At GoBeyond, we talk to A LOT of business owners. Many of them have come to realize the importance of SEO to marketing online in the 21st Century, but they are still confused with exactly what is SEO?
At least a portion of this confusion is caused by us in the SEO industry itself and by some others in related businesses like web design or social media, who claim to also perform SEO.
Here, in this post, we would like to eliminate any confusion as to what search engine optimization is and how it will help your business when it is done right.
Put simply, SEO (search engine optimization) is a collection of strategies and tactics, that when used correctly, will increase a websites ranking in search engines, most typically, Google.
That is a pretty simple definition put the problems begin to arise in the implementation of strategies and tactics. Many different activities are encompassed in SEO and the reason for the confusion surrounding who does SEO, is that when a company implements just one strategy, they start saying they can handle SEO.
To illustrate this principle further I will show you an example that we run into all the time. Most small businesses outsource the creation of their website. Whether they hire a professional web development firm or their cousin’s boyfriend who is really good with computers, oftentimes they are told that their web developer can handle SEO. So if you have had your website recently designed or re-launched by a web design firm and they claim to also do SEO, you may have had a bad initial experience with SEO.
This is because most web developers don’t actually do SEO. They implement one strategy or tactic of SEO and call it SEO. This is like trying to call yourself a Gourmet Chef and only being able to cook one recipe – it just doesn’t work! Unfortunately, all the jargon and information out there regarding SEO, makes the whole process even more confusing to business owners. We want to eliminate that confusion once and for all by showing you the things you need to look for in a solid SEO campaign.
Begin With the End in Mind – Keyword Research
All good SEO begins with solid keyword research. After all, you can’t get your site to rank for certain search terms if you don’t know what those terms are. An effective SEO campaign will begin by determining the right keywords to target.
The terms for your business will be unique to your business. The best terms have enough people searching for them on the internet, show some form of commercial intent on behalf of the searcher and do not have too much competition.
For example, we did some keyword research for an online bicycle store. While it is obvious the store wanted to rank for the term “bikes,” the competition was fierce and ranking for that term could take months, if not years. But we found them the term, “comfort bikes,” and they ranked #1 for that term in weeks. The keyword phrase “comfort bikes” received over 200 searches per day, showed commercial intent and the competition was low enough for it to rank very quickly.
If you are a local small business, competition levels should be even easier. Examples of keywords include Charlotte CPA, Reno Chiropractor and Brooklyn Florist. People who type in these words are looking to buy your product or service. Getting ranked for any of these keywords comes down to implementing an SEO campaign that encompasses the 2 types of SEO.
The 2 Major Aspects of SEO
There are different “types” of SEO – on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO consists of things that you can do to your site that will help it gain high rankings in the search engines.
On-Page SEO activities include copywriting, correctly naming pictures, having keyword rich title tags, establishing site maps, blogging and writing effective meta-descriptions. These are the activities that are typically performed by web developers that lead them to claim they can do SEO. Technically, they are correct. These activities are SEO tactics. But you are not getting the whole picture.
The web developer is acting like a handy-man when what you need is a home builder. A handy-man might be able to put up a new door, or seal a broken window but he’s not really following a plan and building you a house. In order to get the house built you need to implement specific activities (or tactics) that integrate with each other in order to form a strategy.
If you only concentrate on one portion of SEO, it is not nearly as effective as when you implement a strategic SEO campaign. And all good SEO campaigns contain both types of SEO.
The job of on-page SEO is to lay the proper foundation for an off-page SEO campaign. If you only do the on-page aspect, you will have a nice foundation but you will never build the house. In this analogy having the house means achieving high rankings in Google.
Like on-page SEO, off-page SEO also consists of various tactics and activities. All of these activities, however, aim to achieve one goal – to get other sites to link back to your site. Off-page SEO is also referred to as back-link building because all of its activities are attempting to get other sites to link back to your site.
There are many different ways to do this and each tactic has its own pros and cons but that is a subject for another post. Here, you just need to realize that back-link building is an essential element to all effective SEO and you will not achieve high rankings without it.
Why Your SEO Isn’t Working?
If your current SEO provider is only performing on-page SEO, you are missing an essential element in your campaign that will prevent you from achieving the results you are looking for. We have found this to be an issue with lots of local small businesses. They are paying someone month-in and month-out to put up new doors or repair broken windows but they are never going to have the home of their dreams.
If you think achieving a high ranking in Google for targeted keyword terms will help your business then you need to implement a strategic SEO campaign with both on and off page SEO. There is just no other way to get the results you need. It is fruitless to implement a few tactics if you don’t have a strategy blueprint to insure you are achieving your goals.
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As always, thanks for reading.