What SEO Is, And Why You Need To Start Yesterday

What Is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, can be one of the most overwhelming marketing topics in the world.

But it doesn’t have it to be.

At its core, SEO is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website from organic searches. Most people think of Google first, but SEO applies to Yahoo, Bing, and smaller search engines as well.

Good SEO strategy helps your company appear higher in search results for people searching relevant terms.

And ‘Relevant terms’ really is the key phrase here.

You want your website to show up only when it is relevant and useful to the user. Good SEO strategy only works when you’re targeting the people who want to find your business.

Of course you want as much traffic to your website as you can possibly get. Especially since SEO traffic is, arguably, free traffic.

But if you’re selling a subscription box of organic dog food, you shouldn’t worry about targeting cat people. It doesn’t matter that cat terms are searched 100 billion times per year. Those people will never be your customers.

When done correctly, search engine optimization (SEO) can help your brand stand out from its competitors. Good SEO will make your business more credible, easier to find, and more enjoyable to interact with. When done incorrectly, SEO can become a frustrating mess for user and business owners alike.

So, with that, let’s talk about SEO, what it is, and how to use it properly.

How SEO Works

Search engines are constantly striving to give their users the most relevant results possible. Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) should return pages that are high quality and relevant. To accomplish this, search engines will scan (or crawl) different websites, analyzing a vast number of factors.

Those factors are then used to determine how well the webpage matches the user’s search intent. Some of these factors include relevant keywords, readability, inbound and outbound links, and more. 

Google will also keep track of how long users spend on specific web pages, favoring pages that keep the user’s attention for longer periods of time. This is why, when you try looking up recipes online, you are presented with paragraphs of information with the recipe at the bottom of the page. The longer you spend on their site, the higher the rank and the more traffic they get.

The exact factors that search engines use to determine search results are kept under lock and key. In part, these factors are kepy secret to curb any abuse and exploitation.

But there are several best practices that you can use to give yourself the best shot at a high ranking website. And when your post ranks high on Google, you get more viewers that could become customers. 

The Importance Of Search Engine Optimization

It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of visibility and ranking on Google. When people search for something on Google, 75% of people never look at results past the first page. That means 75% of the people who are searching for companies like yours will never know you exist. That’s a big deal. A good SEO can increase your odds – but not guarantee – that you end up on the first page for relevant searches.

But search engines like Google are not only used to discover new businesses. It’s common practice for potential customers to use Google to gauge your credibility.

Let’s say someone searches “Best (insert your business model here)” on Google, and ten different companies come up…

But none of them are yours.

What does that say about your credibility?

Even worse, let’s say that person searches specifically for your business by name. But instead of your website, they’re presented with websites that have nothing to do with you. Chances are, you just lost a customer.

The bottom line is this: neglecting SEO can be absolutely detrimental to your business. 

I know what you’re probably thinking.

“I’m a founder with limited time and experience, where the HELL do I start?

If you’re an entrepreneur reading this, I assume you’ve already got a website up and running. Now you’re trying to figure out how to capitalize on that free ORGANIC traffic.  But before we go any further, there’s one thing you need to understand.

How Long Does SEO Take?

Below is a real life example of a client’s SEO analytics. They started from scratch in April of 2020, and these were their results over an 18 month period:

If any investor saw this on a stock chart, they would invest without a second thought. And that’s the first thing to remember about SEO.

SEO is a medium to long term investment.

As you can see, it can take 8-12 months before all your hard work starts to pay off.  This is “Why you need to start yesterday.”

Once your investment DOES start to take off, if you follow our guidelines and truly write articles that speak to your target audience, the return will continue for years to come. 

All those investment dollars and time will keep generating leads that you can direct to your sales team to convert into real life paying customers.

Okay okay, you sold me with your graph but…

How do I ACTUALLY build an incredible SEO & Copywriting team, you ask?

Getting Started with SEO

The first thing any business owner should address with SEO is their own business name. Literally, go to google and enter the name of your business. What comes up? Is your business the first result? Is it even on the first page?

If not, you need to fix that.

Claim and Update Directory Listings

One of the most basic things you can do is to claim your business listings. These are listings that you may not have created yourself. They include Google Maps, Yelp, Foursquare, Yellow pages, and more. All of the online directories are linked together to resemble an ecosystem, with smaller directories gathering data from larger ones.

Make sure that all of the information on these listings is accurate, up to date, and thorough. Upload great photos if you have a physical location, and make it as easy as possible for customers to reach you.

Most importantly, make sure they all include your company website.

The more of these listings that point to your website, the better your ranking will be.

Start with the larger, more obvious websites like Google Maps, and the smaller directories will often update automatically. 

Take a Basic SEO Course

If you’re looking for the most cost effective way to improve your SEO, the cheapest option is to DIY. Whether this is a good option for you will depend on the size and budget of your company.

If you are tech savvy and good at writing, it probably won’t be too challenging. With 5-10 hours of dedicated studying, you can put together a basic, functioning SEO strategy. Google has great free webinars covering SEO and more.

All it takes is a little bit of research and pounding out a couple of articles to get you feet off the ground.  If it’s within your budget, hiring an SEO consultant can save you a ton of time. Have them review your strategy to look for any gaps or shortcomings.

