SEO stands for “search engine optimization” which is fancy for making websites visible in search engines (like Google). Improving visibility in search engines can be a lucrative digital marketing channel for business owners seeking traffic to their websites without having to pay for ads, rely on social media, or wait for people to come to their store. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to drive more organic search traffic and monetize it. With time and effort, even knowing the basics can turn a one-person side hustle into a money-making machine.
Over time, it can be a powerful avenue for digital monetization that will keep on giving long after you are done.
Types of Search Engines
Today we have lots of traditional search engines like Google Search and Bing, but these are a lot more prevalent than people think. Any time anybody performs a search or enters a query into a search box, it’s using a search engine.
These are the most popular search engines today:
- Google, so common it even became a verb
- YouTube, biggest search engine for video content
- Amazon, biggest search engine for products
- Facebook, biggest search engine in social media
- Bing, second biggest search engine in the world
- Baidu, biggest search engine in China
- Yandex, huge market share in Russia
Search engine optimization is a process that aligns a brand with the audience. If you’re trying to run a business or build a website to make money, SEO helps you understand what your audience is looking for & better cater to their needs. Since search engines promote content with a better user experience, we use SEO to understand what that means and how to improve it.
How SEO works
In the business world, the act of optimizing your website for search engines can be a very intensive & hands-on process that marries audience research, competitive analysis, content marketing, and web development. This is usually handled by SEO specialists, however, given the complexity of the subject, it requires evangelization across designers, writers, marketers, and developers to ensure most elements are taken into account at larger organizations. Most companies tend to hire digital marketing agencies to handle this for them, costing several thousand dollars each month.
In a typical SEO strategy, there are different phases (research, auditing, implementation) that span different realms of SEO (technical, on-page, & off-site) that happen simultaneously or in intervals. Applied over time, SEO adds a compounding effect that yields immense traffic acquisition opportunities for the committed ones.
The Three SEO Phases
One of the most valuable activities for SEO is keyword research. At this stage, we use SEO tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Keywords Everywhere that help us research what people search for. This can inform the content we create by evaluating metrics like search volume (demand) & competition (supply).
Keyword Research helps understand your target audience, so you can create content to answer the questions they’re asking, or shopping for a product you sell. The best & most powerful digital content marketing strategies are informed by keyword research.
A clean website that offers a great user experience (UX) will perform better than a slow one with lots of errors and low-quality content. SEO specialists are pros at auditing websites and taking advantage of every possible signal that improves experience and usability.
- Fix the errors on your website
- Remove outdated/unused content
- Make sure your pages load fast
- Make your website responsive to screen-size
- Write great content
This is the fun part! Once you have keyword research and audit recommendations, the implementation phase will make up the majority of your time. This is when you get to create the content you found a great opportunity for or when you get to install website plugins that compress images and cache files to speed your pages up.
The Three SEO Realms
This aspect of SEO relies on building fast, responsive, and user-friendly web experiences that keep your content accessible. Having web development & HTML/JSS/CSS/PHP knowledge helps considerably. Although most users don’t notice most of what’s happening on the back-end, they will notice when something breaks.
Most of these changes happen on your content and are visible to users so whoever is writing your content should know SEO best practices to get the most bang for your buck. This often involves creating content based on keyword research, incorporating keywords into your content, and removing low-quality content (taking down or improving).
Although SEO depends heavily on the content of your website, a big aspect of SEO surrounds the popularity and legitimacy of your brand on the web. If nobody has heard of you or talks about you, chances are SEO will be more difficult. Having an online presence on social media, other websites talking about you, being included in local directories, or even press releases help provide signals to Google that you are trustworthy and legitimate.
Learn SEO If You’re Looking to Make Money Online
It can be very expensive for companies to invest in SEO, but being mindful of SEO Best Practices early on can save them hundreds of thousands of dollars later on.
If you have a website of your own or thinking about creating one to make money online, SEO offers a more structured marketing approach to get free traffic on the products you sell or services you provide.