You’ve heard the term, and you probably know you should be doing it, but do you really know what SEO is? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business on Google and other search engines. SEO can be done by optimizing your on-page elements like meta tags, meta descriptions, and titles as well as off-site factors such as link building. Don’t worry too much about the names of these things, as I will explain in detail what each thing means.
Investing in SEO can help improve your ranking on search engine results pages(SERPs). To attract prospective and existing customers, it’s important to make your site more visible in SERPs.
Search engines like Google and Bing use ‘bots’ to crawl pages on the internet, and it creates an index with content from every website. The index is similar to a spreadsheet or a database. When someone performs a search, Google can pull the most relevant information from this spreadsheet.
But how does SEO work?
Algorithms consider dozens of factors to judge which search results are most likely to be relevant for a given query or topic. Some of these signals include:
- If your site has an SSL certificate
- The speed, or load time of your website
- Mobile-friendliness (Responsiveness)
- Domain age, URL, and authority (How old is your domain?)
- User Experience (I will cover this in another post!)
- Social Media (How often do you post and engage?)
- Google My Business Page (This is super important!)
The strength of certain signals differs from one to the next, and different queries require different strategies.
A lot of businesses run paid ads, but that’s completely different. You can’t pay Google to put your business higher in the organic search rankings, which means SEO experts have to put in a lot of work. That’s where I come in.
Why is SEO important?
SEO is a major aspect of digital marketing with trillions of searches being performed every year, most often with commercial intent to find information about products or services. SEO complements other forms of online marketing by increasing your visibility and making it easier to rank higher in search results than your competitors. This can have a substantial impact on your bottom line when done correctly.
SEO is part of your everyday life whether you realize it not. When you are looking up a menu for your favorite restaurant, getting directions, talking to your phone, or asking Alexa a question.
We all use it, so why not use it to make your business more profitable?
What’s needed for SEO?
The great thing about improving your presence on Google or Bing, is that most of the tools you need are free! Here are some websites and tools that I use on a daily basis to ensure my clients are always optimized, and showing at the top of the search engine results page:
Google Analytics. This is essential. Sign up here if you don’t already have an account. Google Analytics helps you see where your website’s vistors are coming from, how long they stay, and if your current marketing campaigns are working. Once you set up your account, you’ll get a tracking code that needs to be installed on your website. If you are unsure about how to do this, you can hire a developer, or I can do it for you.
Google My Business. Google My Business is a tool that lets you manage and optimize your Business Profile on Google. Think of it as a mini-social network, but for your business on Google.Your Business Profile shows up whenever someone looks up your business, or if show up on the SERPs. Business Profiles appear within Google Maps and in the local results of Google Search.
Business Profiles on Google Search look like this:
Google Search Console. “Google Search Console is a free service that lets you learn a great deal of information about your website and the people who visit it. You can use it to find out things like how many people are visiting your site and how they are finding it, whether more people are visiting your site on a mobile device or desktop computer, and which pages on your site are the most popular.” Angela Petteys from Moz.com wrote a great article on what Google Search Console is, and how to use it.
If you Search for “SEO Tools” on Google, you will soon become overwhelmed by the amount of services there are. Although there are a lot of servivces and tools, they’re not necessary for every business. Tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush are fantastic, but if you only run a single website, they can be very expensive.
Let me explain the vocabulary:
Throughout this post and in your Google searches about SEO, you are going to see jargon, but I promise it’s not scary!
- SEO: Search Engine Optimization
- Meta Title: This is the title for each one of your pages.
- Meta Description: A short description of why someone would want to visit your website. This should be different on each page.
- SERP (Search Engine Results Page): The page that you are sent to after you run a query in a search engine.
Hiring someone for SEO
Having an SEO professional handle your SEO sounds like a great idea. You don’t have to worry about handling any code, setting up accounts, or checking analytics. You can focus on your business, and have non-stop business.
The problem is, there are a lot of terrible SEO “experts”. A lot of my clients came to me after hiring one of these “experts”, and wonder why they are either blacklisted from Google, or why it didn’t work. I know I may sound bias because I offer SEO services, but I promise you this happens a lot.
Last week I had a SEO consultation with a brand new client, and they paid someone to handle their SEO for 2 years without any real results. I was more than happy to take a look at what was going on, and it turns out, they were blacklisted by Google because their SEO “expert” purchased citations and articles on very shady blogs. This is not how you build backlinks, and you will never get the results you want by doing this, and other “black hat” SEO.
SEO can be complex. It involved writing great copy, making sure your images are optimized, and so much more. It’s a full-time job to manage a website’s SEO, and unless you are obsessed with it like me, it will feel like a job.
So, please be careful when hiring someone to handle your SEO. Ask them for their website, for websites they currently manage, and run those sites though SEObility’s checker.