Over the last couple of decades the business sector has been rapidly evolving along with the increasing accessibility of information over the Internet. Gone are the days where small, family-owned companies could sell product with nothing but a sign out front and a phone line – in today’s world it is getting more and more important for businesses to have a strong online presence in order to be successful. It’s not enough to simply have a single website anymore, though. With millions of individual URLs registered and in active use, even a business with a well-planned website and social media strategy can get end up getting lost among the crowds. And the fact is, if a consumer can’t find your company in the massive expanse that is the Internet, they can’t give you their all-important business. This is where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes in. In a nutshell, SEO is a technique that helps popular search engines, like Google or Bing, find your business’s website and catapult it to the top of a search results list. This, in turn, can help potential customers find your website more easily and ahead of your competition’s site. From there, it’s just a matter of time before business is booming and the sales are rolling in. While SEO is one of the most common (and also the most cost-effective) methods of Internet marketing, many people still find the concept a little daunting, and maybe even a little confusing. When broken down, though, it’s really quite a simple concept to grasp. What is SEO? Good SEO, or a lack of it, can mean the difference between a successful website and complete flop – it’s all about visibility. An astonishing 93 per cent of online activity begins with a search on some sort of search engine platform, like Google, according to statistics published by Search Engine Journal on their website. Considering that data, it is extremely important that your website is visible to search engines, and subsequently to potential customers. Your company could have the strongest state-of-the-art website around, but if it can’t be found by doing a simple search, you’re missing out on a potentially huge flow of business. By using a variety of different strategies, like keyword integration and backlinks, SEO agencies, like local Ottawa SEO companies, work with the algorithms used by search engines to ensure that your website will pop up as close to the top of a search results list as they can. Ottawa SEO companies and SEO agencies integrate these techniques seamlessly into your website (both the on-screen version and the mobile version) so that search engines can not only find your website when a search is performed, but so that they rank it as highly relevant to your keywords. This way, the link will pop up closer to the top of the results, likely getting more clicks than a lower-ranking link. In effect, good SEO done by a professional Ottawa SEO agency will drive traffic to your business by simply allowing consumers to find it more easily. Why is it important? It sounds like such a simple concept, one that almost seems almost too obvious to work, but SEO is more important that many people think. Remember, 93 per cent of all online activity begins with a search. That alone should be enough incentive for most businesses to want to make their online content more visible to search engines, but some companies may need a little more convincing that good SEO from a local Ottawa SEO agency is a vital component in the recipe for a successful website. Luckily for them, Search Engine Journal has published several eye-opening statistics to analyze. First of all, search engines are the number one driver of traffic to websites, beating out traffic driven by social media by over 300 per cent. This isn’t surprising, considering most people start their online activity with a search. Ottawa SEO agencies know this more than anyone, and will tell you that search engine optimization is important to work in tandem with your social media strategy to maximize traffic. The search engine market can help your business reach huge markets of people, too. Over 100 billion searches are performed on Google alone each month (or about one search a day by every single person on the face of the earth.) Furthermore, 59 per cent of those users have said that they use Google at least once a month to find a local business or service. Without good SEO, your business could be missing out on each and every one of those consumers. Once a search has been performed, 75 per cent of users said they never go to the second page of a results list, and a whopping 80 per cent of consumers click on the first link of the organic results and ignore the higher ranking paid ads. Finally, research has shown that 71 per cent of all business purchases begin with an online search. Considering all of those statistics, it is safe to assume that any business would benefit from popping up at the top of a Google search. Local Ottawa SEO agencies can help you and your website get there. Is it worth it? Now that we’ve established that every business would benefit from strong SEO and attention from search engines, it’s time to examine its cost-effectiveness over other online marketing strategies. The truth is, even after hiring a reputable SEO agency, like a capable Ottawa SEO company, SEO is still the method that will get you the most bang for your buck without breaking the bank. Other ways of driving traffic to your website, like paid advertisements, can have you fronting a lot of money with no guaranteed results (plus, most consumers ignore the paid ads anyway, as we found out earlier.) Having a strong social media presence is another cost-effective way of driving traffic to your business’s website, but it’s not nearly as effective as optimizing your site for search engines. Many SEO agencies, like local Ottawa SEO companies, recommending using SEO alongside social media to boost hits and increase traffic flow. Common SEO techniques Search engine algorithms are complicated, but there are a few simple techniques that many local Ottawa SEO agencies use. Since search engines crawl through millions of webpages looking for content that relates to the search words used, SEO is all about being noticed. The most common technique to achieve this is to use related keywords in the content of your website. If a search engine notices that many of the search words are contained within the site, it will deem it relevant and put it close to the top of the results. To do this, many local Ottawa SEO agencies study popular keywords that relate to your business and use them throughout the website. Search engines will always consider relevance when ranking links, so the more tailored your content is to your business, the more likely it is to be high on the results list. Search engines are getting smarter, though, so they also take in to account how recently the content was posted. The longer a website has sat dormant, with no updates, the less relevant it is ranked. To combat this, local Ottawa SEO agencies often suggest implementing a blog along with the business’s webpage. This way, content is updated and changed as frequently as multiple times a day, keeping it fresh in a search engine’s mind. SEO agencies will also utilize links, lots of them, to help search engines know that your webpage is a relevant one that is recommended by a number of other pages. DIY vs. the pros? Unlike some Internet marketing strategies that you can take on successfully yourself, like social media, SEO is something that is best left to the professionals, such as a local Ottawa SEO agency, if you want it done effectively. Because of the complicated nature of search engines and their algorithms, it can be tricky to get SEO techniques to do what you want them to. Add to that the fact that search engines are constantly evolving and changing their methods to keep people from tricking the system and you’ve got some good reasons to go pro. Professional SEO agencies, like Ottawa SEO companies, know how to integrate keywords, links and other content into your webpage without it looking like spam, too. There’s nothing worse than having your webpage look like its only purpose is to be noticed by search engines. Hiring a team of professionals to help you optimize your website for search engines can be one of the best ways to make sure your business is gaining all important visibility the right way. Overall In today’s world, where everything and anything can be found, and posted, online, it can be really easy for things to get lost in the ether. With the help of search engines though, many people are able to search for what they want and instantaneously receive a list of relevant links. SEO is one of the best ways to make sure your business pops up on that list and that people are driven to your site. Not only is it one of the most cost-effective methods of Internet marketing, but it is also proven to be one of the best ways to get people click on your link and explore your website. SEO agencies, like Ottawa SEO companies, can help your business go from just another webpage floating around online to one of the top results after a search, statistically guaranteeing that you’ll see more traffic. Once your business’s website has gotten then full SEO treatment, chances are you’ll be well on your way to a bigger, better and more successful website in no time.