What the heck is this SEO thing anyway – and do I really need it?

- March 31, 2021 3 MIN READ

Despite Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) being promoted as one of the most crucial marketing strategies over the last two decades, many business owners and (dare I say it) marketers, still don’t understand what is involved and purpose behind it, writes Ben Hirons founder of digital marketing agency Due North.

To help you, let’s get real about what SEO is, why you need it and how to do it well to ensure your customers can find you quickly and easily when they’re searching the web for the products and services you provide.

What is SEO?

SEO is the work you complete to ensure Google sees your business as being more important than what your current digital footprint is saying you are. When SEO is done right, you appear higher in relevant searches, making it easier for customers and potential customers to find you.

To make a big generalisation here, SEO tasks are done to trick Google into thinking you are the industry leader when, in reality, you probably aren’t.

Who is SEO for?

Despite doing SEO to attract more customers to your business, SEO tasks are done for Google, no one else. So, let’s look at what Google does. Google exists to index, categorise and rank information on the Internet. When you search Google, it’s Google’s job is to show you the most authoritative expert on the area you have searched for and provide you with a list of websites, ranked by order of relevance.

To do this, Google uses an algorithm. The catch is that nobody knows exactly how that algorithm works, but we know that certain tasks will help you increase your position within Google’s search rankings.

Why do I need SEO?

The truth is you don’t. At least not if you are getting your marketing right. When you do marketing right, you establish yourself as a thought leader in your market, and you provide answers to the questions your customers are asking. Good marketing earns your position as an expert, SEO tricks the system.

When you aren’t showing how you are an expert in your field or answering the important questions your target audience is asking; you aren’t showing any ‘Googleyness’.

How can I do SEO well?

The truth is, when you do your marketing well, there are no SEO tasks to do! SEO tasks are done to fix errors, omissions and missed steps in establishing your foundational web presence. Let me explain further by providing you with an SEO checklist. If you do these tasks well, then you are doing SEO well!

SEO Task Checklist

  • Build a great website – Your website should load quickly, be intuitive and easy to navigate, have the right headings and titles and content that answers common search questions and phrases.
  • Have a solid web presence – You should have a good business listing on all the main business directories and have online maps (Google My Business and Apple) set up. You should also have a presence on your industry association (where possible) and a presence on relevant industry websites.
  • Create engaging content – Share relevant and valuable information on your social channels and build relationships with your audience. Do this and your loyal band of followers will share this information with others for you, producing that viral effect that Google and all of us love so much.
  • Develop your thought leadership – Share information, ideas and advice that betters your industry and makes the life of those you serve easier. This can lead to greater opportunities through your peers and valuable backlinks from industry and trade publications and other media outlets.
  • Under promise and over deliver – When you do what you say, you’ll get happy customers who want to tell everyone about you. This will result in more referrals and more reviews for your business. Your audience will become brand ambassadors who want to share their story about doing business with you with other people they know.

See what I mean about SEO being done well when your marketing is done well? Now for the big questions – what marketing tasks aren’t you doing well that is impacting your SEO results? What can you focus on this week, month or year to ensure your customers can find you easily and Google sees you for the expert you are?

Now read this

Eight SEO tips for the unique traffic needs of online stores