WHAT IS SEO AND HOW IT WORKS
When talking to clients and potential clients about the services they need, search engine optimization (SEO) always comes up. People want to know what is SEO and how it works. I will provide a brief explanation of what goes into SEO, but it is a huge and multi-faceted topic that can’t be fully covered in this post. If you want to talk about whether or not SEO is right for your business, please reach out to us at 435-962-1517, email [email protected], or fill out the form on our contact page.
Before I begin the explanation, I would like to start by saying SEO is very time consuming. That means you either need to have a large budget for it or be willing to invest a lot of your own time to help reduce the cost. SEO is an ongoing process and the best practices for it change regularly. It takes an average of 8-12 months for SEO efforts to start showing results. If it’s right for your business it’s one of the best investments you can make, but I don’t believe it’s right for everyone. Read the last section of this post “IS SEO RIGHT FOR ME?” for more info on that.
AN OVERVIEW OF SEO
Basically, Google uses a complex algorithm that ranks the order websites are displayed for a certain search term. Although Google doesn’t disclose what the algorithm consists of we know they try to serve the most relevant and quality content to users. This means your website needs to be current, mobile friendly, load fast (at most 3 seconds), provide useful information in an interesting way and contain the search keywords you want people to find you for. So, when you want to know what is SEO and how it works, that’s just the beginning.
Once that groundwork is laid, you need to maintain quality, gain trust and obtain authority. What does that mean? Let’s dig in!
In Google’s eyes, quality basically means unique and valuable. You need to offer interesting content presented in a way no one else is doing it. This let’s search engines know that your website will fulfill the searcher’s need better than alternative websites would. The user experience needs to be effortless on all devices and your website has to be fast. Among other things, Google measures quality by looking at your direct website visits, the average time a user spends on your site, the average pages per session and the bounce rate (the percentage of users who only look at one page on your site then leave it).
Also, your website needs to be current and updated regularly. You could have the best website ever, but if it’s been sitting idly for 4 years it’s highly unlikely you’re going show up in results. Read my post “Should I Start a Blog?” where we explain the SEO benefits of blogging and keeping your website up to date.
You need to let Google know your website can be trusted. For example, Google doesn’t want to show websites that have bad reviews. It’s important to collect positive reviews from your customers, not just on Google but other websites such as Facebook or Yelp as well. Google tracks reviews from all over the internet and the more positive reviews you have, the more Google trusts you. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews!
In addition to that, you need to generate backlinks. Backlinks are simply links from other websites that direct users to your website. You can generate backlinks by claiming your business on listing websites and providing your URL, you can be active on other websites by commenting on their posts and providing a link to your website (don’t be spammy though!) or reach out to popular websites in your market and see if they will link to your website. Also, with backlinks it’s quality over quantity. A backlink from buzzfeed.com will be more valuable than a backlink from a local small business.
Google wants to show websites that are popular. You can do this by getting users to share your website on social media, receiving comments on your blog posts and getting reviews online. The most important factor that determines page authority and domain authority is backlinks from websites with authority.
And now for something completely different (if you get the reference, you’re the best. If you don’t that’s okay… but watch Monty Python asap).
When people want to know what is SEO and how it works, they usually haven’t heard of local SEO. So, what is it? It’s an SEO strategy focused on users conducting local searches, which is hovering around 46% of all searches! For local SEO, you need to lay the groundwork we discussed in the “AN OVERVIEW OF SEO” section of this post. After that, the focus is on local citations and online reviews. We already know what online reviews are, but what the heck are citations? Let me tell you.
Citations are anytime your business information is listed, most importantly the name, address and phone number (or NAP as we call it in the biz). To optimize your citations, you want to claim and populate your listing on Google My Business (see my post “How Do I Get on Google?”), Bing Places for Business, major social media platforms, and as many directory websites as you can (i.e. yellowpages.com). This displays your NAP all over the internet, which helps out your local SEO.
IS SEO RIGHT FOR ME?
Now that we’ve gone discussed what is SEO and how it works, it’s finally time for the ultimate question. Is SEO right for me? Obviously, the answer is different for everyone. Below are some key factors I would look at to determine the answer:
- What’s your budget? – This means monetary and time budget. If you don’t have a big marketing budget and your time is already stretched thin, it’s going to be tough to do full on SEO.
- Are you seasonal? – If you’re booked 6 months of the year and only want to invest in marketing for the 6 months you’re slow, you may want to invest in a great user experience for your website and some nice landing pages to run digital ad campaigns for those 6 months. One tough thing about SEO is you can’t take a break from it when your budget runs low. If you stop doing SEO for 6 months, you’re basically starting over.
- What are your goals? – Some businesses aren’t looking to get more business. That’s fine, just be honest with yourself and your marketing team or agency so you can find the best places to invest to maximize your profit for the time you’re working.
There are a lot of factors that go into the decision. If you can’t have too much business and you have a big budget, SEO is 100% a great investment. If you’re a seasonal company that doesn’t want to be spending their marketing budget year round, digital advertising with great landing pages is a good alternative.
Is there a solid middle ground? Yes, I think local SEO is a good idea for any local business. It requires a lot less time and money than a full SEO campaign and it’s very affective.
Hopefully this post helps you understand what is SEO and how it works. If you work with Spry Creative, we’re flexible and willing to teach you what you can do to lower the cost of local SEO, or if you want us to handle everything we’re happy to do that too. Let’s get you in front of potential customers while they’re actively searching for your services. Contact us at [email protected], 435-962-1517 or fill out the form on our contact page and we can discuss the best SEO strategy for your business.
If you skipped over the rest of the post just to read this section, go back up and read the “LOCAL SEO” section.