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How to Become an SEO Specialist

What Is SEO?

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SEO stands for search engine optimization, which is a digital marketing strategy that optimizes your website to get organic traffic from the search engine results page. By understanding how SEO works, you can create content your potential audience is looking for—and present it in the best possible way—your site will show up more often in search results, which in turn connects you to new users and grows your business.

Why Is SEO Important?

SEO is important because users click organic search results over ads as much as 94 percent of the time—and as a result, more than half of all website traffic starts with a search. So if you’re not appearing in search results, you’re missing out on half your potential audience.

And it’s not enough to simply appear in search results; you have to rank well, too. One study suggested that Google’s top five search results for any given query claim more than two-thirds (67.6 percent) of all clicks.

However, ranking well is easier said than done. If there were a simple way to trick search engines into ranking your site higher, everyone would be doing it (and make no mistake—they’ve tried). Search listings may be free, but it’s not possible to pay for a better ranking. Improving your ranking—using SEO techniques—is something of a dark art that calls for a special blend of strategy, science, and creativity.

How Does SEO Work?

SEO works by helping search crawlers and algorithms access and understand your content, allowing them to figure out if your page is the best choice for the search query.

There are a number of factors that can optimize a website for search results, ranging from quick fixes like properly labeling your images all the way up to reimagining your entire approach to content development. One key to the latter is creating content with clear, descriptive language that includes the key phrases you suspect a user might search for when seeking information, products, or services related to your site. Even in this, though, some subtlety and prudence is required; trying to game a search engine’s algorithms by littering your copy with every keyword you can think up will backfire if Google thinks your website is being deceptive.

Other factors that contribute to on-page SEO include keyword relevance, site experience, sculpting (the process of editing away the needless bulk on your site), and site architecture, as well as external factors like backlinks—how many other websites organically link to yours. But ultimately, one of the best ways to rank well is to tailor your content to the things your audience is searching for.

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