Search Engine Optimization
SEO, which stands for “search engine optimization,” is the practice of optimizing a website or web application so that search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo can find its content, index it, and deliver it to users based on a specific search intent.
SEO involves a set of practices and skills such as research, data analysis, writing, coding, internet technology, and more in order to make sure websites are appealing to search engines for indexing and ranking.
Whether you are aware of it or not, as a site owner, you’ve engaged in the art of SEO.
Every decision made for your website has an impact on SEO – from your brand name, to your domain, to whether you have a brick and mortar, to what content you’ve added to your site.
Because it combines so many disparate elements, SEO can be difficult to grasp without the proper experience. In fact, depending on what type of online presence you need, there are different strategies to employ that can help you be competitive in the online marketplace.
SEO for Corporate or Business Sites
A “corporate site” is really just an umbrella term to describe a business who wants an online presence to provide information on their business and allow users to contact them. I prefer to use the more common sense term of a “business website.” Common types of business websites include:
- Creative organizations (design firms, legal firms, game studios)
- Software companies
- Government organizations
- Agencies that provide a service (real estate, insurance, etc.)
In fact, this website could be described as a business website designed to showcase the skills of an individual entrepreneur and provide relevant contact information.
If you’re interested in getting in touch about SEO for your corporate or business website get in touch below.
SEO for Ecommerce Websites
Ecommerce is the act of selling products (digital and hard goods), processing payments, and fulfilling orders through a website. Because of the nature of how search engines index ecommerce sites, there are different strategies for online merchants one can employ to compete with other online businesses in your industry. Here are some strategies I use to help ecommerce businesses improve ROI:
- Checkout process optimization
- Product page SEO
- Schema markup
- Category hierarchy
- User experience improvements
Successful SEO for ecommerce requires a different approach than typical business or lead-gen sites.
If you’re interested in getting SEO for Ecommerce, get in touch below.
SEO for Lead Generation or Service-based Websites
Lead generation is the practice of collecting customer information or driving contacts and outreach through your website. If you’re a service-based business and can’t simply ship your product to your customers, lead generation is a great way to monetize your online presence by getting in front of new customers and making outreach easy.
The end goal is very much the same as a traditional ecommerce website (make $$) but the optimization strategies differ greatly. For a great lead generation site, you need to not only drive traffic, but also make sure that traffic can find the information they want, and easily contact you to take the next step in the sales funnel. Some strategies applied for SEO for lead-gen include:
- User flow improvements
- On page content optimization & development
- Local SEO
- Review & reputation management
- Resource content building
- Calls to action
- User & goal tracking
If you would like to learn more about how I help service-based businesses with their SEO, get in touch below.
Common SEO Questions
Throughout my years as an SEO consultant, I’ve dealt with small business all the way up to Fortune 500 companies. No matter how big your are or what industry you’re in, I tend to get the same questions about SEO. So I’ve put together easy to understand answers for some of the most common SEO questions that I get. If you want to learn more on specific topics, you can check out the blog.
What is SEO?
The simplest explanation is that SEO is a combination of website optimization practices that make your website look authoritative to Google for specific searches your customers might use. Basically, we want to make your site as enticing to search engines as possible and it combines elements of web technology, site content, competition analysis, and more.
How is SEO different than paid traffic?
Paid traffic is pretty self explanatory: you pay Google or Facebook to show an ad to people based on keywords or audience behaviors. While you can also “pay” someone to do your SEO, the end goal is to drive traffic to your site from non-paid sources, which we call “organic.”
An example of an organic visit to your site would be someone searching, “best plumber in Austin.” The person would then scroll past Google’s paid ad block and click on the first SERP listing because Google thinks that particular site or page is the most relevant answer to the user’s question.
SEO is the practice of actively improving your site to drive organic traffic.
Why does SEO cost so much?
SEO is a very time intensive field that requires diverse knowledge about a lot of different techniques, disciplines, and strategies. For SEO practitioners who are good at their job, you’re likely paying anywhere from $40 – $150/hour for that work. It’s a lot different than paying to turn on an ad in Google or Facebook.
You should also look at SEO as a long-term investment. Unlike paid ads, the SEO work you have done on your site continue to have a positive impact for months, even years, after the work has been done.
Anyone who’s been in the online marketing world will tell you that a site with incredible SEO and great user experience will spend less money driving visits than a site that relies on paid ads over the long term.
In short, you’re paying for quality work and expertise. If you don’t feel you’re getting your money’s worth, get in touch with me and let me audit your site’s SEO to see what can and should be improved.
Is SEO worth the cost?
The inherent problem with SEO is that it’s intangible to a certain extent. The work being done takes a while to have an effect, and there are not industry standards for makes a “good” SEO campaign, so it can sometimes be difficult to show how SEO work has had an impact on the bottom line.
If you rely heavily on your website for your business or livelihood, then SEO should be your best friend. Think of SEO as a long-term investment in the growth of your online presence, increasing the number of visits, and ultimately your ROI.
Depending on what your goals are, you should have a budget in mind for what you want. I’ve had clients who see the benefits of an ongoing campaign and continue to work with me month to month, and I’ve had others that only wanted consulting and research work done that lasted 3 months.
