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What is SEO and Why do I need it?

by Brian Rideout • January 26, 2018

We recently had an introductory meeting with a new client and had a long discussion about Website Design and why SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an important next step in an Internet Marketing Campaign. It was obvious during the meeting that the concepts we were discussing and the tactics we were employing didn't make sense to the client so we wrote a nice 3 page letter stepping through things in what we hope was an easy to understand message. After completing it we realized it made perfect sense to turn it into a blog post to share the message with others that may be confused about what SEO is and why it needs to be done, as well as the benefits of having a professional SEO firm do the work.

SEO - What Is It? And Why Do I Need It?

A little background. We build a website for a company that has a very visual product so it was very image rich which is great for site visitors, but would leave a lot to be desired for text based content Google and other search engines could index. We used our standard approach of researching what keyword phrases their prospective customers would likely search for, structured the website with pages optimized for those keyword phrases and built a nice projects system that would allow them to easily introduce fresh content that was both text rich for Google and image rich for their site visitors. Unfortunately like many of our clients they simply didn't have the time, desire or knowledge to continually provide fresh content for search engines and site visitors to enjoy. Our letter to them follows...
 

I wanted to touch base with you and explain a little more in depth about Search engine optimization (SEO). By doing so I’m hoping that this will help you understand why we are adding projects to your site, seeking inbound links etc.

Think of your website as an electronic brochure. Much like printed material, as a consumer we expect to find clear, precise information about a company’s products & services. So when we developed your site we created your electronic brochure, think of that as the foundation for your Internet Marketing.

The SEO foundation has been built

As we built your website we laid a foundation of on-page SEO by doing keyword research and assigning specific keyword phrases to pages. However as you read on you’ll realize your website is never really “done”. It needs to grow and evolve not only to showcase all the projects your company can take on, but to show Google you are worthy of top rankings.

Now we need to get people to your site to…
A) Learn more about your company
B) Contact you to purchase your products and services

What do search engines do?

Search engines add organization to the web and allow people to search generically for what they are looking for using keyword phrases without knowing a specific company or URL, such as www.BANGwsd.com

What does Google think of SEO?

Google has created guidelines for SEO practices so that legitimate sites can rank well and be found in their search results. You can actually view a .pdf of the Google SEO guidelines here… https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf. The pdf is a 32 page starter guide to Search Engine Optimization and covers the basics of SEO.

SEO serves two purposes and done properly…

  1. It tells search engines what your site is about. Not only the products or services you provide, but geographically where you provide them.
     
  2. It allows you to compete with your competitors in how highly you rank in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). Search engines and their algorithms decide who gets to be #1. #2, etc. by two primary categories of SEO tasks...
     
    1. On-Page SEO: The structure and content of your website or said another way the pages and the (primarily) text content on them
       
    2. Off-Page SEO: What the rest of the internet says about you. Things like links from other websites, mentions on some Social Media platforms, etc.
Gone are the days when AAAAAA Company gets to be first!

You will rank in the SERPs the question is how high?

Rest assured search engines will assign you a rank in their results regardless of whether you perform SEO yourself, or you hire an SEO expert. Without hiring Phoenix SEO Firm however, you will most likely rank below other websites that have invested in SEO services.

Google wants everyone who searches the Internet to have a wonderful experience, finding what we are looking for from a legitimate website for a company that has established themselves as current experts on a specific keyword phrase search. Providing relevant information is one of the first steps.

Keeping the naughty people (think Black Hat SEO tactics) at bay

Next, as we all know there are naughty people everywhere on the web and in order to curtail their dastardly ways search engines such as Google have setup guidelines for “legitimate” websites to rank well. They also have built into their ranking algorithms (think rules) a system to reduce the rankings of websites that practice questionable or outdated SEO tactics. A decade or more ago things like stuffing the keyword phrase into the page title or repeating the phrase a hundred times in white text against a white background. Those outdated tricks no longer work. This is where legitimate or White Hat SEO comes into play.

