SEO or Search Engine Optimization while being around for over 20 years now is still a very little understood industry, especially in how it works and what is needed to achieve SEO success. Knowing this it is our goal to educate business owners on what good search engine optimization tactics look like as well as answering the general question of what SEO really is.
What is SEO & What A Business Owner Should Know About It
SEO is short for search engine optimization which is the process of optimizing a website to adhere to the algorithm of a search engine for the best relevant visibility for a website.
Yes, SEO really does work and it is still one of the best ways to gain long term visibility for your business online. Here is where the misconceptions come from. When someone uses a cheap SEO provider that uses optimization methods that are either outdated or flat out against the guidelines of search engines then SEO will not work!
Not All SEO Is Created Equal!
When it comes to search engine optimization, not all SEO providers are created equal nor do they use the same tactics. This is where the whole of SEO does not work perception comes from. When done right using the latest tactics SEO is a very powerful method of getting your brand visible online as well as selling products or generating leads from online searches. However, if you go the cheap route than the chances are you will get very little if any results at all from SEO. One sure-fire way to know if you're dealing with a company that is only looking to get your money and deliver very little is in how they approach your project. Are they looking at your site and giving you a custom plan based on what they are finding or did they send you an email and make big promises for little money? Those are the times you should run!
A Good SEO Firm will analyze your site and give you a plan that is based on that knowledge with a price based on the amount of work that it will take to get your site ranking well.
SEO Is The Long Game
SEO does not happen overnight so it is a longterm investment in your website that will pay off over time. Depending on your website and your industry to start getting solid results from SEO is 6 months to 1-year plan. That does not mean nothing will happen. A good SEO company will provide you with the work they are doing on your behalf as well as some reports that will show how your site's strength is increasing and how the search terms that you decide upon are trending to show you that progress is being made while it may not have hit the first page of Google progress is being made to get you visibility. While occasionally a website especially if it is older and has never been optimized can reach top rankings in a few months it is not a typical result.
A good SEO Agency or expert will provide you with full transparency as to what is going on with your site as well as the work that they are doing on your behalf. Typically the place most professional agencies will start is with a site Free Site Audit to determine the needs of the website and formulate a proper optimization plan that is based on your web site's needs.
This plan can consist of an initial clean up of your content and backlink profile if needed or simply a plan to move forward depending on what the audit finds. They will also conduct research into your industry and methodologies your competitors are using online to gain visibility. Generally, keyword research is done to determine the best keywords for your site to rank on.
Depending on your agreed up SEO package, the SEO agency will then start to implement your plan which generally consists of adding quality content to the website and working on getting quality links to your site from other strong sites. While most agencies will have complete SEO packages available we always recommend a custom plan that is tailored to your site's needs for best results.
Search Engine Optimization involves two main components ones is on-site SEO which is the optimization of the actual web presence and its content to make it easy for a search engine to crawl the site as well as understand its content. This is where having an SEO friendly website comes into play. If a site is not set up in a way that a search engine can understand its intent as well as crawl it easily then on-site SEO will suffer.
Technical SEO has also become part of on-site SEO which involves ensuring that a site is using good code and will load quickly for the user as well as search engine crawlers or bots.
Off-site SEO means working on outside factors that search engines look at to determine the quality and authority of a site in their respective space. This involves getting links from other quality sites pointing at the site. This is done by reaching out to potential sites as well as creating quality helpful content that users and other sites would want to link to from their own sites or perhaps share it on their social channels and such.
Search engine optimization of a website entails optimizing the website as well as using off-site factors to send the right signals to the search engines to give the website better online visibility. It is an ongoing long term process to achieve and maintain the best online visibility.
White Hat SEO
White Hat SEO is the methodology of optimizing a web presence for the best visibility in search while adhering to the guidelines of the search engines. This involves writing quality unique content that is unique, factually accurate, engaging and helpful to the end-user. It also involves the procuring of links from quality websites by the way of outreach or what is called link earning which simply means that the quality of the site and its content is so useful other sites would want to link to it as a resource.
Black Hat SEO
Think of this as ranking organically by any means necessary! Using any tactic that you can to get a web presence to rank even if you knowingly violate the guidelines of a search engine. This can generally lead to quick wins in ranking but they are not sustainable. Once the search engine catches you it can cause you to lose all rankings and in severe cases having your whole website blacklisted. While this is a quick way to gain visibility it is not an advisable bath for long term rankings and visibility online.
