Most of my calls regarding SEO with small business owners begin with me asking what their goals are, why they think SEO is what they need, and what they know about SEO. I often ask how familiar they are with it and they usually respond that they know a bit, or "just enough to be dangerous." Fairly often, they call it "SCO" or "CEO", which itself tells me a lot.
Before you start sweating about this SEO thing and how confused you are, or at how you keep getting emails from "marketing experts" in Indonesia telling you that you have errors that need to be fixed, make sure you at least know what it is, and what it means.
As Google Search is where about 80% of searches occur online, we will focus primarily on Google, though other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and others are also applicable.
On-Page SEO: What's on your website, and how it is explained to Google
What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) anyway?
Simply put, SEO is a way to do two things: #1 - identify and explain your website to search engines and #2 - rank high enough in search engines so that potential customers will click on your website. It's really that simple. The first part can be a one-time fix and take a few weeks, while the second part is more of a marketing technique that's like lifting weights, it's ongoing and it gets built up over time.
On-Page SEO: What's on your website, and how it's explained to Google (or Bing, Yahoo...etc)
On-page SEO includes any content on your website such as text, images, videos, products and more. Search engines can't necessarily tell what your website is about, or which words are important, or even what's in an image without you telling it. So "tagging" is a way to go through your website and specify important areas, words that you want your website to show up for when people search for your services (keywords), descriptive data that explains where you business is located, and more. Your website is just a lot of text and Google wants to know what is important and what it all means.
I like to explain that it's like building a business in your basement. Nobody knows that it exists unless there's a sign outside, or its listed in the Yellow Pages, on a map, or alike. Performing SEO is like calling up the Yellow Pages (Google), and telling them all about your website, including what you want potential visitors to see when you appear in their results (called Title Tags).
Having great content on your website like a blog that people read and share, or videos that people watch, or products that people often visit will help add more opportunities for your website to shine.
To avoid being just another business in a very large book of business listings, you can convince Google to show you higher up. It's like getting the Yellow Pages to show you at the top for the specific service you offer. This can be done through great on-page content, as well as off-page SEO.
Off-Page SEO: Breadcrumbs, breadcrumbs, breadcrumbs.
Now that you've identified to Google that you're a mechanic, hair salon, orthodontist, etc. , Google needs to be convinced why your website should show up any higher in the listings than the other millions of websites that could potentially beat you to the top. Off-Page SEO is essentially anything that's done outside of your website to leave breadcrumbs throughout the web that connect back to your website, and convince Google that your business is popular, that your website has valuable content, and that it's searchers are going to be happy that you appeared at the top.
This can be done in any number of ways like a Google My Business listing, maps listings, local directory listings, reviews on Google and other directories, links on other websites that lead back to your website (backlinks), and more. The difference here is that Google wants to see a pattern over time, so off-page SEO is more of a marketing technique than a one-time fix. Results begin to show themselves in improved rankings after about 4-6 months of work, but it's a slow and gradual process. To get to the top immediately by slipping Google some cash, Google Pay-Per-Click ads are the way to go. Click here to read more about PPC advertising.
For more information on SEO, feel free to Consult With Ari by clicking below.
- Ari Rosenberg
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