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SEO Basics for Business Owners: What is Search Engine Optimization?

What is Search Engine Optimization? SEO. Search Engine Optimization. By now, a lot of business owners have heard of SEO. Many know it’s something they should be doing, but many of you aren’t. One of the reasons people hesitate to deal with SEO is because they aren’t sure what it is, what it means, and how it works.

It’s OK not to be an expert; you can hire an SEO guru to manage your rankings. But business owners should have a grasp on the basics, so use this cheat sheet to get started.

Q: I know what the letters stand for, but what is SEO?

SEO experts are all trying to do one thing: to get your website to show up on the first page of search results for certain words or phrases. Example: Jane Smith is searching for a veterinarian for her dog. She goes to Google and types in “Raleigh veterinarian.” Those are the keywords or search terms. She is likely to click on the first few websites that appear and make her selection from there. SEO is your way of showing up near the top.

Q: What about location? That matters, right?

Yes. You and I will perform the same search from different places and get different results. That’s because Google and other search engines use your location to decide which results someone sees. Search engines will also use your history, so you and I can sit in the same room and search for the same terms and still see slightly different results based on our past search histories.

Q: How do I optimize my website and business to show up near the top?

There is no one thing you do to make your website appear at the top — unless you’re buying one of the paid advertisement spots. SEO is a combination of efforts both on your website and off. Here are just a few:

● New content regularly posted on your website (updates to pages, a blog)
● Metadata filled out
● A website that loads quickly, meaning all the text and images appear quickly when you type in the URL
● A website that has responsive design, meaning it looks good on all devices {link blue to 040517 post}
● Lots of quality links to your website from other websites
● Mentions of you on social media from other people/companies
● Testimonials on your site
● Contact information on your site
● A sitemap
● No broken links to other sites
● And much, much more

Q: What about the maps I see on the results page?

Businesses with a physical address can show up on the maps results, which is becoming important. People’s eyes are drawn to the map and you want your business to appear there. If you have a physical location besides your home, get your business listed in online directories to improve your map rankings.

What is Search Engine Optimization

Q: Someone is telling me they can guarantee me on the first page. Is that right?

No. Do not trust anyone promising you to rank on the first page. Chances are, he or she may use what are called black hat practices. In other words, they will cheat and use any methods necessary to rank your website higher. That might sound just fine to you, but if Google or another search engine finds out about it, they will make your site disappear from search completely. Do NOT overstuff your page with keywords or purchase links.

There is a lot more to know about SEO; we could write a whole book! But we hope this gets you started. If you have heard an SEO term you’re not sure about, check out this useful glossary of SEO jargon.

If you’re ready to rank higher, contact us to learn more about how we can help.

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