The answer: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO isn’t just for Google. It is for any search engine. The vast majority of the SEO community focus on Google though since it is the leading search engine at this time.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
SEO is the practice, tactics, and strategies to get a website to the top of search engines result pages (SERPs).
This is called ranking a website.
If you have talked to an SEO professional or researched the topic in the past, you might think it is some witchcraft, rocket science.
In reality, it is pretty simple.
Remember, Google is looking to provide the best search results for its users. The Googlebot crawls the internet, and then Google spits out what it thinks are the best results based on its super, top secret algorithm.
Analyzing the algorithm and determining how Google displays search results is where everyone has their opinions.
And you know what they say about opinions. [insert opinion joke here]
Out of the hundreds, if not, thousands of factors that determine search rankings, the community does agree on a few things. People are continually running tests and reporting results. There are dedicated blogs and even people that do SEO full-time.
How do I Optimize my Website for Search Engines?
Finally, the reason you are probably reading this post.
Two main factors influence your website rankings:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
The plan is to go into each of these topics in dedicated posts, but I will do my best to give you a brief overview right now.
1. On-page SEO
On-page SEO is all about your website. Some of the major on-page topics include:
- the content on your website
- how your website is structured
- the load time and page speed
- mobile ready
- internal linking
- meta tags
- sitemaps and robots.txt
- image optimization
- URL structure
- schema markup
The goal of on-page SEO is to organize and optimize your website so Google can determine what your website is about and what keywords/topics you are trying to rank for.
On-page SEO can get very technical, very fast. Especially if you are not a web developer or understand HTML markup.
The problem I usually see here is the business owner frequently relies on the person that created their website to “do the SEO.” In some cases, this is fine and works well. In other cases, it is a disaster and one of the main reasons why SEOs get a bad rap.
Everyone and their mom offer SEO services these days.
My suggestion is to do a bit of research and get case studies from the person that you are considering doing your SEO.
2. Off-page SEO
Off-page SEO is pretty much an online popularity contest. The goal is to get other websites to link to your website.
The problem is that every link is different in the eyes of Google.
For example, which link do you think would be better for a local flooring company?
- A link from the Home and Garden website featuring a house you just installed a new floor in
- A link from your uncle Bobs Catfish blog that was started last week
Hopefully, you picked number 1. You want sites that are relevant to your business niche to link to your website.
These links from one website to another are called backlinks. The goal is to get as many relevant backlinks to your website.
In theory, the more backlinks your website has, the higher your rankings.
These backlinks come in all kinds of variations:
- links from website pages
- links from website blog posts
- links from directories
- links from social media profiles
- links from social shares
- forums, comments, etc.
Pretty much any online property that you can link back to your website is considered a backlink.
Backlinks is another area where SEOs get a bad rap, and I see it all the time. A business hires an SEO company expecting their website to increase in rankings.
Only to find out the backlinks the SEO company built for the business website are all spammy, link farm backlinks from different countries that don’t even relate to the business website.
It is a shame.
Again, my suggestion is to do your research. If you do not know how to check the backlink profile of a website, you should be asking for monthly reports from the SEO company you hire.
When searching for your business service/product in Google, you might have noticed the map section under the paid search ads.
In the SEO world, this is called the Map Pack.
Staying with our flooring company example, below is a screenshot of the SERPs with the map pack.
To get your business listed in the map pack, you need citations.
Citations are pretty much backlinks that also include your business name, address, and phone number. You will see this referred to as NAP.
The goal will citations is to have consistent NAP listings on all the major online directories and websites.
For example, Texas Designer Flooring in the first position of the screenshot above would get citations with the following information:
Texas Designer Flooring Fort Worth
4727 Camp Bowie Blvd
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Remember, these need to be consistent! If you use a different mailing address than your physical billing address, you need to use whatever NAP information Google has listed in your Google My Business (GMB) account.
Again, consistency is key with citations.
You might be wondering where you can get these citations?
Well, some of the major ones include:
There are thousands of directories and websites that you can list your business NAP, even industry specific websites. You simply go to the website, create an account, and completely fill out your business information.
Notice I said completely.
Don’t half-ass this account creation with thin content, no images, and bare minimum content. You want to build these citations out like your #1 customer is about to read it.
We completely fill these profiles out in hopes that Google indexes the pages, give you “credit” for the citation, and starts listing your business in the map pack!
Citations are just another piece of the local SEO puzzle.
Just because you have thousands of citations doesn’t mean you will be listed in the map pack. You still need to focus and optimize your on and off page SEO.
Reviews – Google My Business
Notice the listing in the number one position of the screenshot above has the most reviews…
Coincidence, I think not!
This is Google trying to return the best results. Some people like to do their due diligence before picking a company to do business with, and reviews are a great starting point.
Once your GMB account is set up and approved by Google, you need to start getting reviews (hopefully good) from previous/current customers.
There are all kinds of strategies to get reviews for your business, so start getting creative. To start, you can simply send out an email to your clients with a link to your GMB listing asking for a review.
Don’t neglect reviews!
Just from the local flooring example in this post, it is obvious that reviews are a ranking factor.
This was a super broad overview of SEO. I plan to go wayyyy deeper into the subject once we start auditing and researching live sites in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
See you in the next one.