The Difference Between Basic SEO and Real SEO
After yet another conversation with a web design agency about what they do for SEO, I was inspired to write about what SEO really consists of what to look for when searching for a reputable SEO expert or agency.
What is SEO?
So what is this SEO thing that everyone keeps on talking about? SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” – and what it boils down to is making a website or particular web page so damn yummy that Google just eats it up and rewards it with high Google rankings. The higher a webpage is on Google search results, the more clicks it will get – leading to more consistent traffic. Being (or not being) at the top of Google search can literally make or break a business, so obviously there is a lot of value in knowing how to do it right.
So how do the rankings work? Well you’ve most likely seen that when you search for a particular term, usually on Google, a list of websites shows up. Google recognizes those websites as being somehow relevant to the term you’ve searched. Maybe it’s because that term is in the web address, or perhaps it shows up in text on the page. Whatever the case, the search engines have associated a particular page on your site with a certain term or terms.
Now not all rankings are created equal. Each term has an approximate amount of searches per month, making ranking for certain search terms more valuable than others. So you could be ranking #1 for underwater basket weaving in the sahara, but if no one is looking for it, it’s like a tree falling in the forest with no one around. Who cares.
However let’s say you’re ranking first in New York, for a product that has the highest margin out of everything you sell, and there are 1000 people per month looking for that product. Studies show that 35% of all clicks go to first place. That means that 350 people each month are coming to your site with buyer intent. If we use the trusty old 10% rule, that’s 35 new customers per month coming from ranking for one word.
Google has an algorithm that determines who shows up on its coveted list. This algorithm is like a giant soup recipe that consists of a slew of different ingredients, and it is important to make sure that each one is added properly, so that the Google ranking soup turns out just right.
These components can be broken down into three general concepts that Google wants to see:
- Relevance – Is the webpage you want to rank relevant to the search term? To determine this, the algorithm looks in the content and code to see if the search term and variants of it are mentioned.
- Trust – Can Google trust your website? Google looks to see if, and if so how many, other websites are linking to yours.
- Authority – Is your website an authority in your niche or industry? Google combines the trust and relevancy aspects here, and adds other metrics like how long are people staying on your site, how quickly do they leave, how much traffic you get each month, or if your site is structured properly This is the really soupy part of the algorithm.
So how do you optimize your site for relevance, authority and trust?
There are 2 main pillars, on-page and off page. On-page refers to things like the aforementioned web page and content, having the backend code of the site streamlined and configured in a certain way, or adding SEO friendly code to the images. This is how you cultivate relevance to Google’s bot.
Off-page has to do with concepts like how (or if, for that matter) you have set up your social profiles, do you have good reviews, or if there are a lot of people that are linking back to your site. This is where the trust and authority is derived.
What many agencies and web design companies actually offer
A lot of web design agencies out there will offer “basic SEO”. What this often means is that they will do some of the many SEO components needed to make it on Google’s nice list – these tasks are often only on the onpage side as well.
This is a great start, and sometimes can even be enough to get a site or page to the top of Google search for very non-competitive terms. But if you are interested in ranking for a highly sought service or product in a larger area, then it just won’t cut it.
As important as on-site SEO optimization is, it is not enough. Here is why….
Google has a “score” for every search term people use on its platform. Often there are thousands and sometimes millions of other pages competing for this particular keyword match. The webpage with the highest score according to Google wins the game.
When Google crawls your page, it determines where your page deserves to be in its long line of competing players. If proper on-page SEO is performed, this may get you to position 10 or 20 out of 1000, but not much further.
In order to really rank high on Google’s search results, one cannot ignore the importance of trust and authority factors.
Want To See Some Results We’ve Gotten For Our Clients? Check Out These Case Studies
So what actually goes into ranking websites?
At More Hot Leads, we have an SEO process that consists of over 150 steps to make sure that our clients websites are the most relevant, trustworthy and authoritative.
For relevance, a lot of this comes down to the aforementioned onsite SEO optimization as we make sure that the right keywords are in the right place. This involves optimizing back end code, adding relevant internal links to related pages and using more advanced techniques like schema markup (which we’ll discuss in a later post because it’s its own animal).
Trust is derived from the websites and platforms your brand is associated with online. We do this by creating branded social profiles and business listings on all of the top 200 social sharing and business directory sites. We also make sure that each major social media platform is active and properly optimized. If our clients can get links on sites like the BBB, their local chamber of commerce or any industry related directories, this also goes a long way at showing Google that your business is what you it is are and does what you say it does.
Authority is built over time as you start to attract more consistent backlinks and mentions from other websites and visitors. These backlinks act as a vote of confidence. However, unlike a democratic vote, not all votes are equal. A backlink from a higher authority site with existing trust, traffic and relevance in Google’s eyes will pass much more weight to your site than a vote from a brand new website that is unrelated, or heaven forbid a spammy site.
What you should really expect from an SEO expert?
So if you have been talking to someone about helping you with your SEO efforts, make sure that any proposed solution includes much more than just “basic SEO”. Because after all, basic just can only get you so far, and we are all in business to get results (aka MONEY).
If you are ready to stop being basic and take the necessary steps to get your business to the top of Google, apply for a free strategy session now, and if we see a fit, together we will go over the best course of action for your business. Once you apply, we will get back to you within 24-48 business hours.
Congrats on taking a big step.
Want more? Check out these awesome Local SEO Tips.