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SEO: What Is It, and Why Should You Care?
By: Heather Ewert
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If you’re running a business website, you know how important it is to be found on the top search engines. Because Google accounts for nearly 67% of the searches being performed within the U.S., it’s no wonder that people have tried to figure out how to get their sites to index higher on popular search engine’s return list. Why? Well, if you rank on the first page of Google, you’re far more likely to get traffic — up to 94% of people click on a result on the first page. This sounds great, but how do you secure placement on the front page of a popular search engine with a lot of competition?
You do it through SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of customizing your site so that it ranks higher in search results. While the tactics for securing a high-ranking site vary, there are a few methods that are almost a surefire way to get you noticed. Let’s take a moment to review some of them.
1. Define fantastic keywords. The reason it is so important to have good keywords is because getting your site to rank higher is essentially like playing a guessing game. That is to say, your audience is behaving in a specific manner: every time they type in a keyword or keyphrase, they’re looking for something very precise. It’s your job to anticipate this and ensure that you can create content that pertains to these specific words and phrases. You can see how people are searching for businesses in your industry, then customize your keywords so that your site will be found when those keywords are queried. Using tools like Google Analytics can help you ensure that you always have effective keywords for your site.
2. Creating relevant backlinks. Google will rank you higher if more sites link to yours. Aside from ensuring that you are listed on popular business sites, try participating in link exchanges or offering guest posts on other high-quality sites. Not only will you be creating original content, but the site will link back to yours, offering you free advertising and strong backlinks. On your own site, be sure to link to several different pages. (I.e., don’t just link to your index page.) Additionally, users often click on call to action phrases such as “Click here” rather than keywords, so keep this in mind as you craft your content.
3. Update regularly with organic content. This is one of the most important aspects to understand. Content is everything. Before the most recent upgrade to Google’s indexing algorithm, many poorly optimized sites would just spam their keywords over and over again, and oftentimes link to outdated or broken pages. Now Google will actually push those types of results farther down the return list. You need organically created content with strategic keyword placement for Google to recognize your site’s relevance. For example, try to write a blog post revolving around one of your keywords as a topic, and ensure all the links within it are functional and direct the reader to the proper working page.
4. Stay up to date. Above all, stay up to date with Google’s algorithms. For larger companies, it can be worth the investment to hire an SEO expert to help with the details of optimization. For smaller companies, just knowing a few tricks like the ones I’ve mentioned can make a world of difference.
Any other thoughts on SEO? Let me know!

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About the Author
Heather Ewert is a content writer for an internet marketing company. She enjoys creative writing as well and blogs in her personal time at http://infernoofcool.wordpress.com/. She lives in sunny Southern California with her boyfriend, Snowshoe kitty, and her collection of Warcraft novels.
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