SEO: What Exactly Is It, And Why Should You Care About It For Your Business?
Those are reasonable and appropriate questions to ask of any SEO company you're considering working with.
Just as you aspire to provide the best for your customers, you should also strive to receive the best for yourself and your business. Being well-informed about SEO can benefit you, your business, and your customers.
A Simple SEO Metaphor
Imagine you're searching in a vast area filled with countless available cars that all seem to blend in together, as you attempt to find one that you feel is right for you. With so many seemingly-identical choices, how do you tell one from the next? It can be more than a bit daunting, frustrating, and overwhelming.
Consider how much easier and more likely it might be for you to locate a car you want if somehow it stands apart from the rest and catches your eye and your attention. You notice it, read its reviews, drive it, and determine it's an ideal match for you and your needs.
Of course that vast area is the Internet, and all those cars are businesses like yours, competing for customers in search results. Yours stands out from the rest and catches people's attention by using Google-friendly SEO that improves its visibility and online ranking.
SEO Ranking Factors
Simply put, SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of optimizing your website and your business to appear higher in online search results by properly utilizing "SEO ranking factors".
There are literally hundreds of SEO ranking factors that help determine where your website and your business appear in search results. Among the most important for your website are:
Content: The quality, quantity, relevancy, and originality of your site's textual ─ or written ─ content (typically referred to simply as "content". The better your content, the greater the SEO reward.
Mobile Friendliness: How your site looks ─ and how easy it is to use ─ on smartphones (Android phones and iPhones). Provide your site's mobile device visitors with a friendly user interface (UI) and a pleasant user experience (UX).
Page Load Speed: How quickly your site's pages load. This is a function of several factors, one of the most important being the file sizes of the images used on your site. Those file sizes can be improved ─ while retaining excellent image quality ─ through the proper use of image editing and image compression.
Backlinks: The SEO value of links from other sites is measured by three of the same criteria used in evaluating content: quality, quantity, and relevancy. Unlike content, where all the criteria are of roughly equal importance, backlinks measured to be high in quality have the greatest positive effect. Even though they're the most difficult to acquire, their SEO value makes it well worth the effort required to obtain them.
Of these, "content" applies not only to your website, but also everywhere else your business appears online.
GOOD SEO CONTENT
How well does your content measure up in these four areas?
How relevant is your content to the intended purpose of its website or webpage? For example, if a page is supposed to be about red tomatoes, does its content focus too little on red tomatoes, and too much on other fruits and vegetables? The more relevant the content, the better for your SEO. (You can write more about those other fruits & veggies elsewhere.)
How original is your content? Is it similar to the content found on numerous other sites? Is it simply repeating the same information that can be found in many other online locations? Does it provide fresh, unique, or unusual information, perspectives, or opinions? Google ─ and your readers ─ prefer originality, so write for people and for the SEO benefit.
How well-written is your content? Perhaps writing isn’t one of your strongest talents, and you simply do the best you can. Or perhaps you consider yourself a good writer, and you overlook some mistakes and other deficiencies in your writing. The better (i.e., higher-quality) your content, the better for you and your business. Write for your target audience, keeping SEO in mind.
How much content do you have? Just this much? More? Perhaps this much? Even more? Keep going. Most sites place too much emphasis on graphics, and not enough on the written word. In SEO, a picture is not worth a thousand words. Google rewards the effort required to write lots of high-quality, relevant, original content that provides people with plenty of useful information.
Examine the content on any SEO company's website. How well-written is it? Does it exhibit a solid understanding and command of the English language; excellent writing skills; and unique, insightful, helpful information? Or is it more of a self-serving sales pitch that looks and sounds similar to practically every other SEO company's site? Does it contain errors of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and even misused words?
If an SEO company doesn't have good content on its own site, how do you suppose that same SEO company can improve your online content?
Incidentally, the above table is an example of how you can provide some colorful, visually-appealing content for your site's visitors while also improving the SEO. It's the type of item that's typically included as a graphic element, which would limit its SEO potential compared to including the same information as textual content.
So instead of displaying the table as a simple graphic element, I've made it entirely text-based, providing Google with almost 300 additional words of good content. And because text loads much faster than graphics, it yields even greater SEO benefit by also improving page load speed. And of course it's all very Google-friendly. Get the idea?
"Search Engine Optimization" vs. "Website Optimization"
Another important consideration to keep in mind is that SEO is "search engine optimization", not merely "website optimization". SEO is the art and science of optimizing every aspect of your online presence for Google and other search engines.
Everywhere your business appears online ─ from your website, to your Google My Business listing, to your Yelp business listing, and more ─ can be enhanced with SEO for improved search results.
Local citations are perfect examples for this use of SEO. A local citation is any listing or other online source that includes the name, address, and phone (referred to as NAP) of your business. Facebook and LinkedIn are two of the most prominent sites for your NAP. And ─ just as with your Google and Yelp listings ─ your Facebook page and LinkedIn profile can also be improved for greater SEO benefit. (So can your YouTube videos!)
Effective SEO = Higher Search Rankings And More Exposure For Your Business
Optimizing your website and all other aspects of your online presence helps your business appear higher on the search engine results pages (SERP) in Google search results. And optimizing your Yelp business listing not only helps it appear higher on the SERP in Yelp's own search results, it also increases the likelihood that a Google search produces a Yelp result that specifically mentions your business, which provides very nice extra exposure for you.
Good SEO can work wonders for the online presence, visibility, reputation, and success of your business. That's why so many small-to-medium-size businesses consider it an essential and invaluable investment, and why you should too.
Of course, these few paragraphs just begin to scratch the surface. As you might expect, there's much more to SEO. Some of its elements are relatively simple, while others are considerably more involved, complex, and labor-intensive.
In considering any SEO company, ask tough questions (nicely, of course) and request straight, honest, meaningful answers to help you determine whether they're legitimate SEO experts, or just out to take advantage of you by pocketing as much of your money as they can while delivering minimal SEO benefit for your business.
Call today for a complimentary in-depth evaluation of your website and the online presence of your business, with no obligation and no sales pitch.