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How to use SEO to drive traffic and boost business

If you want to build search engine-friendly websites and make your website easy to use, then Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is your best bet.

Major commercial search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo drive web traffic. To get them to navigate visits to websites and generate maximum hits is the challenge and the solution as well. Whether a site provides content, services, products or information, if it cannot be found by search engines it will miss out on huge opportunities.

This is when SEO steps in. A marketing discipline aiming at growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results, SEO merges technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. SEO aspects, ranging from words on the page to the way other sites link to the web, ensure the site is structured in a way that search engines understand.

Search queries – the words that users type into the search box – are invaluable. Search engines provide targeted traffic thereby attracting visitors. This can provide publicity, revenue, and exposure like no other marketing channel. Investing in SEO can have an exceptional rate of return compared to other types of marketing and promotion.

SEO is, therefore, a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine.

According to experts, there is a science to this – search engines reward pages with the right combination of ranking factors or ‘signals’. SEO is about ensuring your content generates the right type of signals.

Improved rankings

Top search engines do improve technology to return better results to users. However, there is a limit to their operational maneuverability. SEO not only makes content available, it also boosts rankings so that content will be placed where searchers will more readily find it.

The objective is not to rank for a few top keywords that remain the same over time, but to focus on a much larger number of natural language searches that is growing and changing rapidly.

Where a site ranks in a search results page is extremely essential for directing web traffic. The higher a website ranks, the greater the chance that that site will be visited by a user. SEO helps to ensure that a site is accessible and improves the chances that it will be found by the search engine.

Types of SEO

Webopedia defines a series of important and essential SEO terms.

1. Organic SEO includes processes to obtain a natural placement on organic search engine results pages. Examples are using keywords and keyword analysis, backlinking, link building to improve link popularity, and writing relevant content.

2. White hat SEO refers to optimisation strategies, techniques and tactics that focus on a human audience opposed to search engines and follows search engine rules and policies. Also called Ethical SEO, it is more frequently used by those who intend to make a long-term investment on their website.

3. Black hat SEO refers to aggressive SEO strategies, techniques and tactics that focus only on search engines and not a human audience, and usually does not obey search engines guidelines. Examples include keyword stuffing, invisible text, adding unrelated keywords or page swapping. Used more for quick financial returns, it can possibly result in a website being banned from a search engine.

Results at a cost

An SEO service provider aims to obtain high-ranking placements in search results. When a service provider is hired, the brief is to improve organic Google search result listings. Service providers offer a wide range of packages and options, ranging from one-time fees for smaller sites to monthly subscriptions for ongoing SEO efforts and support.

Most providers will say that it takes about four to six months to see any results. However, SEO results grow over time. After six months, results could be more or even less. Results also depend on how long the website has been around, how much SEO has been done on it previously, what shape the website is in, how much content is on it, its link profile, etc.

The time and money it takes to be successful with SEO is often underestimated. Many companies get started but quit after two to three months due to unrealistic expectations. Paying for just a few months of SEO is often a waste.

According to Website Magazine, majority of agencies charge between $2,500 and $5,000 per month, while the second most common price range is $1,001 to $2,500. If an agency bills hourly, it does about 20 hours per work each month for $2,500. The most common billing is retainer based, not hourly as it combines value for the customer with the internal ability to accurately budget for expenses.

SEO is a long-term marketing tactic and not a means to generate quick sales. Proper investment and planning can make SEO a sure-shot successful marketing tactic though this depends on a few factors like domain authority, previous SEO work, the competition and the key phrases. The need is to find an SEO agency who is honest about expected results and avoid long-term contracts.