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What Is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization.
It's the process of making adjustments to a website so that Google's (or Bing's or Yahoo's) ranking algorithm positions it favorably in a search result for a search phrase you want to rank for.
An example would be a plumber wanting his plumbing business's website to show up in the top positions when a consumer goes to Google and searches for "Plumber near me".
Do I Need SEO?
SEO is not for every business, just as the phone book was not for every business 30 years ago. There are dozens of ways to advertise your business, however, there are few ways that are as effective as being found in a search engine.
Just as the phone book was the go-to medium for finding a particular industry business in your area in the past. Google has become the first place most people look when searching for a local service or for researching a product.
People tend to believe what they see and read.
When they see your business at the top of Google they attribute a higher value to your business.
Likewise, if they see your competitors in the top results of their search, they are more likely to contact them.
Statistically, 30% of your prospects will visit the 1st organic search result, 24% will visit the 2nd result and 14% will visit the 3rd website result.
By the end of the first page of results, website's are only getting a single digit percentage of their prospects.
Many businesses receive a large percentage of their customers, clients and leads through Google, Yahoo and Bing.
So again, search engine optimization is not for every business.
But if you want your business to leverage the best source for attracting prospects who are actively looking for what you are offering, then SEO is for you!
Why Wouldn't I Just Hire An SEO Expert In House?
As in any area of your business, this is something that you will need to consider.
Is it best to outsource or hire the position in-house?
This is a common question in business and more times than not it comes down to a matter of finances and finding genuine expertise that will lead to real results.
The field of SEO is a very unique and specialized field.
One that can not be learned at any college, university or trade school.
A skill set that requires specialized tools, ongoing training, and continual research.
The field of search engine optimization changes faster than the fields of IT and medicine. Without vigilance, an expert in the field can fall behind within months.
Due to this, the mastery of ranking websites is an extremely lucrative skill set.
If you can budget around $122,200 a year then you can afford a single decent SEO.
- $100,000 salary
- $12,000 tools
- $10,200 research and development
We wouldn't recommend hiring anyone who would be willing to work for less than $100k a year.
An expert in SEO knows the value of the skill set they have. They understand the value they bring and the value of understanding search engine ranking algorithms.
If a person knows they can bring millions of dollars of revenue to your business, they won't be willing to accept a low income.
What Is The Process Of Ranking A Website In Google?
There are over 200 factors that Google's search engine ranking algorithm takes into account when placing a website in the search results. These factors vary slightly from search engine to search engine.
Not all of these factors hold the same weight in ranking your business's website.
The best SEO agencies will prioritize the most important factors first and move down the list from there.
Our process begins with a deep and thorough analysis of your website and current online presence.
We review your website, social profiles, citations and all websites currently linking to your business's website.
By starting with a deep analysis SEO audit we are able to identify any problems that are currently holding your website back. We then start off by resolving those problems.
Otherwise, no matter the amount of work that is done, your website will never rank in the top positions.
These kinds of problems, also known as penalties, are extremely common for websites that have had SEO performed on them previously. Many internet marketers will use risky strategies attempting to rank a website as quickly as possible instead of using safe long-term SEO strategies.
Quite often these strategies do not work at all, but if they do, the results are short-lived and more times than not, end up leaving the website worse off than before.
By addressing these issues in the beginning, a tremendous amount of work and money can be saved in the ranking process.
Unfortunately, this step is too often bypassed or not effectively done, and rankings are severely delayed or never happen.
Our next step is to review what Google is already favoring in the search results for the search term you're wanting your business to rank for.
By reviewing the top ranking websites, Google is giving us insight into what it wants from the websites that it is putting in the top positions.
This helps us identify the top optimization items we need to focus on out of Google's ranking factors.
On Page SEO
The next step will be to optimize your website. Also known as on-page SEO.
This process entails optimizing your website itself making it highly relevant to Google's algorithm for the search terms you are wanting to rank your business for.
Some of the areas we optimize are:
- Meta titles
- Meta descriptions
- Keyword density
- LSI keyword placement
- Inner page URLs
- Inner linking
- Mobile optimization
- Site load time
As we adjust your website we always keep your prospects and website visitors in mind. Good on-page SEO strikes a symmetrical balance between designing content for a human and a machine.
If your website's content does not relate or draw in your prospects you will fail to convert your website visitors.
Search engine rankings without strong prospect conversions will do you very little good.
Social And Citation Optimization
The next step in the process will be to optimize your social properties and business citations.
Your social properties include website's like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and the like.
By optimizing your social profiles, you can rank these pages at times and also create a clear social image of your business when prospects discover you through your various social profiles.
Your business citations include your business listing on websites that clearly display your business name, address, and phone number.
Websites like Yelp, YP.com, Manta, and many other web directories are considered business citations.
