5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About SEO

Date
AUG 21, 2020
Author
Sean Campbell
INFO:

Location: Alsask

Search Engine Optimization.

“Huh?!?”

Yeah, that’s most people’s reaction.

SEO is usually code for “NERD ALERT.” Most people don’t get it. For those that do, it seems like it’s always a moving target. Google says to use lots of keywords. Facebook says use lots of images. Blah, blah, blah.

*Insert brain overload here*

Here’s the straight forward truth: SEO involves a LOT of factors and is a long-term marketing strategy. It takes time.

While SEO is truthfully an always moving target, for more reasons than I care to get into, it’s still important to any business. If you don’t show up on Google, you don’t make money. Simple enough.

The world of SEO is ever-changing, but you can easily understand the basics and this can make a BIG difference.

If you’re curious as to how SEO works and what exactly it takes to help your business, I’ll gladly give you a few pointers.

Let’s get started.

WHAT THE HECK IS SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is the way that a search engine (what people use to type in for what they’re looking for on the internet, example: Google) ranks or values your website.

Many factors determine how a website ranks, but the obvious goal is for a search engine to suggest the most accurate and helpful sources for the user who is searching. Google’s job is to find whatever resource or website is closest to what the searcher is looking for. Keywords, phrases, and other factors help Google to identify the websites that are mostly likely to help the searcher.

If I go to Google and type in “Natural Dogfood,” all of the options that show are up ranked in order of Search Engine Friendliness. Meaning, there’s a few reasons why those websites or products got listed up at the top.

  • They probably have the words “Natural Dogfood” on their website a lot. (Keywords)
  • They probably sell a product with Natural Foods for Dogs where many people buy. (Engagement)
  • They probably have a long history of selling or having Natural Dogfood on their website. (Legitimacy)
  • They probably have a few links on other websites that reference them as a great place to get Natural Dogfood. (Backlinking)
  • Finally, they probably update their site regularly with news articles, new products, and new pages related to Natural Dogfood. (Relevant Info).

These 5 reasons a why most websites rank well on Google!

Now let’s unpack them.

5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SEO

1. KEYWORDS - Your website must have the keywords that people use in their search.

Simple enough. Keywords have a lot of value on Google. If you’re a printing company, then you better have the words “print,” “print shop,” “printing,” and other variations all over your website! You’ll especially get bonus credit when these keywords are in the right places such as in headers, titles, meta descriptions, title tags, image tags, and links on your website. It also pays to have geographical terms too.

In simple terms, the more your keywords are on the website, the better. *However see below about black hat tactics and a warning with what NOT to do.*

2. ENGAGEMENT - Your website must have a great design and help people find what they are looking for quickly and easily.

Believe it or not, but Google pays attention to how people react to your website. Time on page, clicks, contact forms, and purchases all are signs of engagement.

If someone hits your website for 5 seconds and bounces right off, that’s a good indicator that they didn’t find what they were looking for. Google takes notes on this and then ranks your website with others. The more people that hit your website and stay (show signs that they found what they were searching for), the more success you’ll have on Google for your top search terms and keywords.

3. LEGITIMACY - Your website must have a good standing of representing your top search terms, keywords, and topics for a while.

Let’s say you start a new business for snow cones this week and then build a website… will you rank high on Google right away? Absolutely not.

Search Engines want you to prove that you’re an expert in your field and that you know what you’re talking about. This means that you’ll have to be established for a little while before you’ll get attention from Google.

After all, if every new business could appear at the top of Google within a week, everyone would be doing it!

Your website builds equity over time. If your website has been up for a while representing snow cones, the longer it’s up, the more it’s going to get a favorable rank with Google. It pays be a veteran online. The more you’re established, the more Google will take you serious.

4. BACKLINKS - Your website needs to be referenced by other websites or sources as a way of crediting or affirming your website.

Backlinks are when another website makes mention of your website. Think of this like a good referral.

When someone refers you to their friends, that means that you’ve made a great impression and they think highly of you. This is the same online. When another website makes a reference and a link to your website, it’s like saying that you’re a great resource. The more links (referrals) you have, the more Google takes notice.

