101: What is SEO, Anyway?

101: What is SEO, Anyway?

For as long as businesses have existed, they have needed to reach their potential customers. After all, if your potential customers don’t know about your business, then they remain just that — potential.

What marketing has meant, though, has changed a lot over the years. It also remains different for different types of companies. For a small business on a small-town main street, television advertising might never have been as important as it was for major corporations. In fact, some small businesses may not think about marketing much at all.

But that’s a mistake — and it’s one that’s growing worse all the time. Businesses of all sizes should be concerned about one particular aspect of their marketing: SEO.

Being-seen-in-the-search-engine age

A small business on a busy street may once have been able to rely on foot traffic. An auto repair shop may once have figured that any customer who needed help would find the business in the phone book. These were strategies that worked once upon a time, but they’re outdated now.

Increasingly, even the most local customers use search engines to find local stores. Even (or perhaps especially) the people in most urgent need of a business’ services will turn to a search engine, too. And SEO is all about making sure that your business is among the results of search engine queries.

Be the answer to a question

Search engines aren’t that old — Google has only been with us since 1998, within the memories of many business owners and customers — but the idea of being in the places where customers look for help is nothing new. Companies used to choose names such as “AAA” for the sole purpose of appearing early in the phone book. Now that customers are looking at search engine results instead of Yellow Book pages, the idea is the same — it’s just that the techniques are different.

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” The “optimization” part means that the idea is to tweak websites, social media presences, and other parts of your company’s online profile to make it as appealing as possible to search engines. Search engine algorithms are closely guarded secrets, but SEO experts stay on top of the latest studies and techniques so that they can balance everything perfectly: links, keyword density, site authority, and all of the many details that go into search engine optimization. SEO can even vary from place to place and nation to nation, experts in SEO in Brisbane, Australia, say. That’s one of the many reasons to consider hiring an SEO pro to help you.

Invest in SEO

A vital investment

You don’t have to become an expert in SEO to promote your business. In fact, doing so would be pretty tough — you can make a whole career of being an SEO expert. But that’s precisely the point, of course. Many people have made careers of being SEO experts, and you can hire them to help you.

Doing so is more important than ever. Google fields about 70,000 search queries every second. Increasingly, those queries are coming from mobile devices. Mobile devices mean local searches, and local searches for businesses mean real purchases and cold, hard cash. In an era in which so many of us have smartphones (and spend so much time on them), failing to show up in local search results on mobile is the equivalent of taking down your sign and turning out your lights. Customers won’t even know you’re there!

So invest in SEO, and join the internet age. Hire experts, and keep focusing on what you do best. Marketing in the age of Google and Bing just means working with the pros to ensure that your online presence is worthy of the hard work you do for your business.

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