About once a year, I get asked to explain what SEO is and how does it work. While I like to explain it, I thought it only makes sense that I put it in writing so I can eventually just point people to this. It seems like the right thing to do.
When we first started doing SEO, people were convinced that animals were somehow sacrificed or it was Voodoo magic. I’ll admit that there are some days that it feels like that, but it’s not the mystical concept some people might try to tell you that it is.
What is SEO?
Another term in the digital world that someone says you need to know.
Honestly, this is one you do really need to know. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Put very simply, it means making sure your website structured and formatted in a way search engines like.
Slightly less simply, there are many technical aspects of SEO; some of which can have the power to make or break how well your website ranks.
Let’s face it, you can have the best-looking website on the internet. We’re talking award-winning design, but if no one sees it, the site simply doesn’t help your business. We’ve seen competitors that design websites for $10,000 or more (using the same platform we use!), and they are jaw-dropping gorgeous (For that money, it not only should be gorgeous, but it should do your laundry as well!), but you can’t tell what the business even does or worse, there’s not even a distinct call to action.
But, I digress. SEO is simply one way of getting your website in front of targeted traffic.
How Can SEO Help Your Business?
SEO can be really helpful to your business when done right.
Good use of SEO to enhance the pages and posts on your website will move your website higher up through the search engine rankings.
The old joke among SEO nerds is that Jimmy Hoffa is buried on page 2 of the search results. (We didn’t say it was funny!). So in the wise words of Ricky Bobby, when it comes to getting seen,”if you’re not first you’re last” (with being on page one of the search results).
You definitely want your business to be seen on page one of Google.
Think of it this way, your business provides a solution. Whatever you do, you have a business or product that solves a problem. Since everyone turns to Google (and Bing a little bit too), you want your site to come up when people type in the very problem you solve.
This brings targeted traffic to your website.
It’s a numbers game.
The more people search for the problems you solve, the more likely your site is to get seen. The more your business is seen, the more likely you are to get the clicks, and this means you’re more likely to get the business. It’s as simple as that.
Keywords. Site Speed. Meta Descriptions. Oh My!
They’re just a bunch of words, right?
Kind of…but they mean something when it comes to optimizing your website to make sure that not only Google can easily read it and understand what it’s about, but that your potential customer can as well.
Think of your own search habits.
If you’re like most of us, we go to Google and search for something. We quickly browse through the results reading the page titles and maybe a few meta descriptions to see if that link has what we’re looking for.
Sometimes we’ll click on a site and find it’s the opposite of what we want, so we click right away. That’s called a bounce. When it comes to your website, you don’t want high bounce numbers because it indicates your site didn’t deliver what the browser wanted.
The goal of SEO is to drive traffic to your site and help your website become exactly what people are looking for when searching for problems that your business solves.
What Are The Terms You Need To Know?
Optimizing your website
This is the process of making your website as search engine friendly as you possibly can. There are lots of actions you can take to optimize your website. In fact, if you read much about SEO, you’ll consistently find that Google has over 200 ranking factors they use in the algorithm they use to rank websites.
This is misleading.
The truth is that only the engineers at Google know how many ranking factors there are, so the rest of us minions have to guess. SEO nerds have more experience guessing and figuring out what Google wants, but the reality is that there are far more than 200 ranking factors. I would guess double that and we’re in the ballpark.
Here are some we know are important though:
- Good design– People have the attention span of a goldfish on meth, so your site needs to be attractive and deliver the benefit to the browser almost instantly.
- Great User Experience– Make sure that your website is easy to navigate around and it is clear to the user where they need to go to look for things.
- Page load speed- Google says that your site will lose 53% or more of your browsers (potential customers) if your page load speed is more than 3 seconds (check your site’s speed by pasting your URL into https://gtmetrix.com/). This is part of technical SEO.
- Mobile-Friendly– we’ve been saying this for years, and we really, really mean it, but your site has to look good on a mobile device. Since nearly 70% of all searches are done on the phone now, Google prioritizes the mobile version of your site over the desktop version.
- Keywords– Imagine a group of pirates who set off to find some buried treasure without a map. Now, they’re just weirdly dressed wanders who are hopelessly lost. Your keywords help Google determine what search bucket to put you in. So many sites we see have no cohesive keyword strategy which means the site isn’t optimized well.
- Good Content– Your potential customers care about your content and so does Google. In fact, Google really cares about that more than nearly anything. More than anything else, we see sites with terrible or not enough content to give Google what it needs to even begin to rank your site.
Ranking A Website
“Ranking” is a term used for where your site sits in the search engine results when someone searches something.
Why do you want to rank a website?
Simple…to get more website visitors.
More website visitors = more customers = more money.
