Search Engine Optimization 101

If you are like most people, SEO may seem like an encrypted message from Mars. However, those who have websites know exactly what it stands for and what it is.

What is SEO?

It means Search Engine Optimization and encompasses a set of actions that would make it possible for any web page to rank on the search engines for its most relevant keywords. If you look for it online, you will see that many people who are doing SEO professionally. In other words, they do it for their clients.

If you have a website, and you want it to rank, you will want to hire someone who does it for a living. Why? Because optimizing websites for search engines is a lot of work and the results are NOT guaranteed. Today’s reality is radically different from ten years ago when it was easy for just about anyone to make any web page rank for any keyword.

Back then, people only needed to blast their web pages with third-party links containing the keywords in the anchor text or the hyperlinked text that leads to a web page when you click it. Fast forward to 2017, however, and ranking on Google is more complicated than ever before. Even professional SEO workers will tell you that it is hard.

This isn’t surprising. Since 2012, Google has unleashed many algorithm updates to its ranking algorithm in a series of animal zoo updates called Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird. All of these updates tackled different aspects of optimization. For example, Penguin was aimed at detecting spammy links that were built specifically to boost rankings.

The result is a variation of the factors affecting ranking. Right now, there are over 200 ranking factors that the world’s largest search engine takes into consideration when ranking web pages. These factors are only expected to increase with the addition of artificial intelligence into the ranking algorithm.

With all the challenges that come with getting significant results on Google, you can’t help but wonder if you should still do SEO for your business. And the quick answer is yes, for a host of different reasons.

The number one reason for search engine optimization is “authority.” We mentioned before that there over 200 ranking factors that are considered when ranking websites. However, despite their high number, they are meant to determine just two factors: RELEVANCE and AUTHORITY.

The efforts by the search engine industry have led many users to believe that the websites that are ranking at the top of Google are trustworthy. With this comes the fact that when people trust you, they are more likely to buy from you. Compared to other marketing channels like pay-per-click advertising, ranking on Google has a higher conversion rate at 25%, that is, for every 100 people who visit your website from Google, 25 will do what you want them to do, like entering their email address. Compare this to the 1% to 10% of PPC advertising (people do not like to be sold to).

We said before that you should outsource SEO work whenever possible. Well, it’s not necessary, however, for newbies, learning search engine optimization can be a steep learning curve to climb. If you are a real businessman, you would rather do things that are steeped in your core strengths.

Some people argue that doing it the do-it-yourself route is free. However, while there are no upfront costs, you do pay for it in some other way, like your time. Besides, if you know where to look, you can get work done for only hundreds of dollars per month, and the cost will pay for itself.

How long does it take before you can rank on Google? Well, that depends on how difficult it is to rank for your keyword. On average, a difficult keyword takes at least one year to see any movement in rankings. Take note that we said “movement.” It means that you could be nowhere in Google and then be on page 10 of the search engine results. It will take much more time, at least one more year before you can see your website on page one of the search engine results.

That said, if you are committed to making your site rank for your most important keyword, commit to paying for SEO work for at least one year. See what happens and assess whether or not you should continue to work with the search engine optimization professional you hired.

In the meantime, promote your website through other means like PPC marketing and creating a social media viral campaign.