Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short, is now part of most small business digital marketing plans.
In recent feedback that I’ve been getting from business owners is that SEO is getting confusing. Especially around how it all works, the timeframes involved and how much a business should be spending on SEO. So here are some of the basics of SEO explained in more detail.
So what is SEO?
SEO is the process of telling the search engines that your website is important and contains useful information that is relevant to someone searching online.
SEO results are the websites that show up on the left hand side and not the paid advertising links around the top and right hand side of the search results pages.
Search engines such as Google have many different factors and ways on how they’ll rank your website against your competitor website.
And it’s all very complex, with Google not revealing these mathematical factors as this is their intellectual property.
In 2014, to get search engine rankings it’s all about the quality of content contained on your website, your website’s technical set up and the quality of the links coming in that make all the difference on whether you’ll rank highly or not.
Where do you start?
To do any SEO you’ll need a plan of action if you hope to dominate the search engine pages in your given industry. All SEO begins with comprehensive market research to work out two key things.
Firstly, what products or services do you offer, are they better than the competition and why will potential customers choose you over the rest? There is no point doing any SEO if your research shows up that your business or marketing strategy need a major tune up.
And then there is the extensive keyword research that you’ll need to run to find out what your prospective customers are typing in to the search engines to find your business, products or services.
SEO involves selecting the best keywords that are suited to your target markets and ensuring these on your website and your brand is attached to them.
You’ll also need to make sure your website is up to scratch technically. Google and the other search engines will know if you have any technical limitations on your website and they could penalise you for this.
Take a look at Word Press for a good website platform to build your next website on, as when built and hosted correctly, it’s friendly to the search engines.
Two types of SEO – “onpage” and “offpage”
On page SEO is all about the quality of the content on your website.
A quick win here is to make sure your general web pages (About Us, Services, Contact Us etc) are all fast to load and have relevant content on them that makes sense to readers.
Another key recommendation is to have a Blog or News area on your website that includes relevant topical content about your industry.
Within this content, ensure your website shows that you are the authority on everything about your industry. This includes providing tips, educational advice and best practice information so that visitors gather useful information and spend plenty of time on your website. And make sure you regularly add this content, as it’s important to show that you’re adding great insights all the time.
Off page SEO is all about getting external website links to this useful information that you’ve put up on your website.
Off page SEO can be done through social media, video websites such as YouTube, online directories or blogs and other areas where else your business brand might have an online presence.
You’ll also need to get out and promote this content that helps in driving this traffic to your website through links back to the relevant web pages. A SEO firm can also help with this part too.
Where does a SEO firm fit in?
A SEO firm like Reload Media will generally offer a fee-for-service to action all of the above areas.
They’ll ensure that the most important search engine ranking factors are all sorted and your website isn’t getting penalised by the search engines.
There are plenty of SEO firms to choose these days and local providers are better than overseas ones as you can meet and talk with them about the plans for your SEO and digital marketing programs.
How long and how much?
SEO has become a long-term program of work rather than a short-term service.
SEO is vital and a key part of an extended digital marketing campaign and should be done in conjunction with other digital marketing activities such as pay per click advertising and social media marketing.
Prices for offshore SEO can be as cheap as US$50/month, however you get what you pay for and often you can end up being penalized by the search engines if you use a SEO company that has less ethical methods to get you ranking.
Here in Australia, prices for small business SEO generally range from $500+/month to $3,000+/month. And for corporate sites it can be north of $10,000+/month.
SEO pricing really depends on how competitive your industry is and the keywords that you’ll need to rank on. And then there is the time and cost for all the content that needs to be produced to go on your website too.