SEO Basics for Beginners
First, let’s assume that you have a website. (If you don’t, stop reading this and build yourself a website immediately.) Have you ever wondered how certain companies appear at the top of a Google search while others wind up on page 4 of the listings?
The answer is search engine marketing (SEM), which lets you influence your company’s positioning in web searches. And North America advertisers spent $20 billion on it in 2012 alone, with services such as Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Bing Ads.
The easiest way to ensure that your business will lead the search engine rankings is to pay the search engine company (Google, Bing, etc.) for a top spot. This is called “paid inclusion,” “paid placement,” or “sponsored listings,” and it may mean you’ll be bidding against others—and often forking over a pay per page or pay per click fee—for the privilege.
If that doesn’t appeal to you, there are other ways to elevate your name in the rankings (this is called “search engine optimization” or SEO). The most consistently successful tactics is to use “keywords” while delivering relevant, helpful content. You determine relevant and popular words and phrases for your category, and use them in website content that readers will engage with. Then when someone enters those keywords—let’s say, “Atlanta seafood restaurant”—the search engine looks for sites that users like and that also use those keywords. If your site is among them, you’ll place high in the listings.