use the internet. If you want to find information online, you will typically go to a search engine, like Google or Bing, and type in what you’re looking for. The search engine will then display a list of results over a number of pages (called SERPs, or search engine results pages), that should contain the information you want. Often, there will be hundreds of thousands of results for each search.
On the SERPs, there will be two types of results: paid and organic. Paid results are clearly marked as sponsored, and are usually at the very top of the page or on a sidebar. These results are there because of those companies’ search engine marketing—or SEM—efforts. The non-sponsored results are the ones that appear because the search engine has determined they are relevant to your search. These are organic results, and they appear because of SEO.
Simply put, SEO is the practice of creating web content that search engines read as relevant to certain search queries. The more relevant your content seems for a search term, the higher you will rank in the list of results. Ranking well is critical to the success of your site. After all, when is the last time you’ve clicked through to page four of search results?
SEO involves an ever-changing algorithm designed by the search engine. Each search engine has its own algorithm, but a few factors are required across the board for good SEO:
Search engines want to provide results that link back to sites that are high-quality, relevant, and informative. Creating content that fits the bill is the baseline of SEO success.