What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of improving the organic ranking of a website on search engines – like Google. This process includes onsite and offsite efforts.
Onsite SEO involves making improvements or additions to your website that make it more relevant or trustworthy to search engine algorithms. That could include fixing issues with your site’s content, making technical fixes to your site’s structure or sitemap, as well as writing and publishing new blog articles.
Offsite SEO consists of actions that occur away from your website such as link building – which is the process of getting other websites to refer or “link” back to your website. Search engines can see what sites link to your site what can make your site appear more trustworthy and high-quality. Other offsite SEO efforts include forums, influencer outreach, and content marketing.
How does SEO help my small business?
The goal of SEO is to 1) identify valuable search keywords and then 2) rank on page-1 for those keywords. Keyword – sometimes referred to as keyphrase – is the terminology for what people search for on search engines. For example, if you have an accounting firm, the keyword “accounting firm Indianapolis Indiana” would be valuable for you to have a page-1 ranking for your website.
People trust that search engines like Google will provide the most relevant results for them. Appearing page-1 organically – meaning without paying for the ranking – can be difficult to attain but extremely valuable to have once it’s achieved. Not only does your site look credible and trustworthy by ranking highly but you’re getting website traffic that is highly relevant to your products or services. The relevancy of your website visitors determines how much your website will help your business.
In summary, SEO provides the following benefits for small businesses:
- relevant, high-interest website visitors
- increase trust & credibility with your website & business
- improved brand awareness
- more affordable long-term than paid advertising
- has very trackable performance metrics
Who is SEO a good fit for?
While we love SEO and have seen many businesses benefit from it, it’s not a great fit for everyone. SEO requires one common thing, people to be searching for your products or services. Entrepreneurs and innovators are great at creating solutions to problems we didn’t know we had. However, this causes low or nonexistent search volume, and optimizing for search engines may not yield a return on your investment.
Another area to consider is your website. If you have a single-page website or it’s just a mess in general, you would likely need a complete rebuild before even considering SEO.
It’s important to consider the timeline for SEO and if it aligns with your marketing goals. A typical SEO campaign can take anywhere from 4-6 months before you see any page-1 results, even for lower volume keywords. If your site is new, you have to do more to build your domain authority and campaigns can take 8+ months before you start seeing results.
You should also factor in how competitive your industry is. It doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from SEO but you may have to explore more creative, long-tail keywords to see an impact on your business.
Don’t let the timeline scare you. If you make the initial 6-month commitment you can maintain top rankings for high-traffic, high-value, relevant keywords for years to come. You can also continue to improve your search rankings by adding new keywords each month. Oftentimes your SEO efforts will impact a handful of keywords at a time.
SEO is our favorite long-term marketing strategy because we’ve seen the massive impact it’s made for our clients. It’s no guarantee and it requires a relatively larger investment but for many of our clients, it has been a total game-changer.