A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

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Written By Charlotte Miller

You’ve heard the term before. Whether it was online while researching ways to make your business flourish, or at the water cooler when a co-worker mentioned it. Maybe someone told you about it as the hot new thing in marketing. Wherever you heard it, you know that the phrase ‘search engine optimization’ has some power in just about any industry out there. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or what service you’re providing, search engine optimization seems to be what everyone is talking about anymore these days. 

But why? What is search engine optimization, anyway? How does it work? If you’re new to the idea, it can seem overwhelming to try to figure it all out on your own. Don’t worry! This guide will walk you through what all the fuss is about, including how it works and how you can get in on the action. Fortunately, though there’s a lot of technical skill in utilizing search engine optimization (or SEO) properly, it doesn’t take any technical knowledge to understand the basics of how it works and why it matters for your business.

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What is SEO?

In short, SEO is a catch-all term that refers to a series of methods to increase traffic to your website. It focuses on both the quantity and quality of that traffic, and is designed to maximize both. Despite its name, the process is less about how your average search engine works – though, that does factor into SEO design – and more about customer psychology. If you understand how a customer thinks, you can start figuring out how to meet both their needs and your own. Your customer is going to be looking online for what they need, and SEO will let you meet them on their terms to guide that search to you. 

Everybody needs something. When the modern consumer has a need, they almost always start by looking for it online. You start by figuring out what a potential customer is looking for and how they’re looking for it. The ‘how’ isn’t a vague term, either; SEO focuses on actual words being searched for, the things your potential customer wants to know in their own words. Someone in Charlotte, NC looking for a service to fix their bike, for example, might type the phrase “bike repair in Charlotte NC”, or “bike fix Charlotte”, or even something as vague as “Charlotte bike”. All of these are potential queries, and SEO determines which key words are most likely to be looked for. You can find out more here!

The next step, naturally, is figuring out how to translate that into something that will lead the client to you. At their most basic, a search engine is a piece of software that looks through catalogues of web pages. They do this by comparing the keywords searched for to words attached to those web pages. The process that search engines use is called crawling and indexing, which is exactly what it sounds like: crawling through indexed pages to determine the best match, or ranking, to what the user looked for. SEO is the practice of understanding how user psychology and search engines intersect and utilizing that information to drive traffic to you. 

Why Does It Matter?

SEO is, to put it bluntly, one of the most effective ways to optimize your company’s presence in consumer minds. It relies on organic methods – that is, methods that aren’t paid for and use what’s already there instead of generating anything new – to drive traffic to your website. It makes sure that the landing page where that traffic goes not only catches their attention, but is a good match for what the user was looking for. In short, search engine optimization is a way to make sure that the customer is getting to the best place for their needs, and to make sure that you get the customers you’re looking to provide a service for. 

The best part is that all of this benefit comes at potentially no cost to you. Because you’re using key words and methods that utilize the way a search engine already works, you don’t necessarily need to pump any more money into your advertising than you already do. Given that up to 80% of people looking for services on mobile devices (hands down, the most common way people are looking for what they need) commit to buying when SEO is used, there’s really no downside to using it. 

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How Do I Use It?

The absolute best practice for SEO is to leave it to the professionals. While its efficacy and sheer power in driving traffic to you and converting that traffic to sales is borderline unrivaled, the various methods and intricacies of it can be overwhelming. It’s okay not to know how to utilize it to its full potential on your own. A good consultant can take care of the technical angle for you. As pointed out at https://charlotteseo.org/, an SEO service can also work on things like website design, interconnectivity between pages, and social media management – all important things for driving organic traffic to your site. At the end of the day, there’s no reason not to consider optimizing your chances to get people’s eyes on you. Getting the right traffic to your service and getting your service to the right people is key to maximizing your business’s efficiency, profitability, and customer engagement. 


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