Business owners often come to the realization that their website is not visible in search results for key phrases related to their particular industry or trade. In its simplest form – therein lies the answer to the question – your website is not visible or your competitors’ websites are out-ranking your website in the search results and receiving the lion’s share of targeted traffic.
The scope of this post is to bring added clarity and insights to recent concerns I have received regarding how a business will benefit from having a strategic SEO campaign in place. The topic could comprise a book, so I will only touch upon some important points.
I don’t have any competition. And, my YP ad should be just fine. Whoa!
- Making the assumption there is no competition for your product or service.
In the extremely rare instance where competition for your product or service currently does not exist – will you be positioned to compete in the event a competitor should come onto the scene tomorrow?
- Relying solely upon YP print advertising – which is widely used for a doorstop now.
While it was once true a prominent position in the YP directory book was all that was required for a local businesses phone to ring – those days are long gone. I am confident I have more than one client willing to substantiate my claim upon request.
With the onset of the digital era, many new marketing venues have evolved, while older tried and true methods have met their demise. In my humble estimation, a strong presence on Google search results is akin to the former and coveted full-page ad in YP – on steroids.
Enter Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In the early days, SEO was often thought to be a “dark art” only practiced by a select few individuals fortunate enough to be privileged to specialized information. I do not intend to perpetuate that myth.
SEO Can Be Defined As: The implementation of industry best practices to increase a website’s overall visibility in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
The implementation of SEO needs to be concurrent with creating a positive user experience and complete accessibility. SEO ties closely with User Experience (UX) and Information Architecture (IA) – one component can not stand upon its own merits – all must be present and optimized in order for a website to rank well in the SERPs (i.e. visibility) and to provide searchers with the information, product or service they were searching for. When the synergy between targeted searcher and quality content exists – your desired result (e.g. sales, leads, etc.) will be achieved.
OK, but where does the traffic come from?
It is also very important to understand which sources are responsible for driving traffic to a website. The major contributors of website traffic are: Google, Bing & Yahoo!. Keeping in mind Google still contributes nearly 81% of Organic (non-paid) search traffic. Bing and Yahoo! share approximately 16% of search traffic, with approximately 3% of traffic being derived from various smaller search engines.
While it is true that other sources such as Social Media can produce visits to your website, the primary focus of any SEO campaign should remain upon improving a website’s search placement within Google’s search results. This is how a typical search for a service, product or business is conducted today. Will your business be found?
Great! How does SEO drive targeted traffic to my website?
The answer is not simple. Currently, Google’s search algorithm takes well over 200 hundred search ranking factors into consideration, in attempt to assign SERP placements to the billions of search queries it receives each month. It is also important to remember Google ranks web pages, not web sites, as its bots crawl through your site attempting to establish taxonomies and relevancy of the information contained therein. And, Google’s ultra-secret algorithm is dynamic, continually changing and adjusting.
In order to assist the bots in accomplishing their task of categorizing the information and assigning an authoritative metric to the pages on your website, a number of On-Page SEO best practices need to be implemented in order to build the proper roadway for the bots to travel. Once this crucial foundation is in place, the best SEO value will be derived from continual application of Off-Page SEO strategies.
A few examples of Off-Page SEO might include obtaining citations on relevant directories and authority sites, sending search signals via Social Media, various Inbound Marketing techniques, or the careful and arduous acquisition of links from very specific 3rd party sites. Many more strategies exist, but are beyond the scope of this discussion.
Not so fast…
There is more! Google has Local Businesses in mind. With the advent of Google+, Google Places, Google+ Business, Google+ Brand, and most recently, Google+ Local, there are additional opportunities for your website to be seen in localized search results. Confused? No worries – most people are – including SEOs.
Just take a look…
As a matter of fact, the consensus is that Local SEO is even more difficult than SEO targeting larger geographic areas. Why? The reasons are too numerous to describe in detail here, but in general (aside from the fact that Google itself has manged to convolute the Google+ environment beyond belief), do-it-yourself website owners and misinformed SEOs have managed to spin a tangled mess of duplicate profiles and pages, resulting in a negative impact upon the ability of a Google+ Local page to rank well.
Fortunately, I happen to have extensive Local SEO experience and can identify and decipher complex issues related to the aforementioned Google+ profiles. A recent example of this can be seen in-part in Local SEO Troubleshooting, where I identify a client’s duplicate profiles & pages and begin to map-out and unravel. Once Google takes note of the edits I have made, the client’s Google + Local page should begin to be visible in the blended search results for geo-specific businesses.
Can I do my own SEO work?
Maybe. It really depends upon the amount of time you have to commit and what your business priorities are. In most cases, specialized tasks are best handed-off to the experts.
For example: If I need the fuel injection system repaired on my car, I entrust the task to my local automotive service professionals at Tristar Automotive, as opposed to expending tons of time perusing technical manuals and spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on specialized diagnostic equipment and tools necessary in order to perform the repair – which I may or may not resolve.
To begin, you will want to ensure your website has the proper foundation, which should include (but not be limited to) the following considerations:
- A “responsive” website layout, capable of scaling to most tablets.
- Information Architecture (e.g. navigation labels, taxonomies, internal linking, etc.)
- User Experience (e.g. element positioning, font and link colors, etc.)
- Creating useful and original content for your audience. Content is king!
- Implementing On-Page SEO best practices.
You will also need to establish a Google Webmaster account and a Google Analytics account, which can provide valuable insights, dimensions and metrics regarding visitors to your website. If you own a business which caters to local customers, then you should also establish and verify a Google+ Local page for your business.
Then, you can begin to segue into Off-Page SEO, which is imperative to bolstering Domain and Page Authority. Huh? Simply stated: building your website’s credibility in the eyes of Google and other search engines of importance. It is not an easy task and requires ongoing effort, analysis and making proper adjustments.
Many tools are available free online which will help you track your website’s search rankings and perform, source citations, analyze back-link metrics, etc. However, the old adage “you get what you pay for” often holds true. I pay a handsome sum of money each month in order to access valuable data necessary to keep my clients’ sites optimized on an ongoing basis, keep track of what key competitors are doing, track & submit local citations and much more!
At this juncture, you may desire to explore and develop your own SEO strategy for your business website. If that is the case, I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors!
So what does all of this mean, and how do I benefit?
Some of you will scroll ahead to this point. I encourage reading the post, but if you must cut to the chase…
SEO can increase your business REVENUE & PROFITABILITY!
Initial On-Page SEO, and especially ongoing Off-Page efforts, will increase your website’s visibility in the search results for your chosen search phrases, resulting in targeted traffic to your website and increased leads or sales – depending upon your business goals.
Please contact me to discuss your business goals and learn how seoWest can help you achieve them.
Taxonomies Discussion: Taxonomies
Search Traffic Data: Webpagefx
Local Search Ecosystem: David Mihm
SEO Beginners Guide: MOZ