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What is SEO and How It Works for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

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Samuel is a small business owner in Toronto.

He is worried because COVID-19 has badly impacted his business.

Nevertheless, he is ambitious and wants to drive his business back on its feet by reaching out to local audiences through the best SEO strategies.

However, SEO is a piece of a puzzle for him.

It is complex, to say the least.

So, Samuel wants to understand “What is SEO” and “How it works” for small and medium-sized businesses.”

Does this story sound similar? If so, this blog is worth a read.

SEO is important for every type and size of the enterprise, be it a local, or small-medium sized business.

After all,

  • More than 65% of online experiences begin with a search engine. 
  • +50% of all website traffic comes from organic search. 
  • More than 90% of global traffic comes from Google search, Google Maps, and Google Images. 
  • 60% of marketers say inbound marketing (organic SEO, blog content, etc) to be the highest quality source of leads. 

What is SEO?

SEO, an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, has many definitions.

Let’s go with the easiest one –

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a digital marketing strategy. It is focused on optimizing a website to get it discovered through search engines’ organic search results. SEO enables you to know:

  • How search engines work
  • What people are searching for
  • How they are searching for something
  • Why they are searching
  • And when they are searching for

Successful implementation of SEO makes a website appealing to search engines and users.

Search Engine Land defines SEO as:

“SEO is the process of improving your site. It is implemented to enhance website visibility for relevant searches. The better visibility your website has in search results, the higher the chances of garnering attention and attracting potential and existing customers to your business.”

If we go by the Search Engine Journal, it explains SEO as:

“A combination of technical and marketing tactic; and a process of optimizing a website architecture and its content. SEO will support the website appear in prominent positions in search engine organic results”

In simple, SEO focuses on improving a website’s rankings in the organic aka non-paid search results.

If you would like to drive traffic to your website, SEO should be a part of your marketing efforts.

What goes into SEO?

In order to understand the true meaning of SEO, let’s break down the SEO definition and consider these key aspects:

Quality traffic: You may attract a lot of visitors to your website. But are you sure whether they will bring quality leads? Are you able to get conversions?

To give you an example, suppose you are a retail store. But, millions of visitors coming to your website are in search of buying or selling properties. So, this should not be considered quality traffic. This happens due to poor content quality. In your case, search engines are unable to know about pages and tell visitors that you are a real estate firm, not a retail store.

Typically, quality traffic is a result of effective SEO tactics, which contain clearly defining business, marketing goals, high-quality content, and telling search engines about your service pages, business offering. Thus, search engines will drive visitors who are genuinely interested in your business.

Quantity of traffic: Once you have the right audience on your site clicking through from SERPs (search engine results pages), more traffic will always be better for you.

Organic results: Organic traffic that you earn is any traffic you don’t have to pay for. In contrast to paid search results (pay-per-click advertising), organic traffic is unpaid traffic that comes from SERPs.

How SEO Works for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

After you understand ‘what is SEO’ let’s discuss how SEO works.

Typically, SEO works by enhancing user experience, providing audiences with relevant information, navigating web pages for a mobile-friendly website configuration. SEO also works by –

  • Ranking you on #1 position in search engines
  • Bringing a primary source of leads
  • Ensuring higher close rates
  • Boosting conversion rates
  • Prompting better cost management
  • Building brand credibility
  • Helping establish brand awareness
  • Increasing followers on social media
  • Encouraging local users to visit the physical store after searching online
  • And taking you ahead of the competition

In simple words, SEO demonstrates to search engines that your content is the best and most suitable result for searches.

This happens because all search engines have common goals – to give the best, most relevant results to users.

How search engines determine the ‘BEST’ result is based on an algorithm that considers website authority, relevancy to that query, loading speed, and more. It’s important to note that search engines come with spiders — the automated robot kind.

These spiders collect every piece of information about the pages that make up your website. For this, they consider things, like:

Your website page speed – Remember, for every second faster your website loads, you increase conversions by 7%. Surprised? That’s true.

Ideally, your website should load in 3 seconds or less. 2 to 3 second mark is the turning point where bounce rates skyrocket. Also, 40% of consumers wait no longer than 3 seconds before abandoning a site.

Title tags – Title tags are HTML elements, specifying a web page title. They are displayed on SERPs as the clickable headline for a particular result. Title tags are important because they help search engines understand what your page is all about. Besides, the tags carry out the first impression on people on who you are.

It is advisable to keep title tags under 60 characters to expect about 90% of your titles to display properly.

Social signals – Social signals are human interaction metrics on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Key examples of social signals are likes, dislikes, shares, votes, pins, views, etc. Search engines consider social signals to rank your website.

Internal linking – Internal links are links from one page to another page on the same domain. They improve usability, boost page views, reduce bounce rates, allow visitors to navigate a website, and more. So, remain focused on internal linking.

Backlinks – Also called ‘incoming links’ or ‘inbound links’ backlinks are the type of links that create one website links to another. Backlinks improve organic ranking, let search engine bots discover new webpages, and index the page fast. Besides, backlinks help you get referral traffic.

Besides these factors, Google uses more than 200 other ranking factors in its algorithm to consider to rank web pages. Therefore, when optimizing your page, you need to consider things, related to both on-page and off-page ranking factors. These determine how well your site is optimized and therefore how well it ranks.

The key on-page factors that search engines consider include:

  • Content quality
  • Keywords research and use
  • Title tags
  • Site speed
  • Page URLs
  • Internal linking
  • Website responsiveness
  • Crawlability
  • Image alt tags, and more.

Off-page are almost entirely based on links to your site from other sites. The key off-page factors that search engines consider include:

  • Domain authority
  • Page authority
  • Bounce rates
  • Domain age
  • Anchor text
  • Number of links
  • Quality of backlinks from authoritative sites

Optimizing your site and content with these factors in mind will let SEO work better for your business and help pages rank higher in the search results.

Now, you know what SEO is, how it works. Let’s make it work for you –

Search engine algorithms change all the time. There is no surety of what’s effective today will remain effective tomorrow. But you don’t need to panic. Be ambitious like Samuel. Optimizing your website for search engines isn’t an unconquerable task. Chances are you may find it challenging if you’re a little less technically inclined. The solution is to reach out to a digital marketing agency where you can find SEO experts.

How Jivaso Can Help Samuel and Other Businesses

Jivaso is a trusted Toronto SEO company, holding expertise in optimizing client websites to make them more relevant to search engines. Our services include Organic SEO (National SEO, Local SEO), PPC Advertising, Social Media Marketing, Email/Marketing Automation, Online Reputation Management.

Get in touch if you are looking out for complete digital marketing solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises. Or, leave a message if you have any queries about SEO services or you want to discuss how we can optimize your website with a custom SEO plan.

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