Why isn’t your website ranked higher on Google? Why are your competitors showing up before you? What is the method behind this madness? It’s called SEO (search engine optimization) and it’s been a hot topic lately with our clients.
I thought I’d write a little blog as a good starting point to explain SEO and help you understand how it works. As it turns out, I am humbly reminded that there’s nothing “little” about a business being found online. Fortunately, a solid SEO strategy isn’t anything you can’t handle. It just takes a dedicated effort to learn, understand, and apply,
Role of Your Website
It’s a very common misconception that you simply need a website for Google or other search engines to find and rank your business. Having a website is certainly the critical cornerstone for showing up in searches, but it is merely the first step. To be found where you want to be found, you must develop an on-going strategy and process to make it happen across multiple platforms. Then, you have to apply, evaluate, adjust, and re-apply over and over. It sounds complicated, but keep reading!
Definition of SEO
First of all, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, very simply, the process of getting traffic from a search engine to your digital assets.
A search engine is any online site that has a search feature, though most people think of Google or Bing. Other examples include YouTube, Amazon, Pinterest, Yelp, and so on.
Usually, “digital assets” means a page on your website, but there are some other channels, such as a form response, social media post, or podcast. The essential detail to remember is that your digital asset is the specific content the user will consume at any given time. For example, a website can be consumed as a whole, which is why it needs to be optimized for SEO; but, you need to treat each website page as Google meal, as well.
Tommy Griffith of Clickminded.com takes a three-pronged approach to SEO:
- Document relevancy: all the stuff we do on our pages to make them more relevant for users and search engines.
- Increasing authority: all the things we do outside of our page in order to let search engines know we’re trustworthy and useful to users (things like links, views, sales, favorites [dependent on platform]).
- Technical optimization: all the behind-the-scenes engineering that SEO pros do to make it easier for search engines to find a website
What SEO Is Not
It’s really interesting to note that SEO does not include paying for traffic, poor quality content (fake news), paid links, keyword stuffing, sneaky redirects or other “black hat SEO” techniques. The SEO winners are the ones that don’t use any of that dark magic and still end up being found online much to the satisfaction of their viewers.
More On SEO
The sole purpose of search engines is to serve up the most relevant information possible for a search query. There is no inherent bias, but rather a method that is constantly being improved upon by developers, statisticians, marketers, and other tech folks working for the search engines. If you think about it, it only makes sense that a search engine would want to do well. Who is going to keep going to a site that lists seafood gumbo recipes when you’re trying to find the best seaside resorts? Better yet, who is going to advertise on that site?
As far as search engines go, Google has done an exceptional job of narrowing down the ultimate goal of successful SERP (search engine results pages): listing search results that are best for the users that are therefore best for Google. Actually, they’ve done such a good job that 75% of clicks go to the top five non-sponsored results. Consumer confidence is that high. Why keep looking when you know you’re going to get what you want on that first page? Thanks, Google.
Before you read any further, there is a simplified sales funnel-related approach to SEO that works really well. Keep this list in mind and you’ll already be off to a running start.
- Define the Persona (who it is and what they want)
- Create The Content (the digital asset that’s going to make them happy)
- Select The Medium (where’s the content going to live)
- Pick The Channel (what action is going to help the persona get to your content)
- Optimize (maximize your efforts depending on all of the above)
As an example, let’s say Kathy and I want to encourage small business owners to update their really old and outdated website. Using our list, we would first define who we would want to target and figure out what it is they could want from us (small businesses who have outdated sites, have been in business a few years at least, want a new or updated website because they’re not being found on-line).
Next, we might consider a blog post on how their old site might actually be hurting their business. We’ll put this right on our own website and then use SEO as the action to help us drive traffic. We’ll then optimize the blog specifically to be found on Google.
This means we would apply all the white hat SEO strategies we know to optimize that blog post, including, but not limited to, page title, meta descriptions, keyword application, image descriptions, headings, subheadings, and more.
What This Means For You
Ranking #1 for everything is impossible, so it’s important to shift your focus to tactics that can work for you. This is not a bad thing – it actually means there is a legitimate and recommended way to be recognized for the value you add to the internet.
You will be pleased to hear that each medium (the place where the content lives), has a pretty straight-forward process for optimizing – it’s simply a matter of staying on top of the latest.
The more often and more places you apply this process, such as social media, directory listings, etc., the better your chances for ranking on a search engine. If there’s one thing we’ve learned since Google launched in 1998, it is that SEO takes time, dedication, and perseverance.
The good news is that if you have been using social media, writing blogs, and have updated your website at all in recent history (past 1 – 2 months), you’ve done more than you think. However, if you haven’t consciously applied any SEO strategies, chances are you need to do something if you really want to be found.
What is that “something”? It could include link building, installing Yoast premium (for WordPress sites), exploring Google Analytics, restructuring your URLs, adding synonyms, adding internal links, evaluating your competitors, checking Google Console, fixing bad redirects, eliminating duplicate content, and so on. This is where we come in if you need help.
SEO In 2019
In the meantime, here are a few quick SEO recommendations for 2019 to keep on your radar. If nothing else, give these a go:
- Blog and blog some more, but make it unique and new. According to Neil Patel, it’s better to write one really good article each month than one not so interesting or helpful blog each week.
- Check your website speed. Viewers have zero patience when it comes to accessing sites and Google will penalize you if you’re too slow.
- Optimize your website text for voice search. In other words, write your content in a way that answers a spoken search query.
- Do a complete overhaul to all of your content at least once a year. Search engines love fresh content.
How Long Will This Take
As of this writing, there are over 1.9 billion websites with an incalculable number of website pages. That is a phenomenal amount of information for search engines to index and track, not to mention competition for you. In other words, SEO takes a while to impact your search rankings. However, if you follow the above steps and commit to optimizing for SEO, you’ll eventually be extremely pleased with the results!
~Jenny Green, Co-Owner @ Fisher Green Creative, firstname.lastname@example.org