What is SEO and Why Does it Matter? You have probably heard the term “SEO” a million times. Maybe you already know that it stands for “search engine optimization” too. But, do you really know and understand what it means for your business website? You see, I talk to business owners every single week who have the same misconception – they think that they only have to set up their site ONE time and Google will keep it ranked forever. Unfortunately, that is a MYTH. –>> Google moves rankings around ALL DAY LONG. Unless you know that and understand how to work with it, your site is doomed. SEO is not a one-time event. You should definitely optimize your site when it is built, but that is also an ongoing process that needs to be going all the time. Did you know that you need to do extensive keyword research before building out your site’s content? Did you know that you need to add certain keyword phrases to your headings and content? Do you know how to use images to create better SEO for your site? These are just three of the many important things to think about when it comes to on-site SEO. That does not even include what needs to be done off-site. Myths Surrounding SEO Links, keywords and pagerank used to be all the buzz when people first started talking about search engine optimization. Now we know that keyword abuse has caused search engines to crack down on keyword stuffing and on sites that make use of that sort of content. Outbound links are also not as important as they used to be. Pagerank has also become a more dubious metric since websites with a low pagerank can actually do far better in search engine rankings than some sites with a much higher pagerank. –>> The bottom line is that content is the lifeblood of your website. What this means is that strong content with valid keywords used appropriately will help your website to rank well overall. Gaming the system or trying to trick the search engine’s algorithms may work in the short term, but you need to think in terms of long range optimization that is done properly. What is Off-Page SEO and Do I Have to Do It? As you may know, SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. It simply means that you want to do things both ON and OFF your website or blog that attracts the search engines to rank you higher. The first thing to understand about SEO is that your site does NOT rank. It is the individual PAGES or POSTS within your site that will rank. The way that site’s rank is a combination of many factors, and Google definitely won’t tell anyone their “secret algorithm”. However, we do know some of the important criteria that they look for when ranking posts and pages. For off-site (or off-page) SEO purposes, it is all about back linking. What is back linking? Let’s look at a fictional example so that it makes more sense. –>> Let’s say that you love Italian food, so you go on Facebook and ask if anyone knows of a good Italian restaurant in your area. Two people answer. One of those people is your best friend, John, who you have known for 25 years. You know John loves to eat, and he always knows the best places to go. The second person to answer is your mom’s cousin, Mary. You don’t really know her except for the one time you ate dinner at her home and got sick with food poisoning. Whose opinion do you take? Of course, you are going to take John’s opinion, right? Back linking is much the same. Google looks at sites, sees that there are links on these sites pointing back to your pages and then decides if these links are from sites with GOOD reputations or BAD ones. Is SEO a One Time Thing? As a business professional, I bet you get calls from “SEO gurus” almost daily. How irritating is it to get cold, hard sales calls while you are trying to run your business? Some of these supposed “experts” will promise you everything in the world to get you to sign up for their services, but do you really need their help? The answer is maybe. Maybe you do need help with SEO, but probably with another person who truly cares about the success of your business more than lining their own bank account. Let me tell you the real truth about SEO…. it never ends! –>> SEO is an ongoing process that keeps your website pages and posts out there in front of Google and your site visitors. You want to deliver such fantastic, quality content all the time that people have a hard time keeping up. Your on-site and off-site content is meant to do several things: get you back links, increase your credibility, inform people and make the search engines happy. If you do these things, you will watch your traffic numbers soar.\ Using Content for SEO Have you ever heard the phrase, “Content is king”? On the Internet, that phrase is vitally important to your business. Content can mean a number of things from articles to blog posts to videos. The content that you distribute both on and off your site affects your reputation, search engine rankings and credibility. It is a crucial element to your marketing success. Let’s talk about some different kinds of content that you can use for SEO purposes online: –>> Articles: These are often articles that are distributed across the Internet with links back to your website. These links use what is called “anchor text” which is a keyword phrase that you want a page or post on your site to rank for. –>> Videos: These can be short or long videos using screen capture software or live footage. You can put these videos on your site and even on video sharing sites like YouTube. –>> Blog posts: These are posts that you write on your own blog with certain keywords included. You may also want to do guest blog posts on other people’s blogs as well. There are other kinds of content that you can use to get people motivated to click back to your website. The key is being creative in your efforts to get people to visit your site. What is On-Page SEO? Today, I wanted to talk to you about on-page SEO because I think that many business professionals don’t understand this concept well. On-page (or on-site) SEO refers to the things that you do to your pages/posts/website/blog that will make it more attractive to the search engines. Think of it as “dressing up” your website to impress the search engines so that they want to rank your website or blog higher than your competition for certain keyword phrases. –>> Let’s use this example: You are in the real estate business and want to market your services to first-time home buyers. You want to rank well for the term “buy my first home”. If you are using proper on-page/on-site SEO, you would do things to your content to make it rank better in Google and the other search engines. What kinds of things are important with on-site SEO? Bold headers with your targeted keyword phrases Appropriate ALT text on your images Using keyword tags properly Using SEO plugins (if using WordPress) Using the proper keyword density in your content Of course, there are other on-site SEO factors that I recommend, but the topic is a bit more in depth than a short email! I would love to give you more information that will help your site’s pages rank well and stay there. Give me a call or shoot me an email to chat.