I often hear from clients that they want "SEO" on their website because their mother's sister's brother's son told them, "they need SEO to really get found on the web". And, to tell the truth, this is a fact. But what does that really mean in the practical sense of the internet, for your business? And this my friends, is the hard part, because, it depends.
Let's start with the basics. SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It is essentially a way to advertise your services online. What this means is that search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing have little robot scripts running through the internets to look for clues about your website (and others). These robot scripts scan your web page text and your underlying html to try and determine the subject matter contained therein. Once the subject matter has been determined, the robot scripts "report" back to their master and the content is weighed and measured against other websites of similar subject matter. It then will "rank" you in order of probability to most likely resolve the intended search term. Not so bad, right? Well, maybe not for you my friend.
The problem with SEO is 3-fold. First, there are differing ways of dealing with how the robot scripts find you on the web, both from the requestor and giver of information. Second, you might have to manage your expectations for rankings. And third, you may have to change the way you think about marketing to the web as it relates to SEO. I'll be taking a deeper dive into each of these points below.
There are 3 terms that are used in conjunction with SEO:
- SEO Ready
- SEO Optimized
- SEO Strategy
Websites that are built with a moniker "SEO Ready" typically mean that the developer has included the tools needed to optimize the website. Browser titles, meta description fields and alternate image text—to name a few—are all part of the deal and can be quickly customized to suit your needs, especially when you are using a CMS system such as WordPress to build your website. Most templates/themes you purchase for WordPress should be SEO Ready at the very least. A good development team (Such as Designs and Codes) will always prepare websites/templates/themes to be SEO Ready by developing page templates and CSS to use text headings, clean site links, and the like as a matter of course. This state is by no means "Optimized"—It is simply prepped to receive information that it needs.
Here's where things get meaty, because true optimization is an ongoing chore. Don't be fooled into thinking that you have purchased a template that is "Optimized" for SEO, when in reality it is more likely that it is "SEO Ready". When a website is Optimized for SEO, the developer has received information concerning optimal keywords and keyword strings. The copywriter has also received these keywords and has elegantly interwoven the copy text of every page with those keywords without repeating them too often. A well-optimized website is both readable by a human and rankable for subject matter by the robot script. Meta tags are filled with relevant information specific to each page. Page titles are unique and coordinate with keyword phrases. Images have alt tags that are unique to the image and help to tell the website's story. You have created/curated links back to your website. When all of these parts harmoniously play together between the seen and the unseen, you my friend, have an Optimized website. Of note, this is not a one-and-done type of situation—sorry. You will need to check your pages and keywords on a regular basis to stay relevant and timely.
This is where things get really serious and the competition is ON. "You wanna play Bro?" The rise to the utopia of SEO — "1st in all the search" is the goal. Lazy dogs need not apply. Yes, my friends it's a high bar with money at stake. This is where you hire the experts to research your target audience, and your optimal and heavily sought-after keywords and phrases. There is a balance of expected traffic levels for any given term, the quality of content, regular measurement of throughput, refinement of content and activities, social media campaigns, link building campaigns and much more. Having a SEO Ready website or even an Optimized website will not even put you on the same ocean as a website running a serious SEO Strategy. This is a daily monitoring of trends and reports, and is an ongoing, full-time effort.
So — Sharon — why is having an SEO Ready or SEO Optimized website even important?
Well, my friends, unless you are a Target or a Microsoft, you will find yourself needing to get your name into the mouths of others.. And if you are like many entrepreneurs, your SEO budget isn't that large. So, you take the organic approach and make sure that:
- If you buy from a developer or from a theme market your website will start with being ready for SEO. and
- Once you have your base, do a little research about your industry and focus your copywriting on discussing your expertise in your subject matter.
You are the best advocate of your content and quite frankly I have used this strategy to help my clients get better rankings than ever before. Which brings me to the next part of this discussion - managing expectations.
"1st in the Search" is a lofty goal and not easily achievable if for instance you are, say, a "Life Coach". So, let's break it down. If you search "Life Coach" today you will see this:
Paid ads from those damn dirty people with strategies! How can I compete Sharon?? I'm taking my ball and going home!
Wait — before you do that, might I suggest thinking about this differently?
Let's take the same example, but add a state. We'll use Colorado. And a City, We'll use Boulder. Let's see what happens:
Much better! Local Centers with probably good SEO Optimization are showing up!
Let's say you specialize in Life Coaching for women:
Notice how there are less paid advertisements and more organic results? WOW! Right?
So the goal here friends is to be the first ranking in your niche for your location. Because that is more relevant to you and your potential customers. And you didn't need to spend thousands of dollars on an "expert" to get there. Just a little research about your industry's searched keywords can get you quite far. I am not promising you the "1st in the Search" using this strategy, but I am promising that you will increase your current ranking by using this strategy. Remember, this type of "SEO" is the process of improving your visibility in search engines via the "organic" or "unpaid" results.
Please understand, if you are interested in going with much more general keyword terms within your rankings you will have to hire an expert strategist. That is for real. But, if you want to increase your personal ranking amongst your immediate peers, use what you have at your disposal with an SEO Ready website and then hire a developer that knows how the socket and wrench work together.
Change your thinking about Marketing
In old school marketing, you might have been taught to cast a wide net to "catch" as many people as possible. It was a necessary risk to take. With SEO advertising and marketing to your desired customers you are increasing your chances to organically sync up with your intended audience, which means more qualified buyers. A marketer's dream. The best way to do this is creating a set of keywords geared toward your niche and location.
Your website, your online business is dependant on finding qualified buyers. With the right kind of organic SEO, they will find you. Having an SEO Ready website and a SEO Optimized website is important! Designs and Codes prepares not only SEO Ready templates & themes, but SEO Optimized websites for our clients! Our entire team is committed to delivering you the latest technologies in website development, security, usability and SEO compatibility. Take a look at our Services or Themes.
Sharon, aka Designs