Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing strategy aimed at making every page of your website visible to search engines and improving your site’s overall speed and performance. The goal of SEO is to increase the amount of traffic coming to your site with the intention of converting that traffic into sales for your company.
Seo Is Not A “Get Rich Quick” Scheme
You may have heard stories from companies who have seen incredible results from SEO in a short period of time. Or maybe you’ve been contacted by an SEO company promising you first page ranking on Google for as little as $150/month.
Can these stories and offers be true? Yes. Will they be long lasting? Probably not.
We’ve gotten lots of calls from businesses who used to get tons of traffic and sales and then their traffic dropped dramatically. This is what can happen when someone employs shady tactics in an attempt to game Google’s organic search results: It may work for a short while, but Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm to reward those websites with the best quality content and natural looking link profile. Doing it wrong can get you penalized.
Believe me, when I started in this industry in 2010, I used some of these “manipulative” strategies on my prior SEO and online marketing site. By January 2012, I ranked #1 for a lucrative keyword “small business seo” and remained in the top position for over a month. The leads came rolling in – my business really picked up.
But when Google rolled out its Panda and Penguin algorithm updates in early in 2012, my website dropped to page three and never recovered. A major traffic source was gone and so was an important lead channel. The cheap link building tactics I experimented with on my site produced some short term results, but in the end, the site never recovered. Traffic slowed to a trickle and I made the decision to start anew with MikeMunter.com.
Black Hat SEO vs. White Hat SEO
Generally, attempts to artificially manipulate Google’s search results are called “Black Hat SEO”. Sometimes these strategies work, but Google usually catches up and then you have to start over.
I strongly recommend that you know what you are paying for. You invest a lot of time into creating a great looking website with good content on it. Don’t let someone come along and tear it all down with unethical practices designed to rank your site quickly – you may never recover and have to start over with a brand new domain and website.
The work we do for our clients is all “white hat seo”. What that means is that we follow accepted best practices, adhere to Google’s quality guidelines and look for advice from other industry professionals and trusted sites like Moz.
Even though many consider search engine optimization to be highly technical, at the end of the day, it’s a marketing strategy, aimed at getting your site found in order to produce more traffic and more leads for your business.
How Google Works
Google provides all of us with a free service – a search engine for the world wide web. We enter a query and Google returns us with a list of relevant results.
Those results are figured and sorted by an algorithm – a complex mathematical formula that has been updated many, many times over the years – in an attempt to provide us with the best result based on the keywords we used to perform the search.
Because Google uses an algorithm to rank sites and it does not share the specifics of its algorithm, NO ONE can guarantee rankings.
What Google does provide us with is a set of quality guidelines which we use as the broad strokes to help us determine what we should and shouldn’t do in order to get your site to rank well. Additionally, Google engineer Matt Cutts is the public interface who regularly answers questions via Youtube. We encourage you to subscribe to the channel, so that you’ll get the latest clues into Google’s recommended best practices.
Traditional SEO vs Local SEO
As you compare the offerings of different SEO companies, you’ll probably see distinctions between local SEO and regular, traditional SEO services.
Local SEO refers to ranking your website for geo-targeted terms like “seafood restaurant seattle.” It also means making sure your website appears in local Google Business listings when consumers in your local area search for a “bankruptcy attorney” or any other localized keyword term.
The approach to ranking in your local market is slightly different than if you are a brand that’s trying to rank nationally or globally. With local SEO and Google Places, listings in local directories are important, as are citations and reviews. Review our Local SEO services for more information.
Companies who offer products and services all over the world require a different approach. When you enter a keyword like “dog toys”, you’re not going to see the local listings appear. Instead, you’re going to see a list of over 100 million websites that sell dog toys.
You’ll likely see major worldwide brands like Walmart, Petco, Amazon, and Petsmart appearing high in search results, yet as of [ March 3, 2013 ] they are being outranked by some lesser known niche brands you’ve probably never heard of like dogtoys.com and drsfostersmith.com.