What is SEO or Search Engine Optimization? It is the idea of doing things that will help get your website ranked and found when someone does a search for a product or service that your provide. Who cares? You should because it can mean a huge difference the number of leads and closes you have.
Like they say with the lottery, you have to play to win. Well, the first most basic thing you need is a website which many small businesses don’t have. If you don’t have a website, no one will find you on the internet. (There actually are a couple of ways but if you don’t have a website it makes the chance of your being found very unlikely.)
So you may say, great, I made it over that first hurdle, I have a website. But, how good is your website? But wait, before we get into that, let’s step back and take a look at the search engines for a second.
The biggest of the bunch of course is Google. Then you have Bing, Yahoo and others. They want people to come to them to search for what they want. If you do a search and you don’t find what you want, you might try some other search engine and not come back. So they have an incentive to give you the best results possible. How do they do that? They look for certain indicators.
The first and one of the most important is the website. How much content does it have and how pertinent is it. If your competitor has 20 pages and you have 2, the search engines will see your competitor as the better site. So you need lots of content, at least the same or more than your competitors. Then you need to use keywords and keyword phrases. These are words and phrases that people are likely to search for when they look for your product or service. You need to have these throughout the website. But not just randomly. They need to be used naturally in normal sentences and not just lists of keywords. The search engines downgrade you for that.
Pictures help your customers but not the search engines. They can read and evaluate text, but not pictures. Naming the pictures and captions helps some, but you need the text.
The next thing is citations. That is mentions of your website and its name, address and phone number. It is important that these are consistent across the citations. Citations are the equivalent of the phonebook for the internet. Just like TV has gotten lots of channels, the same with the phone book/citations. There is yellowpages.com, yelp.com and many more, some specialized for your industry. Some companies / websites have several hundred citations, but most have many fewer. Your goal is to have the same or more than your competitors.
Then the are the social media platforms. With Google my business, bing, yahoo, and others there is a way for businesses to get listed and verified. This greatly increases the chances of your business showing up on the map when a search is done. It also helps the website ranking.
Another key factor is links or backlinks. They are called backlinks because rather than your site linking out to someplace else, other websites link to your website. The more of these links the better as long as the links are from legitimate websites and not spam websites. Sometimes you pay for SEO services and they will point a lot of links at your site, but they will be from places selling mail order drugs, or viagra, or porn. These are not links the search engines will appreciate. It is also good to have powerful sites link to your site. One link from Wikipedia or NBC can outweigh 100 links from small websites that don’t rank well.
So in a way, the search engines are judging as if it was a popularity contest and also how hard you are trying. If you have spent the time or money or both to have a lot of content, then the site is likely of more interest to their searchers than a tiny website. If there are a lot of citations, a lot of people listing your company and website, it indicates that other people think you have something of value. Same with the backlinks. If people go to the trouble to link to your site, it is essentially a vote of confidence.
All of these factors matter in SEO and will make a difference in leads and sales which is really what is important.