Getting Started with SEO: A High-Level Guide

seo high level

For any business owner, growing a customer base is always a top priority.

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, adding an online presence can be a great way to increase revenue and expand your brand quickly.

The most challenging part of doing so is getting new customers to find your company’s site among the vast sea of competitors. In the last decade, the most effective and widely used method for marketing online has been search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is useful for many reasons, but most companies like that it casts a wider net online, is more affordable than other forms of marketing, and when done correctly, is a gift that keeps on giving.

By utilizing the power of search engines and social media, SEO strengthens the possibility of getting immediate results. That is why anyone who is starting a new business or looking to expand an established company must consider adding an SEO campaign to their marketing budget.

How SEO Works

Similar to how technology is always changing, so have many of the rules of effective SEO.

Similar to how technology is always changing, so have many of the rules of effective SEO. Click To Tweet

Companies that operate search engines are continually working to ensure that people using a search function get quality results. As technology has gotten better at deciphering what makes content relevant and reliable, SEO content that was acceptable a few years ago wouldn’t work today.

SEO, once based firmly on keywords and content, didn’t care about the quality of the material, as long as it had the keywords for which people were searching.

how seo works

So, if you had a car dealership in Chicago, an SEO company would likely generate several pieces of content that had the keywords “car dealership in Chicago.” Usually, one or two well-written, well-researched articles containing those keywords would appear on your company website. Then, several fluff articles packed with the same keywords and other related terms would end up on anchor websites, which would have links directing traffic back to your main site.

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That was how SEO worked.

Search engine algorithms determined a site’s relevancy based on backlinks to a page and related search terms in the content.  Quite often, someone searching for something got directed to an article or page that offered nothing useful, just a generalized piece full of commonly searched terms.

Now, it’s a lot more difficult to trick search engines, and SEO is not as easy to achieve. In other words, search-engine algorithms can pick up on specifics that determine if the content has substance.

Search-engine algorithms can pick up on specifics that determine if the content has substance. Click To Tweet

The standards for effective SEO content are straightforward.

Search engines can tell how well a piece is written based on such things as grammar and proper punctuation. In addition to excellent writing, algorithms can scan for things like photos and video content, which may give a webpage more weight for being engaging. That is why so many websites are adding more visual content to their web pages.

It’s important to know that using material from other sites, even with permission, may adversely affect the optimization of your page.

Original, engaging content is king when it comes to SEO.

Perhaps one the most important elements of site optimization is its relevance to direct or related searches. It’s typically best to update content and regularly post new articles, videos, and pictures on a website. The relevance equation is determined, in part, by current events and social interest. Social media posts about a particular product, trending searches, and news directly related to something on a web page can all bolster its position on a search result list.

Search engines love new, exciting content, which is why so many companies invest part of their marketing dollars for professional SEO services.

Search engines love new, exciting content, which is why so many companies invest part of their marketing dollars for professional SEO services. Click To Tweet

How SEO Can Stretch Your Marketing Dollars

Marketing can be expensive. It can also be ineffective.

Before the internet, companies had few options for marketing their products and services. Now businesses can efficiently promote their offerings to the entire world online. While television, radio, and print ads can be reliable ways to attract new customers, the costs limit most businesses’ ability to advertise on those platforms, which usually transmit their message to a general audience.

content is king seo

That isn’t the case with a professional SEO marketing plan.

SEO content, created to attract people looking for particular services or products, stays online once it is paid for, continuing to draw in those people searching for it.

Airtime on local radio and television stations in some smaller markets may not be much more expensive than a monthly SEO retainer.

Airtime on local radio and television stations in some smaller markets may not be much more expensive than a monthly SEO retainer. Click To Tweet

Prices can range from $200 to just over a $1,000 for radio, television, or SEO. However, radio and television marketing plans typically apply to one station, with spots airing at various times during the day and heard only by local people. Many of your customers may not even watch local television or listen to local radio, but almost everyone is going to be using the internet. SEO content, strategically written, is going to be available to anyone searching for the specific things you sell 24 hours a day.

For some companies, purchasing one month’s worth of content goes a long way to build a new customer base. Even though most online content loses its optimization with time, many SEO-related articles are written as evergreen content, meaning it’s not specific to a particular date or time and performs well in search engine results for an extended period. With this in mind, you can determine how much you want to spend on evergreen content versus content that is more specific to current products or events involving your company.

If your budget won’t allow you to keep paying for ongoing content, spending more on more general content is probably your best bet.

How to Succeed with SEO on Your Own

It’s not uncommon for business owners to pay for SEO, and then decide to do it on their own. For many small businesses, the ongoing cost of professional SEO is too much. If you are considering starting an SEO campaign, it is possible to find success by focusing on a few areas.

Be Consistent

The first place you need to focus is on consistency.

People need a reason to come to your website and to talk about the content on your site. It’s critical that you post new content at least a two or three times a week. The best way to start by is researching the direct keywords currently in the top search results of the major search engines. Look at what is trending in the news, and stay current on news and developments in the industry your business is in.

Write articles, take pictures, and create videos that focus on the most relevant search terms, but make sure your approach is unique. That will help you create the most up-to-date content, and people will want to keep coming back. It will also help drive your content to the top of the search results.

Build Your Online Presence

The second area of focus needs to be on building an online presence for your business outside of your main site.

online presence seo

Creating a blog on which you can regularly post material that links back to your site is essential. As covered previously, the content on any blog that links back to your website needs to be dense with pertinent information. While blog posts don’t necessarily need to be more than a few hundred words, they should be authoritative. Also, if you aren’t well-versed in grammar, it’s essential to use a grammar checker. Some websites offer this for free.

A strong social media presence is also crucial. In fact, research indicates that social media posts and likes may be the most influential indicator of how well content performs in search results. Getting people to link to an article on your website, especially if a lot of people share it, will have the single most significant impact from an SEO standpoint.

Search engines love content that a lot of people are socializing about. So, keep that in mind.

Grow a Following

The last area of focus is to engage those who are interested in what you are creating. Whether it’s on your blog or your social media accounts, make sure you respond to comments.

If people send you an email, always respond promptly with helpful answers to their inquiries. Not only will this help keep customers engaged in what you are doing on your site, but it will also let them know you care about what they care about. It will also make them much more likely to keep talking about the content you share on social media. Perhaps the most important thing you do as a business owner is stay engaged with your visitors, not only to keep them coming back for more but also to know what they are looking for in products and services in the future.

Customers are usually willing to share their feedback online, and that can be a valuable tool for growing your business at a fast rate.

In Conclusion

SEO is the current wave, and it will be the wave of the future as far as online marketing goes. It doesn’t matter if you hire professional SEO consultants or embark on an SEO journey on your own; knowing how to drive potential customers to your online place of business is the fastest way to expand. That is especially true for new companies and companies in highly competitive industries. Always remember that interesting, relevant, and creative content is what people crave, and it’s what the search engines are working to deliver. If that’s what you focus on, you will likely see the best results possible, and your business will be able to flourish online.

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