What is SEO and Why Do You Need It?

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What is SEO and Why Do You Need It
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  • Post last modified:July 17, 2021

Every day, there are 3.5 billion Google searches made, translating to roughly 1.2 trillion searches annually.

Nowadays, we search Google for just about anything: from finding out the latest movies worth watching to making a purchase decision to finding business opportunities and new knowledge.

Now, as a marketer, how can we tap the 3.5 billion searches every day, which translates to 3.5 billion potential leads? As you might have guessed, the answer is SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Yet, many marketers and business practitioners are skeptical about SEO without even understanding the concept behind it.

However, they are not to blame as black hat SEO practices, and constant policy changes by Google have ruined SEO’s reputation over the years.

So as a marketer, you might want to ask: What is SEO? Do I need it? Let us debunk the myths and uncover the facts to answer those questions.

What Is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is an effort to improve your website ranking on search engines, mainly Google and Bing. This is done by executing on-site and off-site optimization activities. Below, we will discuss these on-site and off-site optimizations further.

This is the hard fact for marketers: SEO has been and still is the best form of inbound marketing strategy to date. It provides the best ROI compared to other inbound marketing practices, generating 14% of leads on an average basis.

Traditional and telemarketing inbound marketing, on the other hand, only generate 6% leads for both.

However, there is another hard truth: SEO can be expensive, on average using 12% of the total marketing budget in big companies. It is also not an easy process, requiring long-term consistent effort to get to the top. However, it will be worth it in the long run.

Do You Need SEO?

Let us answer this question by doing a little experiment. Now, open SEMrush in your browser. SEMRush is simply one of the best SEO analytic tools out there. There are other options, but let’s focus on this one for the sake of this experiment. Now, type in a keyword or two related to your products or services, and click the orange Start Now button.

Now, on the next page, look at the ORGANIC SEARCH section on the top left of your screen. Is there any traffic volume for your keyword(s)? Is the volume significant enough?

If your answer is yes, then you might ask yourself: Do I need SEO to capture this search volume as potential leads? Most likely, your answer will be another yes.

Besides SEO, if the organic search volume is significant for your business, you might want to consider investing in Adwords on the same keyword(s) while waiting for your organic search ranking to grow.

Now that you are interested in investing in SEO, what should you do first?

Why focus on SEO?

This is a relatively cheap method to attract audiences. It takes some resources from the beginning but will pay off lavishly in the future.

Whereas pay-per-click advertising is a short-term campaign, search engine optimization will keep your website afloat times and times more at a minimum effort. Increase your online visibility, find your niche, build up your brand reputation – you can do all this alongside your SEO tasks fulfilled smartly.

Optimized websites have all chances for ranking in Google’s top. Ensure there are no broken links or broken resources, internal links are correct and beware of spammy links to manipulate Pagerank. You will soon feel the lasting effect of the SEO as compared to timely PPC campaigns.

What SEO data are important for business owners?

This is a big mistake that site owners ignore Google website analytics and walk in the dark trying to build their content by intuition.

Actually, SEO involves pretty many aspects, but to measure its effectiveness, you should consider these main figures in your Google analytics report:

1. Organic search traffic

Just general figures to know your website’s success and separate pages’ success. The more, the better. However, you should think of quality over quantity. You should be aware that black-hat SEO might bring you profit over some span of time, but finally, your SEO will end up in tears and no money.

2. Unique visitors

You should know your users’ retention rate, guess their intent, and find out where you can meet their expectations.

3. Sessions (daily, monthly) and session duration

Know your audience behavior: how many people return to see your pages, how often they do it, how long it takes them to read your pages on average.

4. Click-through-rate (CTR)

This figure directly measures your SEO KPI, showing how many people click on your website when they see your website in search engine result pages (SERPs). You compete with thousands of different sites on similar topics, and SEO should help you reach your target audience. The higher your CTR, the better your site breaks the message.

5. Audience breakdown

You’ve got to study your audience to know better their needs and values. See how many people view your site from mobiles or from desktop, what’s their age, sex, and interests.

This analysis will help you in two ways: first, to adapt content to serve better their intent; and second, to develop your business in such a way that you can engage larger audiences, make it fit a broader circle of interests.

6. Domain authority

This is something very small from the start and very high in a while when your website grows reputation. It’s great when you have links from authoritative resources quoting you, it’s cool when you appear on top pages in SERPs, and it’s superb when people get stuck on your website for many minutes and perform conversions.

7. Social value

This is extremely important in the era of social media, which brings tons of advantages over mass media, broadcast media, word-of-mouth media, and the rest. Run social media profiles to talk to your audience, and analyze social buzz to know the tendencies and build your brand reputation in between.

What SEO tools will bring you this data?

Google prevails in the search engines market, although nothing prevents you from adding some more traffic counters to your website. Well, Google Analytics is a must-have and a great tool that will lead you to hundreds of ideas of what to improve on your site.

Whether you get your Google statistic from an SEO consultant or do your site audit by yourself, you should operate with these figures like Ronaldo with a ball.

Check out the Audience, their Behavior Goals Conversions to see how well your articles perform.

In addition, you can deploy some SEO optimization software like Website Auditor in this example. It is a real helping hand for website optimizers. It allows integrating your Google Analytics and Google Search Console to gather all these factual data quickly.

