Why SEO is for People NOT a search engines

When you think of search engine optimization (SEO), you might think about keywords and backlinks. While keywords and backlinks are important aspects of SEO, your visitors are number one.

An SEO campaign involves catering to search engines, but good campaigns are focused on visitors. In this article, we’ll explain how search engine optimization is only effective when implemented to benefit your customers.

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What is SEO and why is it important in 2023?

Search engine optimization is a general term for a variety of strategies used to get web pages ranked higher in the search engines. In order for your content to be seen in the search results, it must rank for the words and phrases people type into the search engines.

When users perform a search through Google or Bing, they’re given a list of search results that span throughout numerous pages. These pages are commonly referred to as the SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages. The goal of SEO is to get your content to appear as high as possible in the SERPs – preferably on the first page.

While SEO has been around for decades, it’s a timeless strategy that never becomes obsolete, although many of the practices have evolved. Some strategies have been rendered useless, while others have simply changed. 

If you’re wondering what’s still relevant in 2023, here’s what you need to know.

How SEO puts your content in front of your customers in 2023:

  • Backlinks. Search engines were founded on backlinks. When Google first launched, it was actually called ‘Backrub’ because it ranked websites according to how many backlinks they had from other websites.

It didn’t take long for people to start gaming the system by stuffing links into random webpages. This tactic worked for a while, but it delivered irrelevant search results to users. Soon, Google began updating its algorithm to account for other factors when ranking websites.

While backlink stuffing is dead, backlinks are still the foundation for ranking in Google and other search engines. The difference is that backlinks need to be relevant, presented in the proper context, and derived from high-quality sources.

To support SEO efforts, backlinks must be relevant to visitors. For example, when you place a backlink in an article published on someone else’s blog, make sure the anchor text matches the destination and will appeal to visitors.

  • Content marketing. Inextricably combined with backlinks, content marketing is a foundational aspect of SEO. This component promotes content you’ve published to your website through backlinks on other people’s websites.

Content marketing in 2023 is for the visitor

Content marketing is actually the positive evolution of the spammy backlink practices of the past. Instead of randomly inserting backlinks on any webpages you can find to cheat the system, content marketing is a strategy that aims to provide value to your visitors and generate a backlink to your website.

For example, say you published an article on your website describing how to plant and maintain a garden in a greenhouse. If you want to rank that specific webpage in the search engines, you need to find a reputable publisher that produces content related to gardening and ask if you can write a guest post.

Once approved to write the guest post, you’d write an article specifically for that publisher’s audience and include a link to your article on greenhouse gardening.

The idea is to always be publishing a stream of articles on other websites to continually accumulate high-quality backlinks that send you relevant traffic and help boost your ranking in the search engines.

  • Keyword optimization. Keywords will always be king, simply because keywords are what users type to generate search results. SEO in 2023 requires optimizing your website content for keywords. However, there is an art to this practice that puts your visitors first.

It’s important to optimize your website for keywords specifically related to what your customers are looking for when performing searches. If you rank for keywords your customers aren’t interested in, you won’t get many clicks, sales, or conversions.

What you’re after isn’t just a first-page ranking – you want a first-page ranking for keywords your target customers are typing into the search engines.

There are two ways to create a good keyword phrase list for your SEO efforts.

The first is to use a keyword tool. Many people use Google Keyword Planner, but the keyword tool from Semrush will give you more accurate results.

The second is to think about what your ideal customer wants or needs and address how your product or service will satisfy those desires in your content. This will tell the search engines more about the context of your content and will help you get conversions from visitors.

Think about different phrases people might use to search for their solutions, such as, “how do I…,” or “how to…,” or “troubleshooting x,y,z.” Create some keyword phrases using these formats.

LSI keywords are important, too

Search engines scan content for related keywords to understand the context of the content. These related keywords fall under the category of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).

LSI keyword optimization involves adding keywords and phrases related to your main subject. For example, if you run a motorcycle shop, you’ll naturally have articles written about motorcycles. However, those articles will benefit from LSI if you include related topics like motorcycle gear, motorcycle maintenance, or motorcycle festivals.

  • Google PPC ads. Although PPC ads aren’t technically part of SEO, the ads show up at the top of search results in Google. This makes ads a shortcut to getting your content to show up on the first page of Google’s search results.
  • Google My Business listings. Like PPC ads, Google business listings show up above the search results on Google. If you can optimize your local business listing to show up in the search results, you can capture traffic from the first page of Google without having to rank your web pages.
  • Local SEO. Local searches are huge. According to statistics sourced by SEO experts at Ahrefs, 30% of all mobile searches are location-specific, like people searching for a “burger restaurant near me.” Also, 76% of those people visit a business within a day of performing the search.

Local SEO is the best way to reach your customer base. When you’re optimizing for local search, you’re completely focused on your market.

Knowing your market will get you optimal results

As you can see, search engine optimization is a big undertaking and requires expertise to implement. There are some aspects of SEO you can perform yourself, like on-page optimization, but a professional can get you the best results.

While you can learn the technical skills to perform SEO, a professional SEO agency has the golden ticket for reaching customers: access to market research tools and/or experience with your market.

If you want to reach your customers in 2023 with SEO, you need to know everything about them. If you’re struggling to figure out your market, or you want to improve your traffic and conversions, reach out to us and we’ll be glad to see how we can help.

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