You work hard to make your online business successful. That’s why you’ve created an attractive design for your site, promoted your business on social media, and stocked your site with great products. You put hours of work each week into getting more visitors to your site, but you still aren’t getting the traffic your company deserves.

It’s a frustrating problem. The solution? Search engine optimization.

When your business needs more online visitors, try search engine optimization (SEO). Below, we’ve outlined some basics of how SEO works, why it matters, and how you can use this strategy to get your online business seen and appreciated.

The 411 on Search Engines

Search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo Search, and Ask aim to connect internet users with the content that best matches whatever they searched for. These search engines use complicated and ever-changing algorithms to sort millions of pages so users get the most relevant results possible.

That’s good news for us internet users — it means we don’t have to spend years sorting through data to find out the population of Guam or tonight’s lasagna recipe. The best search engines give us access to that information in seconds.

But what do search engine results have to do with your business? Consider this: the first 10 results displayed from a search engine query earn 99% of the clicks. That means that if your link doesn’t show up on the first page of results, it only has a 1% chance of being seen.

When you consider that Google gets about 14 billion search queries each month, you realize that you’re missing serious clientele potential if search engines don’t rank your site high enough.

What Is SEO?

SEO tactics make your website more findable during an online search because they ensure that search engine algorithms recognize your site as a top source for a given query. If you’ve got a strong SEO strategy, your search engine rank will rise and traffic to your website will increase.

Because search engines try to produce the most precise results to every query, you won’t just get more clicks when you practice solid SEO; you’ll also get more people staying on your site for longer amounts of time. You’re increasing both how many people visit your site and how many people stay on your site.

A site that screams effective SEO makes it easy for users to navigate, find information, and make purchases. When Google sees a site like that, it takes notice-and raises the site’s rankings.

How to Focus Your SEO on Your Customers

Now that you understand SEO and why it matters, you may be tempted to create content that’s only optimized for search engines-and not for your customers. You want to make your products or services easy to find online, but you can’t forget your customers.

A quality SEO strategy in today’s competitive online market will incorporate all of the important aspects of a search engine’s algorithm, but it will also remember the human on the other side of the computer screen, too. As you write content for your online business, consider these three principles: (1) create empathetic content; (2) create unique content; (3) create valuable content.

Tip #1: Create Empathetic Content

Remember — you’re not selling a product; you’re selling what your customer can become with your product. Let’s say you sell blenders online. Your first instinct might be to fill your site with information about your unique, quality blenders. But think about your customers — what do they really want? A blender, or a blender that will allow them make fantastic recipes and impress family and friends?

This kind of writing requires you to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What does your customer need, and what does your customer want to achieve? Your content will have more emotional weight and convincing power if touches the customer’s heart.

Tip #2: Create Unique Content

The internet is full of generic, boring information — the kind of writing that makes customers quickly exit the page and look for something more entertaining.

Create content that will hold your customer’s attention. Write what you would want to read if you were visiting the site. Create funny, heartwarming, interesting, or controversial content, and you’ll be surprised by how fast your site begins to get new traffic.

Tip # 3: Create Valuable Content

Ultimately, search engines are looking for websites that are going to give users the very best answers to their questions. Quality content on a webpage does just that.

Ask yourself: “What question does my customer need answered?” Answer questions that begin with “How do I…” or “What if…” in your onsite content and you’ll do your customer a huge favor — and customers remember the businesses that help them out.

For example, if you sell women’s clothing on an online boutique, you might answer the questions: “How do I create a new fall wardrobe on a small budget?” or “What if I can’t find sizes in stores that match my unique body type?” When you create this kind of writing, you help your customers find exactly what they’re looking for, and that’s a really good thing in the SEO world.

Because search engine algorithms change regularly, the basic principles of SEO remain true, but the exact strategy for SEO success can change every day. If you’re serious about using SEO to improve your online strategy, create fantastic content and consult with an SEO team.