Reap what you SEO

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, has become a popular term to throw around when discussing various digital marketing tactics.  You’ve probably heard someone in the office talking about the need for SEO on the company’s website, but does anyone know what it actually means?

The term refers to the act of structurally building your website so that it reaps the highest rewards from search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing and others. That sounds awesome, right? Rank me in the search engines and drive more traffic to my website!

The truth of it is, it can be difficult to guarantee search engine placement when the search engines each have their own proprietary algorithm that is held close to the vest and not shared with anyone. But the good news is, search engines like Google, have created a bit of a cheat sheet or at least a guide to help direct us on the best practices.

The best thing to do is get down to the facts and be able to discern how your company should utilize SEO tactics. Should things be handled in house or should you hire an SEO firm? There are a few things to take into consideration that we can cover here.

Watch out for SEO Scammers

There are thousands of firms across the country that claim to be SEO experts and guarantee search engine placement. Be WARY of these guys because there are a lot of scammers out there. It’s really funny these guys claim to be experts when even Google receives their spam messages (from Google’s article “Do you need an SEO”) “Dear, I visited your website and noticed that you are not listed in most of the major search engines and directories…”. How many of you have received an email like this before?

There are plenty of people who will tell you want you want to hear, but won’t discuss the details of how they will accomplish the results; just a “we’ll get you ranked higher” type of attitude. In fact, I was watching a video the other day of an “SEO Expert” who had posted a selfie-style video. About a minute into the video I was surprised to hear him start to say “What I do is…” and then he stopped himself. He abruptly changed the subject and in an awkward segue said “I’ve been trained by these guys out of Austin…” and trailed off about how he has the knowledge and skill set to accomplish the results. While it’s good to know that this guy has confidence in himself to do it, the vagueness in his plan of attack was unsettling.

What type of SEO Company can I trust?

I’m cautious of anyone who tells me they perform SEO for a living. I mean no offense to the folks reading this who are “SEO Experts”, there are some quality professionals out there who know what they’re doing and can explain it well. If they use the word “guarantee”, GET OUT QUICK! If they sit you down and explain their white hat process, you’ve got a chance. In my 10 years of experience with SEO, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best SEO professionals have a thorough understanding of (1) structural organization of the website, (2) keyword research, (3) easy-to-read copy that utilizes the previously identified keywords, (4) page structure and hierarchy, (5) sitemap inclusions, (6) Google Webmaster Tools, (7) Google Analytics, and (8) flow optimization. Of course there are additional considerations that are integrated into each of those topics but I think that covers the first layer of the onion.

Flow Optimization

The crucial letter in SEO is the “O” which stands for Optimization. Remember that even when you build a well structured website and perhaps have even captured the illusive #1 ranking for your keyword, you’re always going to have competition nipping at your heels. This is why you need to regularly optimize your website. Not only for the search engines, but for your users. A good user flow is important to the success of your website. Your site should have a clear hierarchy of links that allow interested parties to navigate your site without any confusion.

Some final SEO tips

Here are a few tips you can consider when the term SEO hits the table:

  • You need a good hosting company. A quality hosting server will help with Page Speed which is a factor of consideration for higher rankings. A third party hosting company we recommend is Inmotion Hosting.
  • Website Security is playing more and more in to how well your site is ranking. A good security company will build a firewall around your server and cache site pages. This helps with loading times which is a big plus for Google. An affordable and easy-to-work-with security firm is Sucuri.
  • Start SEO from day one! It’s more difficult to optimize the structure of the site after the website has been built. Ask your website development team about their plans for structuring your website according to Google’s recommendations.
  • Checkout this link to Google’s own Search Engine Optimization Starters Guide.
  • Use a company like MX Guarddog to help stop spam.
  • Write website content for the user, not the search engine. The more relevant your text is for the market, the higher you’ll rank anyway, so write for the humans, not the robots.
  • Conduct due diligence! If you’re interviewing an agency that claims to “do SEO” or are “SEO Experts”, use this blog and your instinct to sniff out whether you’ve hired the right folks. And feel free to contact Anchor for a free consultation and some great ideas about what will work best for you.
  • Remember: SEO results do not happen overnight, so show patience. But you may begin to see progress within the first few weeks. Remember there are no guarantees.

Hope to see you at the top of my Search Engine results page by being able to Reap What You SEO! Happy Optimizing.

-BJ Caldwell