What is SEO?

A lot of my clients ask me this question.  What is SEO – exactly?

what is seoSEO is a pretty in depth process that takes time and expertise.  I offer on page SEO, blog post services and advice for other types of SEO.  It is a time consuming and complicated process.  SEO companies can cost from $800.00 to $3,000.00 a month.  This is something that most small businesses can’t afford, but you can do most of it yourself and actually get your own website ranked if you are willing to put in some effort.  Local businesses are fairly easy to get ranked high just by proper on page SEO.

On-page SEO is optimizing your website pages with your target keyword phrases so they get recognized by the search engines.  It’s best to use one target keyword search phrase per page, so if you have several that you want to use, I would suggest setting up a separate page for each keyword phrase. With a little bit of time and understanding of SEO you can get your own website ranked high in the search engines.

The first thing to realize is that your website is not about you.  It’s about offering valuable information to your website visitors.  The days of the online brochure are a thing of the past.  Google makes the rules, and Google has changed the rules – a lot!

A keyword phrase would be something like “Sacramento blue widgets”.  This would be a good keyword phrase if your company sells locally in Sacramento and makes widgets, but especially wants to sell blue widgets.

Local SEO

Types of SEO

On page SEO

On page SEO is having a targeted keyword phrase in all the right places for each page and blog post of your website.  This includes page name, page title, photo name, photo title, alt tags and within the content a few times.  Meta tags are not visible on web pages, but are seen by search engines.  They are the title and description tags. On page SEO also includes creating XML sitemaps for the search engines to follow.  These are files that you don’t see, but the search engines do.

In order for a page to be considered to have relevant content worthy of a good SERP (Search engine results page), it needs to have at least 300 words of content related to a keyword phrase you want to rank the page for. It should be interesting and engaging enough to get people to read it.  The best way to do this is to educate your site visitors with helpful information about your business products or services.  If they are looking for your products or services, odds are, they have an interest in learning about it.  The longer people stay on your website, the lower your bounce rate is.  When Google sees people going to your website and leaving within a few second, this is a bounce, and it tells Google you don’t have much valuable information to offer.  …down go your rankings.

Google wants your website to educate people – not just try to sell to them.

On page SEOFresh content is also a crucial part of search engine ranking, and it does not mean rearranging the words on your home page every now and then.  That’s where Blog posts come in.  This gives you the opportunity to write a blog post (article) and select a keyword title that you would like to rank for.  Write your post and optimize it for that keyword phrase.  A good example of this is my article titled “OUR RECORDS SHOW YOU HAVEN’T UPDATED YOUR FREE GOOGLE BUSINESS LISTING IN 2014”.  If you type this phrase into Google search, my article will come up right at the top of Google.  I wrote the article because I was receiving a lot of these scam calls and I a thought a lot of people were probably wondering if this was legitimate or not.  I was right, a lot of people have an interest in this topic.  I get at least 20 site visitors a day coming to this article alone from all over the country.  This is site traffic that stays on my website to read this article.  this is good for SEO.

Think about your business and all of the interesting aspects of it that would be very interesting and useful for people looking for your products or services.  If you have valuable information to offer them, they are much more likely to call you, and you are much more likely to come up higher in Google.  It’a all about positioning yourself as “the expert” in your field of expertise – whatever that may be.

Offering relevant, quality information on a regular basis is how you position yourself as the expert in the eyes of Google.

As far as I can tell, a good keyword domain name is all it takes to rank in Bing/Yahoo (now one search company). The problem here is that 70% of the searches are done in Google and only about 13% in Bing/Yahoo, so trying to get high rankings there is not very productive.

If you are in a service based industry you can also write about specific projects you have completed and give some details on what was done and the reasoning and process behind it.  Offer some case studies.  Show your depth of knowledge!

Outbound Links

This is something that most webmasters overlook, but is an important part of ranking your pages. Google not only wants you to have relevant (related content) high ranking inbound links, they want you to also have outbound links to relevant, high ranking websites. You should have one on each page of your website that you are doing SEO on. You probably won’t want to SEO your Contact page or Photo Gallery page.

This is a pretty simple task. Link a keyword on each page to a related website that is very popular. If you can’t find such a website, do a search for “your keyword” wiki. Google will come up up with a list of Wikipedia pages. Find one that that most closely relates to your page and create a link to the keyword. Note: this should not be your main keyword phrase for the page. All Wikipedia pages are high ranking, so this works great. Also, make sure your outbound links open in a new browser window so if someone clicks on them, they will not be taken away from your website.

