A Business Owner’s Guide to SEO Basics

What’s SEO?

SEO (search engine optimization) is the term that describes the process of making a website more popular in search engines like Google, Yahoo, and others. The direct result of SEO is when people search for phrases or words (also known by keywords), they see the results in the order in which they appear.

Do you need SEO?

Most businesses will answer this question with a clear yes. However, how much you invest in SEO depends on how you do business. Most of the business you generate is from word-of-mouth referrals. However, Forrester Research has shown that 93% of global consumers use search engines to access and find websites.

Online businesses are more likely to get in touch with consumers and offer products or services. Your business could be missing significant potential business if it is not easily found online.

What is SEO?

SEO is complex. SEO is more than just choosing keywords. The popularity of those keywords and the amount of competition for them are only two factors. Titles, descriptions, URL names, validity, tags, and how they are used all play a crucial role. Popularity and backlinks to your website are also important factors. Search engines can use hundreds of factors and penalties to determine if SEO is being deployed. SEO can be compared to chemistry. This brings me to my next point.

Do you need to hire someone for SEO?

Absolutely. Although it is possible to learn SEO, let’s face it, there are many businesses to run. It takes time to learn, implement, and maintain SEO. It is unrealistic for most business owners to become SEO experts. However, you should have the knowledge and skills to make SEO more effective, as well as what to expect of anyone who does it.

An SEO professional is essential for a successful SEO campaign. Many web design companies specialize in SEO and can either refer you to someone who does or have someone who does. There are many options if your designer doesn’t specialize in SEO.

What are the top things to look out for when searching for an SEO specialist

Do not believe anyone promising you the first spot on Google or instant results. It is impossible to believe that this sounds so good.

Slow and steady SEO takes months and months to achieve the desired results. Important to remember that months and months of work can be broken down into smaller pieces, not as long as 40-hour work weeks. Search engines cannot be fooled and there are no shortcuts to success in SEO. Black Hat SEO techniques can lead to severe penalties. These are only a few examples of Black Hat SEO techniques.

  • Keyword stuffing is the practice of putting long lists keywords on your website.
  • Invisible text is text that is not visible on your website.
  • Doorway pages are pages that have been added to your website but not seen.
  • Tiny text or Alt text (placing very little text on your page to spam keywords)
  • Mirror sites (sites which are a duplicate or copy of your site)
  • Submission of your site to search engines repeatedly is considered spamming.

Any of these tactics will not only penalize your site in search results, but it will most likely result in your site being removed from search engines.

SEO is dependent on back links. These are links from other websites linking to yours. Spam links or bad links are bad for SEO. Beware of companies/individuals who use this technique as well. Ask your SEO professional to give you a plan of action. This will help you to improve your SEO. Keep shopping if you find any of these Black Hat tactics.

These techniques work for about five minutes, until search engines find it. They usually do. After that, it’s ban time. The Black Hat methods must be undone, the site must be reconstructed, submitted again, and your site will hopefully be accepted. Now you are back at square one. You will need to hire a professional SEO specialist.

How long does SEO take

It takes a long time. While I love instant gratification, SEO is where patience truly pays off. It can usually take between 1-3 weeks for your site to be indexed by search engines, but this is not an assurance. It’s now time to tweak the SEO process. Search engines don’t update as often as we would prefer. Popular keywords may not be as popular next week. Ranking high in search engines doesn’t guarantee a spot forever.

SEO isn’t a one-time event. It is an ongoing process. There are thousands of websites competing for your spot, and you can lose it quickly if you stop working on SEO. Many SEO companies and/or web designers offer packages or hourly rates to help you decide how much you would like to invest in SEO.

You now have a better understanding about SEO, how it works and its importance for your business. This will help you make smart business decisions regarding your website and marketing.

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