Making Your Business More Visible with SEO

Making Your Business More Visible with SEO

Posted on June 20, 2024 0 Comments

Learn about the different kinds of SEO and how to help optimize your site with these best practices.

People don’t just stumble upon random websites these days. Nope. Instead, they’re carrying out online searches on search engines using specific keywords to lead them to sites that (hopefully) provide satisfying answers to their queries. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play.

SEO is all about making your website visible to potential customers searching for what you offer. Simply having a website and existing online isn’t enough anymore. There are over a billion other websites out there, all vying for that digital attention. This means if you’re not optimized for search, you’re just another tiny needle buried in the world’s biggest haystack.

But what does being “optimized for search” actually mean? In this post, we’ll explore the concept of SEO in more detail and highlight best practices to get your site noticed by the right people at the right time.

What Exactly Is SEO and Why Does It Matter?

SEO refers to strategies and techniques you can use to increase your website’s visibility in organic search results on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. The goal is to rank high on search engine result pages (SERPs) to get maximum engagement for targeted queries.

But why should you really care about SEO? Well, let me put it this way.

Today, most people turn to search engines like Google when looking for products, services or information. In fact, stats indicate that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.

When it comes to websites (cue: search engines) that send the most traffic to other sites, Google dominates 63.41% of the web according to Sparktoro. Bing follows at 7.21%, then YouTube which is basically a video search engine at 3.57%. Social media like Facebook and Instagram? They’re way down at the bottom. That’s because their whole purpose is to keep you on their apps and websites, not send you elsewhere. But search engines? Their job is to connect people to the most relevant, trustworthy websites for what they’re searching for.

So if you have a business website or you want people to find your physical location, SEO is absolutely critical. Maybe you’re an ecommerce brand selling products online. Effective SEO means your listings are popping up when people search for what you offer, making it much likelier they’ll click through and buy from your store, not your competitors.

Or perhaps you own a local service business like a restaurant or yoga studio. With optimized local SEO, your info shows up in those maps and local listings, complete with directions, reviews, photos and more. You’re basically positioning yourself as the best option for nearby searchers.

Ultimately, SEO establishes you as a credible, authoritative source in your industry. It can help you get ahead of competitors. It’s something you own and control, unlike those social media pages that could get shut down anytime.

The Different Types of SEO

There are a few different kinds of SEO to be aware of. We’ll highlight the major ones below:

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is all about optimizing the actual content and structure of your website to make it as search engine friendly as possible. We’re talking:

  • Using well-researched keywords and phrases for page titles, headers, image descriptions and the main content.
  • Organizing your site architecture and internal links logically.
  • Creating quality and useful content.

This helps search engine crawlers to easily understand what your pages are about and surface them for relevant queries.

Off-page SEO

Then there’s off-page SEO, which focuses on getting high-quality backlinks from other reputable websites to yours. It’s kind of like word-of-mouth referrals vouching for your credibility. Tactics could involve:

  • Guest posting or contributing expert content on authoritative third-party sites, then linking back to your own site.
  • Cultivating relationships with influencers and publications in your industry who will organically mention or link to you as a trusted source.
  • Pursuing features, reviews, interviews or other PR opportunities that result in high-quality backlinks.

Local SEO

Local SEO refers to optimizing your online presence to show up better in those location-based searches. This includes:

  • Claiming and maintaining full, accurate listings on sites like Google Business Profile and Bing Places.
  • Getting listed in relevant online directories for your service area.
  • Encouraging customers to leave reviews on high-authority sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.
  • Incorporating localized keywords, location pages, and other content optimized for “[your service] near me” type searches.

This type of SEO makes you way more visible and accessible for people searching for businesses like yours from their mobile devices or in a specific geographic area.

Technical SEO

Fast page speeds, logical site architecture, secure protocols, proper indexing—you need a rock-solid technical foundation for search engines to properly crawl your site. Slow-loading pages and technical issues can negatively impact user experience and search engine visibility, making it crucial to prioritize these aspects. The steps involved here could include:

  • Optimizing your website’s performance from the initial design and template phases
  • Planning for efficient page layouts, minimizing the use of heavy media files, and leveraging caching and compression techniques
  • Continuously monitoring core web vitals, page speed, crawlability and indexability using tools like Google Search Console

Prioritizing People-First Content

One of the easiest ways to stand out in SEO is by publishing quality content that actually helps people. In past years, the common practice was regurgitating sub-par content crammed with keywords to trick the algorithms of search engines like Google into believing the content was valuable for readers.

However, Google has gotten much smarter and is now after truly helpful content. Their quality rater guidelines include a key principle called “E-E-A-T”—Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. In other words, your content needs to come from a place of real-world knowledge and authenticity.

To tackle sites overloaded with rewritten, AI-generated fluff, Google pushed the helpful content update in August 2022. This update was all about rewarding websites that provide satisfying visitor experiences. Any site that showed overwhelming signs of non-helpfulness was automatically flagged and de-ranked. For example, my chess blog was hit during that update, but after months of deleting poor content, refreshing promising ones and rewriting others, I was able to get it back on track.

So how do you get in on this helpful content? Here are some tips. Make sure your content:

  • Uses thorough keyword research to address what people actually search for
  • Showcases true expertise through unique insights and firsthand experiences
  • Aims to genuinely help and educate readers, not just optimize for bots

If you want to crack top rankings, your content has got to go above and beyond, adding a unique voice and perspective that tangibly enriches the conversation. Don’t just rehash the same old info—use those hard-earned experiences to educate and enlighten in a way only you can. Because at the end of the day, that’s what Google wants to see: authoritative content created for humans, by humans. Their preference for expertise, experience and originality should dictate the entire approach to your SEO content strategy.