What is more, it will detect all kinds of possible errors and give clues on how to fix them. Every error is provided with an explanation of why it is important to get rid of it.

So, the talk of SEO-optimizers with site owners will be brief and easy: just hand in the report, summarizing what needs to be fixed. Draw attention to successes and failures, and provide a concise reference if the point is vague.

The real beauty of this SEO reporting tool is that you can automate the workflow and schedule report delivery with all the necessary figures. Get reports weekly or monthly to your email, without the need to jump into your Analytics data, and monitor your website performance even when you are away from your desktop.

How can I use this site analytics?

The online performance analysis fine-tunes your business processes and guides your site growth.

  1. You optimize your website by investing in the resources that only you own and that will pay off in the long run. It helps build your relations with your audiences and create your brand name.
  2. Your site becomes a visiting card, or a shop window, or a feedback medium, and all these purposes should be served at their best.
  3. You can do some competitor research further and know where you stand in your niche, what steps you need to take to keep up with your competitors, to outrank them, or maybe to borrow some techniques that they use. You might enjoy some keyword rank checker tool here like Rank Tracker.

Let us take a deeper look at your options.

How to Optimize Your Website with On-Site SEO?

As mentioned, there are two different strategies to achieve top search ranks: on-site and off-site optimizations. Now, let’s focus on the On-Site SEO strategy, which accounts for roughly 20% of your potential success.

Here is a step-by-step guide on what you can do:

1. Analyze Your Keywords

Remember SEMRush we have used above? You can either use it or other SEO analytic tools like MOZ Keyword Explorer or other options for this step. Make a list of all possible keywords you can think of which are related to your niche. Analyze all those keywords to figure out what is currently popular or trending in your niche.

The number of options might vary greatly between different niches and industries. However, after you’ve done your analysis, you should get a clearer picture.

It would help if you also considered the competition of the keyword: a keyword might have an excellent volume, but the competition might be too tight/expensive for you.

A volume of 5,000 with a keyword difficulty of 80 and below is a good start, depending on your industry.

2. Content Development

Now that you’ve got the list of the effective keywords make several as your primary targets and develop content to optimize the keywords on-site.

Contents can come in the form of blog posts, landing pages, product pages, or others. The form doesn’t really matter, as long as they are engaging and optimized. What you really need to remember is to develop content for your audience, not for search engines.

This is one of the most common SEO mistakes. Focus on creating helpful and engaging content instead of stuffing your website with keywords.

Make sure to optimize meta tags and descriptions, add images and other media with optimized tags. Don’t forget to also optimize the user experience on your site.

Off-Site Optimization

Now that we have understood the on-site SEO optimization method let’s focus on the hard part: off-site optimizations. Off-site optimization strategies will account for 80% of your SEO success.

The basic principle of off-site SEO is straightforward: your ranking is determined by the number of websites linking to yours (called backlinks). Who made the links are also important: only real and quality websites will account, and big websites will help you rank better.

So, work slowly by building your backlinks. Don’t rush, or you will be flagged as practicing black hat SEO. 2 or 3 backlinks per week are sufficient.

Here is a nice guide to help you with ideas to build backlinks.

Remember, only DoFollow links will count, and not NoFollow links. Understand the differences between both here.

DON’T buy backlinks from anyone and don’t use any automated software. You can earn an algorithmic penalty that will last years, effectively rendering any further SEO practices futile.

Other SEO Techniques You Can Try

Here are some other SEO techniques you can try. Some will only work with certain niches or industries, while others are universal.

1. Local SEO strategies for brick and mortar businesses

There are several Local SEO practices you can try if you are a brick and mortar establishment. Create a pin for your business on Google maps and optimize it. Aim for online directories and citations, as well as claiming Google My Business. Here is a very nice guide by MOZ for local SEO practices.

2. Frequently update your on-site contents

As mentioned, SEO is a long-term practice. In general, you should update your blog posts at least once every week. Also, consider guest-posting on popular sites of your industry. Offer them to contribute content for free; this is a very nice way to build backlinks and reputation.

3. Participate in Expert Roundups

Expert Roundups are simply one of the most effective forms of content optimization nowadays. Again, this is a very nice guide to get started with expert roundups.

4. Get Reviewed

If you are selling tangible products or services, you should always aim to get more reviews, especially Google Maps and other popular website review sites.

5. Register In All Directories and Catalogs

Simply make your company and products/services as visible as possible. There are a lot of directories and catalogs for just about any industry or niche.

Bottom Line

After you’ve got a clearer picture of the SEO strategies you can try, here is one last tip we can give: keep track of your efforts and how they progress.

Begin by installing Google Analytics, your most trusty advisor, and the search console to track your traffic, impressions, and ranking.  Track your keyword rankings frequently and always evaluate what you can improve (and eliminate not working strategies).

Remember that SEO is always evolving, and you will also need to adjust your strategies to keep up with the times. Quora is a good place to look for currently working strategies by browsing recent digital marketing and SEO questions.


Daniel is the founder of COMPETICO digital agency. Since 2014 he helps digital businesses COMPETE SMARTER and WIN BIGGER through SEO, and Competitive Intelligence.