What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to a website through the organic or “un-paid” search results in major search engines like Google and Bing.
SEO isn’t an acronym specific to Walmart, but Walmart does employ an SEO manager and SEO writers.
Sam’s Club actually used to offer SEO services. Apparently, they charged $25 a month for search engine optimization back in 2007, and also built small business websites. You can still see many of those websites if you Google “samsbiz.com.” This is only of historical interest.
Why is SEO important?
When the “always on” customer looks for your product on her phone in the store as part of her decision making process, or does some pre-shopping research on her desktop at work during a coffee break, search engines are often the first place she’ll go–and the top few results are often the first (and sometimes only) results she’ll click.
As such, the businesses that appear in those results, AND provide the best user experience in the form of answering her questions, showcasing reviews, and a providing a positive experience in general, are often the ones that earn the customer.
How does SEO work?
Google uses an algorithm to decide which website to show to consumers. The algorithm uses hundreds of different factors, from the spelling and grammar on your website to the physical location of the person searching. While the algorithm is proprietary, there are a few things that you can be sure will affect your search engine rankings:
- Quality content is the number one factor. Google says this repeatedly, and it has been confirmed experimentally as well. Most websites should contain a blog, articles, or other methods of providing fresh, original content on a regular basis. Remember that, while people like pictures and videos a lot, search engines don’t get much information from them. You have to used your words.
- Links to your website are also important. There have been many link-building scams over the years and Google has punished the use of their techniques, so a lot of website owners are nervous about links. However, when a site like Forbes links to your website (as they have to ours), it’s an indication that you’re a good source of information on your subject. Google uses these online relationship markers to decide how valuable and trustworthy your website is, and will choose to show the most valuable and trustworthy websites first.
- Social media is growing in importance for SEO, and while we don’t know the exact extent to which search engines use social signals in their algorithms, it’s clear that having an engaging and growing social presence can be beneficial–at least indirectly. For instance, the more exposure your brand and content gains on social media, the more likely it is to be linked to by other websites – which, as discussed above, is most certainly a ranking factor.
- The technical elements of your website are also important, explains SEO Consultant, Zack Reboletti: “The technical, structural and organizational elements of your website greatly impact how search engines and users find, read and understand your web pages. An excellent (and free!) place to start is to add your website to Google Search Console. Once verified, you’ll gain a plethora of insights about your website—from technical issues such as blocked content, crawl errors and broken links, to performance metrics such as how users are finding your website and where/how other websites are linking to yours.”
There’s a conversation about your brand and your product online. You want to be part of that conversation, and SEO helps you do that.