SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization."
But what does that even mean? And, how do I take advantage of it for my small business in 2018 and beyond? In this article, you will learn about:
- White hat vs black hat SEO
- The technical stuff still relevant in '18
- The role of content marketing
- How to find the solution that fits your business
- Timelines & other expectations
The answer is yes... well, sort of... Here are the 5 things you need to know about it beyond the typical definition of what SEO stands for in 2018:
The whole point of being online is so prospects and customers can find you and engage with your products or services. It's not such a strange or difficult concept.
Whether you're looking for business owners, managers, or other department heads, you want the results page showing your website when they look for answers.
However, this is just the beginning... Here is a typical target for SEO:
- Increase traffic
- Show up in search engine results
- Help visitors become leads
Search engines rank you on more than how well you've wired up your website for their crawlers. They love it when you consistently create content and provide seamless user experiences.
1. White hat vs black hat
There are a lot of SEO experts calling themselves "ninjas," because they tout their stealthy skills in attracting traffic. These are the same guys who will typically throw a lot of technical jargon on their website, and try to convince us that they are performing some kind of voo-doo magic to get incredible results.
These SAME "experts" have Google and friends upset because their methods intentionally side-step their quality control mechanisms.
These same "experts" also spend a lot of time spamming us, don't they?
Black-hat SEO once reigned supreme, but things have changed! If you've noticed a massive drop in traffic over the last few years, this might be why.
Here are some examples of troublesome black-hat SEO:
- Bad inbound links
- Keyword stuffing
White-hat SEO is a simple concept with smoke or trap-doors. Google is very clear about what they support (FULL STORY HERE).
If we support Google, they support us. Period. End of story.
Here are some examples of white-hat SEO:
- Keyword research and use
- User experience optimization
- Link building
2. The technical stuff
Some of the basic requirements for SEO are relatively technical in nature. Some of it will help you gain favor in the results. And some of it will make you more "clickable" once you do appear there.
It's helpful to have good marketing tools to help you sort through this information, btw.
KEYWORDS: This is the cornerstone to your SEO marketing strategy today. Keywords are the phrases that your prospective customers are using to try and find answers to problems you solve.
Short-tail keywords typically have higher monthly searches, but lower accuracy. They are broader in nature, and results will reflect that. An example would be "marketing agencies."
Long-tail keywords typically have lower monthly searches, but higher accuracy. This is because they are more specific in nature. An example here would be "inbound marketing agencies in orange county."
Both describe Orange Pegs Media, but we rank a lot higher for one than the other.
KEYWORD DENSITY: To start, this is somewhat of a myth. There is no magic number to the amount of keywords you want to have in your blog post or website pages. Some of it depends on what your competitors are doing.
However, there is such a thing as "too much." More than one, less than six. That's the density that matters.
META-TAGGING: This is where you help the search engines that are crawling your pages determine what is actually there. It's important to be consistent. You should use keywords in the right places, such as the URL, H1 text (main title/header), & meta-description. The latter is the 140 character description that shows up in search results.
TITLE: Your title should be less than 71 characters and have at least 1 keyword.
BODY: You should have some links that connect to your website and have at least one call-to-action (CTA).
IMAGES: Your images should all be scaled to look good, but not eat up too much space. High quality images should be scaled down and pixel density reduced. They should also be tagged with alternative text, because search engines can't see pictures... but they can see that alt-text!
Quality content is a major driving force to your SEO rankings. Content comes in the form of text on your site pages, blog posts, and download offers. It should be ingrained with your keywords, and be engaging.
However, it isn't enough to type a bunch of words on a page. It's something many of you are guilty of...
The search engines care that those who visit you do more than just bounce after a few seconds. They also don't like plagarism.
So, create compelling content to be safe, and don't cut corners.
Also, do it often. Your blog and site pages should be continuously expanding. Not only does your increased footprint increase your odds, but it contributes to better rankings.
It's not a one-shot deal: remember that.
4. Finding a solution that fits me
This is always a tough question, because it simply "depends." It depends on what you can really invest in SEO, and what happens when they get to your page.
Are you looking for high-volume traffic, but don't mind the lower quality visitors, because you have an ad-click program in place where you get paid when people click on your ads? Or do you have a functioning business you are trying to promote?
If it's the latter, I always like to point out the importance of having a lead conversion path in place.
Maybe you exchange content downloads for their contact information. Maybe you have a blog or newsletter sign-up... Whatever it is, have a plan in place.
White-hat tactics like this stem from inbound marketing (learn more).
If you're still not sure what tod o, it's probably because you're hearing a lot of noise from the black-hat guys. They like to make a lot of outlandish claims. One of the loudest, and quite possibly most obnoxious claim that they make is how quickly they'll ramp up results.
Real SEO takes time. "Real," meaning, the traffic that finds you is real and has real potential for conversions (5%+ visitors-to leads).
It could take about 6 months before you see your SEO marketing plan start to pay off. The progression from where you are today to where you want to be won't happen overnight.
If something sounds too good to be true, well, it's because it is.
What does SEO stand for?
Yes, it's a simple acronym and so is the concept when you strip away the all the glitter from yesteryear. Content-driven, quality-focused, and human-centric.
Those are the keys to SEO. Interested in understanding how to incorporate it with the rest of your marketing strategy? Check out this "guide to getting started with inbound:"