Ask an SEO Agency: What Is SEO, Really?

Woman typing into Google's search engine

There was a time when you could get away with not knowing a thing about SEO. In the early days, the World Wide Web was more like the Wild, Wild West — lawless and a little chaotic. 

Now, with giants like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, there are gatekeepers to please and appease. And that’s where SEO comes in. Did you know that just under 70% of all clicks happen on the first five organic results that populate the first page of a search? Or that almost one out of every three mobile searches is tied to a location? The numbers don’t lie. 

This article will break down the basics of SEO without puzzling buzzwords and marketing jargon (okay, there might be a little jargon). All from people who believe SEO is just as much a science as it is an art. 

So, What Is SEO?

If you own a business, you likely have a website promoting it. And just like you’d take out traditional ads in the paper or go big with a billboard, you need to get eyes on your product or service in the digital world. 

SEO stands for search engine optimization. The term is a catch-all for the process of improving your website to increase your visibility when people use search engines. 

The higher you rank, the easier it is for relevant people to find you. It’s the difference between popping up on the first page of Google results and being buried on the hundredth. 

How Does SEO Work?

The way search engines operate can be a mystery. Search engines like Google provide some insights into how their algorithms work, but never fully disclose exactly how it deems what is or isn’t relevant. Luckily, the general gist of how SEO works is surprisingly simple to understand. 

Search engines use bots to collect data from the far reaches of the internet. They parse through pages upon pages and store their findings in a giant index. 

Then, algorithms analyze and sort this trove of information, applying a dizzying array of ranking factors along the way.  

The result is an ordered list of answers to a search query containing one or more keywords. If your website is properly optimized, the algorithms will bump it higher in the results. Factors like great content, strategically placed keywords, and positive user experience all signal that yours is a high-quality site with useful information. 

Common SEO Misconceptions

SEO is an ever-evolving process that can seem confusing. And when something is tricky to understand, myths abound. Let’s break down some of those myths.

‌SEO is a “one-and-done” process. 

This one is wishful thinking, usually from entrepreneurs who don’t want to spend all their time online. Understandable, but sadly, not true. The way search engines analyze and rank pages — as well as the competition — is constantly changing, and businesses have to be able to adapt accordingly. 

To keep on top of things, you’ll need to routinely publish authoritative, valuable content that is SEO-driven. You’ll also need to refresh the content you already have at least once a year. Among other things, sound, up-to-date content establishes you as an authority while getting other sites to link back to you. This process is called link building, and it’s critically important. 

You’ll have to keep your eyes on your competitors in case they outrank you, consistently post and engage people on social media, and evaluate your methods regularly to keep up with search engine updates and evolving rules. It’s a lot of work!

There’s tons of strategy and learning involved when it comes to optimizing your website, which is why you might just want to call your friendly neighborhood SEO agency to help you out. 

You can do SEO yourself or on the cheap.

There isn’t a problem a curious entrepreneur can’t solve with some determination and a few YouTube tutorials. But good search optimization requires a coherent, considered strategy and knowledgeable people at the helm. 

It encompasses everything from deploying the latest tactics and auditing a website to analyzing data and building links. Unless you have a ton of extra time to become an SEO superstar, you might need to start thinking about that marketing budget. 

Global & Local SEO 

Image symbolizing international seoWhen you put something on the internet, anyone anywhere can theoretically find it. But there are certain approaches you can use to make your website more attractive to customers in your immediate area or overseas.

You just have to decide whether you want to employ a provider of local or international SEO services. Simple, right? But it can be complicated, especially if you sign a contract with an international agency offering global SEO services.

That’s because, with international SEO, you have to go about things differently. You need to tailor your strategy and website to target people worldwide, which means reaching different cultures, breaking language barriers, and competing with foreign websites.

Local SEO, however, is for businesses who want to focus on a limited region. Say you’re a taco joint located in Austin (where all the best taco joints are located). You want to attract community members to your physical location, so you need to reach the screens of hungry taco lovers in the area. Local SEO focuses on just that, using everything from online review management to maps optimization. 

And if you want to expand beyond your region but stay stateside, you’ll need national SEO services. Who knew there were so many choices?

What Can You Expect When You Hire an SEO Agency?

So you’ve got the gist of how SEO works and understand that there are a few ways to approach it depending on geography. But what can you expect when you call in the professionals for corporate SEO services? 

It depends on your goals, but SEO experts can do things like:

  • Keyword research
  • Content optimization 
  • Competitor analysis 
  • Leads and trends analysis
  • Online reputation management
  • Custom strategy creation 
  • Website promotion across social media and blogs

Even Colossal Corporations Need SEO

SEO can help businesses both large and small. Naturally, mom-and-pop shops will have an SEO strategy that looks different from the strategies of Procter & Gamble. P&G would use enterprise SEO.

An enterprise SEO agency focuses on huge websites. If you have a large company with a roster of thousands of products — each with its own page — then you need specialized enterprise SEO services. 

Big businesses will look to an enterprise SEO company that can:

  • Target buyers at every stage  
  • Collect and parse through mountains of data
  • Identify the best keywords in a competitive market
  • Increase brand presence
  • Enhance brand image 
  • Protect against algorithm changes
  • Create buzzworthy content
  • Focus on local and international SEO‌

Phew. That’s a lot. It might be time to call in some backup. 

Turn to the Pros 

Image depicting an SEO agency

Is your head spinning? Feel like SEO is a whole lot of work?  Understandable. Hopefully, after reading this article, you know just a bit more about the SEO game. And if you’re ready to take the leap, experienced digital marketers like Motoza can do the heavy lifting. Whether you run a global enterprise or a local shop in Austin, request a consultation today to get started.

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