To get a decent amount of traffic to your website, your website really needs to rank on the first page of Google. Obviously, it’s great if you can rank within the top 3 search results in Google.
Domain authority is a somewhat artificial way of determining how your site is doing. If you think of the internet as the ocean, your website’s domain authority is a scale of how big a fish you are.
This can be anywhere between 0-100.
When your website is very new, you are likely going to have a domain rating of 0.
A domain really simply relates to the authority of your website name (i.e. www.yourwebsite.com is a domain name.
Websites like Amazon and eBay are likely to have domain ratings somewhere in the 90’s.
Domain authority is built up in a number of ways, including:
- Time can improve a domain rating. The longer it has been in existence, the more trusted it is.
- The number of backlinks to the website (explained below)
- The quality and quantity of your website content
Links: Internal, External, and Backlinks
Links are arguably one of the most important factors of SEO for building your domain rating as mentioned above.
External and internal links are both things that are completely within your control. When you post content on your website, you should be linking that post to others on your website. This means referring a reader to another piece of your content by adding a relevant link.
For example, let’s say you have two posts on your teapot website.
- How to make great tea
- How to make great coffee
You could easily link between these two posts by suggesting your other post to the reader. This helps search engines to recognize what your site is about.
The more Google thinks you are an expert in a subject, the more likely they are to promote your content.
External links are linking to other websites from your own.
Take the tea and coffee analogy above, if you were to like to Starbucks from your own website, this would be considered an external link.
Backlinks are where the real SEO juice comes from.
What this means is that another website in your niche has linked to your website from theirs. Think of it as a vote of confidence. Most people think The more of these links back the better, but in reality, it’s more about quality than quantity.
It helps Google to think that your site and content must be really authoritative because other people are enjoying what you’re writing and sharing it with others.
Good quality backlinks really help to improve the ranking of your website.
Keywords & Keyword Research
Keywords are specific terms that you use throughout your content that help your site rank well when someone uses those terms or phrases. In the old days, people would just use the same keywords over and over again, but now, that’s an excellent way to get your site penalized or tossed out of the rankings altogether.
A keyword can be anything from a one-word result like “Plumber” or it can be what’s called a longtail keyword like “Best plumber in the Atlanta area”.
When choosing the keywords you want to try and rank for, it is a good idea to use a keyword research tool. There are plenty of keyword tools you can check out like Ubersuggest, Google Keyword Planner, or Google Trends.
What does a keyword research tool do?
They give you lots of information, such as:
- The difficulty of ranking for that keyword
- How many people are searching for that keyword every month
- Alternative options you could also use (and should use!)
All of the above is useful in planning your content.
It helps you to recognize whether your website is likely to be able to rank for a term or not.
The more competitive it is, the harder it will be to rank for.
Tip: When your website is relatively new and you are building your authority in the area, it is much easier to rank for longtail keywords than it is for single keywords most of the time. They are likely to have fewer searches every month, but those that are searching will find you.
Why Do You Need To Know SEO Terms?
When building up your online business or are using your website to try and attract more customers to use your services, SEO is really important.
It is important to know the terms so you can understand what you need to do for your website to be seen by Google and therefore for Google to show it to more people.
This is the only way to get targeted traffic to your website.
When you have targeted traffic, you get more customers, leads, and business your way.
Who doesn’t want more customers and clients?
A Word Of Caution
Not all SEO companies are created equally.
To be even more direct, when two different companies say they do SEO, there can be a very wide gap between them. While one company may work hard to get you ranked, another may simply baffle you with B.S. and end up taking your money.
We’ve seen this for years.
Roughly 70% of the people that walk into our retail shop tell us horror stories about how they’ve been ripped off. When it comes to SEO, most of these stories include someone throwing a lot of impressive technical jargon at them and getting no results.
We can talk nerdy to you if that’s what you want, but we’d rather just get your site ranked. That works out better for us all.
Here’s the rule of thumb. If it sounds too good to be true. It most certainly is. Most reputable SEO companies won’t turn on their computers for less than $500/month, so It’s important to know enough as a business owner to avoid wasting your marketing dollars.
Our Offer To You
Sure, we’d love to help you with your SEO, so call us if you’re interested in that, but we’re also all about helping the business owners not get taken for a ride.
If you have a funny feeling the SEO company you’re talking to is running a scam on you, we will be happy to take a look at the offering and tell you if it’s a good deal or not. No sales pitch- just an honest evaluation. Call us for a fresh pair of eyes.
The SEO nerds at Make It Loud have been helping business owners get more customers for more than a decade now. We’ve been building excellent websites for more than 15 years now, and doing SEO for 12 years. If you have questions about how your site is doing in the search results, call us. We’re famous for giving very direct and honest feedback. It’s your livelihood. We’re simply here to help you make more money.