Google uses the information it finds on these website citations to create a brand image of your business.
The more accurate and consistent the information it finds, the better it will be for your local SEO rankings. (What is local SEO?)
So it's critically that each individual citation that exists on the web have accurate information on it.
This step can be extremely time-consuming as every one of your business's web citations must be manually reviewed and all incorrect information fixed.
Building Website's Authority and Trust
The next step will include building up your website's authority and trust.
This happens through building strong links to your website from safe and relevant websites.
There are multiple ways these are built, but it's critical all links created to your website are safe and intentional.
Back in the early days of search engines, you could generate millions of spammy links to a website and get the website to rank. These tactics no longer work, and will actually cause your business's website to get penalized and lose all rankings and make it extremely difficult to rank in the future.
The problem is cheap, spammy, and low-quality link building is a commonly used practice by cheap SEO services.
You want to make sure you avoid these at all cost.
During this step, any links built to your business's website are of the highest quality.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the process of optimizing a local business or company to rank in the search engines for search terms relevant to their business and their service location.
This was introduced a number of years ago as Google began incorporating their map search results within their traditional search results. Providing an easier way for prospects to find local businesses by their location.
They took their local ranking algorithm even further to also begin taking into account a searcher's geographic location by IP address and adjusting the organic search results to return more relevant information for the searcher.
Businesses can optimize for local SEO and show up within the map search results and also the organic rankings. Essentially doubling their exposure.
How do we optimize for local SEO?
We optimize for local SEO in many of the same ways we would as described in our SEO Decrypted ranking method.
Some of the specific things we focus on when ranking for a local business:
Make your website highly relevant for your services in conjunction with your location
We optimize your website for your city, cities you serve and services you offer.
We incorporate geo data, schema, and relevant content.
We create out highly relevant business citations and fix all of the citations that have incorrect information on them.
It's critical your information is correct across the web and listed in the places it needs to be listed and not listed where it should not be listed.
Long Term Local SEO That Will Last
As the search engine's algorithms have advanced over the years there has been a natural evolution of the way a searcher interacts with a search engine.
The local search trends we've seen started most heavily with prospects searching with a search string like, "city + service". For example, "Baltimore plumber".
As Google's search algorithm began to advance and was increasingly able to detect a searchers location. There came an increased usage of the following search string, "service near me". For example, "plumber near me".
Both of these search strings are still highly used. However, as Google's search algorithm has continued to advance and as more people are using voice searches, through Google Assistant and Google Home, so the search terms are also changing.
Both single service word searches and natural speech search strings are continuing to increase.
Since Google can now identify your location very accurately it is able to deliver highly relevant results. You no longer need to tell Google where you're searching for something from as in the first example, "city + service" or even the second search string "service near me".
You can now just search Google with one-word search terms for a particular service and get back highly relevant location-based results.
Also, as more people are interacting with Google by speaking to it, the search queries are naturally becoming longer and more exact.
While typing we tend to use shorter search strings, but when speaking to Google we tend to ask more specific questions.
Knowing the direction Google is going and how people will be interacting with it in the future allows us to strategically plan in advance and optimize for it.
Google is constantly changing and updating their algorithm.
By watching the trends it allows us to be strategic in our optimization plans and prepare for the future.
This means long-term rankings for your business's website and maintained profits for you.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.
In the beginning of the World Wide Web (WWW) the HTTP protocol was developed to deliver a website from a remote server to your computer. This protocol was later extended to include a form of encryption and was named HTTPS.
Why does HTTPS matter?
HTTP communicates from a server to a computer without any form of encryption.
This leaves that communication vulnerable to eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks. Meaning, someone can detect and read the communication from your computer to the website you are interacting with. Enabling someone to steal your information, passwords, credit cards, etc.
HTTPS uses encrypted communication between your computer and the web server you're interacting with. This prevents snoopers and hackers from picking up your communication and stealing your information.
As time has gone on, more and more websites have transitioned from the vulnerable HTTP to HTTPS to protect their website visitors.
Do I Need HTTPS for my website?
Does HTTPS Effect SEO?
If HTTPS is enabled for your website is one of the many ranking factors that the various search engine algorithms take into account. Having HTTPS enabled for your website does positively impact your search engine rankings, but is likely not a deciding factor.
However, the biggest impact may be directly to your website visitors and your conversion rates.
Recently, Google's Chrome browser has started showing a "Not secure" message when visiting a website that is not using HTTPS.
Since over 50% of people use Chrome to interact with the Internet, this change will likely have huge repercussions to businesses whose websites do not utilize HTTPS.
As a website visitor may land on your business's website, see "Not secure" and leave. If they're searching for a product or service, they may then go on to one of your competitor's websites to find what they are looking for.
Our recommendation is to use HTTPS for your business's website.