Learn all about what SEO stands for and what it means to your business.

Search engines are used in different ways by different people but they are integral to the way that most of us use the internet and interact with the World Wide Web.

Optimising your online presence makes it easier for people to find your content and more likely that they will stumble across it. Any way you look at it, there are significant advantages to SEO and in this lesson we’ll be detailing what some of the biggest potential benefits are.

Search Engine and SEO

Most internet traffic is driven to particular websites via the main search engines whose names you will be familiar with, and you probably use on a regular basis day-to-day.

The three biggest players in the market, namely Google, Bing and Yahoo, dominate usage across the industry and throughout most of the world. Therefore, when we talk about SEO we are generally referring to optimisation strategies aimed at improving a website’s ranking within these three search engines.

Bing and Yahoo! collectively accounted for 18 percent of search engine use on a global basis as of mid-2013, which is far from inconsiderable.

However, Google alone accounts for close to 80 percent of the market and so it generally makes good sense to focus your SEO efforts and strategies firmly on improving your position within Google’s results pages and in relation to particular search terms.

Making Connections

From a business perspective, search engines and optimisation present potentially very valuable opportunities to reach out to customers because Google and its rivals deliver targeted traffic.

Search engines in effect make it incredibly easy for people to find service providers they’re looking for and to find answers to virtually any questions they might have on any subject.

Therefore, as a business, if you can convince search engines to consider your site as being among the most relevant and reliable in relation to certain search terms, then you are effectively being presented as one of the top providers of services in your field.

So, ultimately, having internet users find your site directly when they enter certain terms is a big advantage for any online business and a very significant step towards securing new clients or customers.

Similarly, if your website is based on providing information, content or opportunities for interaction, placing high up search engine rankings makes your pages more prominent and much more likely to be spotted and visited by internet users right around the world.

It is no secret that search engines are now the preeminent way in which hundreds of millions of people find information and services they need.

The point is borne out in the table above that shows the responses the research firm Forrester found when its pollsters asked internet users how they found their way to particular websites.

SEO as a business asset

No matter how big or small your business might be, there are at least a few very good reasons to undertake SEO in relation to your website and pages, including:

A high search position means more traffic and sales opportunities

The more targeted visitors your site receives, the more conversions,turnover and profits you are likely to generate

Brand Awareness
Eight out of 10 people who use the internet to find a product or service end up completing the transaction online

Your competitors are already using SEO so it’s important not to be left behind

The above are what we might call direct benefits of SEO but the optimisation process also has the effect of ensuring quality control in the context of your website as a whole.

By working towards certain SEO-based objectives, website operators will naturally spend more time checking their pages, ensuring continuity and being aware of any issues or potential problems that might otherwise go unnoticed.

All of this might seem like a lot to take on, but SEO isn’t nearly as complicated or challenging as it might at first appear to be. At the highest level of the craft, there is a lot to consider and there are new strategies being developed and deployed every day. However, for newcomers and for most of the rest of us it is all about understanding the basics and getting into good habits.

Once you understand some of the key issues, you should find it relatively easy to at least start the process of optimising your website, and you should be able to do so without needing to spend any sizable sums of money. If after this you are keen to move forward from there and deliver sustainable SEO benefits, then a good grasp of the basics will help you decide what kind of strategies might be the most appropriate for you and your website.


Q: My site is already on the first page of Google for my most important keywords so why do I need to do more??
AAchieving a high ranking for your website in relation to particular keywords or phrases is a great position to be in but you should aim to set other goals to make the most of SEO.

For example, you might find that your site appears high up in Google only when very specific phrases are entered but not when slightly different terminology or word ordering is used.

So you should avoid feeling too satisfied with a high ranking for one set phrase and aim instead to see your site ranked highly under as many combinations of your key phrases as you can think of. Furthermore, your SEO efforts shouldn’t end when and if you achieve even the number one ranking you’re after because your rivals could well be readying a new and improved SEO strategy of their own designed to knock your site off the top spot.

Q: My competitor is spamming the search engine results. What can I do?
A: Search engines tend to notice eventually when websites are duping their systems but to speed up the process you could click the ‘dissatisfied with these results’ link at the bottom of most search engine results pages.

Q: What is ‘bad’ SEO and how can I avoid it?

A: Bad SEO can refer to operators deploying SEO strategies in a haphazard way, or not at all, or it can refer to sites using what are known as ‘black hat’ techniques.

These can include strategies like keyword stuffing, adding invisible keywords into the non-visible part of the site or using ‘doorway pages’ designed trick web crawlers into indexing the site more highly than it otherwise would. These SEO methods are thought of as being ethically dubious and they can be and generally are identified by Google and the other major search engines.

The deployment of these ‘black hat’ practices might work well for a period of time but when they are spotted by Google they result in potentially very damaging penalties, including the site being banned, sandboxed or dropped by thousands of ranking positions overnight.

You would need to actively indulge in these practices to get caught out, so stick to organic SEO methods and you’ll be fine.

The next lesson is on How Search Engines work

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