Literally, it stands for Search Engine Optimization. However, this tends to be a scary term for most small and medium businesses. We’ve all gotten those sales or spam calls guaranteeing to get you on the 1st page of Google. All you have to do is pay them $$$ and they will put you in some monthly program their company has, or if you ask enough questions, they will give you a written proposal with a lot of buzzwords that require translation. You don’t even understand enough to ask detailed questions so you decide to either take a leap of faith and give them money hoping for the best or just say “No” thinking they are trying to take advantage of your lack of SEO knowledge.
The term SEO means optimizing your website to show up in search engine results using keywords or phrases based on what people are searching for. The important part to remember here is “what people are searching for,” instead of what you want them to search for.
This is part one of a three part blog series on SEO. Understanding the basics is a good place to start to increase your knowledge of what to expect. Let’s start with five questions you can ask if you get these calls of sales pitches:
- What category are you guaranteeing the 1st page of Google for?
- How do you know if my website can be optimized?
- What if Google changes their algorithm?
- How long will it take?
- Is your program for organic SEO or PPC (pay-per-click) paid advertising?
Yes, these are leading questions designed to protect yourself! Let’s break them down to help you better understand what SEO is and what it isn’t.
#1 – What category are you guaranteeing?
Trying to compete for insurance or real estate which are both highly competitive industries is almost impossible for an individual representative or small business because you are up against larger brands such as Keller Williams or Liberty Mutual. If you’re in a business that’s not highly competitive, the same question still applies. Are they guaranteeing you to be found for “underwater basket weaving Podunk City Texas” and you’re needing to be found for “car wash Grapevine TX”? If it sounds too good to be true, it is!
#2 – How do you know if my website can be optimized?
This is my personal favorite. There are a lot of platforms websites are built on, and you may have even built your own using GoDaddy, WordPress, SquareSpace or even WIX. Some of these are even free. Whether you’ve built your own website or had it professionally done, you need to know if your site has been optimized to even receive an SEO program. We call that on-site SEO, which we will talk about in detail in the second part of this three part series. To simplify, if your website pages are not optimized with keywords, titles and tags, then it won’t be able to show up in various searches unless someone specifically types in your website name. I equate it to buying a Rembrandt art piece and hanging it in your closet where nobody can see it. Start by optimizing your site before you pay for any program.
#3 – What if Google changes their algorithm?
This happens regularly! When it does, your SEO needs to change to accommodate the new guidelines. Algorithms change when people find short cuts around the current one. If you’re in a contract with an SEO company, this question is extremely important because, if the criteria changes in the search engines, your SEO company needs to change their software to accommodate its customers. If they don’t, then you’re stuck in a program is no longer relevant.
#4 – How long will it take?
There is no magic wand or shortcut when it comes to the Internet; so don’t expect immediate results with any SEO. It is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint. If your product or service on your website is highly competitive, it will take longer to show up in search results. Where, if you have a unique product, you may get results quicker. Organic SEO always takes longer but is the best choice, because it’s permanent.
#5 – Is your program for organic SEO or PPC?
Don’t mistake SEO for PPC (pay-per-click advertising), which can get you immediate results but is very costly, as well as temporary. There are times when you might want to engage in a PPC advertising campaign, but remember, when you stop paying for the ad, the results stop. Organic SEO is designed to be permanent. Think of it like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. SEO leaves breadcrumbs for people to find their way to your website. Whereas, PPC takes people directly to your website, but once the ad is over, there are no breadcrumbs to find you again.
Next time, we’ll take a look at on-site SEO for your website, and then we’ll finish up with part three on SEO using Social Media. As always, questions are welcome!
If you’re looking for more specific ideas about your own business, you can contact me Kay@TEAMReferralDFW.com
About the Author | Kay Wallace, TEAM Referral DFW
Kay Wallace is a speaker, trainer, social media strategist and has a referral networking organization, TEAM (Together Everyone Achieves More) Referral DFW. TEAM combines the best of face to face and online networking through exclusive category relationship marketing to help your business grow. We offer virtual, business & executive chapters, online memberships, community outreach and much more. Referrals are the best way to market your business so “Don’t Hire a Sales Team, Join One.”
Visit TEAM Referral DFW online at www.TEAMReferralDFW.com