Build a Basic SEO Team

If you have the budget, building a team dedicated to your SEO strategy is hands down the best way to go. There are marketing agencies that will do all your SEO for you, however in our experience working with freelancers or small boutique agencies is the way to go. (If you want to understand why, just read this article.)  Marketerhire.com is a great place to start.

What A Beginner SEO Team Should Look Like:

SEO Strategist / Expert – This person is going to do the legwork to figure out how to reach and speak to your target audience.  They go and vet the competition, see where there are opportunities to do better, and research all the keywords for you.  They will also develop your company voice.  Most times once you find your SEO rockstar, they can help you ensure your messaging and voice are consistent through all your marketing efforts (Website, Social, Email Marketing, even customer service).

Copywriter(s) – Your SEO expert can also do the copywriting for you, but usually if you’re working on cranking out lots of content you will have more than one copywriter. These copywriters follow the direction of your SEO expert and need to quickly be able to capture your company voice.

Ps. – We always recommend that, as founders or marketing professionals, you do your homework. Put forth the time and effort to understand how SEO works so you can set realistic goals and metrics for your team to accomplish as you scale.  

Leveraging SEO For Your Business

Regularly add new content to your website

If you have a website and want to boost your SEO, one of the first things you should do is update as much of the content as possible. One of Google’s factors when judging your web page is Freshness. If Google crawls your website and notices that it hasn’t been touched in 10 years, they are going to favor websites that have been updated more recently. 

Posting new content on a regular basis is also one of the most effective strategies for improving your Google ranking, though it can be the most time-consuming. Writing blog posts, sharing updates about your business, or creating pages for your products and services can all contribute to boosting your SEO score. Including rich and properly formatted media like photos and videos can help as well. 

Find the most relevant SEO keywords

Keywords are simple words and phrases that people are most likely to use when looking for content on a search engine. 

Keyword strategy is one of the biggest things that people get wrong when creating their SEO strategy. Stuffing your website full of keywords that you think people will be searching for will not benefit you in any way and may actually result in a Keyword Stuffing Penalty from Google. 

Your goal with SEO strategy should not be to put your company in front of as many people as possible. Your goal should be to help users find exactly what they are looking for. 

Ask yourself this question: “When someone wants to find a business like mine, what are they asking for?” Another way to look at it might be this: “What terms would I search for to find my direct competitors?”

If users don’t want to see your content when they search for the keywords you are targeting, you will never achieve a high ranking on Google, period.  

There are hundreds of different tools you can use that will help you develop your keyword list, but one of the easiest and best is Google’s own Keyword Planner. Once you set up a Google AdWords account, you can use the tool for free to research popular and relevant keywords. 

Use Descriptive SEO Optimized Headings and Titles

Short, descriptive names that completely define your company’s products and services should be used whenever possible. Many search engines display search results with titles, including the title of the homepage. As a result, when someone types a search word into a search engine like Google, the search engine will try to match the query with the most relevant title. 

Consider what you would look for if you were looking for a restaurant on the internet while deciding on the title for your homepage. For example, if I look for a fancy restaurant in New Orleans, I might type “New Orleans French Quarter Restaurant.”

If I own a fancy restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans, like Antoine’s, for example, that means my homepage should not just be titled “Antoine’s – Homepage.” My homepage should be titled, “Antoine’s Restaurant | New Orleans French Quarter Restaurant Since 1840.”

This tells Google what my webpage is about but also helps people find my restaurant, even if they aren’t searching for it by name.  

Update your Meta Data

Metadata can feel intimidating and technical, but it’s actually pretty simple once you understand what it is and how it works. Metadata is text-based information about a digital object that exists somewhere within the file itself. With photo, metadata includes the file name, the description, the format, when it was taken, and more. 

This text-based information allows search engines like Google to learn about non-text objects. That means using informative and relevant keywords in the metadata (like your filenames) can help boost your SEO. 

There is also metadata that exists on your website itself, called a meta description. The Meta description is a one- or two-line description that appears beneath the page’s title in the search results when you search for something. 

Having relevant and thorough metadata can help ensure that the search engines know exactly what your website is about. It is absolutely critical that your metadata falls in line with the rest of your SEO strategy and keyword approach. This is not to “hide” extra keywords that you hope will boost your ranking. 

Relevant keywords can include keywords related to your business, including industry type, product or service titles, and locations. 

Avoid Duplicate Content

When creating content and pages for your company, make sure you aren’t overlapping pages or posting content in multiple spots. For example, if you write a blog post and then post it multiple times, Google is going to recognize that this content is duplicated. In the best-case scenario, Google will recognize it exists multiple times on your site and ignore it. But in the worst-case scenario, Google will recognize the content as plagiarism and silently penalize your website for it. 

In addition to content that is an exact duplicate, you also want to avoid creating multiple pieces of content that serve the same purpose. If you have five different web pages that target the keywords “food delivery logistics,” then those five different pages are going to be competing against each other. This is keyword cannibalization

Remember This

If you only take one lesson from this article, let it be this. The most important aspect of SEO strategy is to create content that serves the person searching for it. If you create good content that matches what people want to see, then search engines like Google want to show that content to their users.

Everything else – keywords, metadata, directory listings, etc. are tweaks that you can make to enhance your performance.

But no amount of tweaking and hacking will ever compete with high-quality content. 

Questions? Comments? We’re here for you at success@wholefounder.com!

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