Search engine optimization (SEO) focuses on getting a prime position for your website on search engine results pages (SERPs). Why is this important? Nearly 30% of all global web traffic comes from search engines, so if you aren’t listed on relevant SERPs, you could be losing one-third of your customer base.

There are different search engines, but SEO typically focuses on Google, which has an 83% share of the market. Other services like Bing and Yahoo! are still around, but they lag far behind Google.

Google uses algorithms with more than 200 variables to assess websites and give them a ranking for specific searches. SEO experts try to improve websites to become more attractive to Google’s ranking algorithms. Traits like site quality and usability, inbound links, keyword usage, and mobile friendliness can all impact where you get listed on SERPs.

What Are the Origins of SEO?

SEO started with early search tools like Excite, Yahoo, and Alta Vista. These engines used very simple algorithms that were easy to trick by stuffing keywords and spamming inbound links. BackRub, which eventually became Google, improved search engines in the late 1990s. Google changed the industry in 2005 by starting to offer personalized search results.

Over the years, search engines continued to improve their algorithms, eventually establishing metrics that rewarded quality content and site engineering. This changed SEO practices because it became harder to trick the algorithm with keyword stuffing and other hacks. For example, backlinks from high authority websites can earn you a higher search engine ranking than many links from low-quality sites.

What are the Benefits?

Many people use search engines to find businesses. 35% of US consumers use Google for this purpose multiple times per day, and only 1% never use online search engines. Therefore, SEO is essential for any business that wants to reach customers. Search engines are advanced enough that they can distinguish locations, allowing people to search for local businesses and making it easier for brick-and-mortar enterprises to engage with the local community.

The other advantage of SEO is that it is cost-effective. Even if you hire an expert like In Context, Inc. to help you build a quality site with the correct keywords, you will be able to draw searchers from your target market without any additional investment. These optimizations brings organic traffic, so you will be getting an audience without paying for ads directly.

Disadvantages

SEO also presents plenty of challenges. There are a lot of factors to consider, from meta descriptions and image alt text to robot.txt files that tell automated search engine crawlers about your site. Without an expert to help, you can easily spend months building a website and creating content that will not improve your ranking on SERPs.

Also, it is easy to pay too much attention to SEO. Social media engagement, customer relationship management, and other factors are also important to your business and marketing efforts. SEO, though vital, is just one piece of the puzzle.

Find Out More

At In Context, Inc., we can help you with the more complex aspects of SEO so that you get it right — right away. We are also building a collection of articles that explain the finer points of SEO, business websites, and online marketing. You can sign up for our email list here to get these insights as we publish them.