SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is separate from search engine marketing, SEM, which focuses on designing ads to come up alongside search engine optimized content, though the ads require SEO in addition to being designed to entice someone to click it. SEO simply focuses on optimizing your site and content to improve your visibility in the search engine results.
In this beginner’s guide to SEO, we’ll explain what SEO is, the different types of SEO and how SEO has been changing. We won’t go into the nitty gritty of how website design affects SEO or how your search engine optimization needs to change in response to Google’s latest algorithm change. Instead, we’ll give you a high level introduction to the subject.
Search engine optimization is not intended to maximize traffic. In fact, that can be counterproductive if you generate a lot of traffic, but people bounce off the page quickly. Google will then downgrade your search engine results page ranking. The actual goal of SEO is to put your content in front of people who could be converted into paying customers. It will put product directory pages in front of those whose search queries suggest they want to buy something like what you’re selling. The goal of SEO is often to put content in front of casual informational queries to build brand awareness and answer user questions while promoting your brand or service as part of the solution.
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Local SEO refers to search engine optimization to rank well in localized searches. Local search engine optimization uses a mix of keywords related to the actual query with local results. For example, someone searching for “restaurants by me” will be shown restaurants that search engines think are in their vicinity. If your local SEO is too broad, focusing on the metro area, but not your exact address, the “near me” result will ignore you unless you’ve actually put “near me” in your business name.
Conversational SEO or voice search refers to SEO for conversational queries asked of information appliances in the home and infotainment systems in your car. The ideal match in conversational SEO is when the content is titled or subtitled with the exact question the user asked of the device. Conversational SEO, by definition, uses long tail key search terms unless you’re asking a question literally everyone is asking.
App SEO, or ASO, is search engine optimization for apps, skills and other pieces of software someone installs. You need to apply search engine optimization to your app installation page so that it is found on the App store and to ensure that customers who want to install your app install yours versus a fake one bundled with malware. What is SEO for product pages? It is typically considered another form of standard SEO.
Keyword based SEO is the traditional form of search engine optimization. It has traditionally relied on optimizing the density of the specific searched term in the content, getting extra points for including those terms in article titles, meta tags and page descriptions. Google has altered its algorithms to penalize excessive keyword density as well as poor quality content, such as when it repeats the key search term awkwardly in the content. Google has penalized stuffing the article description and tags with the keywords for quite a while, though it has penalized sites that use unrelated search terms that generate a lot of traffic for far longer.
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The type of SEO to pursue depends on your type of business or service. If you are a service provider for a local area, you need to rank well for local SEO because someone on the other side of the country seeing your webpage will never pay for your services. If you make money from people installing your app, the app page needs to be properly categorized, designed and tagged in a way to show up in the top few spots of those looking for that type of app.
If you sell a product, you need to write content with SEO that puts it in the right stage of the sales funnel. Articles comparing your product against its competitors are for people in the final stages of the sales funnel, while product directory pages should show up for those searching for exactly that product or who seem to want to buy your product.
You can use a variety of tools to identify keywords and search terms that generate significant traffic, but aren’t already dominated by domains that you have no chance of dislocating from the top few slots. Selecting terms that simply have little competition is a poor strategy unless you are going to have a high conversion rate for those who read your content. As the artificial intelligence behind the search engines gets smarter, it is better able to measure the quality of content and grade it relative to the intent searchers have when they use key search terms. For this reason, how well the content is written and fits what the AI thinks the user’s intent is matters more than keyword density.
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Search engine optimization focuses today on the content you create and the website’s design, since the bots that scan each page to categorize it cannot yet watch videos or interpret images and categorize them. These types of content still require SEO, such as optimizing the video title to come up in searches for the issue the video explains and using descriptions for each image or infographic so that it ranks well for searches. For example, pictures of your product, whether shared on your home page or Instagram, should have a file name and description that describes the item and mentions your company name or brand name.
SMO Vs SEO
SMO stands for social media optimization. SEO is aided by SMO, since the sharing of links via social media is given more weight by search engines than the mere quantity of links scattered around the internet. You should also apply SEO to your company’s social media accounts so that people know which one is your company’s legitimate social media profile. Standardized social media profiles used by a company increase its domain authority or trust factor by the search engines, indirectly improving the search engine results page ranking for your home page and any link you share via social media.
SEO has moved from keyword density to the optimization of content to the user’s intent as determined by the AI behind the search engines. The main types of SEO include local SEO, application SEO, conversational SEO and keyword based SEO. Modern SEO strategies require designing content that converts visitors to paying customers and showing up at the right stage in the sales funnel for the intent of the visitor. SMO affects SEO and you can apply SEO to social media profiles that are the center of SMO.