Demystifying SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can seem like a black hole of monthly fees for your marketing budget. Is it necessary? Yes. Following are the top five questions non-techies have that can help you understand why:

1. What is SEO, really?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) describes the activities you do to improve your rank with search engines. ie. Who is listed first, second, etc. when a prospect searches for something online.

Marketing efforts that are considered “organic” SEO include:
1. “Back End” Web site development by your digital team
• Built on browser-friendly platforms
• Coded and tagged in a way that is logical and easily read by search engines
2. “Front End” digital marketing by your social media team
• Regular and relevant blog posts
• Social media activity relevant to your business, like an active LinkedIn corporate page. Google+, Facebook or Pinterest may also be relevant social media sites, depending upon your target audience.

2. What is PPC?

Pay Per Click (PPC) is the opposite of “Organic SEO.” PPC ads automatically show up at the top of the page when you do a search. They pay the search engine company, such as Google, a fee by keyword to be listed at the top. PPC listings are usually set off with a different color in your browser. See illustration below.

3. Who decides who gets to be listed at the top?

Google, mostly. Every search engine has their own algorithms they develop to rank listings in response to a search. Google is by far the leading search engine, so most SEO experts focus on their formula for results. Search engine’s share of market as of July 2013:

Google 67%
Bing 18%
Yahoo 11%
Ask 3%
AOL 1%

4. Does my business really need SEO?

Yes, to some degree. In the past if the Yellow Pages was integral to generating new business leads for your business, SEO will be a primary tactic for you. If not, you still need it, just not as much.

More and more people are turning to search engines, like Google, as their new best friend to help them find what they need. Today SEO is in essence a referral source.

At the very least your company needs to have a presence online. As soon as someone meets you, they will search online for your company, and most of the time, not with the exact Web address. You need to show up in the search to be relevant.

5. Can I trick the algorithms and just implement one tactic to get to the top?

No, not anymore. Google’s algorithms are being developed to act more and more like the human brain. Quality content is what matters.

In the early stages, keywords drove rankings and companies would publish non-sensical pages of key works to rank at the top. ie. “We sell widgets in North America and we are North America’s best widget maker.” Those sites are now considered spamming.

On the front end key words should only appear sparingly in title tags, Web copy and headings. On the back end a good programmer will use key words selectively in your site’s tags.

Later on the rave was links. Many believed the more links you had, the better your rank. Not so anymore. While search engines still consider links as “votes” or “recommendations” for content in their algorithm, it’s best to have 10 good, relevant links vs. 1,000 non-relevant. Ignore paid or spam link offers. At Gerard Marketing Group, we recommend focusing on obtaining link relationships with the authority in your category and the key influencers on your target audience.

© 2013 Gerard Marketing Group. All rights reserved.