Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is rapidly becoming one of the most important things that a website or business owner can do to market and improve a brand. With millions of searches being conducted every single day, every website owner can benefit from getting a piece of the proverbial search pie.
The top goal of SEO is to get your website ranked high in the search engines so that more customers will be able to find you. Achieving high rankings for important search terms can bring a lot of extra traffic to your website.
Of course, SEO is not an easy process. There are only ten positions on the first page of Google, so obviously not every website or business can be there. In order to get to the top, you need to have the best SEO strategy possible. While this does not necessarily mean that you need to spend a fortune, you do need to make sure that you are investing in a high quality and reputable service with a history of achieving results.
How Do the Search Rankings Work?
The search engines use complex algorithms in order to determine the results for each search term. There are many factors that the search engines analyze when ranking websites for any given keyword. Ideally, the search engines want to provide internet searchers with the most relevant information possible. No matter what you are looking for, you should be able to find the answer you need on the first page of your search.
Different search engines look at different things to determine the results. You may be ranked number one on Bing but not in the top ten pages on Google. Of course, in today’s market, everyone wants top rankings on Google because that is where the majority of the searches occur. Therefore, most SEO companies target Google’s ranking algorithms when developing a strategy for your site.
To determine relevant search results, these are some of the factors the search engines examine:
● The content of your site – Is it relevant, authoritative, unique, and informative?
● The structure of your site – Is it easy to navigate? Is the coding and architecture in order? Does your page load quickly? Are there broken links on your site?
● The linking profile of your site – Does your site seem to have traction with other web users? What types of social signals exist in relation to your site?
There are many other factors involved in rankings, including the location of the searcher. Someone looking for a plumber in California won’t see the same results as someone in New York. This all goes back to relevance. The search engines want you to find what you need, and they don’t want you to spend a lot of time looking for it.
How Does SEO Improve My Site?
An SEO campaign will target the specific areas that the search engines consider most important. Most SEO campaigns begin with an analysis of your current website and your current rankings. From this analysis, an SEO company can pinpoint the areas where you need the most work in order to increase your rankings. By targeting these areas, your site will start to move up in the search results. It may sound simple, but it is a complex and technical process of fine tuning your content, correctly structuring your website, and building the right kinds of links. SEO is a process that ultimately makes your site (and your brand) into a better place for your visitors. By improving your content and visibility, SEO gets people to your site and encourages them to buy a product or service that fits their needs.
Is SEO Guaranteed?
No SEO company can officially guarantee that they will get you on the first page of Google. The search engines determine the rankings, not an SEO company. Some SEO companies try to get around this fact by offering sneaky guarantees. They may get you on the first page for a keyword that has zero monthly searches, thus making it seem like they have fulfilled their promise to you.
Although there are no true guarantees with SEO, companies like Measurable SEO can offer you a history of results that prove our ability to get your website ranked high and keep it there. Rather than focusing on guarantees, look at the past results. If a company can’t show you proof, then how can you trust that they will get you ranked at the top?
Measurable SEO also offers a special guarantee to you through our pay for performance plans (P4P). After our initial setup fees, you won’t pay a dime until you get results. We might not be able to offer you a full guarantee of number one rankings, but we do guarantee that we will help your site gain more visibility.
White-Hat versus Black-Hat (and let’s throw in a little Gray)
If you have spent any time researching SEO for your business, you have probably stumbled upon the terms white-hat and black-hat. In general, white-hat SEO strategies are natural techniques to improve a website, while black-hat SEO involves intentional manipulation of the search engines. Some people claim that any and all SEO is an attempt to manipulate the search engines, but this is very limited way of looking at things.
Let’s look at an example. If you are paying a company to build links for you so that you can improve your rankings, then it would seem like you are trying to manipulate the search engines, right? But what if you build a link that actually means something? For example, if you place a link on a relevant site that people will actually click to get to your site and find information they want, then this is a natural process that has more function than simply trying to get better rankings. The search engines frown upon links that have no purpose other than trying to trick the algorithms into thinking the site is better and more popular than it really is. Here are some other techniques that are considered black-hat:
● Using automated tools to create lots of links
● Buying links or using linking networks or link farms
● Hiding content on your website so the search engines see it but your visitors don’t
● Over-optimizing your site through keyword stuffing and other similar practices
● Stealing content or using duplicate content
● Using shadow domains or doorway pages
Very few SEO companies will actually publicize themselves as using black-hat services. Instead, these companies will do everything they can to hide their actual methods. If a company tells you that they use automated tools to build links, then you should stay away. While automated tools often will work to get your page ranked high, there is also a big risk of getting penalized. When you are penalized, your site can fall out of the search rankings completely, leaving you without traffic or sales. Saving a little time and money by using these automated tools surely isn’t worth risking your entire business.
So What Can I Do?
The best SEO campaigns will work to make your website and brand better. Rather than doing things simply to manipulate the rankings, they will work to make your site worthy of better rankings. A good SEO campaign will:
● Consistently create engaging and unique content that provides answers and helpful information for your potential customers
● Manually build relevant backlinks that are appropriate for your industry
● Ensure that everything on your page is as user-friendly and navigable as possible
There are many other factors that go into a good SEO campaign. The bottom line is that SEO should be about building your brand so that people will want to visit your site and buy from you. After all, if you get top rankings but don’t have good content or a good service to back it up, then no one will buy from you anyway. The search engines reward the sites that people actually want to visit because those are the sites that will answer people’s questions and give them what they need.
Recognizing a Good SEO Company
When you start your SEO campaign, you really should consider hiring an SEO company to do the work for you. While it isn’t a cheap solution, it will provide a big return on your investment (if done correctly, of course). SEO is a difficult, technical, and time-consuming process. By hiring someone to do it for your website, you will have more time to focus on your business.
A good SEO company will:
● Have examples of past rankings to support their work
● Offer you honest and personalized feedback about your website and situation
● Be transparent about their methods
● Use only techniques approved by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
● Provide you with frequent updates and information about the campaign
● Be willing to answer your questions and listen to your thoughts and concerns
● Be knowledgeable about SEO and the future of the industry
Ultimately, when it comes to finding the right SEO company to run your campaign, trusting your gut is the best bet. If you don’t feel comfortable with the answers you get, then you should look for a company that will better meet your needs. After all, this is your business, and you don’t want to risk losing it all. By placing your trust in a company like Measurable SEO, you can rest assured while we get you to the top in a safe and ethical manner.