Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seems pretty straightforward. You choose a few keywords and voilà! Your site is optimized for SEO, right?

Not yet.

Many people understand the basic principles of SEO, but a lot has changed in the past decade.

The SEO that we know and love today is not the same SEO that we knew and loved (or hated) 10 years ago. And that’s why marketers should keep redefining and redefining SEO. Here is a short definition in less than 100 words:

What is SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization – so much has stayed the same. It refers to techniques that will help your website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). This will make your website more visible to people looking for solutions that promote your brand, product or service through search engines like Google, Yahoo! and Bing can provide.

What hasn’t stayed the same are the techniques we’re using to improve our rankings. This has all to do with the search algorithms that these companies are constantly changing.

Here are some other frequently asked questions about this critical practice today.

How does SEO work?

SEO optimizes the pages of a website, does keyword research, and earns inbound links. You can generally see the results of SEO efforts once the webpage has been crawled and indexed by a search engine.

Look deeper: However, there are tons of ways you can improve the SEO of your website pages. Search engines look for elements like title tags, keywords, image tags, internal link structure, and inbound links (also known as backlinks). And these are just a few examples.

HubSpot customers: You can check the SEO panel on your HubSpot account to see how well you are optimized for these things.

Search engines also study the structure and design of the website, visitor behavior, and other external factors outside of the website to determine how high your website should be in their SERPs.

What is organic search?

Organic search refers to someone who performs a search on a search engine and clicks on an unpaid result. Organic search is a search marketing channel that can be used as part of inbound marketing to increase website traffic.

Look deeper: In search engine optimization today, you can’t just include as many keywords as you can to reach the people who are looking for you. In fact, it will affect your website’s SEO as search engines will recognize this as keyword stuffing – or inserting keywords specifically ranked for that keyword instead of answering someone’s question.

Nowadays, you should use your keywords in your content in a way that doesn’t make them feel unnatural or forced. There’s no magic number – it all depends on the length of your keyword and article – but if you feel like you’re forcing it, it’s better to ignore it and keep writing naturally.

What is SEO Strategy?

An SEO marketing strategy is a comprehensive plan to attract more visitors to your website through search engines. Successful SEO includes on-page strategies that use intent-based keywords. and off-page strategies that are used to earn inbound links from other websites.

Look deeper: Before starting a new site page or blog post, you will likely think about how to incorporate your keywords into your post. That’s fine, but it shouldn’t be your only focus – or even your primary focus. When creating content, your focus should be on your audience intent, not how often you can include a keyword (whether long tail or short tail) in your content.

To satisfy the intent and rank well in the long run, your SEO marketing strategy should be based on topics, not keywords. If you do, you’ll find that of course you can optimize for key keywords anyway. Understanding your target audience (also known as buyer personalities) and their interests is key to attracting relevant visitors to your website via search engines.

What is organic traffic?

Organic traffic is unpaid traffic that comes from search engines like Google or Bing. Paid search marketing doesn’t increase your organic traffic, but you can use inbound marketing software to optimize your website to get more visitors.

Look deeper: One of the biggest changes in the last decade is the way that other user behaviors affect the SERPs a user sees on search engines. And today, social media can have a huge impact on your organic traffic trend line. Just a few years ago, it made no difference who found your content using social search. But now SEO takes into account tweets, retweets, Google+ authorship, and other social signals.

Social search also prioritizes content and people associated with you. This can be done through a Facebook friend, a Twitter follower, or a connection through another social network. Sometimes social search even prioritizes content shared by an influencer. Social search understands that you may be interested in content that your network thinks is important to share. As a result, they are often displayed to you.

All of this means that when thinking about your SEO strategy, you need to think about how your social media strategy fits into the puzzle, too.

What is direct traffic?

Direct traffic consists of website visitors who landed on your website by typing the URL into their browser instead of coming from another website, search engine, or social media.

Look deeper: Think of search engine optimization as “search experience optimization”. Not only is it important that your users find your website, but that they stay on your website, interact with your content, and come back later. Direct traffic not only increases your “page authority” in the eyes of Google. It creates more opportunities to turn someone who first discovered you organically into a customer.

SEO actually takes into account whether your visitors are staying on your website and engaging with other content. If you rank well for a keyword and attract a visitor who is not relevant, it won’t really help your website.

Think about your visitors and the content they are looking for, more than the number of people you can attract to your website.

The importance of SEO

SEO is important because it helps people find information and discover pages on the World Wide Web. SEO is especially important for businesses as it ensures they answer their target audience’s biggest questions on search engines while driving traffic to their products and services.

Look deeper: In the past, SEO success was measured by whether or not you ranked high on the first page of Google. But even if you are ranked well for a tenure, does that actually mean you will see results?

Not always. They might rank really well for terms that aren’t ideal for your business. So you appear high on search engines, get a lot of traffic, but then your website visitors realize that your business is not what they were looking for. You’re not converting customers from that traffic, and ranking high for that particular keyword is essentially unsuccessful.

Plus, you don’t necessarily have to be in the top three slots to be successful. If you rank well on the following pages, you may still have a high CTR, albeit less traffic. This is great news for marketers who can’t seem to get pages into these top slots or from second page.

We have already said it and we will say it again: the number of hits on your page is less important than the qualification of those hits.

How Much Does SEO Cost?

SEO can cost anywhere from $ 100 to $ 500 a month if you do it yourself with a keyword research tool. A consultant can cost anywhere from $ 75 to $ 150 an hour and up to $ 10,000 a month when you hire a full service marketing agency. Small businesses generally spend less on SEO than big brands.

Look deeper: SEO costs can mean one of two things: investing in your organic search strategy, or how much you pay for paid search engine marketing (SEM) services like Google AdWords. When you pay for a tool, consultant, or marketing agency to optimize your web content, your bill can vary widely depending on the depth of the services you receive.

Yes, $ 10,000 sounds scary, but 40% of businesses today are actually spending less than $ 1,000 a month on SEO.

What is Paid Search Marketing?

Paid search engine marketing refers to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. This is a great way to pay a search engine for text ads that appear at the top and bottom of the search engine results pages after someone does a search. It is used to increase website traffic and attract more customers.

Look deeper: You can actually pay for top rankings on Google SERPs by signing up for a free Google AdWords account. Then you choose different keywords you want to rank under and pay Google every time a user clicks on your result. This is known as PPC search engine marketing, and your ads will look a lot different from the organic results below.

The average cost of a paid search campaign on Google can be less than $ 1 per click. Of course, the more popular the keyword, the more you can pay.

How to do SEO

  1. Do a review of the content of your website.
  2. Use the Keyword Research Tool to identify the keywords that people are using to find you.
  3. Target new keywords that you want to rank for.
  4. Develop new content and optimize existing content.
  5. Monitor your website’s performance.
  6. Buy inbound marketing or SEO software.
  7. Examine the websites that are performing well.
  8. Look for ways to get inbound links from similar websites.
  9. Monitor your changes in rankings and traffic.

It’s still the same as it was 10 years ago – a set of tactics that will help you rank better on search engines if you use them. It’s just the tactic we use now that has changed. If you’re new to SEO or want a refresher course, you might be interested in our free SEO training.

It’s up to us to keep track of the rapidly changing trends and remember that the ultimate goal of search engines is to provide their end users – searchers – with the best experience possible. If you incorporate this goal into your SEO strategy, your decisions will pay off even if you are not up to date on every nuance of search engine algorithms.

New call to action