Grey Hat SEO
Grey hat is a mixture of using white hat and black hat tactics in combination with each other to gain the best possible rankings in search. Depending on the mixture this can be quite powerful and can be a sustaining method to get rankings. However, using grey hat SEO can make you very susceptible to algorithm updates and losing much of your traffic when you get caught up in an algorithm update.
We use white hat tactics to rank our clients while these tactics may take longer to get results they are not as susceptible to algorithmic updates because these tactics adhere to the guidelines of search engines. The goal is to have evergreen organic rankings that will continue to bring new clients to the site year after year.
An SEO Agency is an internet marketing company that specializes in search engine optimization which generally consists of a collaboration of SEO experts and internet marketing experts to help a business or entity get as much online visibility by ranking in organic listings in search. Not every agency is the same and not all use the same tactics to get results for their clients. Our agency uses what is called white hat optimization which is following the search engine guidelines to get clients the best visibility.
A reputable SEO firm will not send you unsolicited emails and make vague statements about your website or make promises on how they can get you ranking #1 on Google. While you may get a solicitation from a real SEO expert it will look a lot more like a real person that looked at your site and determined that you had issues on the site that they can solve and help you get more visibility online.
Good SEO Company
A reputable search engine optimization company will audit your site and talk to you about the needs of the site based on actual data and research to determine the right course of action. Here is what you can expect from the interaction with a good SEO agency.
- An initial conversation about your business needs
- A site audit to determine what your site needs in order to rank
- Competitor research to determine what will be needed to beat out your competitors in search and get you ranking
- A realistic price per month for SEO and a complete plan of action with deliverables.
- Realistic expectation. No one can promise rankings, especially the #1 spot in Google. They can promise progress and increases in traffic and such over a reasonable amount of time.
- They will be very transparent about the work they are doing and will send you reports on work as well as how your online visibility is doing on a regular basis.
Bad SEO Company
You will find search engine companies that are only looking to get your money and are not going to get you results will make a lot of promises and offer to good to believe prices in hopes of getting you to sign up for as long as they can get you to stay and take your money. They will also sometimes use scare tactics to get you to act like sending you a laundry list of things that are wrong with your site even when that is not the case.
- Offer you a deal so low its hard to refuse
- Will make promises fo getting your ranked #1 in Google in no time
- Use scare tactics like telling you your site is not responsive and not mobile-friendly even when you know it is.
- They will send you unsolicited emails that will tell you that your site does not rank on many search terms even when you know it does.
- They will send you unsolicited emails that make great promises.
SEO is not something that you do for a week or month and get results. It is an ongoing effort and if you do not have knowledge of coding and search engine optimization tactics it can be a difficult road to go down alone. This is where an SEO company can come in and take the work in gaining visibility for the online presence of your hands.
Not everyone needs an SEO expert but if you have a website that needs traffic then hiring an SEO agency can help you achieve this goal by making your site more friendly to search engines as well as end-users.
Depending on the site SEO can start to work in as little as 2 weeks but more realistically depending on the site, its strength and the competition it takes 6 months on average and worse case up to 1 year if the site is very new and the industry is highly competitive. Usually, 6 months is the most realistic expectation.
It can take a while for the search engine to crawl links pointing to your site and to give your site credit for those links. It can take 6 to 8 weeks before you will see the benefit of a link. They can sometimes occur faster. Monitoring search console can help you see when the link gets indexed and seen by google.
External links are links that are pointing to your website from other websites. Where internal links are links from within the content of your own site pointing to other important pages of your website that you can control. Using internal linking can help the search engine easily find the most important pages on your site.
Each methodology has its advantages and disadvantages. SEO is a long term strategy to rank and gain visibility over time. Where PPC or SEM is a quick way to gain visibility online. Your ads only stay up as long as you pay where SEO once achieved and maintained will continue to deliver traffic. PPC can also be cost-prohibitive for small businesses while a well-optimized campaign can bring immediate results to a business since you will be visible immediately where SEO takes time to work.
Some businesses decide on a campaign that is a hybrid of the two. In doing so you will work on your long term goals with SEO and your short term goals with a well-optimized SEM campaign to get immediate visibility and results.
SEO is the process of improving a websites search engine friendliness thru onsite as well as off-site factors to gain improved unpaid search engine rankings.
SEM or Search Engine Marketing is the process of developing ads and optimizing them for the best conversions and visibility in paid search which is also called PPC or Pay Per Click.