Whenever I tell my friends or family I do SEO( Search Engine Optimization) for a job, they usually stare at me with a confused face and ask about what that consists of. I’m sure that they aren’t the only people in the world that don’t know what it is, so I figured I’d write a quick post about it while I’m sipping my coffee.
Search Engine Optimization, in its purest sense, is a list of things you can do for a website to have to show up higher one the search engines when someone searches for a product, service, or piece of information. Let’s say that someone wanted some information on German Shepherd dogs, for instance. When someone goes to Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc, and searches that, the websites about German Shepherds that show up at the top will get more visits than the websites listed on the 3rd page of the searches results. Not too surprising, right?
This is where SEO can help those websites that aren’t listed on the front page move up a bit and notice an increase in visits. The very first part of starting an SEO campaign is finding a list of keywords that the site wants to rank for. Keyword analysis takes a bit of work and there are quite a few different things to take into account when deciding, mainly the competition for the keyword, and the potential number of visitors that keyword could get your website. After you have a small list of keywords, there are a variety of things that can be done to help the site rank for those keywords, and they’re usually divided into 2 groups, on-site SEO and off-site SEO.
On-site SEO are things that are done…you guessed it…on the website. These are things like relevant site headlines and content, an understandable website link structure, and the overall readability of the site (yes, search engines are able to tell if the site makes sense of not).
Off-site SEO are things like the creation and submission of the url and sitemap to search engines for indexing, social bookmarking, and one of the most important, the acquisition of backlinks, or links from other sites to yours. Backlinks are considered by many to be the most important factor in off-site SEO. Google finds these links to your site and if there are a lot of them, looks at your site as if it were an ‘expert’ in the field your site is involved in.
So what are the benefits and downsides of starting an SEO campaign for your business? First, I’ll list a few of the most important benefits. The first thing that comes to mind is the increase in site visibility your site could experience. How many people go back 3 pages in the search engines if they’re looking for something? Not many. Most stop at the end of the first page, and either revise the keyword they’re searching for or give up. Another thing is that once your site is ranked high, the traffic you get to your site is all FREE. No more paying for expensive ads or links to your site. This is why the return on investment is so high for SEO campaigns. So what about the bad stuff? The only two I can think of is the time involved in ranking for these search engines, and the fact that you’re ultimately at the mercy of search engines. Google can’t see all the links to your site, or constantly review your site for changes or additions, so most SEO firms will say that it might take up to 6 months before you notice an increase in rankings, depending on the keyword you’re trying to rank for of course. The second downside is that you’re at the mercy of these search engines. I’ve read multiple articles about how sites that were on the 1st page for months drop to the 3rd page+ after Google released a revision to their search algorithm. People who offer SEO services that guarantee you a #1 ranking are lying. That’s something they can’t guarantee, as Google, Yahoo, or Bing ultimately has the final say, whether you like it or not. What people who offer these services that promise though, is that they will provide these services to the best of their ability, and provide documentation to let you know what they’ve been working on.
I hope that helps clear up a little bit about what SEO is and what it consists of. I have a few more facts about it listed on our SEO page if you’re interested. If you have any questions about the services we offer, don’t hesitate to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you with an answer. Also, has your business ever had an SEO campaign done for your website? How were the results? Good? Bad? Let us know in the comment section.