What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Basics, Definitions, and How it Works

Why is SEO Important?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is incredibly important for businesses because it helps them answer their audience’s biggest questions on search engines, while driving relevant traffic to their products and services. In addition, SEO helps to increase the amount of traffic to a website, which also helps to boost the number of leads and create an implied trust among consumers. It also helps businesses to save on customer acquisition costs, as SEO traffic is free – once you rank well for your desired target keywords.

Further, SEO provides opportunities for businesses to target local audiences for increased engagement, traffic, sales, and customer experiences. Finally, SEO helps businesses stay competitive – if they don’t invest in a winning strategy, their competitors won’t have much to compete with. Given that organic search delivers 53% of all website traffic and that the global SEO industry is forecast to reach a staggering $122.11 billion by 2028, it’s clear that SEO is an incredibly important marketing channel for businesses of all sizes.

How Does SEO Work?

Measure and track your SEO progress with Moz Pro

Moz Pro can help you measure and track your SEO progress in several ways. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make use of Moz Pro’s SEO analytics:

  1. Set up and use analytics tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Bing Webmaster Tools to collect performance data.
  2. Select specific SEO tools to track performance on specific tasks, or if you have the resources, create your own tools.
  3. Use software or manually create reports to tell a story about your SEO performance. Reports should be done at meaningful time intervals and compare to previous report periods.
  4. Use tools such as Semrush to research keywords and gain insight into developing and maintaining keyword strategies.
  5. Monitor website traffic, optimize rankings and make informed decisions about the appearance of a site’s search results using Google Analytics and Search Console.
  6. Improve on-page optimization with tools such as Yoast SEO.
  7. Audit websites and provide keyword, link and ranking profiles with Ahrefs.
  8. Use competitor keyword research tools such as SpyFu to measure SEO performance over time.
  9. Generate report cards with actionable insights about SEO performance with HubSpot Website Grader.
  10. Find popular topics and long-tail keywords related to them with Google Trends.
  11. Use Bing Webmaster to see backlink profiles and keyword research, as well as the built-in site scanning feature.
  12. Finally, if needed, you can consult with experienced SEO experts.

How is SEO Different from SEM and PPC?

SEO vs. SEM

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are both strategies used to increase website visibility and generate more traffic. The key difference between the two lies in their approach; SEO is designed to improve a website’s organic rankings in search engine results pages, whereas SEM is focused on paid advertising through campaigns such as pay-per-click. SEO emphasizes relevance while SEM focuses on prominence, and while SEO can yield long-term benefits, SEM may provide quicker results. Despite this, both strategies are important for entrepreneurs and freelancers who seek to increase their online visibility. SEO can help businesses to build high-quality web pages, set up analytics programs to measure results, and improve their conversion rate. SEM, on the other hand, can be a fast and effective way for businesses to generate leads and increase their web presence. Therefore, it is important for companies to use both SEO and SEM to gain maximum exposure and generate more traffic.

SEO vs. PPC

The similarities between SEO and PPC are that they both focus on increasing visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). Furthermore, SEO and PPC are both important parts of digital marketing, and they can work together effectively.

The main differences between SEO and PPC is that SEO relies on “organic” rankings, meaning you must “earn” your spot through SEO, whereas with PPC you have to pay to appear. Additionally, SEO takes more time and effort to achieve ranking success, whereas PPC results are immediate and can be tweaked on the go. Lastly, SEO has the potential to generate a return on investment, whereas PPC results in immediate costs.

SEO Tools

What are some tools used for SEO? [Expanded list] There are many tools available to help with SEO, both free and paid. Some of the most commonly used tools include Google Search Console, Google Ads Keyword Planner, backlink analysis tools such as AHREFs and Majestic, SEO platforms such as Siteimprove, Moz, BrightEdge, Searchmetrics and Linkdex, social media for networking, Semrush for keyword research, Google Analytics and Search Console for performance tracking, Yoast SEO for WordPress websites, Ahrefs for website auditing, SpyFu for competitor keyword research, HubSpot Website Grader for actionable insights, and Google Trends for content trends. Additionally, professional consultants can be a valuable asset for SEO projects.

SEO Strategies and Best Practices

Search engine optimization (SEO) strategies and practices involve a combination of activities to improve the visibility and ranking of a website in organic search engine results pages (SERPs). These strategies and practices include keyword research, content creation and optimization, technical optimization, link building, and tracking and measuring to ensure success.

Technical optimization activities involve the manipulation of elements such as XML sitemaps, structuring content in an intuitive way, optimizing page load times, using correct image sizing, and hosting environments to improve SEO.

On-page optimization activities involve using the right keywords or phrases in headings and body of the copy, meta descriptions, internal and external links within the site, and a good URL with the focus keyword. Content management systems (CMS) are also used to maintain on-page content.

Link building is an essential part of SEO and involves creating relationships with other reputable websites to increase exposure. Finally, tracking and measuring should be a consistent activity to ensure success in SEO efforts.