You may have heard your marketing agency or internal marketing teams talk about how vital SEO is and how it is an integral part of your overall marketing strategy. But the marketing world is full of acronyms and it can be difficult to keep up with what everything means, so you may be asking yourself: what is SEO?.
What is search engine optimisation?
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is a process of improving your website to increase its visibility for relevant organic search results (that is, the ones you don’t pay for) within search engines such as Google.
If a link to your website appears early on in Google’s search results pages (known as SERPs) for the words, phrases and questions that your target audience are entering into search engines, this may increase the organic traffic to your website.
What is organic traffic?
You might be thinking, ‘hang on what is organic traffic’? Organic traffic or organic search traffic is simply all website visitors who arrive on your site through a search engine result that isn’t a paid advert.
So, why is organic traffic important? The answer is simple: because it is free. Paid traffic - that is, a visitor who has found your website by linking a search result that you’ve paid for - is all well and good but ultimately, it'll reduce your profits. By prioritising ways to improve organic traffic to your website – such as, making updates and changes to your website to help with SEO – you’re helping visitors to find and convert on your website – and it won’t cost you a thing.
Understanding audience intent
SEO is as much about understanding human behaviour as it is appeasing the search engine. To be effective, it is important to understand how people, and specifically your prospects, are searching online. This includes the words they use when searching, the questions they want answered and how they like to digest their content – for instance, video, blog or infographic.
Of course, these all may change depending on where your prospect is in their online research – is this the first time they’ve googled their word, phrase of question or have they looked for similar things before? It’s also worth considering why they’re making their search: are they just curious or do they want to make a purchase at the end of this – and if so, when?
How does SEO work in practice?
Let’s take an example: say you want to go on holiday but you’re early on in your search journey so you’re not sure where to go, or even when. You may have a vague notion that you’d like to go somewhere hot and you’d like to go this year so your Google searches may look something like this:
The results that appear from this fairly open-ended search may impact what you Google next. For example, the websites you’ve looked at may have helped you to decide that you want to go on holiday to Spain this August, which will refine your next searches. Following these, you may be making searches which are much more granular – for instance, cheap holidays to Spain this August or self-catering holidays in Spain this August.
Each of these searches give an idea of your audience’s intent. Do they just have a vague idea that they’d like to go on holiday, and so will just be looking for websites and content to inspire them, or are they looking for a website that will allow them to book their perfect holiday? We like to call these the awareness, consideration and decision stages of a buyer’s journey and for maximum SEO success, you should pay careful attention to the search words – or keywords – associated with each stage of your prospects’ journey.
Let’s put this into practice using our example. If I were a travel agent, I would optimise travel inspiration blogs and videos with the open-ended keywords my prospect would be searching for early on in their research during their “awareness” stage. This content wouldn’t mention things like prices or dates – but it might contain links to pages where my prospect could easily find this information.
If my prospect is making more granular searches – those who are in the consideration or decision stages on their buying journey – they’ll probably prefer to see a landing page that cuts to the chase, giving them exactly what they’re looking for, and quickly. At this stage, they probably don’t want to be inspired by a travel vlog – they just want to book their holiday, influencing the format of the content for this page.
My SEO strategy for these converting pages would be to include as many of these more granular searches – which are relevant to these keywords – as I can. Perhaps I should build an entire landing page that’s optimised for the phrase“self-catering holidays in Spain” and include all of the holidays my travel agency sells which fit this criteria?
Just how you tailor your SEO strategy is up to you. Need a little free advice? Get in touch with the FINALLY team.
At a glance: what is SEO?
- SEO involves optimising your website and content so that it is read by search engines and appears on organic search engine results pages (or SERPs).
- SEO improves organic traffic – or the number of visits to your website that are free.
- Understand your audience intent – think about what your audience is looking for, and how they’d prefer to digest that information.
Want to work with a marketing agency who will truly get your business? Book a meeting with the FINALLY team today.