“Why do I need to pay for SEO?”
Do you want potential clients to find your website? If you said, “yes” you might need to pay for someone to do SEO (aka Search Engine Optimization or how to get your website found by the search engines so they can show it to potential clients). I say “might” because there are some cases where you are either in a very niche industry or a smaller community and you don’t have more than 9 competitors for what you do. Businesses like trash companies and harp instructors can fit this category. If that’s the case, then stop reading this article and pass it on to a friend who is in a more competitive industry – like an attorney or HVAC company.
If you’re still reading, you probably need someone to help you with SEO. So, what is SEO? How do you do it? How long does it take? Is it really that hard?
“Is SEO really that hard? How long does SEO Take?”
Let’s take the last question first, “Is SEO really that hard?” This depends on who you are. Different people find different things hard. Is throwing a football hard? I don’t think so, but that doesn’t mean I am going to be the next quarterback of the Denver Broncos. Is changing the brakes on your car hard? For me, not really but you won’t find me opening a business as an auto mechanic or even a brake specialist any time soon. Is SEO hard? It might be or it might not be, so keep reading.
How long does SEO take? There are a variety of factors here, but generally speaking you should begin to see good traction in 6 to 12 months. The wildcard is what your competitors are doing with SEO and how good they (or their SEO company) are doing? SEO is the NASCAR race of the internet. There are a lot of laps. Some laps, you will pass some of your competitors and you will get passed on other laps. Ultimately, you want to be at the front and it takes a while to work your way there, especially if you have a brand new website and domain name because you will start at the back.
“What is SEO?”
So, what is SEO? How do you do it? Let’s start with the basics of SEO. At its core, SEO starts with keyword research. What words and phrases are people using to find businesses like yours? What keywords are getting your competitors found in the search engines? There are several tools out there you can use to figure this out including Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMRush, and SpyFu. Google’s Keyword Planner will tell you how many times people are using certain phrases to search for your business on Google. SEMRush and SpyFu can tell you where you (and your competitors) are ranking for different keywords and keyword phrases.
Next, you need to make sure these keywords are in the headings, meta descriptions, alternative text, and content of your website. Be careful not to “stuff” them into your site. Google will penalize you if the keywords are too dense and you won’t be found if they aren’t there enough.
How do you figure out the right mixture? One of my favorite tools is a WordPress plug-in called Yoast SEO. This tool asks you to select one keyword or keyword phrase that is central to your blog or page. Then, it measures the density of it and lets you know if you used it too little, too much or if it is just right. Yoast SEO also guides you in creating your page slug, meta description, and even grammar usage (like passive voice).
Content is still King
Once you have your website all buttoned up, then you need to create a content calendar to get these keywords into your blog, press releases, infographics, and the like over the coming months. Make sure you share your content on social media. When good content gets shared, liked, and discussed on social media the search engines take notice and move your website up in the rankings.
Then, there’s also link building and citations. Citations are the business listings like Yelp, Foursquare, Hot Frog, and your Google and Bing Business pages. These listings create more awareness of your business. Links are when a site points visitors in your direction. This can be a chamber of commerce, or something directly related to your industry.
Feel free to read more about the 200 factors Google takes into account when ranking websites and make the decision that’s right for your business regarding hiring a company for SEO.
You can also pick up our e-book, “10 SEO Mistakes to Avoid During Your Next Website Redesign”