What is SEO and Why is It important?

SEO is an extremely important traffic-generating strategy that all bloggers should be using–and yet many bloggers don’t even know what it is or how to use it. In fact, many beginning bloggers have never even heard of it. That changes today.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it is the process of tweaking your blog posts so they rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).

How Search Engines Work

People use search engines to find the information they need quickly. Therefore, it is the role of the search engine to deliver the most relevant and useful search results as quickly and efficiently as possible.

With over 644 million websites on the Internet today, most of which have multiple pages and posts, search engines have a LOT of information to sort through. This sorting isn’t done by a person, of course, it’s done by computer programs, also known as bots, robots, crawlers or spiders.

Every day, search engine bots comb through as much of the Internet as possible, creating a huge database of links and useful information. Having an up-to-date database allows them to provide relevant and useful search results as quickly as possible.

When someone searches for a particular search term, the bots look through their databases and come up with the sites and articles they think will be the most helpful, depending on a number of different factors.

Search Engines in the Past

In the early days of search engines, search engine bots would simply look for pages that contained the words people searched for. Internet marketers knew this, and some would take advantage of it. For example, if you searched for “cheap lamps for sale,” you might get a page that said something like this:

“Looking for cheap lamps for sale? We have a great selection of cheap lamps for sale. Come in to our store and see all of our cheap lamps for sale. You won’t be disappointed by all of our cheap lamps for sale!”

The page contained your keyword (several times!), but it didn’t exactly provide much useful or readable information.

Search Engines Today

Thankfully, search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have evolved dramatically since their early days and their results are now more relevant and useful than ever.

No longer do search engines look only at matching keywords. Instead, Google’s algorithm now has over 10,000 different ranking factors it uses to determine how to order the results–that’s one complex algorithm! So complex, in fact that there is now an entire thriving industry centered around simply helping companies improve their site SEO.

Why SEO is Important

SEO is important to bloggers and business owners because it helps their websites rise to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher your website ranks, the more traffic you are likely to get. (How often do you visit pages 2 and 3 of the search results? I only click around page one, usually near the top.) And the more traffic you get, the more money you have the potential to make, either through ads or by selling more products.

And SEO doesn’t just help you get to the top of any search results list, either–it helps you get your content in front of people who are looking for content just like yours. SEO tells Google what your page is about.

SEO: Not Just For Companies Anymore

While the benefits of SEO for companies are fairly obvious–more traffic, more sales, more leads, etc–you may be wondering if SEO is important for your blog too. After all, if you aren’t selling anything, does getting to the top of the search engine results page matter? Well, that depends.

  • If you blog as a hobby, you don’t care about traffic, you don’t intend to monetize, you prefer to write about whatever you want to write about without worrying what your reader likes, and you only share stories about your family, then no, you probably don’t need to worry about SEO too much. (Though it can’t hurt.)
  • However, if you hope to blog for profit, you want to increase your traffic or you simply want to make your site better, then YES, SEO is extremely important! SEO will help you achieve your goals by letting Google know what your site is about, by bringing you more traffic, by diversifying your traffic for less risk, by bringing you targeted visitors who care about what you have to say, and by increasing your income.

Despite the current popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, search engines are still THE number one way to bring targeted traffic to your site–people who are looking for exactly the content you provide.

I want to know: What questions do you have about SEO? Have you tried any SEO tactics on your blog already?

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