What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website’s organic visibility on search engines.

Written by Matthew Urwin
Published on Dec. 16, 2021
What Is SEO?
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Brynn Holland | Aug 11, 2022

It involves both content-related and technical practices. By applying SEO fundamentals and best practices, sites can improve their overall user experience and drive more traffic to their products and services.

How is SEO applied to a website?

  • SEO is applied to websites using content strategies such as on-page optimizations and keyword research, as well as technical SEO strategies, such as sitemaps and site architecture. 

To achieve high rankings on search engines, an SEO specialist or SEO manager may use a number of different strategies that involve both content and technical SEO.

Strategic keyword research is a must-have in any SEO's toolbox, as it is the process of finding relevant phrases a website should rank on and optimizing pages, particularly content, for those phrases. Unique, high-quality, relevant content that is authoritative, optimized, aligns with a website's overall theme and captures the interest of the site's target audience is key to any SEO content strategy.  

Technical SEO is the process of making sure a website can be easily crawled, indexed, rendered and understood by search engine crawlers. This area of SEO strategy encompasses everything from fast load times for web pages to easy-to-read URL structures and optimal site architecture that not only points crawlers to the most important pages on the site, but also provides contextual relationships between those pages to help crawlers better understand what the site is about.  

What does SEO do in marketing?

  • SEO is a powerful traffic attribution channel that connects with billions of users every day. Aligning one's SEO strategy with other marketing campaigns can help create a holistic digital footprint that can impact everything from the acquisition of target users to the creation of brand affinity. 

For many companies, SEO is critical to a successful digital marketing strategy. Crafting a great SEO strategy requires a strong understanding of a website's core audience, offerings and goals. For example, targeted keyword research can play an important role in creating the kind of content that attracts qualified leads, while also helping establish a brand as being relevant and important to consumers. Additionally, competitor research is a pivotal component of any SEO strategy, and can be used to differentiate a brand by either filling a gap in the marketplace or refocusing the overall user acquisition strategy to serve a more targeted audience.   

An important concept in SEO is the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), which describes how search engines have revolutionized the way consumers find information and make decisions about brands during key moments along their path to conversion. When consumers are looking for information about a particular topic or product, the starting point is often a search engine. This is the first interaction the vast majority of consumers have with a brand, and winning the ZMOT is an important step in any marketing campaign. There can be multiple ZMOTs depending on where a user may be in their decision making process, and winning the searches that speak to these intents at just the right moment in the process creates the kind of awareness and credibility that leads to conversions. 


How can I learn SEO?

With access to advanced tools and learning resources, professionals can cultivate a broad understanding of SEO techniques and skills.

One of the most effective ways to learn SEO is through hands on work and guidance in the field. There are a number of helpful resources online, from in-person interest groups to convenient online courses, many of them free. Becoming an expert, however, takes time, patience, and a willingness to experiment. It's not uncommon for many SEO experts to first get their feet wet by working on a friend's website or their own, applying techniques and advice from others in the SEO community and learning the broad strokes and subtleties of the discipline through real-time exploration. 

Of course, it's very helpful to learn about important tools and concepts in SEO, such as keyword research, technical best practices and other  helpful techniques before diving in. There are a number of great online classes, tutorials and guides to help you get started. Check out the offerings below to get started. 

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