Ultimately, the value to get out of your SEO is entirely up to the client. As an expert, it’s my job to identify goals for my clients and put together a strategy to meet them.
Any company or person who “guarantees” rankings are misleading you on what SEO is and how to gauge its success.
How long does it take to see results from SEO?
The answer to this question depends on your website.
For new websites or younger websites, you’ll typically start seeing movement within 2 – 4 months of starting SEO. If your niche or industry is particularly competitive, then you can extend that timeline by 3 – 6 months. More competitive industries take longer to make an impact for young or new websites.
For websites that have a strong history of good SEO and have been around for a while can see results in as little as 2 months, even in competitive verticals.
The happy median answer to this question is “about 3 months.”
What is a meta description?
The meta description is the long grey text that appears under the blue links on a search results page. They are unique to each page and can be as long as 320 character (according to Google’s recent change). While search engines do index them and use them to deliver search results, best practices dictates that you utilize the meta description field to give context to your page and provide calls to action to entice users to click.
Are meta keywords useful?
No, meta keywords are no longer a useful tool to impact your rankings.
As of 2009, Google no longer uses the keywords meta tag as a ranking factor. In the good old days, site owners would stuff that field with dozens and dozens of keywords in order to rank a page for a wide variety of queries. Google realized this, and in order to provide more relevant results to users, they devalued that as a ranking factor and instead focused more on on page content, site speed, mobile responsiveness, and backlinks.
They’re not completely useless though – if you have a competitor and want to analyze their keyword strategy, you’ll likely find plenty of insight in their old, devalues, keyword meta fields.
What is the best way to get a website to rank?
The best way to get a website to rank is to have a good product or service, have a website that is easy to use, and provide your users with plenty of information on your business, services, products, and more.
Without that foundation, any SEO strategies that you employ will have little positive impact. Google’s job is to deliver the best results to their users, and they’re looking at websites the way a human being would in order to determine if it’s a good option for their users.
If you meet the above qualifications then some of the most important ranking factors are:
- Domain age
- Optimized, original on page content
- Site speed
- Proper social signals
- Target keywords in your meta tags
Obviously, there is a lot more to it, but that’s where I come in. Get in touch.
What are backlinks?
I don’t remember where I heard backlinks explained this way, but kudos to whoever original came up with the analogy.
Backlinks are like a popularity contest for websites. The more backlinks you have, the better your reputation will look in the eyes of Google.
For this analogy, let’s say Google is the student body and the Homecoming King & Queen are Page 1 on a search results page. Your website really wants to be Homecoming King & Queen, so it helps if you’re popular with the students.
When Google is determining which sites have the best reputation or most authority for a search phrase, they see who is linking (or, “voting”) for your site and factor that into where you are displayed in search results. Every backlink you have coming to your website is like a “vote” for your website in the eyes of Google. Generally, the more votes you have, the better chance you have of becoming Homecoming King or Queen.
That being said, it helps if those votes are coming from quality sites. If you have thousands of backlinks from spammy websites, then you’re more likely doing damage to your reputation than good. Aim for high quality sites like .gov, .edu, and online publications.
How do I know if I have good SEO?
Why did my rankings drop all of a sudden?
Google is consistently updating their search algorithms so rankings fluctuating on a daily or weekly basis is pretty normal. I get this question often so here are some of the most common reasons I’ve seen for a sudden drop in rankings:
- A site with solid traffic has changed key elements of their code or have gone through a redesign. Any structural changes to a website – even if you keep all content in place – will have an impact on your rankings.
- Migrating hosts, changing domains, or changing CMS systems can have drastic impacts on organic rankings. I highly recommend you consult an expert before
you migrate to make sure to mitigate as much damage as possible.
- All those backlinks you built back in 2012 have finally caught up with you. If you used black-hat or spammy strategies to build links back in the early days of SEO, Google can levy a manual penalty on your site and drop your rankings.
- A serious competitor has emerged on the market. For some niches, even poorly optimized sites can rank well for a long time, but if a national or local competitor emerges on the market, your rankings can drop.
- You’re preventing search engines from accessing your site. Subtle changes to key documents on your site can essentially blacklist your site from organic rankings. Learn about how to leverage a robots.txt file and make sure your site is ready for indexing from a technical standpoint.
- You took down content you thought was useless, but it was actually driving lots of traffic. All to often, I see site owners cutting pages willy-nilly without any regard for how it might impact their rankings.
- You have a lot of new 404s on your site. 404s are an indication that a site is not very useful or well-maintained. An influx of 404s can have a negative impact on your site’s SEO, especially for smaller websites.
- A competitor is actively spamming you. I’ve seen if before. Sometimes competition can make people do nasty things and organic subterfuge is very much a thing. Keep an eye on your backlinks and your online reputation.
Get in touch!
I’m driven by a desire to solve problems and help businesses streamline their online strategy. If you want to work with a creative, experienced, talented web guy, you can take the first step below.
Currently providing: Search Engine Optimization, SEO Consulting, Web Consulting, Site Maintenance, Growth Analysis, Competition Analysis, Web Design, Paid Ads Management, Analytics Setup, Data Analysis, Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Conversion Optimization, Project Management, and more out of Austin, TX.