SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The process of optimizing your website code, content, and design to increase its search result visibility resulting in an increase of targeted un-paid organic traffic.
A site should be optimized to let search engines and users aware of the content that their site provides. In the past companies would optimize their company names to show first or rank #1 in their local phone books. AAA Towing, AAA Plumbers, etc. These names outranked “Big Al’s Towing” and even regionally targeted “NYC Towing.”
Being first and easy to find in the phone book was a big source of revenue. Today having the top spot on Google can lead to a lot of revenue for you. The top result on Google on average receives 30% of all the clicks. The second result receives less than half of that, just under 15% of the clicks. With each result diminishing in returns from there down (source).
Beyond simply clicks alone, there are many psychological factors involved with owning a top ranking site. A top ranking site is going to convert traffic at a much higher rate overall as there is an established credibility and trust involved with receiving top ranking. In a way it has been vetted by Google and other searchers.
Emailing your links, Tweeting them, other social media, and having your customers type your URL in direct is important (and adds to your SEO ranking), but the majority of web traffic comes from web searches. Search is king when it comes to web traffic. How much can an increase in web traffic be worth to your brand?
If you search for “apple pie” what are you looking for? Recipes? Nutritional information? Shops nearby that sell it? Or do you want the history behind it? Through analyzing millions of clicks for this keyword, including at times your own prior search history, search engines have determined what is most relevant for the majority of searchers.
How do they then determine if your site is relative and score you based on that? Of course content is king, but google also factors in a whole score of things including title structure, code, URL structure, site-tree, filenames on images/files, and the metadata on images to determine what content is actually shown throughout your page.
Even if you search for “apple pie recipe” how do search engines determine what site you would like to see? There are million of pages that show and rank for “apple pie recipe.” Search Engines want to determine if your site is an authoritative source for apple pie recipes. How do they do this? They in a way ask others. Are other sites linking to your recipe? Links from other pages are known as backlinks. In general, the more links a page has, the more authoritative it is deemed and the higher it will rank.
A website should be built for the end user. I want to emphasize this so much because at times people have an outdated view of what SEO is. Search engines determine if your site is useful from collecting and analyzing user usage data. They track the average time on a page users spend; They track how many pages the average user visits a session; They track if a user exits back to click on further search result pages or if a sites information satisfied their needs.