There is a lot of buzz about Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. Many companies find that SEO is becoming increasingly necessary for boosting their brands and increasing their sales.
Yet, many small businesses tend to neglect this facet of marketing – often to their detriment.
For old-schoolers, traditional marketing is still the best way to get the word out about their goods and services. This old way of marketing still works but is no longer as powerful as it once was. While baby boomers and Generation Xers are still a force to reckon with – two generations that still use traditional mediums – businesses aim to reach millennials and Generation Zers as they are newly dominating the market.
SEO experts extol the virtues of search engine optimization as it helps your website reach the top of Google’s search pages. Indeed, it is an enticing proposition if you are running a business.
So, what is the role of SEO in all of this? Should business owners build up their SEO efforts? Or is it a scam spearheaded by Google itself?
What is Search Engine Optimization?
According to Moz.com, SEO is the method of improving the quality of traffic and increasing its quantity via organic search results.
Organic search means any free traffic coming from search engine results pages or SERP.
To further get a grasp of what SEO means, let’s define its parts.
- Quality of traffic means visitors to your page who are genuinely interested in what your business offers.
- Quantity of traffic is the number of the right people who are visiting your page.
- Organic results mean traffic you do not have to pay for.
Simply put, SEO will help you reach the first page of any search engine, the most important of which is Google due to the sheer number of its users.
How SEO works
Most people associate SEO with Google, but it is also used in other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and Mozilla.
On these websites, you simply type what you are looking for. The search engine then instantly brings you a list of websites that are related to your query.
Search engines have what they call crawlers. These crawlers go out to gather information about all the content they can find on the web. The crawlers bring back all the data they find and create an index. It then sends the index through an algorithm that seeks to match all the data with your search.
The value of SEO to your business
- SEO can deliver a high return on investments
When done properly, SEO can be one of the best marketing strategies you can invest in.
Some business owners try to learn SEO in a hurry, expecting to get results just as quickly. However, this hurried approach rarely works and often results in failed attempts. It is then followed by the assumption that SEO does not work.
The truth is, SEO is a strategy that does not produce instant results. It is a long-term strategy that involves investment not only in money but in time as well. If you are willing to put in both of these, then you will realize optimal results.
- Traffic created through SEO converts into sales
People who need the services of a food catering company would go to the internet and search for food catering services. If you own a food catering services company, you want to be on top of the search page so that customers can easily find you. Customers normally stop on the first page and rarely reach page 2 of any search.
- The web enables businesses more than any other medium
Television, radio, and newspapers are the traditional medium for marketers, but their relevance is slowly diminishing. Whether we like it or not, the internet is the new battleground for businesses to market their products.
The web is now the first thing consumers go to when searching for a product or service because it is so easily available. It also levels the playing field for businesses who otherwise cannot afford to pay for ads on tv, radio, or print. Everyone can utilize SEO, even small businesses.
- Without SEO, you may be left behind
Almost all businesses are using SEO in their marketing efforts. If you are not utilizing it yet, then you are probably eating their dust.
SEO can help potential leads find you. If you do not have an SEO strategy, those leads will go to your competitors.
A good SEO strategy also allows you to rank higher in search engines over your competitors, especially if your strategy is better than theirs.
We have discussed the value of SEO, which you can do yourself or with the help of SEO professionals.
However, it is important to choose the right experts as there are many scammers out there trying to take advantage of the wonders of SEO.
One such scam comes from an unsolicited email that a so-called SEO expert sends you. This “expert” will try to sound friendly and will tell you that they audited your website and noticed that it is underperforming.
The scammer will then tell you that there are errors that are causing your page to perform poorly, but that they have the solution which will push you up to number 1 on Google search results. The scammer will then direct you to get in touch with someone from a faraway place.
Most of these emails are phony. Chances are, nobody took the time to analyze your website. If you received one like this, there are probably hundreds more who also did. If you respond to this email, the scammer will receive your contact information and sell it to companies who do incompetent SEO work.
Here are some tips on how to spot SEO-related scammers.
- The email is unsolicited.
- The message is written poorly.
- You receive the same pitch from several senders.
- There is no company name.
Pitfalls of SEO
SEO will take plenty of your time. If you plan to do it yourself, then you will need to study it thoroughly. The good news is, there are plenty of online courses that will teach you everything you need to know about SEO. You can get some of these courses for free and some are paid courses.
Studying SEO is also not a one-off deal. What works well today may not work tomorrow, or next week, or next month. You should always stay up to date on new developments in the industry.
Another thing you must remember is that you will probably not see results from all your efforts until around six months or even longer. That is because you need to build up the quality and quantity of traffic for your site, and it will not take days or even weeks. Be patient.
Investing in SEO is a good way to future-proof your business. The more optimized your page is, the more chances your customers will find you. If you look back a year from now on what you did for your business, you will likely be glad you started to put a solid SEO strategy in place.