What Exactly Is SEO? A Rundown.
October 16, 2018 | By Jeff | In Tips & Advice
As a person that runs a company that does SEO in NJ, I get many requests from potential clients that don’t seem to understand what exactly SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is and what the work entails. Many people think it’s a quick task, an exact science, or some kind of programming hack. I’m going to debunk some of the common misconceptions and assumptions that many people have about SEO.
1. What The Heck Is SEO Anyway?!?!?
SEO, which is short for Search Engine Optimization refers to a series of tasks that can be done on a website to help it rank higher in search engines. Generally speaking, Google search results are the most sought after search engine rankings when people speak of this. When somebody visits Google and they type in some keywords that are relevant to your industry, you want to show up on the first page of results. There are many different tasks one can do to achieve this, and they all fall under on page optimization, and off page optimization. Generally all of these tasks mesh together to get your ranking higher in search results. There are basically two fundamental things that help a website rank higher in Google results, and those are “quality content with relative keywords in it” & “links back to your site from other quality websites”.
2. SEO Is NOT A Quick One-Shot Task
Many business owners think they can just hand somebody a few hundred bucks and show up on the first page of Google overnight. This cannot be further from the truth. To get a website to rank on the first page for your desired keywords, there are many things you need to do, and some of this takes months to do. For example, the first task that should always be done is picking out appropriate keywords. Not only do you want relative keywords for your business, but you also want keywords that people are actually searching for and that aren’t that hard to compete for. If you can find those needles in the haystack, then you can move along to optimizing your site itself to naturally contain those keywords in your page titles, headers, page content, and links.
And that’s it right? We’re done?
No! Not even close, there’s so much more that needs to be done in modern SEO to get a site to rank now. You need to be writing and sharing your own content on a regular basis. That means you need to have a blog and social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, etc. What good is content if nobody is seeing it? You also need to perform link building and outreach to reputable outside websites to link back to your site. This greatly helps your reputation in Google search results. If Google sees that your site contains many of the keywords in a search AND it has lots of great websites linking to it, it will put you up higher in the results than any other websites that have the same keywords.
You should never do all of these tasks all at once. Google tends to frown upon a site that all of the sudden gets 30 blog posts & links to it overnight. It’s a sign that you’re probably trying to “game the system”. Blog posts, link building, link outreach, brand link building, social sharing needs to be done over a gradual slow drip. It can sometimes take months to finally see results.
3. You Get What Your Pay For
Sure SEO ‘can’ be cheap, but be very careful. If you’re lucky, the worst that can happen is that not much gets accomplished. If you’re not lucky, you’re putting yourself at risk of destroying your online reputation by getting links from questionable areas of the web and becoming blacklisted through “black hat” practices. The golden rule with hiring an SEO expert or agency is “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!” Do not expect to have a good time if you’re paying somebody $90 a month to rank your site or if you decide to buy a pack of “100 cheap backlinks”. Most of the time, the writing is horrible, spammy sounding, and the links usually come from “link farms” which are a bunch of sites that exist only to build backlinks. You can tell just by looking at some of them that they just threw up a template blog, gave it a catchy name, and threw up a bunch of random, poorly written articles simply for “link juice”. Not only will these spammy links do nothing for your rankings, they will probably actually “HURT” your site rankings as Google will associate your website with spammy links and in turn, consider it a spam site.
The moral of the story is, you’re better safe than sorry, and you should be skeptical of any provider or service that guarantees you 1st page results for pennies on the dollar. It should be avoided like cheap gas station sushi. Don’t do it.
4. SEO Results Are Not Guaranteed And Sometimes Unpredictable
In most other aspects of business, things are absolute. This is not so with SEO. Google does not disclose the full working of their search algorithms, and why would they? It’s a trade secret. Since we do not actually have complete control or knowledge in how search engines like Google operate, make decisions, and rank pages, #1 rankings cannot be guaranteed. Also, Google is constantly coming up with updates and changes that often change the way in how they rank sites. What once worked a few years ago, doesn’t work now. It’s like trying to lure your cat to greet a friend with a handful of treats. Sure most of the time she will come over, but sometimes she just wants to sit there and lick herself while ignoring you. Google is just like that cat. We DO however have a general understanding of how their algorithm works and there are several constants that still ring true and will always work. Those constants are: good keyword research, quality on page optimization and content, and quality reputable back links. Do these things right and chances are that you will start ranking better. However there are other factors as well that can affect your ranks. You are not the only one doing search engine optimization, and if your competitors are doing it more and better than you, you might find that you are not ranking as well as them. It’s pretty much a race to the top these days and the best website with the best content and links wins.
All that being said, anybody that absolutely guarantees you the 1st position in Google is lying to sell you their services.
Shameless Plug Time!!!!!!!
Anyway, here comes the part of this article where I plug myself because I gotta pay the bills. I hope you now have a better appreciation of how SEO works, what it is, what it isn’t, and the blood sweat & tears that go into doing it. I try to adhere to all of these principles with my SEO Services. I offer three different SEO pricing tiers depending on your competition level and budget. I’d like you to have a look at them and drop me a line if you’re interested.