Backlinks

getting backlinksBacklinks are another indication of your “authority”.  The more relevant and higher ranking websites you have backlinks on, the better you will come up in the search engines.  If a lot of high ranking authority websites want to link to your website, you must be important!  Or, that’s how Google sees it.

How do you get backlinks?  There are a lot of ways.  Local directories is one. You can ask vendors and people with related content websites.  Post comments on trade publication blogs and Forums.  Answer questions in Yahoo Answers.  Be creative! Try to keep your backlinks to websites that are related to yours and of high ranking value.

Website Traffic

Traffic is important because the more traffic your website gets – you guessed it – the more authority you have. By doing the things listed above you can help increase your traffic.  It just makes sense that the more your website link is out there, the more it will get clicked on.

Domain Name

There are two factors regarding your domain name that pull weight with the search engines.  The first is the age of the domain name.  The longer your domain name has been registered, the more weight it pulls.  The second is the name itself.  If you have a keyword domain name like sacramentobluewidgets.com, it can help immensely in the search engines (if you happen to be a company in Sacramento that sells blue widgets).  An older domain name pulls more weight, so if you have a domain name that is a few years old, you’re better of using it.  If you are just starting out, a keyword domain name is a better choice.

Social Media – What’s all the Hoopla about?

Social media is important to the ranking of your website because It gives your website “Social authority”.  If you’re thinking “I don’t have time to set up and play Social Media“, you should re-think this.  You don’t have to spend hours on social media.  At least set it up and link it to your website.  Whether you like it or not, it does pull quite a bit of weight in your search rankings.  Enough to make a difference!

Facebook
social mediaIf you have a Facebook page with lots of likes and people sharing your posts, you must have something important to share in the eyes of the search engines.  If you don’t know the difference between your regular Facebook page and a business page, give me a call and I’ll help you understand this.

YouTube
If you have a YouTube Channel with some videos that are posted on your page, this is good.  If you put a good keyword description and your full website url (with http://) with each YouTube video this is even better.  Now get a lot of people to watch your video on YouTube, and you’re golden!  Google owns YouTube and definitely likes to see popular videos linked to websites.  If you really work at it, your video may come up higher in Google than your website.  People love to watch videos.

Twitter
Not many people have time to “tweet” on Twitter, but again, having people follow you and share your tweets makes you look more  like an important authority in your area of business to the search engines. Whenever you create a new blog post share it to all of your social media pages.  Also, when you see something of interest on someone else’s page, share it on yours!

The same goes for Google Plus, Yelp, Merchant’s Circle, LinkedIn, Pinterest and all of the other social and ranking sites out there.  At the minimum, you should have a Google +, Facebook and Linked In account connected to your website.

Citations
It’s really important to make sure your company address, website and phone number show up the same everywhere they are listed.  They are called “citations” and are an important identifier of your business.  When you find listings that have old or incorrect information, do your best to change it by claiming the listing or contacting the website owner.

Try this:
Do a Google search for your business phone number (with area code).  You will see all kinds of listings come up that you didn’t know existed!  Many of them have pages that can be claimed and updated with your website address and other important information you would want to be there.  Every little bit helps.

Other Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Pay Per Click Ads are the when you pay Google to have your website show up at the top of the search pages.  You bid on your keyword phrase and then pay every time someone clicks on your Ad.  My opinion on this is that it can be costly with no guarantee of increased revenue and many people (myself included) ignore the little yellow AD tag listings.  They are looked at as just Advertisements and not something I’m looking for.

Facebook and other social media ads can be helpful depending on the type of business you have.  Do your research, create your ad in a way that will get people to click it and select your target market carefully.  Also, set a budget you can afford.

SEO Checklist

  • search engine optimizationMinimum of 300 words of relevant, keyword rich content on each page
  • SEO optimized pages
  • Content that educates your website visitors about your industry
  • Backlinks from high ranking, related websites
  • Keyword or well established domain name
  • Social sites with links to and from your website
  • Correct citations in local directory sites

Conclusion

If you want your website to rank high in the search engines and you don’t want to pay an average of $1,200 a month for SEO services, you will simply have to put some effort into your SEO.  The days of “build it and they will come” are a thing of the past.