You may not know it but Search Engine Optimization plays a great role in meeting our Business Purpose.
What is SEO?
For Beginners, the first question is “What is Search Engine Optimization?”. Well, Search Engine Optimization is really two things. First, it is making sure that Google understands what our site is about and second, making sure that Google understands what products and services we offer. When I say “Google” that just stands in for all search engines. You can add Bing or Yahoo or whatever.
How to Show Up in Search Results
The important thing is that you want to make sure that search engines understand what your site is about and what products and services you offer. And believe it or not, this doesn’t just happen. This is something that you have to be deliberate about when you are building your website.
Quality of Your Content Affects Relevance
Google search is the best “free” advertising available. I put free in quotation marks here because it doesn’t cost you anything for it to work but it does require some effort on your part. There is actually a cost to this but it’s a cost of your time and attention when creating your content and when building your website.
Google will evaluate your website to determine if you have content that is relevant to its customer search. So, if you’re an architect and you’re in Edmonds, WA and somebody else is located in Edmonds and they search for an architect, Google will look at your site and determine whether or not you’re relevant to return in architects Edmonds. If you’re a hairdresser in Palm Springs, obviously Google won’t return your page in a search for architects in Edmonds, right?
It’s important for Google to understand what your content is about so that when your ideal customer searches for your services they are found. If somebody’s looking for an architect in Edmonds, you don’t want Palm Springs architects to show up in your search results because that doesn’t help.
Google is trying to evaluate your site to see if you have content that is relevant to its customer’s search. And, obviously, you’re not it’s customer, the searcher is the customer.
Expect Lots of Competition
If you have that relevant content then search engines will display your site. If you’re looking for a real estate agent in Phoenix, Arizona there are going to be hundreds and hundreds of them. It’s the real estate agents’ sites with the most authority that are going to show up first. So, if you’re just building your Phoenix Arizona real estate site today, know that there are probably hundreds and thousands of them who’ve already started theirs. You will be competing with them for a place in that search engine return. But, if you stick with that long enough and you have relevant enough content, you will get returned in that search.
When SEO Isn’t Important
Not everyone relies on Google to return their site in search results and, in that case, SEO isn’t very meaningful. I have a customer who, while I don’t believe SEO is meaningless for her, primarily drives customers to her site by advertising. There are lots of people out there who drive customers to their site simply by advertising. Advertising, of course, costs money.
So, while the quality of the content of your site affects the price of your advertising in some cases, you don’t necessarily need to worry about Search Engine Optimization if you’re using Facebook ads to drive people to your site. Or if you are handing out business cards at a business lunches to get people to your site.
If you’re not relying on Google to return your site in search results, then SEO essentially doesn’t matter. It only matters when Google is an important source of potential customers.
The 90% Solution
Well, in our case, Search Engine Optimization is everything so we’re going to employ what I’d like to call the ninety percent solution. The ninety percent solution is to do ninety percent of all the things that are possible to optimize your site for search engines. That ninety percent is what Google tells us to do.
If you’re brand new to building a website or if you built one years ago but are just coming back again now, you may not realize this but there is an entire industry built around that final ten percent where you can spend thousands and thousands of dollars with gurus telling you how to fine-tune that ten percent. Or you can pay experts to fine-tune it for you or consultants to you know evaluate that last ten percent.
It’s the last ten percent that’s really sexy and interesting and new. It’s that last ten percent that changes every year because somebody’s got a new secret or a new trick and it’s that last ten percent that invariably catches the attention of people because they want their site to do well.
The ninety percent is actually kind of boring and so the ninety percent solution may not get done because the ten percent stuff gets all the attention because it’s a secret, it’s a trick, it’s an insider tactic or whatever it happens to be.
We’re going to ignore all that. We’re not even going to talk about them. The only thing we’re going to talk about is what Google says you want to do in order to make your site search engine friendly.
Methods We Use to Show Up in Search Results
Well, what is the ninety percent solution?
- Good Content
- Optimized Page Titles
- Clear Site Organization
- Structured URLs
- Good Meta Titles and Descriptions
- Proper Use of Headings, Links, Emphasized Text
- Proper Use of Schema
- Mobile Friendly Site
- Site is Loads Fast
- Site is Secure
Just so you know, I’m not expecting you to understand what I’m talking about with all this. We are going to spend a bunch of time over the next two weeks talking about these items individually.
So, first, it’s good content. Then it’s optimized page titles, clear site organization, structured URLs, good meta titles and descriptions. It’s also proper use of headings, links and emphasized text in our content, proper use of schema. It’s making the site mobile friendly, making the site as fast as reasonably possible.
Note that I say as reasonably possible as there are some things you won’t be able to do that the big boys can do. That’s okay because the big boys are small percentage of your competition if you’re a competition at all to them. But we’re going to make our site fast as reasonably possible and we’re going to make your site secure.
Those are the things that Google says you need to do in order to make your site search engine friendly or in order to get your site higher up in the rankings. Right now Google favors secure sites, it favors mobile friendly sites and it favors fast sites over sites with equally good content but that are slower, not mobile friendly and not secure.
There are two resources that I would like to draw your attention to and those resources are linked to on the bottom of the main lesson page. The first one is the Google Search Optimization Starter Guide and the second one is the Google Search Console Help.
We’re going to be integrating our site with the Google Search Console next week so don’t feel like you have to really dive into that too much now. However, the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide is something that is good read during this next week. It’s a short PDF file that’s linked to from the site. We’re going to talk about some pieces of it here today.