First, what is SEO? It is a series of techniques that you and your team, or an online marketing agency, use to help your site rank higher in the various search engines - primarily Google, Yahoo and Bing.
We deploy SEO to ensure that your business (your website) is visible to more prospective customers when they search for your type of business. Higher rankings provide your business with more 'eyes' on your business, more prospects, more leads, more phone calls or email inquiries, and ultimately more sales.
Search engines are looking for very specific things when they decide how to rank any particular website. They rank your website based on your expertise, authority, and trust. How exactly do they figure this out?
So the E.A.T. principle is - Expertise, Authority, & Trust! Google looks for how well your site provides these three attributes to a prospect who may be searching for your product or service. The following are various elements of the SEO process to aid your site in better rankings.
Does your site inform customers? It should provide relevant information about your products or services. Content should be easy to read, easy to understand, and helpful for a customer who is looking for the service you provide. Can a customer easily connect with you - via phone, email, or text?
Layout & Navigation
Your site should be easy to navigate and customers should be quickly able to find information they need to make a decision. Are your navigation menus easy to follow? Do you have contact information on each page of your site for a prospect? Is the information organized in an easy to use, easy-to-follow format? Do you provide reliable information on your service offerings?
Links, or backlinks, are simply web links that connect your site to other sites. Links have varying degrees of authority - ranging from no authority to a very high degree of authority. In today's parlance they're sort of like shout-outs, and confirmation of the fact that your business is cool!
Let's say for example that have a clothing design firm for today's style-conscious women. You would love to have your website show up as a link on one of the famous fashion sites - for example Chanel, Fenty, or maybe Stella McCartney. That would be some real validation for your own business! But even better, would be one of those famous design houses wanting to link to your own website. It would be the equivalent of the head of Prada telling your potential audience that you're an awesome designer and they're excited to be supporting you!
Citations are another critical success factor for your business website.
Your citation is both your business name, address & phone number (NAP for short!) AND the places across the web where your NAP may be found. You can manually add your business NAP to a large variety of directories, reference sites, and other websites that collect data.
For example, one citation would be your GMB listing. Another might be your Better Business Bureau listing (BBB.org), another could be YellowPages.com, and hundreds and hundreds more. Sometimes your NAP is being added to websites without your knowledge, as the search engine 'spiders' crawl millions of websites 24/7 to gather, aggregate and categorize the millions of pages out on the web.
Part of Google's decision to trust your site - and therefore rank it higher than your competition - is whether your business' information is consistent across hundreds of sites on the web. For example, if your NAP on your GMB listing is XYZ Landscaping, 123 Main Street, Boston MA 01234 vs. XYZ Landscapers, 123 Main St, Boston Mass, 01235 - Google sees these two listings as different - and because they are unsure (they dont' trust) that these are actually the same business, your ranking suffers.
There are approximately 500 citation sources that are considered to be primary sources - places where you would want your business listing to be found as they are a key source when people are searching for information. What are some of the majors? Google. Google Maps. Amazon Alexa. Apple Maps. Facebook. Bing. Yahoo. How's that for a power lineup!
How well is your site ranked against competition? If your business has 40 customer reviews and a 4.3 star rating, but your competitors have 100 reviews and a 4.7 star rating, your rankings will likely suffer.
Your business is competing against every other business offering your type of service. If a customer searches for a "Tampa Bay Orthodontist" there are literally dozens of search results that are returned. Are you on Page #1? Do you have a position in the "3-Pack" (or the "Map Pack") which is more visible? Or are you on Page #2 through #100?. Your ranking depends not just on applying these various elements to your website, but also how well you perform against your competition who may be deploying these very same tasks.
On-Page SEO - the 'backend' of your website allows you to add correct Meta Titles, H1 tags, keywords, and other technical elements to each page of your site. These elements are vital because they tell Google (and all search engines) what your site is about. When Google understands what your site is about, it is much easier for Google to serve-up your business listing when a prospect is searching for the service you provide. Google trusts your site as a resource for prospective customers, therefore, you rank higher in search results.
How well your site is optimized determines how fast it will load. You've encountered web sites where you can count to 5 or 10 seconds before the homepage loads? Well Google penalizes this load time since it is not serving your prospective customers well. Google is obsessed with speed and look at the short period of time it takes for a search result to be returned - counted in milliseconds.
You may hear about Google's "algorithms". Their algorithms (which are not shared with the public) control everything in the search environment. And they're constantly updated. All for the benefit of the consumer.
With well over 70% of searches being conducted on a mobile phone today, Google prizes those sites that are optimized for mobile phones. This means that your site is displayed in a way that is easy to read, information is organized and displayed properly, and the content is valuable to a prospective customer.
Many times we find that web designers build a beautiful website - when viewed from a desktop or laptop. But the mobile version is unrecognizable, and the copy and content are illegible. Always make sure that your web designer is designing for mobile, if not "mobile-first"!
So, we've outlined several important elements of an online marketing effort. It can be complex and overwhelming at times. Some things you could do yourself, many you'd rather leave to an experienced agency. And some are best left to experts simply because if they are done incorrectly, your website can be harmed and lose whatever trust and authority it may have already built with Google.
Whatever path you choose, the goal is still the same - up your website game to beat out the competition, gain a top ranking for your business and maintain it, leading to increase customers, more revenue, and hopefully more peace of mind as you build your growing business.