Optimizing for the Full Spectrum of Searches

While we’re on the subject of evolving algorithms and user behaviors, let’s talk about the different ways people search these days. We’re operating in a multi-device, multi-format, multi-everything digital landscape—which means a one-size-fits-all approach to optimization just won’t cut it.

Modern SEO requires optimizing your presence across the full spectrum of search experiences, including:

Voice search: The rise of voice queries: “How do I change a tire?” “What’s the latest celebrity gossip?” This is where people use full, conversational sentences to search—often from mobile devices or smart speakers.

To optimize for voice search, you first need to identify those longer, more colloquial keyword phrases related to your offerings. Then craft detailed, step-by-step content that comprehensively answers those specific questions and commands.

Video search: For industries where video is essential, maintaining visibility in video search results is non-negotiable. That means:

  • Using target keyword phrases in video titles and descriptions
  • Uploading full transcripts so search engines can read your content
  • Optimizing videos for fast load times on all devices

Image search: Similarly, some other verticals like travel, real estate, fashion and others are highly visual and image driven. To optimize for image searches, you’ll need to:

  • Use unique, high-quality photos and graphics whenever possible.
  • Provide descriptive alt text, titles and captions with target keywords.
  • Follow image compression and format best practices.

Could someone searching “beautiful living rooms” benefit from seeing photos of the interior design services you offer? Well then, you’d better optimize those living room shots to make sure they appear.

The common thread here? Understanding the nuances of how your audience searches, then creating content accordingly. Don’t assume everyone thinks and types the way you do—put yourself in their shoes and cater your SEO strategy to match.

The Impact of AI on SEO

Speaking of tools, let’s talk about the AI elephant in the room. Ever since ChatGPT hit the scene, there’s been a surge in automated, AI-generated content.

I’ve personally tested and heavily scrutinized AI writing capabilities around areas like:

  • Generating high-quality, in-depth blog content
  • Accurately projecting search volumes for keywords
  • Adapting already-written content to a certain tone of voice

The honest truth right now is that AI engines struggle with those types of nuanced, creative, technical content needs related to SEO. That’s because AI can sometimes produce a few cohesive paragraphs if given an extremely specific direction. But anything longer than that, the output quickly becomes incoherent, unreadable or blatantly inaccurate when reviewed by human editors.

There are mathematical explanations as to why AI language models break down so severely for longer-form content. But the short version is they rely on probability chains that become more tenuous and error-prone the longer they try to autonomously generate copy.

AI today simply lacks the true comprehension, context and ingenuity to strategize and produce high-quality, original SEO writing and research at scale. At least, not even close to human expert levels. The best way to work with AI is to see it as an assistant that can help with multiple functions like sourcing stats or making concise content—not just writing, but other business functions like personalization and overall content management.

In other words, AI should support and enhance your SEO process, not be the driving force behind it. Use it thoughtfully for tasks like keyword research and content ideation, basic data analysis to identify trends and opportunities, and to generate initial drafts and outlines. Because at the end of the day, you need real human expertise and quality control to check all the AI’s work. Lean too heavily on automation, and you risk getting labeled as unhelpful.

The Role of Paid Search & Social Ads

We’ve discussed how SEO should be the foundation of your online marketing efforts for sustainable, valuable organic traffic. But what about paid search and social media advertising? Where do those tactics fit in?

The key difference between SEO and something like Google Ads is that SEO is an upfront investment that continues delivering compounding returns over time. Advertising is more of a pay-as-you-go model.

With paid search ads, you’ll start getting clicks and traffic the moment your ads go live. But that traffic will immediately turn off like a faucet if you pause or stop your campaigns. You’re constantly “renting” that visibility.

Paid social advertising on places like Facebook, TikTok or Instagram can also drive some website traffic and brand awareness. But their strengths tend to skew more toward engagement within the platform itself versus sending users outbound to your site. That said, diversifying with a blend of paid and organic marketing efforts is often an effective overall strategy once you’ve built a solid SEO foundation.

Paid ads sure allow you to:

  • Quickly drive bursts of targeted traffic for time-sensitive promotions or product launches
  • Remarket to website visitors who didn’t initially convert
  • Test different creative messaging and audience targeting options before dialing in your SEO and other organic plays

But the key is not relying solely on paid efforts while neglecting SEO. That creates a scenario where you’re completely sustaining your business through constant ad spend versus earning more self-perpetuating organic traffic.

Budget is also an important factor. Paid advertising costs can ramp up rapidly depending on your industry and audience competition. Whereas SEO may have a higher upfront lift, it’s a defensible, long-term asset for your business.

Concluding Thoughts

We’ve covered a ton of ground on the “why” and “what” of SEO. But one of the most important takeaways is that SEO is an iterative, continually evolving process—not a one-and-done task.

Search trends change constantly based on new technologies, cultural events, seasonal factors and user behaviors. Your business itself may evolve its offerings or messaging over time too. All of this makes it critical to routinely revisit and adapt your SEO approach as needed.

You might want to check out Progress’s paper to see how you can implement these SEO best practices with Sitefinity. Interested in learning more? Progress also has a webinar that discusses how you can build your online presence through SEO.

For an easy-to-use platform to improve content discoverability in search engine results, with features for personalization, multichannel management and digital commerce, see a demo of what Sitefinity CMS can do for your business:

Get a Sitefinity Demo


John Iwuozor

John Iwuozor is a freelance writer for cybersecurity and B2B SaaS brands. He has written for a host of top brands, the likes of ForbesAdvisor, Technologyadvice and Tripwire, among others. He’s an avid chess player and loves exploring new domains.


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