You have probably heard of SEO. Ads are full of promises that SEO will change everything.
Sometimes, they’re right. But… not always. How do you know if SEO is something your business should care about?
In 39 seconds you’ll finally know what SEO is
SEO = Search Engine Optimization
When someone Google’s “window washer in Ottawa,” Google uses 200 “ranking factors” to determine which web pages are most likely to get the searcher to a website that they’ll like.
Search engine optimization adapts a website to perform well in those 200 ranking factors. While paid ads often come up first, SEO tries to get websites to the top of the organic (unpaid) search results.
Search engine marketing (paid Google ads) buy their way to the top.
SEO gets websites there with quality and strategy and involves using specialized software to analyze what people are actually searching for. After honing in on strategic queries, SEO experts develop a plan to “win” keywords so that a website will appear at the top of that search.
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SEO strategies usually include:
- Developing quality web content that the right users want to engage with
- Integrating keywords in strategic places
- Optimizing many of the website’s technical components (mobile friendliness, loading speed, types of code, schema, UX, special features that help search engines find you)
- Growing “site authority” by getting other credible websites to link to your site
SEO professionals begin optimization by analyzing the market including determining how people find and use your website, and your competitors’ websites.
SEO could help your business if you meet any of these 4 criteria
- You have a good offer, and “if only the right people knew about it,” you know they would become customers.
- You want to get new customers through web traffic. Most businesses can increase sales by boosting web traffic.
- Your web traffic is high but your conversion rates aren’t. Low conversions can be a sign that your web traffic is not the right audience, especially if your analytics show that visitors close pages too quickly.
- Your website doesn’t come up when searching for relevant terms that a customer might use. If you see your competition ahead of you in the search results, it is definitely time for SEO action.
Warning: What you see when you search might not be what a customer sees. SEO is localized geographically and Google knows your search history. Open a new incognito window for fresh results.
Where to start
There are a handful of ways you can start optimizing your website:
- Do a basic analysis of your site using a free tools such as Lighthouse
- Write a quality blog using relevant keywords
- Make sure that your website has a mobile-friendly version
- For brick and mortar businesses, update your business information on Google Business, and drop geographical terms throughout your site
Free tools often leave web and content developers shooting in the dark.
To fully pursue SEO, many businesses will want an SEO specialist that can:
- Do more advanced analysis
- Work with technical components of their website
- Create SEO plans that are integrated with broader marketing strategy
Elisa Dorman is a writer and researcher with experience on the client and agency side.