What is SEO and How Does it Work?

What is SEO and how does it work?

You’ve probably heard the term “SEO” before, most likely in the context of someone telling you how important it is for getting people to visit your website. But too often, SEO is described in overly complicated marketing jargon that doesn’t actually help explain why it’s a useful tool at all.

In reality, almost any business, organization, or individual looking to make an impact can benefit from digital marketing and SEO. In this article, we’re going over the basics of SEO and how digital marketing agencies, small businesses, and content writers like us can use this tool effectively to get seen and get results.

What is SEO?

Scrabble tiles spelling SEO

The term “search engine optimization” (SEO) has been around since the late 90s, before Google and other modern search engines were even created. Back then, the early “search engines” effectively functioned like old-fashioned dictionaries. 

As the internet evolved, businesses began to compete with one another to be featured more prominently in these search engines. They did this by paying for advertising, creating more online content, and tailoring their online presence to their target audiences. This is still basically how SEO works today, although it’s continued to evolve over the years.

Businesses and organizations want to rank in Google and on social media platforms. Simultaneously, these platforms want the best organizations to rank on their search engine results pages (SERPs), so people will keep coming back to use their services. That’s why modern SEO focuses heavily on quality, not just quantity. A strong SEO strategy helps you rank on Google. It also helps you truly connect with your audience and convey your message.

Benefits of SEO

A smart SEO strategy can transform the way people find you, how they perceive you, and the decisions they make. By utilizing SEO principles, you can:

  • Improve your ranking on SERPs
  • Boost organic traffic to your website
  • Reach a wider and more diverse audience
  • Increase the number of leads you get through your business website
  • Strengthen your credibility and authority in your field
  • Build brand awareness
  • Enhance user experience on your site
  • Boost your ROI

On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO

One important thing to understand about SEO is that it’s about more than just what’s on your website. It can also involve strategies used elsewhere online. SEO can be broadly categorized as on-page or off-page:

  1. On-Page SEO focuses on optimizing the content you host on your own website; it includes things like page content, site architecture, title tags, and more.
  2. Off-Page SEO encompasses everything that exists off your website, including backlinks from other sites; off-page SEO can help you build credibility as an authority in your industry.

Components of an effective SEO Strategy

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1. Understanding your target audience and their intent

If you don’t get this part right, nothing else you do will have the same impact. You need to understand who your audience is, what they’re looking for (their “search intent”), and how they make decisions. Usually, business owners have a pretty good idea of who their customers are. This information should help you make decisions about SEO and your entire marketing strategy.

2. Using keywords with a purpose

Keywords aren’t always just words. They can also be phrases. But the important thing to understand is that they’re what users type into search engines in order to find specific information, products, or services. Digital marketing agencies and content creators can use keyword research to incorporate words and phrases into their content to rank higher and get noticed by their target audiences.

3. Producing accurate meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are HTML elements that provide short summaries of web pages. They’re often thought of as a purely technical aspect of SEO. But writing an effective meta description is about more than just ranking on SERPs. 

An accurate and engaging meta description – one that truly gives readers an idea of the content on the page – is essential to driving conversions and actually connecting with an audience. The last thing you want to do is mislead or over-promise in a meta description, as readers don’t like to have their time wasted.

4. Writing engaging content

The technical aspects of SEO are essential. But that’s only one side of the coin. One of the main principles of SEO is producing well-written content. Ensuring that your online copy is engaging, informative, accurate, accessible, and targeted is what ultimately turns a click into a customer. 

From landing pages to blogs and newsletters, quality content can help solidify your position as an industry leader and a reliable source of information. As freelance content writers ourselves, we’ve seen first-hand just how valuable high-quality content is to the success and growth potential of businesses.

5. Link building to establish a narrative

Internal and external link building – including looking for ways to encourage backlinks from other websites – improves how you’re perceived by both search engines and readers. Link building encourages traffic to and within your website, expands your digital footprint, and establishes your authority.

6. Building a site that functions well

Great content is more impactful when your website functions well and is intuitive to navigate. Unless you have experience yourself, working with skilled web developers and digital marketing professionals is often worth the investment! An intuitive site structure and pages that load quickly and reliably can go a long way with both search engines and site visitors.

Incorporate optimized, engaging content into your SEO strategy

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Strategic, evidence-based SEO practices help you foster a loyal and engaged audience. If you’re looking to boost your reputation and profits, SEO is the key to unlocking your full potential.

At Pitkin Writing & Editing, we have extensive experience utilizing best SEO practices in our content to help businesses and digital marketing agencies meet their goals. If you’re ready to expand your prospects, build your reputation, and grow your online presence, we’re here to help! Contact us today to get started!

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