What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is an umbrella term for a number of different techniques that are used to enhance a web site so that it appears higher up the search engine rankings and to bring more visitors to your web site.
What this means is that when someone searches for your business in Google, it will be found easily. This is quite easy to do as there’s often only a few, at the most, businesses with the same name and only one in your area. What’s more difficult is getting your web site found when people search for your services, without mentioning your business name.
For example, if you run a window cleaning company in Kent called ’Squeaky Clean Window Cleaners’ someone can type ‘Squeaky Clean window cleaners Kent’ and it’s likely that your web site will show up at the top of the search results. If however someone types in ‘window cleaners Kent’, without any SEO work being done on your site, likely come much, much further down the list of results.
The key to SEO is allowing new customers, who haven’t even heard of you, to be able to find you easily.
Most search engines, including Google and Bing, offer their top search result places to paying customers, to advertise their site. Google also deliver adverts on the right-hand side of their page, also to paying customers. Unlike these other methods of driving traffic to a web site, SEO can be done for free.
There are many guides on the internet which can help you if you are looking at optimising your own web site. The problem is that it requires quite a lot of knowledge in various areas and the guides on the internet are often not very detailed. Instructions such as 'link to your social media accounts from your web site' are accurate tips but quite vague if you do not have any knowledge in social media or editing web sites.
Research, research, research…
Whether you decide to go it alone or you decide to pay someone to do it for you, it's a good idea, just like anything, to do your research first. Even if you pay someone else to do your SEO for you, you should understand a little about the process so that you can monitor the work of the company that you're paying. A good SEO company will be happy to talk you through the steps and ensure that you have clear goals. For example, you may want to promote a particular page of your web site or product or you may want to target a particular geographical area. Unless your SEO team know these details, they cannot effectively start work on your site or monitor the results of the work.
It takes time
SEO can be a slow and methodical job. You cannot employ someone for £10 and expect to have your web site at the top of Google in days. It takes time for Google to recognise the changes that you are making to your web site and at the moment, there’s about two weeks between a change being made and Google updating their rankings to reflect this.
It’s an on-going job
Once your web site has started being found in Google search results, your site should stay at the top of the rankings for some time. This is why SEO is better and cheaper, long term, than Google Adwords.
In time though, your site will probably start to drop down the rankings. One reason could be that a competitor of yours starts doing some SEO work on their site. That’s why it’s important to keep monitoring where you site comes in the rankings and do some more work on it when necessary.
Ranking isn’t everything
People often assume that once you’re at the top of the search rankings, the business will come - “if you build it, they will come”. The visitors may come but the sales may not. There are many other things to consider when building your new site. If you’re ranked number one but have an awful web site, customers may look at your site first but then decide to go to the site ranked second - because they may not trust your business. First impressions count.
You also need to make sure that the basics are in place - an easy to find telephone number, e-mail address, customer testimonials etc.
SEO will get people visiting your web site but once there, you need to ‘sell’ your business to them so they make the next and vital step of buying from you.