A couple of SEO guidelines include:

  • Keyword Phrases - How are people searching for your services? We addressed this when we developed your site by including the keyword phrases your prospective customers search for on specific pages on your website. We also include related keyword phrases as well as this is one of the ways Google decides what the focus of a page is.
     

  • Fresh, and lots of, content is king - You can’t let your site become stagnant, in fact Google expects to see fresh content added to your website on a regular basis. This is where your project system comes into play. By adding new projects we are reinforcing to the search engines that indeed you are a “legitimate” authority when it comes to your business in the Valley. Since Google's algorithms have a little challenge knowing great content from bad, they tend to err on the side of quantity vs quality. i.e. lots of text on a page must mean this is better than just a little text on the page. They want to send their customers, people searching for information on a specific topic, to the best information, longer word counts on a page often rank better than short. 300 words we consider to be a minimum. 1,000 words is even better. For reference, this blog post is over 1,800 words. Think about it... if you really want to learn about a subject do you pick up a brochure of a couple of pages, or do you pick up a book of many, many pages?

It’s a win, win situation when you add new projects to your website

  1. Fresh content is a great way to let visitors know about the type of work you do and they’ll love looking at your new project photos
     
  2. It provides fresh content for search engines
Next, Google “crawls” your site frequently and indexes, or reads if you will, the text content on the page. They are looking for that fresh content, mostly text content.

Remember…

“A picture is worth a 1,000 words… except to Google who wants to index those 1,000 words and decides who gets to be #1 in the search results!”


Search engines also crawl other websites, directories, and some Social Media platforms looking for new links that are pointing to your site.

If they don’t find you as they crawl, they will decide other websites are more deserving of high rankings in the SERPs. Think of each link or mention on the Internet of your company and website as a vote for your site. All things being equal, more links, mean more votes and higher rankings. Of course all things aren't equal. Some sites count more in Google's eyes than others. They analyze things like the popularity or authority of the website linking to yours, the topic of the website including whether or not it's relevant to the topics discussed on your website, the age of the site, and literally hundreds of other factors that they don't share with us the "SEO Experts" so we don't turn into Black Hat SEO practitioners trying to game their results.

If you fail to be visible across the Internet than your website search rankings will suffer.

Local SEO Focus matters

Google has decided that the closer you are to their customer geographically the more likely it is that someone will do business with you. They decide this based on your published business address. This is readily apparent when you perform a search as you will often be provided with “local results” with businesses shown on a map based on your location. This is why it’s important for us to focus on Scottsdale first as you have the greatest potential to rank well there since that is your published location.

You and I realize you can work anywhere in the Valley or even the State. Google however is going to prioritize rankings based on “who is closest”. That’s a very difficult ranking challenge to overcome and should only be tackled after you’ve already achieved top rankings for your local area. Wouldn't you rather have your customers closer to you anyway?

BNI Members think back to your MSP Training and how they focus on being very specific with your messaging to other members. The same strategy applies on your website. If we try to be all things… i.e. Glendale, Peoria, Sun City in addition to Scottsdale and Phoenix, we won’t be found for anything.

Why hasn’t anything happened yet?

With that being said you mentioned that your site has been live for a year and you don’t feel like anything has happened in terms of your site being found, in fact Google hasn’t been provided anything new so you’ve been passed by and other companies who are publishing fresh content and obtaining links and mentions across the Internet are being ranked higher than you.

A solid SEO Campaign can change that for you!

That’s why we are adding new projects to your site on a weekly basis and providing text content that Google can index and rank you with. It takes some time, Google seems to really reward momentum where there is regular activity on a weekly basis, but in time, your rankings will steadily increase. When you rank at the top of the search results, you will be highly visible to your prospective customers. And with a professionally built website you will look very credible when they arrive. Another BNI phrase makes perfect sense here:

"Visibility + Credibility = Profitability" and that's exactly what we are after.

I hope that this helps you better understand Search Engine Optimization and why it's important to your success.

About the Author

Brian Rideout is the Chief Pixel Pusher of BANG! Web Site Design. A veteran in the industry (sounds better than saying he's old) he's been helping businesses succeed in the game of Internet Marketing since 1996.

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