INTRODUCTION TO SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
People use the internet to find and research the products and services they need. Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a process where steps are taken to ensure that your website is appearing in results for its related search terms. Furthermore, you want to rank as highly in those search results as possible. Before describing what this process entails, and how Talk 19 Media approaches it, I’d like to share a few thoughts.
DISCLAIMER: SEPARATING TRUTH FROM HYPE
Search engines have evolved over the years. At this point, they use very complex algorithms that are designed to (among other things) give more value to “organic” content. Organic content means that it is detailed, personalized, and specific to an entity or area. Search engines are also built to be dynamic, meaning that they are constantly checking to see what is the most relevant content for any given search term.
Because of this intentionally devised structure, NO ONE CAN GUARANTEE #1 POSITION. We know, you see the ads, get the emails, and even get the spam phone calls. They all guarantee “top placement.” Here’s the problem with that. Your search results on any given day are being compared to the relevance of your competitors, and other related websites. Whoever is doing “the most” – or whoever best fits the algorithm – on any given day is going to have the top slots. An SEO service can only work with your web presence; they can’t make your competitors do less.
That said, a company who boasts “top results” is going to do more than optimize your website. They will most likely pitch you on ongoing contract work managing social media integration, website updates, and a variety of other activities. These are valid offerings, but it will get very expensive.
THE TALK 19 MEDIA APPROACH
Cutting right to the chase, we try to identify what the simplest steps are that can be taken that will have a significant impact. Our goal is to achieve a meaningful result that is cost-effective. Through research and experience, we have identified many of the key factors in the search engine algorithms. They are logical things, and there are many other companies who also know them. Where we differ is honesty and affordability. For a much lower fee than most others charge for SEO, we analyze your site, identify specific search terms that we believe we can improve, and to what extent we believe we can improve your results with them. Based on your budget and our anticipated levels of success, we can choose a specific approach that allows you to get the most “bang for your buck.”
It is important to recognize some of the factors described in the “disclaimer” above, and to consider their impact on you. If you have a fairly standard business in a saturated industry, it will be much harder to improve your search engine rankings. However, if you have a very unique twist on your business, or there just aren’t very many businesses in your industry, that makes it much easier to help you shine. We will discuss factors like these with you when we do our initial analysis.
OUR SEO MAGIC
Search engines want to see meaningful content that is easy for your users to understand. The text should really tell a story, make a point, or teach a lesson. It should include images or videos related to the subject. There should be links to other sites that offer more or different information about your topic, especially from experts or well-known organizations. It should all be formatted in a way that is easy to read and navigate. And, ideally, it is all indexed and shared directly with search engines through their respective “webmaster” programs. Here is an outline of the factors on which we focus:
1. Identify your critical search terms. If you don’t know, we can help. Search terms must be present in:
- URLs and Titles of Pages / Blog Posts
- Page headings (h1, h2, h3, etc. tags) – these also need to be structured correctly
- Text / body of the Page / Post – pages and posts should have at least 300 words total
- “Alt tags” on images
- “Meta” descriptions of pages, where applicable
2. Generate and submit XML sitemaps to Google and Bing through their Webmaster Tools interfaces. They like it.
3. Try to plan some changes to your website periodically / frequently. Blogging and image galleries are examples of very logical ways to do this. The longer a site goes unchanged, the less relevant it is to search engines.
4. Confirm your physical location with Google Places / Maps, Bing Maps / Local Results. *Not all business do this, especially when home-based. Those who do it have an advantage.
5. Integrate your social media, especially review sites. Have links to your Facebook, Yelp, LinkedIn, Angie’s List, Pinterest, etc. pages if you have them. If you don’t have them, we can help determine the best one(s) for you and help you get it set up.
6. In addition to having images with your content everywhere that it is appropriate, think about incorporating video. Multimedia scores big points with search engines too.
OTHER SEO FACTORS
There are two others SEO factors – one of which is quite significant – that also need to be considered.
- History. The longer that a site has been active, and the less it has been affected by malware, blacklists, or other negative website offenses, the better it will rank. Your web developer can’t change how long your site has existed, but they should do everything they can to keep it secure and trusted.
- Officially Secure (https://). Adding an SSL security certificate to your website hosting will cost a little more, but in addition to giving your visitors a more trustworthy experience, search engines favor it as well.