It also helps you to have social media posts that refer to your website! Whether that is your own posting or a customer referring your website online!

5. RELEVANT INFO - Your website needs to show signs of life and constant changes by adding new pages, designs and additions.

A dormant website is a dead website.

Google likes to know that your website is still current with the time. By adding new pages, blogs, redesigns, and additions to your website, you’re telling Google that you’re still active and your information is still important.

A new page is worth a lot to Google and it builds the value of your website over time. PLUS, it gives you more opportunities to use content that includes your keywords and phrases that a searcher might use.

Think of this like putting a new coat of paint on your house. An old coat says, “this house is old and we don’t care.” A new coat of paint says, “we care about house and we want to stay with the trends.”

The more content you add consistently over time, the more you’re showing Google that you’re making the effort to put the most relevant content in front of your website users. This is a BIG plus over time!

NOW LET’S ANSWER A FEW BIG QUESTIONS (ESPECIALLY ON HOW YOU CAN GET IN TROUBLE WITH GOOGLE)!

IS IT WORTH IT TO DO BLOGS AND ADD NEW PAGES WHEN YOUR COMPETITORS ARE DOING THE SAME THING? WILL THE SEO WORK PAY OFF?

The easy answer is, yes. BUT, it does take time.

SEO is more of a long-term marketing play if we’re being honest, especially if you’re in a bigger market with lots of others competitors. I’ve seen websites jump as far as from the 5th page to the 1st page within a few months, (that’s about 40-50 spots), but that was with a fairly aggressive strategy of posting several times a month. While I’ve seen others in larger markets (such as Boston) and it took a year for them to jump from the 3rd page to the 1st page on Google.

WHAT’S CHEAPER/BETTER, SEO (BLOGGING & ADDING NEW PAGES) OR GOOGLE ADS?

This is a tough one. If you’re the type that loves instant gratification, then Google ads are the way for you. If you’re into the long-term investment, you’ll be willing to wait on SEO and invest for the long-haul.

For Google ads, you’ll typically pay about $1 a click (depending on your business and your market) and the national conversion rate is about 3%. Sometimes if your cost per click is higher, you’ll get higher quality leads, but that means you’re paying more. Other times, if you’re cost per click is high, it’s incredibly wasteful if your website sucks and doesn’t convert the leads from the ads. The key to remember is that Google ads (your placement at the top) goes away when you stop paying for it. Furthermore, other competitors could take that place away at any moment by putting forth more ad budget. Yes. Google ads can be fruitful, but you have to be very strategic, have the right keywords, and know what you’re doing so you can truly track return on ad spend.

If you’re into the long-term investment, you’ll love the returns SEO brings with time.

It’s time consuming writing blogs, meta descriptions, and keywords, but it can naturally slingshot you ahead of your competitors in time. Then pretty soon, you can back off on your strategy and let the search engine do all the work for you. This does not mean you just stop once you hit the top of the 1st page, but it does mean that maintaining a good ranking is easier than trying to get to the top. Lastly, SEO is built to help your website get better and help the searcher find what they are looking for. If your website is bad, it doesn’t matter how many keywords you use. You’ll rank low. SEO is really a strategy of doing a few things really well.

WHAT’S BLACK-HAT TACTICS AND HOW DO YOU GET IN TROUBLE WITH GOOGLE?

When Google was first starting out, many people figured out how to cheat the system and get their website ranked at the top quickly. They would put keywords on their websites thousands of times and even bury the keywords in the HTML code of how the website was built. Google had to combat this with what we now call “spiders” or “crawlers.” Crawlers are computer programs that run searches and then evaluate your website for those searches. The crazy thing is they not only evaluate your website on SEO but also on user engagement. They are trained to spot when a website is not user-friendly or directed towards humans. If it doesn’t engage people well, then you’ll get penalized over time for trying to cheat the system. Google compares the search results with the searchers engagement on your website. If they don’t line up well, then you’ll get penalized and your website will not rank on Google.

This is what we call black-hat tactics - hidden texts or links, keyword stuffing, sneaky redirects, link schemes and more. Believe it or not, but many marketing agencies that don’t know the ways of Google still try this for their clients and get punished with getting banned or getting reduced SEO!