SEO. Search Engine Optimization.
Q: What is it?
A: A lot of hard work.
SEO is based on an algorithm (fancy name for a mathematical equation) that determines where the answers to questions posed by visitors on Google rank on the results page (SERP = Search Engine Results Page).
And I do mean it is a lot of work. I have clients (and client prospects) that want us to focus on SEO with their website because it is "Free". "I want to show up in the free results because it doesn't cost anything."
Wrong. When you buy SEO services you are buying time, without guaranteed results. (If someone guarantees placement at the top of page one, run. The truth is that only Google knows exactly how the search algorithm works and they are not sharing this with anyone.) There are best practices that lead to better results, but not guarantees. And if they are guarantying, they are cheating and Google is well known for catching cheaters. Ask J.C. Penney.
Best practices. Let's look at the Google Search Results for "YMCA website development".
The top positions on the search page are advertisements - note the AD logo next to each listing on the top and along the right rail.
Directly below the AD for Ohio Web Design Company is the the first organic or free listing.
What do you know, it is Thrive Internet Marketing.
That's right, we have the number one listing in organic search results for the phrase "YMCA website development" (and a lot of similar terms). How did we able to achieve this result? Lots of hard work. Hundreds of hours of development, content writing, tagging videos and writing blog articles about website development for YMCAs.
Google's primary mission is to provide the very best answer to a searcher's question. The algorithm they use is designed to do exactly this. Someone wants an answer to a question and Google wants to provide the very best answer.
So looking at the search results above, who is our competition? For starters all the companies with the AD icon next to their advertisement. They are not able to organically rank number one for this term, so they pay Google to "jump" our free listing and appear above and to the right side of the organic (free) listings.
So which is the best approach? Rank number one in the organic or pay to jump ahead of the organic listings?
It depends. It took Thrive months and months and months to obtain our number one ranking. For us, this is well worth the time and effort it took. After all, building YMCA websites is our business. Please note that months and months of hard work was focused on solving consumer's problems, not keywords. One of the tricks that used to work to improve SEO rankings was to build articles focused on a keyword or phrase. You attempted to use the keyword as often as possible in the article in an effort to show Google that you are an "expert" in "fill in the blank". It is widely thought now that overuse of the keyword or phrase wihtin the article will now penalize you. Google recognizes this as an attempt to game the system. Focus your efforts on solving the propsects problem and the SEO results will come.
But obviously there must be value to buying your way to the top. Right? Absolutely. We work hard at achieving the best organic results that we can AND we invest in SEM (Search Engine Marketing or Pay Per Click.)
So which approach is better? Neither one. They are simply two different ways of connecting with consumers interested in your products or services. Some searchers will only click on the organic results. Some will only click on one of the advertisements.
You best approach is to work both paths to the consumer. So which approach is faster? "I want instant results!"
SEM or Pay Per Click will generate instant traffic to your site. In our next post we will look at how the local YMCA can use this tactic to increase traffic to their site immediately.
Do you want to learn more about how you can improve your SEO results? Let us know. We are happy to answer your questions. Or simply give me a call at 419-776-7000 x214. The first hour is always free.