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To help navigate the digital marketing waters, we are publishing a six-part series during the month of December on the business benefits of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google Adwords and Google Analytics. Our goal is to give back this season by revealing some industry secrets that you can start implementing in your  2014 marketing strategy.

Search Engine Optimization

This first part of this series will deal with SEO. Whether you’re a business, professional blogger, e-commerce store, or start-up, the benefits of SEO are numerous. Just type into your search engine of choice “the benefits of SEO” and look at all articles.

But do you really understand what SEO is? Can you rattle off the benefits of SEO as it pertains to your business? Ask yourself if your website really is optimized? If so, is it bringing in the right kind of traffic to your achieve your business goals? If you’re struggling to confidently answer these questions than this two-part blog on SEO should be a good reference point.

Define Search Engine Optimization

Let’s start with a basic definition of search engine optimization. SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines.

SEO Definition ImageThe keyword word here is practice. SEO experts are systematically honing their skill and understanding of how search engines operate. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing are also honing how they deliver and rank results. Every day each search engine gets better at delivering relevant results. This is why people in the SEO field are constantly keeping up with the latest changes to search engine algorithms. We’re out there implementing, testing, analyzing and refining SEO tactics to deliver the best results for our clients.

How Do Search Engines Operate?

Search engines are unique in that they provide targeted traffic – i.e. people looking for what you offer. Search engines have two major functions:

  1. Crawling and building an index
  2. Providing answers by calculating relevancy and ranking results

Search engines crawlers work their way through your site and index all the information found on your site. This is why having the website optimized is important, because you’re organizing the information for crawlers so there’s no guess work on Google’s part.

Google stores all this information on servers so it can be retrieved when someone types in a search query. Which is why SEO is truly a gift that keeps on giving, because all that information doesn’t just disappear over time. What you do now continues to make a difference three months from now (unless you manually change it).

Search Engines Are Answer Machines

When people type in a query into a search engine, the search engine quickly returns relevant and useful answers based on the searcher’s query. In this example, I typed “financial education” into Google and in .50 seconds it delivered and ranked a total of 1,170,000,000 results.

Search Engine Results

Google pulls all the results from their massive index where they rank them in order of perceived usefulness and relevancy. They play match maker with their index and the searcher’s query.

Keep in mind that SEO isn’t just about “engines.” It’s about making your site better for people too. And it’s not always about getting people to your site, but about getting the right kind of people. That’s the true value of SEO. We tell Google what and how to index information on a webpage, and they take that information and deliver it to searchers looking for that information.

Why Do We Care So Much About Google?Google-Yahoo-Bing Logos

Google owns the search market. There is no way around it. The latest report shows 67% of online searches are conducted on Google. Bing accounts for 17.9% and Yahoo is in third with 11.3%. SEO experts go where the people are, and right now, people are predominately using Google to conduct their searches. And yes, we have a love-hate relationship with Google, and soon, you will too.

Why is SEO Important?

SEO is important, because 60% of Internet users use a search engine on a daily basis. That’s an impressive number of people searching for information. SEO helps boost rankings so that your content will be placed where searchers will more readily find it. But not just any person, the right person looking for what you have to offer.

Let’s see how that works. I searched for wedding dresses on Google from our office in Boulder, CO. Here’s what my search engine result page (SERP) looked like:

SERP

What do all these results mean? Let me show you how Google returns results. You can see that Google places the paid results at the top with the organic (not-paid) results right below them. Google is also providing relevant local results, because they figure that I may want to see some dresses in person. On the right is the Google shopping results, locations of local business on a map, and more pay-per-click ads below them.

SERP copy

It’s worth noting that the same business could be found in the paid advertisements, organic rank, local results and map results. It’s easy to see how a well executed SEO and PPC strategy could have your business appear in multiple categories on the first page of the search engine results.

But why care if you’re business is on the first page of the search results. People will find your information, right?

Clicks From Rankings

Search results are really a popularity contest, and a good digital marketing agency will help your business win favor with the search engines. Why do you want to curry favor with the search engines?

According to the latest research done by Chitika, the number one results on Google receives 32.5% of the clicks. Wow! In other words, nearly one-third of searchers click on the first result that Google returns. The second result receives 17.6% of the clicks and 11.4% for third spot. The sixth through tenth results get around the same amount of clicks, and after the first page the clicks are virtually non-existent (see positions 11-15).

Chitika-Google-Results

Based off these findings, you want your business not only on the first page of the search results, but you really need to be in the top five to guarantee clicks to your information. This also highlights the trust people place in Google’s top results as well as their need for the quick a quick solution to their query.

In summary, SEO is a continual practice of improving a website with the benefits of attracting more of the right kind of visitors to your content. Stay tuned for the second part of this blog where I’ll look at how to determine keywords and walk through some of the on-site ranking factors.

Did you find this blog helpful? Is there anything you would add? If so, let us know in the comments section.