As an SEO company, we tend to get the same questions about what we do, what SEO is, and how it all works, so we decided it was time to lay it all out and provide the answers to the most commonly asked questions about what SEO really is. Our mission is to demystify the process while educating you about why you need SEO for your business. These are the most common questions that we get asked – answered.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and it helps websites rank highly on organic searches. An organic search is when someone comes in blindly and types what they are looking for into a search engine query box. The purpose of SEO is to increase your visibility so that you are matched with keywords and key phrases that relate to your business or industry. Organic traffic also differs from paid advertising because it is entirely free as long as you know how to tap into it.
Do Small Businesses Need SEO?
The answer to the question of whether your business needs SEO is undoubtedly “Yes!” When you use SEO, you get the visibility you need to beat out the competition and you don’t have to pay for it. We don’t dispute that paid advertising works, but it only works as long as you pay for it. Once you stop, you go back to being invisible.
When you have a long-term SEO strategy, it inches you higher on ranking over time so that you can maintain your visibility long-term as well. And you can do so without paying an advertising fee.
When you rank more highly, you have more visibility. When you have more visibility, you get more traffic, and with more traffic, you get more leads and business. According to statutes, organic searches make up over 53% of site traffic. If you aren’t engaging in SEO, your traffic is likely streaming to your competitors who do use it.
How Does SEO Work?
Google uses algorithms that contain over 200+ factors to rank sites. Their goal is to recommend the most trusted and relevant source related to your search inquiry. Therefore, your content has to provide relevant results so that Google recognizes you as credible.
How Do You Find Keywords That Match Potential Customers’ Search Inquiries?
You can’t just randomly say, “I’m going to do my own SEO” and start blindly without direction. The key to SEO is knowing what people who are looking for products or services like yours are searching for. That takes the assistance of software that’s specifically designed to find keywords for your industry and audience. If you think taking a stab at it will work, it won’t cut it.
Why is My Site Not Ranking on Google?
If you Google yourself and you can’t even find yourself, neither can anyone else. There are many reasons that you might not be ranking on Google. Some reasons why you might not see your site when you Google it is:
- Your site is new and you just haven’t had the time to build authority. When you first launch your site, it will take a while for you to be noticed and ranked by Google.
- Content isn’t matching what searchers are looking for or it isn’t adding the value that the other page’s content is, meaning searchers are arriving and not finding what they need. You have to really put some effort and thought into your page content so that you are supplying what your intended audience needs.
How Long Does It Take for My Site to Rank on Google?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is like many others when we try to quantify “time” as a factor in ranking. When you launch a website, it is unrealistic to think that you will suddenly make a splash on the scene and be a beacon for your audience. It takes time for sites to begin to rank on Google because you have to build up credibility and authority.
Although it depends on when you are participating in SEO practices, it takes anywhere from about six months to a full year, but that really is based on your level of competition and how many other sites you are trying to rank higher than.
Locally, you might see some real improvement in a matter of months, but if you are aiming for national ranking, then it can really take years. The key is consistency and continuing to plug away at your SEO rankings using all practices at your disposal. It is always a long-term game, but if you invest upfront, the long-term might not be as long.
Should I Just Do SEO, Use Paid Advertising, or Do Both?
The question about whether you should pay for paid advertising is one that we get all the time. There will always be debates about whether SEO or PPC is more effective for your bottom line and advertising dollar. In practical terms, paid advertising and SEO both work; one just takes longer to see results.
If you are a small business with limited budgeting resources, then you likely have limited money to spend on paid advertising. It is a good idea to pay a small amount for a PPC campaign, especially while you wait for your SEO work to pay off.
What About Social Media or SMM?
A common misconception is that when you post on social media it increases your website’s ranking. Although social media is not a tool that directly ranks you higher on SEO if you use it to guide people to your website via links, that will help to translate into higher rankings and more brand visibility. So, although technically it isn’t an SEO strategy, it should be a branding visibility one that will help increase your visibility online and elsewhere if you do it correctly.
How Long Does My Content Have to Be?
When it comes to content, it isn’t a matter of how long it is; it is a question of how well you provide information to the reader. So although there isn’t a set length, when you are writing about a subject, make sure that you are answering the questions in your content before people even have to ask. In general, longer content tends to supply more information, but not if it is filled up just for word length purposes.
What is Duplicate Content and How Can it Hurt My Rankings?
Duplicate content means that you have words copied from another website that currently exists. Much like plagiarism is frowned upon, so is copying content from another website. So you can’t just take content and move it from one site to the next, or copy and paste something from somewhere else without being flagged by Google.
Google is policing the internet to make sure that you have original content on your website pages. The problem is, you aren’t always aware that your content is duplicate. There are times when you have too many phrases or words that match what is written somewhere else.
Even if you didn’t copy it, it is possible for your site to show as duplicate text. The way to ensure that it doesn’t happen to your site is to send your content through software apps like Grammarly or Copyscape. If there is duplicate content on your pages, they will alert you so that you don’t get dinged by Google.
What are Links?
On website pages, links are the highlighted text sections that you can click on that will take you to another page. Outbound links are those links that you use to connect with an outside source. Inbound links connect your pages together. Backlinks are when someone links their page back to you. It may sound complicated, but it really isn’t.
If you want to build credibility, then linking to an authority site can help foster the authority of your site, but what can really help are backlinks. You have to work for backlinks because it involves a credible source linking from their site to yours. When someone has a backlink to your site, that means that they trust you, which means Google will trust you a little more, too.
When we talk about SEO, it can mean very different things to different people. In general, it is a practice that helps gain visibility for your brand and drive organic traffic to your website. It is a long-term game, but if you play by the rules, it will work. Plus it’s free – what is better than free?
If you are having a hard time gaining the visibility that you want, driving traffic to your site, or converting people who are showing up to your site to becoming customers, we have the tools you need. Our mission is to take both the mystique and guesswork out of SEO for the businesses we work with, and it works. Contact us today to get started with your SEO campaign for long-term results.