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SEO: So what?

The ruler of the search engine world!
The ruler of the search engine world!
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Business owners and company leaders often don’t understand search engine optimization (SEO) and its many benefits. While this may be a refresher for some of you, there are still many who don’t fully know the magic behind the acronym. And that is okay because I am going to break it down into its simplest form so alleviate some of the confusion behind so much industry jargon.

Let’s start with the basics of why SEO (now more commonly referred to as Content Marketing) is so important. If you are like the majority of people in today’s world, you go to the search engine of your choice (I choose Google, along with the majority of people) when looking for something and don’t know where to find it. You may also utilize search if you want to compare desirable products and services.

So you go in and type in a search term and wait for the magic search engine fairy to bring you back relevant results. Once you have results you look through that first page, and maybe a second page, but don’t go any further. While looking through those results you may discover a business you want to work with or buy from, possibly one that looks better than the one you’ve used before.

Now think about this in terms of the people searching for products or services your business provides. While it is true that you are the best fit for this customer (kudos to you!), how will anyone know that if your website is not showing up early in the search process? And, how will Google know? This is why SEO is important; Google cannot tell the people (and vice versa) if you do not tell the Google.

So what? “Nobody searches for the products or services I provide, we sell by referral only.” This is my favorite. If you offer something that people or businesses want, or better yet need, then guess what? Those people and businesses are seeking you out. If you worry about the small percentage of people who are not online, you are hurting yourself. Even those people have access to the internet via friends, family and the local library.

People will utilize all of their resources to get the answers they want. Don’t think anyone is seeking you out because there is no way anyone is going to buy your $3M machinery via the internet? Think again. The Zero Moment of Truth proves that people are searching around long before they buy and you had better end up in their search path before that decision is made.

Now what?! First, be sure you have a strong web design that will engage users once they arrive at the website. There’s no bigger waste of money than starting a search engine optimization campaign and then losing visitors due to a bad first impression. If your ultimate goal is conversion, you must have a site worth visiting. In addition to good design, make sure you have well written content and an easily navigated website. Just like a brick and mortar store, this should be a positive shopping experience.

You want me to do what?! From here you are ready to either invest loads of time navigating the complex SEO world or seek out a digital marketing agency that can start a campaign for you. It is a highly intensive process that involves a lot of detail; as you can imagine, Google, Bing and Yahoo! are no dummies. The key to hiring a good company is looking for one that strictly employs “white hat SEO” techniques.

White hat simply means the rules are followed, 100% of the time, while trickery or unethical practices are absolutely forbidden. Working with a black hat SEO agency will land you in search jail with a blacklisted website. Trying to get back into the good graces of the major search engines is no easy feat and then trying to find a white hat company to take you on after that is an even bigger hurdle.

White hat agencies offer:

• Website content optimization
• Manual linkback campaigns to relevant and related websites
• Directory submissions to directories related to your industry
• Optimization of page titles, meta tags, and alt tags
• Ongoing reporting and maintenance of the above mentioned items

All of these things play into the score your website is given by the search engines, and ultimately determines how high you show up in the search results. There is much more to the science of optimizing websites but this gives you an idea to the complexity of the initial process.

Our goal here was to provide a starting point as you continue to grow your business online. Do not be afraid to use your website as an additional salesperson and make it work for you!

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