Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a fancy word for “website visibility.” How visible is your website? Are consumers finding you organically through search engines such as Google or Bing? If you don’t know where your website stands, chances are you need help increasing SEO.
If you’re thinking of launching an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) campaign, it’s important to understand the basics so you know what to realistically expect when it comes to the results, and plan a strategy to set up your business for success.
Almost every business wants to know the same thing – what’s my return on investment? Most believe if you rank well in Google, you will see the desired return. The success, of course, is completely dependent upon the keywords which you can rank for, the likelihood of getting there, and what the competition plans to do.
Ranking well in Google is very often the result of a conscious decision to compete in the arena of capitalism, and for anyone to guarantee they’ll win that battle is hubris. A certain appreciable quantity of humility goes a long way when determining whether SEO will be a principal driver of revenue for your business. Not only will you have to roll the dice on the SEO team you choose, you are also unable to predict what your competition will do. Staying humble gives you the opportunity to realistically assess your chances.
When SEO works, it can be a grand slam, and this possibility drives countless business owners and entrepreneurs to give it a serious try. Tracking revenue from SEO can be a challenge. However, we are becoming more sophisticated with options like CallRail, which allows us to track phone calls and where they’ve originated. Couple that with website form tracking, and we can paint a fairly accurate picture of ROI.
What Should You Do?
If you are thinking of starting an SEO campaign or pushing your SEO further, there are a few things you should be sure to do:
1. Install Google Analytics on your website to measure the visitors that are coming to the site, how long they stay, the pages they visit and whether or not they return. You also want to measure how many links you have through Google Webmaster Tools. You may have 10 or 10,000.
2. You then need to run a ranking report. Install software that allows you to add all the keywords that matter to your business and ensure you can also see the search volume (e.g. the number of people searching for each term).
Once you know where your website ranks, you’ll be better able to assess your situation and adjust your expectations. If you are on page two for keywords with great search volume, that’s excellent! If you are beyond position 100, you’ve got a long road ahead of you. Don’t be discouraged if your website isn’t where you thought it would be. Remember that SEO is about building a web asset and it can be a long process. If you are serious about your business and can plan at least a couple of years into the future, then chipping away at blogs, SEOing your website and creating media will slowly bring you closer to those coveted top spots.
What should your SEO program include?
At the time I write this, a good SEO program always includes the following elements:
1. Writing the meta titles and descriptions for every page of your website so they entice potential users to click. Meta titles are the blue links that appear in Google search results. The meta descriptions are the black text that appear beneath the blue links in those results.
2. Landing pages, if not already written, need to be created for every service your company provides. If you are a mechanic, there need to be landing pages on oil changes, fixing brakes, checking engine lights, replacing windshield wipers, tires, etc. When someone searches for those terms, your landing page will have the highest chance of ranking, and if the page is well made, it will do well in search results based on the amount of time users spend on the page, whether they click on other results, come back to the site and hundreds of other user metrics.
3. A strong SEO program also includes a consistent flow of new content, typically centered around a blog. Blog posts are shared on relevant social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Depending on the business, content is also often shared on LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. In rare cases, Reddit and StumbleUpon are also good options. There are many more social media sites to choose from, but these cover the essentials.
4. “Link building” is a term many SEO consultants throw around to describe the bulk of the work that we do. Because it is ambiguous, many business owners simply don’t probe into what link building is — this is a mistake. How your SEO consultants link build is incredibly important, because it will make or break your program. If you or an SEO company goes about building links using so-called “black hat” methods (such as creating thousands of articles through randomizing text), you could be sandboxed from Google and lose years of hard work. On the other hand, should you or your SEO company create some viral images, you could reap 90% of your meteoric rise from one photo that was shared tens of thousands of times. Honest link building matters. Google wants to see content people genuinely like. It’s that simple.
Half of success in SEO is to manage expectations. If you are convinced that you can hire someone that will do SEO for you and that you’ll see positive ROI, but you don’t know where you currently rank, you have taken that cart and put it before the proverbial horse. Ignorance of SEO, unfortunately, places you in a position to be taken advantage of. SEO is known for being a gimmicky, unregulated industry filled with charlatans and incompetent salespeople, and for good reason. Do not fall victim to guarantees or allow yourself to remain ignorant of what a good SEO program looks like.