Search Engine Optimization – SEO – Search Marketing – You’ve heard these terms before, but do you know what they really mean? SEO is the process of strategically ranking your web pages for specific, targeted keywords related to your site content. If you invested in a website, certainly you wanted it to help bring you new customers – to prove its value and ROI. But if those customers and prospects can’t find your site, using standard searching terms for your niche and location, then your website may be nothing more than an expensive billboard in the middle of the Gobi Desert.
SEO involves several tactics, most commonly referred to as on-page and off-page SEO. On-page relates to the content and structure of your site – stuff that’s mostly invisible to the user, but not invisible to search engines. Meta data, ALT tags, H1 tags – these are terms you may hear referenced in a discussion about on-page SEO. It’s pretty technical stuff, so it’s best not to attempt it without a net. Leave it to an expert. On-page also relates to the content on your site – articles, pictures, videos, etc. Search engines love a fresh supply of relevant content, make sure your SEO provider has a plan to keep your site fresh and appealing to the search spiders.
Off-page SEO primarily involves a tactic called “backlinking” – or getting links from other, preferably “high-authority sites” to link from their site to yours. Backlinks are a big ranking factor, so you need to be constantly cultivating and building on your linking strategy.
The smart folks at Google, Yahoo! and Bing guard their search algorithms very closely. Their primary goal is to return the best search results for the user, and to keep the results pages from clogging up with spammy, low-quality sites. If the search algorithms were well-known, millions of people would game the system in order to rank pages and monetize low-quality websites. A search engine may take hundreds of factors into account when ranking a site, and the factors and the weight carried by each one are constantly in flux. Google’s algorithm is certainly different from Bing’s – which means you could be on page 1 in Google for a particular term and page 28 in Bing for that same term. This is meant to keep SEOs (people who do the work to rank pages) in business, thankfully!
SEO is both an art and a science. If you’re building your own website, using a low-cost push-button provider or a designer who doesn’t know about the fundamentals of SEO, you’re probably throwing money away. A website can look good, and function well enough, but it’s still useless unless your prospect can find it. Ranking for the keywords your prospect would use is part of the research that goes into an SEO plan – you may think you know what people would type into Google, but you’d be surprised at the variety of terms, misspellings and random words that go into an online search. You want to rank for all of these potential scenarios.
A good SEO provider will research your niche, ask questions about your business, your customer and your goals, and come up with a plan with those goals in mind. If an SEO company guarantees you a Page 1 placement, you should run in the other direction. While results can be quicker and easier in some low-competition niches, a page 1 guarantee is a foolish thing. Even the most experienced SEO has no idea what Google is cooking up right now – so the rules may change tomorrow. It’s an SEOs job to keep on top of those rules, and make changes to their tactics accordingly.
You should also get monthly reporting from your provider – stats, analytics, charts and graphs – it’s all part of what you pay for. They should also make recommendations for editing and improving your site content, traffic flow, and customer conversion tactics.
Still confused about SEO? Let Social Karma Marketing help clear things up. We guarantee you a page 1….wait, no we don’t. But we do guarantee we’ll use every tactic we know of to get you there as quickly as possible – and keep you there.