What is SEO? It's like witchcraft right, like black magic... No not quiet there are some good reasons why some websites rank better than others.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the process of getting a website ranked as high as possible in Google and other search engines.
Using Google as the primary example: basically, you are trying to do everything you can with your website to make Google list you over all your competitors.
These are the free ranking results that appear just below the paid advertising and local listings (images below).
In addition to just ranking highly, you want to attempt to rank your business for relevant meaningful keywords that are actually used in Google by your potential customers.
What is SEO...?
Get your keywords and ranking right your website will get consistent good targeted traffic all year round and therefore new business enquiries and sales. This is how standard search results are displayed:
This means doing some keyword research to make sure you're not waisting your time ranking for keywords that nobody searches for.
Once you've done the keyword research SEO is generally broken down into two parts on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO includes everything like your website content (text), page links, website speed, images, page titles and meta data.
Off-page SEO includes things like reviews, business listings on other sites, backlinks from other sites to yours and guest posting / blogging.
There are loads more details about all these things in our case studies and articles but let's dive in a little bit to a few things you should know and can being doing to get the SEO ball rolling...
If you have already had enough of reading then go straight to our how to get started with your SEO today and get cracking! Get your Google account, setup webmaster tools and upload your first sitemap to Google. These are your first steps to SEO success and we have them ready for you to follow...
Ideally, you would do your keyword research before you even start working on building your website but don't worry most businesses don't do this!
If you run a relatively small business or online shop you should start with anything from 1 - 5 keywords your aiming to rank highly for, one of these should be your primary keyword (your dream keyword).
You can do your keyword research using Google's keyword planner tool. Anyone can use this you just need a gmail account that's free to get if you don't have one already.
Using the keyword planner will allow you to see the average monthly searches for any keyword and also allow you to see trends.
In this example, you can see the average monthly searches for the keyword "Farnham Restaurants" (3600 average monthly searches UK only)
In this example you can see the trend for people using Google to search for "best...something...year" there is always a big spike towards the end of each year. So this is something you could prepare for each year to take advantage of this spike in traffic.
I can apply this to something SEO / web related "best website 2016" (14,800 searches in December alone) Knowing this I can write a really strong piece of content early in year with the title "Best websites 2017" knowing that there will be lots of traffic coming my way in November, December and January.
Using the Google keyword tool to know that these trends exist I can prepare my content way in advance and hopefully get lots of new targeted traffic during the peak search months.
Local SEO should be your main focus if you're only interested in gaining local business. Your aim should be to get listed in the top 3 for local businesses in your category.
For local SEO, business reviews and local engagement on your website are really important.
My business name isn't actually "Farnham IT Support" but that was my #1 keyword so when I registered with google business I made my business name Farnham IT Support.
I did this because I wanted the exact match name to give my site the best chance of becoming #1 for the local listings in Farnham.
If you are a relatively small business you should try to use 2 or 3 reviews sites (Google, Yell, Yelp, Bing) and gain reviews (hopefully 5*) from your customers. Google would rather see reviews across 2 or 3 sites than just 1.
Local SEO had become so important to Google we think that soon local engagement could become the number 1 SEO factor for any business.
For example - I search Italian restaurant, I look at one of the local listings on Google, later that day I get in the car drive to that restaurant, stay there for an hour or 2, drive back home and then sometime in the next couple days I leave a review back on the original listing I viewed before going to the restaurant.
This entire 360 engagement from search to maps to review we think will become the number 1 local SEO factor and a very important all-round SEO factor.
Local results in Google are filling more space on the top of Google's rankings than ever before so it's really important that you nail your local SEO strategy as well as your national or global SEO. Check out these local searches and see just how little space there is for the paid and organic search results:
Still very much considered the number 1 ranking factor with all search engines backlinks are very important. I have written all about backlinks here, 4000 words you can take in or send you to sleep!
I will leave you with this on backlinks: think of the traffic, not the backlink!
When your finding guest post opportunities on websites that already get hundreds of thousands of monthly visits make sure your guest post is awesome. Take the time to write something really meaningful and just think about all that additional traffic you can generate! The backlink you get at the same time is just a by-product of this work.
What you should expect from an SEO company...
Results - If you are being told that you should wait 6 months to see results then get out! I am not talking about sites with 10,000 pages Im talking about sites like mine and yours with maybe 5 - 100 pages.
You can expect your SEO company to spend up to a month working on on-page SEO and probably requesting some new or longer content.
After the initial month (maximum) of on-page work, you should be able to see gradual ranking improvements week on week. It does not take 6 months to see only small improvements.
A good SEO company won't know exactly where they can rank you in 6 months with $250 per month budget but they should be able to give you some indication of what they think in achievable over time.
In all honesty, if you start on page 4 and in 6 months you're still on page 4 get out and move on!
Keywords - Make sure you do your own keyword research, an old SEO trick is to convince the customer to rank for easy keywords but these maybe keywords that are never searched but easy for the SEO company to rank you for.
It takes minutes to put your keywords into Google's keyword planner and decide for yourself if they are worth ranking for. If you are a small local only business, keywords from 50 - 100 average monthly searches per month will be ok.
Review - Plan a review with your SEO company every 6 - 9 months to see how the progress is going and decide if it's worth continuing with.
You could already be number 1 in this time or you could be stuck on page 2 who knows but a good SEO should be keeping you up to date with their progress and a full review with the business owner once or twice per year.
I'll leave this here as I think that covers all the basics, feel free to check out the other articles for more details and ideas. You can contact us anytime you like and we'll do you a free website and SEO review and proposal that includes looking at your competition and giving you an idea of what we could achieve for you. Phone, email pop in and say hi whatever you like we are here to help!
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