There’s no shortage of resources on search engine optimization (SEO) on the internet today. Even though SEO resources are ubiquitous, the strategy still hasn’t caught on with many executives — maybe you’re one of them!
The reason SEO is still anathema (at worst) and neglected (at best) by many executives is that very little of the available information truly gets to the heart of SEO. There are plenty of resources telling you what SEO does or even how to do it, but few that address the why.
We’re here to fix that. Welcome to The Executive’s (Jargon-Free) Guide to SEO.
What is SEO?
When it comes to SEO, you’re probably well acquainted with the basics:
- SEO ensures that Google and other search engines can find and understand your website, from code to content.
- SEO helps search engines find your website content and show it to searchers when they’re looking for it, connecting you to more customers who need what your company offers.
- Once earned through SEO, you can enjoy the benefits of sustained organic traffic for months or even years to come.
What’s less straightforward is how you define SEO within the context of your business. Is it a tactic? A strategy? What is it exactly?
SEO has a bit of a bad reputation left over from its early days. When Google’s algorithm was less mature than it is today, it was easy to reverse engineer and exploit. Most viewed SEO as a traffic-driving trick or hack.
- Make sure Google can “crawl” it: In order for Google to display a page in search results, they have to know about it first. SEO ensures that nothing is preventing Google from accessing your important pages. Due to the size and complexity of today’s web, it’s not uncommon for Google to be unaware of up to half a website's pages.
- Make sure Google “indexes” it: After finding your content, Google attempts to understand what the page is about and catalogues it in its index to be served up as the answer to relevant searches. SEO ensures Google understands your important pages and includes them in its index.
- Make sure you have high quality content: Google only wants to show content to searchers if it’s trustworthy, original, accurate, and comprehensive. SEO ensures that your pages meet Google’s quality standards.
- Make sure your website is easy to use: Google rewards web pages that are fast, mobile-friendly, and secure, which is why SEO focuses on providing an optimal visitor experience.
Simply put, SEO matters for your business if you want to reach your audience through a search engine.
The only other way to capture traffic from a search engine is to pay for it.
SEO vs. PPC: Not all search engine traffic is created equal
You likely already know that SEO has a counterpart — pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. The main differences between the two?
The instant nature of PPC, coupled with the fact that it targets purchase-ready consumers, makes it a desirable option for businesses looking for fast growth. However, traffic goes just as quickly as it comes, only lasting as long as you’re willing to pay to run your campaign. With paid search engine traffic, your customer acquisition costs (CAC) are also at the mercy of the Google Auction where click costs can rise at any time.
Organic traffic, on the other hand, is free. The cost isn’t incurred from the clicks themselves, but rather from paying an SEO specialist and other costs associated with maintaining a website. Organic traffic allows you to increase potential customers (traffic) without increasing the cost it takes to procure them, which results in a lower overall CAC. Once earned, organic traffic can continue to pay dividends over time — it won’t stop like PPC traffic once you stop paying for it.
There is still clear value in paying for ads. They’re the first results displayed on many Google search results, they can directly generate revenue, and can get you exposure even when your SEO is bad. PPC works best when your SEO is solid, and vice versa, due to the halo effect, so to maximize the value you get out of Google, it’s best to invest in both PPC and SEO.
Why is SEO important for my business?
SEO is important for businesses because it turns organic search into a revenue-driving channel.
Enterprises are investing big money into both their websites and driving traffic to their websites — paid advertising, social media, email marketing, influencer marketing… the list goes on. SEO provides a relatively low-cost way to win qualified traffic that results in revenue.
Search engines process upwards of five billion searches per day — a portion of those are people looking for what your organization offers. If your website isn’t showing up for those searchers, it’s as good as invisible.
Businesses need to take a full-funnel approach to SEO in order to reap the benefits of this lucrative channel. If you’re not sure whether your business is taking this approach, ask yourself:
- Can Google find and understand all my content? Remember, Google needs to be able to crawl, render, and index all of your content. If this “back end” isn’t optimized, there’s no use trying to improve your content, layout, or otherwise.
- Is Google showing my content to interested searchers? Google may have found and stored your content in its index, if you don’t know how people are searching for your brand, and you don’t know where your website is showing up for those searches, you won’t benefit from much (if any) organic traffic.
- Are search engine visitors generating revenue for us? In order for organic traffic to be truly worthwhile for your business, it needs to be generating qualified visitors that result in a positive return on investment (ROI).
If you weren’t sure how to answer any of those questions, or you know your website could be performing better organically in search engines, we’re here to help.
Leverage the organic channel with an enterprise-level SEO platform
Knowing what constitutes good SEO practices requires a deeper understanding of the greater Google picture, constant research to keep up to date on the latest trends and updates, and having systems in place to track the website data that matters.
Whether you’re running a company or managing a department, you don’t have time to figure this out on your own. You need a team by your side that will provide you with the enterprise-level insights to keep you ahead of the SEO curve.
We made Botify especially for businesses and global enterprises who need a scalable, fast solution for large, complex websites. Our platform allows you to uncover SEO insights across more than 750 metrics, adding the transparency that’s so critical for search engine performance.