Organic search: Why is SEO important?
By Hannah Moss
If you’re a spiritual entrepreneur or you run an ethical business, you’ve probably heard of organic search and know that SEO is important. But, what exactly is SEO? How does it work? And why is it so important for growing your business?
Why do we need SEO?
Before we dive into the details of SEO, let’s first explore why we need it. When the world wide web was invented in 1989, it gave us the ability to create websites that could be viewed by anyone with an internet connection and software called a web browser installed on their computer. Very soon there were a lot of websites. In order to find a website you need a web address or URL.
The world wide web is like a library of books and once it started more and more books were added all the time. But there was no systematic way to keep all the books organised. Finding a book would be very difficult, or at least very time consuming. The solution to this in libraries is to use an indexing process called the Dewey Decimal System, which organises books into categories relative to each other. This makes it easy to walk into any library in the world and quickly find a book.
Search engines are the equivalent organising system for websites on the world wide web and SEO is how you make sure your website is organised in the right way so that the right people can find it. With over 197 active million websites on the world wide web, search engines solve the big problem of how we find the needle in the haystack of information.
What is SEO?
In simple terms, SEO – search engine optimisation – means adding information to your web pages so that they’re likely to appear in searches for keywords that are relevant to your business. For example, if you want your site to be found for ‘yoga studio nottingham’ in organic search, you need to make sure this phrase appears in all the right places on your website.
Keeping up with the algorithms
Of course, that’s a very simplistic way of looking at SEO and in reality it’s a bit more complicated. Broadly speaking, SEO can be broken down into on-page and off-site. On-page SEO is the information you put on your pages – this is what you can control and affects how you create and organise your pages. Off-site SEO is harder to control because it involves how other websites link to your pages.
Search engine algorithms are also constantly changing and are shrouded in secrecy. This means we need to stick to best practices and principles, like creating content for humans and not solely for search engines. Another important concept is understanding the importance of SEO in organic search.
What is organic search?
Organic search basically refers to someone typing a word or phrase into a search engine and receiving a list of search results on a search engine results page (otherwise known as a SERP). An important distinction to make here is between organic and paid search. Organic search results are the ones that appear underneath the paid search ads.
What organic search is not:
- If someone is looking for a particular business and types in the name or part of the name of that business, this isn’t true organic search.
- If someone already knows the URL (web address) of your site and either types it into the address bar or has it bookmarked and goes straight there, we call this ‘direct’ traffic.
If your website appears in the organic search results and someone clicks on the link, this is known as an ‘SEO click’. Your impressions (the number of times your website is served up in organic search results) divided by your SEO clicks will give you your ‘click-through rate’ (CTR).
For example, if a page on your website appears in 100 searches (impressions) and 10 people click on the link to your website, then you have a 10% conversion or click-through rate.
Another important concept to understand is that websites don’t rank for keywords. Instead, it’s your web pages that rank for specific keywords. This means that some pages on your site may get more visits than your homepage. From a user journey perspective your homepage is important, but it’s worth remembering that your homepage may not be the first page people see, especially when it comes to organic search traffic.
Why is SEO important?
At the last count (November 2022), there were around 1.14 billion websites in the world. Admittedly, only 17% of these sites are active, but that still totals 197 million active websites. This means you’re going to be facing a LOT of competition online, regardless of the industry you’re in. This is why it’s really important to find your niche, and the smaller the niche the better. For example, ‘yoga’ is too broad, ‘yin yoga’ is better and ‘yin yoga isle of man’ is even better still!
So, how do you reach the people who are interested in what you have to offer? How do you stand out above this sea of competition? And how do you make sure search engines are serving up your website for the right keywords in organic search? That’s exactly where SEO comes in.
Many business owners are so focused on social media these days, they seem to forget the importance of their own website. Unlike the content on social media, you actually own the content on your website. Which means you have full control over it.
The interactions on your website are also easier to track – unlike on social media where it’s easy to get carried away with ‘vanity metrics’, e.g. likes, follows and shares. Engagement with your content feels good, but how often does it lead to people taking action, i.e. signing up or buying your products and services – which usually happens on your website?
And what happens when social media stops working or changes its policies and algorithms? In our post Is Instagram down? 3 ways you can still reach people, we highlighted the importance of having a website and using a good SEO strategy to optimise your site for organic search, whether you’re able to use social media or not.
How does SEO work?
At a very basic level, there are 2 key audiences for SEO:
- Search engines
- People searching online
When you optimise your web content for certain keywords, you’re essentially doing the following:
- Telling the search engines what your content is about
- Setting people’s expectations of what to find on your website
These 2 activities are very closely linked, because if you don’t accurately tell the search engine what your content is about, they won’t serve your content to the people searching online. And if you’re not accurate in setting your expectations to people searching, they either won’t click on your website link, or if they do click through to your site they’re unlikely to stay there for very long. This will result in lower click-through rates and/or lower quality visits to your website.
Where do you start with SEO?
So, now that you have a better understanding of the question ‘Why is SEO important?’ the next question is where do you start?
And the answer is: with keyword research.
In the next post in this series, we’ll dive deeper into the art of keyword research, share our tools and best practice tips, and explore how your research findings affect the content on your website.
In the meantime, if you need help conducting your own SEO research, our SEO Package will give you a great foundation for your long-term organic search results.
Never miss a blog post!
Sign up to receive our newsletter centred around our monthly theme, plus our latest blog posts.