The majority of web traffic is driven by the major commercial search engines, Google, Bing and Yahoo!. While social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat will generate visits to your website, the search engines generate the bulk of the traffic for most Internet users and are unique in that they provide “targeted” traffic – people looking for what you offer. This is a small business owners’ dream – customers dropping from the sky with little or no extra effort (or funding) on the part of the business. But there’s a catch, if search engines cannot find your site or add your content to their databases, you will miss out on the benefits and your dream will be just that…a dream.
While search engines are smart, they need a little help to “see” your site and content. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of making your website visible in search engine results pages. In addition to making content available to search engines, SEO also helps boost rankings so that content is placed where searchers can find it more readily. The process works like this: Search engines send out automated “robots” (also known as “spiders” or “crawlers”) to visit every accessible page on every website across the Internet to gather information and store it on the many servers located around the world. When someone searches for a term related to your site, the search engine processes all of the information it has collected from your site and similar sites and determines which sites are the most authoritative and relevant to the search query and presents the results in the form of an ordered list, with the best options at the top. Ideally, you want your company to be first and foremost and that takes some elbow grease.
Website owners have been using SEO to make their sites rank high in search engines since the rise of the Internet in 1990. You may have heard of the term “black hat SEO.” In short, this was a process whereby some SEO practitioners figured out a way to trick the algorithm into thinking their site was more relevant than it actually was. This resulted in a negative experience for web users and became very unpopular. The algorithms are continually updated to make black hat techniques much less effective and, in fact, can be detrimental to your business. If the search engine crawlers identify black hat SEO on your website, your site could be penalized and drastically drop in search engine rankings. The best way to avoid this is to make efforts to continually improve the experience on your site by providing valuable and original information, first by optimizing your website properly, then by committing to SEO for the long haul.
Optimizing your website and content is a process of identifying keywords, queries that your prospective customers would likely search for when looking for your type of business, and injecting those keywords into the content, title tags, heading tags, URL, images and meta descriptions throughout your website (without overdoing it). Search engines read content like humans do, so it is important that copy is readable and well-written. Poor content can lead to a bad experience on your website and can actually hurt your site’s ranking.
Once your website is optimized for search engines, you’ll need to form an on-going SEO strategy. Search engines place a lot of weight on the quality of the content on your site and how often you update that content. This shows the search engine that your website is still active and relevant. Make no mistake, it is an on-going process.
“Website owners have been using SEO to make their sites rank high in search engines since the rise of the Internet in 1990”
Luckily, there is help available for those business owners who do not have the extra time and/or expertise to handle SEO on their own. While it is important to know the process, nobody expects every business owner to be an expert in their field and an IT guru. You can devote your time and energy in creating a strategy and then wait patiently for the traffic to drop on your doorstep…maybe. Or, you can find a reputable company that specializes in this process. The first approach may be much easier to do then the second one, but not necessarily time-effective.
There are many companies that can assist you with SEO for a variety of prices depending on your needs. These services often include regular keyword rankings results, reputation management, site, content and backlink analysis, social media setup, links and monitoring, YouTube video ranking, blog setup and content creation and monthly progress reports, as a start. However, Buyer Beware! As with many industries, when the consumer is not fully aware of what it takes to get results, crooks, scams and unethical practices run wild! Let’s take building a web site as an example. Sure, you can do it yourself from one of those “cute-looking” creative companies you see on TV, but as with all things, you often get what you pay for. SEO is no different, with one exception. Unless you are extremely tech-savvy, SEO is a very complicated process to tackle on your own and you, most likely, will need to find an honest company to do the work, otherwise you could find yourself paying a good sum of money for nothing but wind!
The important thing at the end of the day is to be a smart consumer as you take the steps necessary to help your business compete and succeed in our digital world. Educate yourself so that you have, at a minimum, a basic understanding of the SEO process, find a reputable company to assist you, if need be, and go for it! The sooner you start the process, the sooner you will reap the benefits.
If you have any questions about SEO or would like a free SEO checkup on your website, contact
Desert Digital Designs/Desert Custom Publishing at 702-576-0400