What is SEO?

A quick overview of the core elements that make up SEO.
What is SEO

An extremely common question we receive constantly is. What is SEO? While that’s a simple question, the answer is a bit complex. You see, asking what is SEO, is like asking what is life. Life is made up of many complex pieces and people have independent perspectives of what those pieces are and what role they play in the bigger picture. The same is true for SEO. So just like life, let’s start at the beginning.


The Official Definition

Truth be told, the definition of SEO is constantly changing. Largely in part to Google and other search engines constantly changing their algorithms to improve search results. The current definition looks something like this.


SEO or Search Engine Optimization is defined (at least by moz.com) as the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. If you’re still lost, don’t worry.  We’re going to dive deeper.



Correcting a Misguided Understanding

Your understanding of SEO at this point is probably based on getting your business to display better on Google and other search engine results. Typically, when someone types in a specific keyword. For example, if someone types in “carpet cleaning companies near me”, and you’re ranked 10th, you’d rather be ranked 1st. Right? I want to be #1 on Google. We hear it all the time. Unfortunately, because that’s the tactic many companies have elected to utilize to sell their services. But that is not SEO. That is a business marketing goal. SEO is the combination of tactics that your business can and should use to accomplish that goal.


That’s a critically important differentiation that needs to be clear. SEO is made up of tactics, not a goal. That is where the piece’s parts of the life example of earlier comes into play. SEO, like life, is made up of multiple parts. Those parts are entirely based on what you’re looking to get out of it, aka your business goals. In life if you’re looking to lose weight, you might decide to start going to the gym. Going to the gym is SEO, losing weight is your goal. Only after developing and having a complete understanding of your business goals can you begin implementing SEO tactics to accomplish those goals.



SEO Tactics

What are these mysterious tactics we have referenced frequently yet talked so little about? Well, there are so many that it would be impossible to cover them all in just one article. Here are some of the most common ones.


Content Creation

One of the best ways to build traffic to your website is to create additional content. A word of warning though. This content must be high quality. We typically recommend that the content be useful to your users and that it either educate or help solve a problem they face. A perfect example, hopefully, is this article.


Link Building

This is the process of getting other reputable websites on the internet to link to your website. Maybe it’s a link to an article, a page you have outlining a service, or maybe an event you’re promoting an event. Whatever it is, building links from reputable websites helps Google notice you and gives other methods for potential customers to find you.


On-Page SEO

Sometimes known as “Technical SEO”, On-Page SEO is made up of a variety of tasks you perform on your existing website pages to make it easier for Google, and users, to understand them. Often this means creating clear titles, alternate text for images, using keywords appropriately, defining meta descriptions, and much much more.



Final Thoughts

Whew! That’s a ton of information packed into one article. Let’s do a quick review. SEO is not a goal. SEO is made up of tactics that help you accomplish business goals. Set and understand your business goals first. Then look at what SEO tactics you can utilize to move toward those goals. If you or a company you’re working on SEO with does not have a complete understanding of your goals, you will only be wasting time and money. Once you are confident you understand your goals and are using some great SEO tactics. Stay the course. SEO takes time. Even the best companies out there will say it takes 18-24 months to move the needle significantly. Keep that in mind. If you have any thoughts about what SEO is or isn’t, I’d love to hear from you. As always, I’m here to help and would be happy to answer any questions as well.

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