If you asked me two and a half years ago what “SEO” was, I would have stared at you blankly. Fast forward one year and I gave a presentation about SEO content writing. After the presentation, the first person raised his hand with a question: “What is SEO?”
Whether or not you know what SEO is, it’s impacting your business. Once you do know about it, you’re almost guaranteed to want to improve it. Great SEO can bring in more leads and sales conversions for your business. It gets more attention for your content, more eyes on your branding, and more interest in your services. The benefits are incredible, and best of all, anyone can achieve them. Just like in the business world, SEO is all about free enterprise.
When businesses come to me, they often know they want to improve their SEO, but they don’t know where to start. Our SEO copywriting services are extremely popular across a variety of industries because people know they need keywords in their content. And they do! At Fine Point Writing & Editing, we create keyword optimized blogs and website pages, and that’s a big part of improving SEO. But that’s just the very first portion of SEO. There are plenty of other considerations that we rely on a different type of experts for.
I’ve worked closely with several Edmonton Search Engine Optimization specialists. The more I learn about how important SEO is for my clients, the more I want to help people understand what SEO is, why it’s important, and how to find the right person or team for the job.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what determines where your website and content ranks in the results pages of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. The better your SEO score, the higher your content will rank. In turn, potential audiences and customers will find your business more quickly and easily when they’re searching online.
Keywords are one aspect of SEO that people understand before they come to me. However, there’s more to SEO than sprinkling some keywords throughout your content. It’s better to think about SEO from a wider perspective – that is, from the perspective of the search engines themselves.
Search engines all have their own algorithms (equations) they use to rank content. These algorithms aren’t just random equations made up by the little monkeys behind the green curtain at Google; their purpose is to provide the end user with relevant information and the best possible experience while searching. When we look at it from this view, we can start to deconstruct all the aspects that go into a positive user experience.
Factors that Affect SEO
Keyword research is a great starting point for any SEO strategy. There’s not enough time for me to fully outline how to complete keyword research here, but stay tuned for an upcoming blog where I’ll reveal my tools and techniques.
When people are searching for answers, they want the information to be relevant to their location. For example, if you’re searching for copywriters and you’re in Edmonton, you likely want a local Edmonton copywriter.
Local searches should yield local results. That’s why you’ll often see titles or text with a keyword and the location next to it (see the last two words of the above paragraph for a perfect example!)
Bounce rates refer to the amount of people who click onto your website or landing page from a search engine and then immediately leave. If you have a low bounce rate, it means you have valuable content that’s engaging people and encouraging them to stay longer. So, great content = low bounce rates = better SEO. Did I mention you need great content?
Quality of Blogging & Content Marketing
The quality of your marketing communications can directly impact your position in search engine results. Copywriters with experience in SEO writing aren’t just throwing random keywords into pre-written content. Creating interesting and relevant content that people actually want to read is important, and designing that content around keywords (rather than inserting them after the fact) is important. Other factors are internal linking (within your site) and external linking (to other sites), content length, readability, and content design. Content on your website, blogs, social media, and other platforms can all impact SEO.
One of the more technical and strategic aspects of SEO is backlinking. Backlinks are links from third-party websites. So, if you’re a doctor and your website link is listed on a medical professional association’s website, you’ve established one authoritative backlink. What makes it authoritative and why does it matter? Websites that already have search engine authority are viewed as trustworthy, so this link is more valuable than a link to say, your friend’s brand-new blog.
Things get even more complex when you learn that too many backlinks from non-authoritative sites can actually harm your SEO more than help it. This is where an SEO marketing agency can come in and provide/create positive backlinks.
Some Other Terminology to Know
In internet marketing, organic results are those that are achieved naturally, or without paid advertising. For example, in Google, you have three primary listings in the search results. At the top are the ads, then you’ll see the map results, and finally, you’ll come to the organic results. SEO can contribute to map results, but it’s primarily linked to the organic search results.
Alt Text or Alt Tags
Alt text is text applied to photos and graphics in your content or on your website. This text helps search engines understand what’s pictured (in other words, it’s the “alternative text” option that search engines can read).
Metadescriptions are an outline of the content you’ll find on a website. You know how Google displays a little snippet of information beneath each result? That’s a metadescription. It’s designed to tell you what you’ll find if you click. Keywords in metadescriptions and meta titles are extremely important for SEO.
Why Hire Out for Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing takes time and expertise. Can you do it on your own? Absolutely. If you’re willing to put in the time to research strategies and keywords, write and post regular content, set up marketing campaigns, create authoritative backlinks, and set up the back-end of your web platform for optimization, all the power to you! I’ve met people who rank #1 for extremely competitive keywords in their industries and who have accomplished that all on their own. However, these are mostly part-time side hustles where there’s a lot of time to accomplish SEO, and not enough resources to hire out. If you’re on the busier side, you’re probably going to get more value out of hiring a team so you can focus on your own specialization.
What Makes a Good SEO Consultant?
Different specialists use different SEO strategies, but every SEO expert you sit down with will promise to get you to the top of Google. It will take some time, they’ll tell you, but they will get you there. Most of them mean it. Some of them mean it and can’t deliver. And unfortunately, some of them don’t mean it at all.
To avoid the latter, you should choose a full-time digital marketer who takes the time to understand your unique business, services, products, and needs. One-size-fits-all approaches aren’t going to be as effective.
They should be able to provide:
The name of the tool, software, or strategy they’re using.
A detailed outline or report on your current SEO status and suggestions for immediate improvements.
Detailed case studies from previous projects backed up with reports showing month-over-month improvements and real reviews from customers.
An outline of the process he or she will use and when you can reasonably expect to begin seeing results.
A plan that includes backlinking, keyword optimization, SEO blogging, and other optimization techniques that may include setting up a location listing or adding alt-text to photos on your website.
A moderate monthly budget - be sure to shop around and compare pricing vs. services for at least three companies.
Answers to all your questions about SEO. If they’re talking above your level of understanding, ask them to dumb it down. Sometimes, SEO specialists who don’t care if you understand what they’re doing and sometimes they might actually be hoping you don’t get it.
Web designers may also offer SEO services. If web design is their primary service, just be sure to inquire about their SEO team to ensure that they aren’t just trying to sign you on for continuing services to keep you paying. They need to have dedicated SEO experts if they’re going to really work hard to get you results.