SEO is the abbreviation for search engine optimisation and is a marketing discipline which focuses on growing website visibility and traffic organically (as opposed to using paid adverts). SEO comprises of both technical and creative methods to achieve the best results, these are sometimes called on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page refers to elements such as content on your website, website design and SEO-friendly code and meta-data whereas off-page SEO refers to elements such as link generation and social media methods.
Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing display search results according to what they think the user wants to see. It is very uncommon for users to browse through a number of search results pages (SERPs) in order to find what they are looking for. In fact, many users don’t go past page one of the SERPs. Therefore, in order to increase the possibility of users visiting websites, search engine optimisation is essential.
Search queries are the keywords that you type into your browser search bar. These queries carry high importance and are the foundation of any SEO strategy. These queries, sometimes referred to as key phrases or words amount to targeted website traffic as they represent an intention that people have when conducting a search online. Users intentions vary from research to purchase phases and many more in between. If a website is not optimised for these key phrases, the chances of people visiting the website will decrease tremendously. Take for example the following situation;
Carrie searches, “Toys for dogs”. The search engine, within a blink of an eye will scan through its millions of resources to find the most relevant and popular content to show to Carrie. We know that Roxy’s Pet Care Store sells great toys for dogs, but their website isn’t optimised for the keyword and doesn’t even show up on page one. Carrie then browses through the first few results she sees on the results page and buys a toy for her dog from one of those websites. Roxy’s has now lost a sale…
Why should you study SEO?
In a world dominated by the internet, search results which have the highest visibility often prove to be the most influential. From product searches to political news, it’s often the highest ranked results which get consumed by people and thereby the most likely to have an effect. It’s important to understand the mechanics behind search engines, how they decide which results to show and how to influence and contribute to those results and the best way to do this will be to study SEO.
If you aren’t sure how SEO can benefit you in the real world, below are a few examples:
If you plan on starting your own business… (or already have your own business)
In today’s world, an online business presence is essential even if it’s a brick and mortar store. When people are searching for products or services that you sell or even searching your company name, it is important they find you. It’s a way of making sure that people are aware of your brand and find enough information on it to influence their intent.
When implemented correctly SEO will drive highly relevant, organic traffic to a website that would cost a high amount of money if done through a paid search campaign. This equals to a high return on investment and will have lasting long-term benefits.
If you’re looking to build your online influence…
If you are your own brand such as a model, a travel blogger or a social media influencer, optimising your online assets such as your website and social media pages for search will have a huge positive impact on your online presence.
Take for example profile descriptions on Facebook or Twitter. Optimising these with keywords relevant to your brand and industry will improve your visibility when people are searching for those and similar terms. If you’d like to create a website to showcase your work, it will also need to be search ready!
Studying SEO will help you get your yourself noticed by people who are relevant and interested thereby helping grow your brand.
If you’re working for a digital marketing agency…
And you have an understanding of various marketing solutions; social media equals Facebook and Instagram right? and Web Development means building a website, right? Although Search Engine Optimisation, now that’s a mouthful and it’s something that you still don’t completely understand even after 15 minutes of thorough reading on Google.
Taking a course in SEO will help you develop enough knowledge on the subject in order to understand how it crosses over into the various methods of digital marketing and if there ever comes a time, you’ll be able to confidently sell the service to a client by explaining to them the importance of search optimised assets.
If you’re looking to improve your career prospects…
As mentioned before, SEO is essential to businesses and the demand for the skillset in South Africa is growing immensely. Businesses are beginning to realise the importance of having a presence online and are looking for people with the knowledge to help them do it. In the instance that their competitors are online, they will now have to play catch up to not suffer losing sales. In the instance that their main competitors are yet to grow their search presence now is the best time to optimise for search order to get a head start on the competition.
Increasing your knowledge of SEO will help you contribute to the conversations about your company’s online presence, thereby helping show your worth and improving your career prospects.