Search Engine Optimization
90% of Users Will Not Search Past the First Results Page. Where Does Your Site Rank?
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization, also known as SEO, is the process of optimizing a website to gain organic rankings in search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, for a variety of keyword phrases. Hiring an SEO company is an important decision which should not be taken lightly. If you hire the right company, you can potentially increase traffic to your website with new customers, but hiring the wrong company can have long term negative effects on your website and business. It is up to you to do your research before choosing an SEO company to work on your behalf.
How are Search Results Determined?
Search engines, such as Google, use a “web crawler” to scan websites across the Internet. These spiders collect every piece of information relating to the website and apply it to their search engines algorithm to calculate which keyword phrases a website should rank for and where in the search engines results it will rank. There are a variety of factors and variables that go into making these calculations, some are known while others are not and the weight of these variables is constantly changing.
We consider SEO to be very much a competition. Our goals are to get your website to rank as high as possible in the search results. But, it’s important to remember that for any given search phrase, there are millions of competing websites that qualify (on some level) to be ranked for that search phrase and they are all trying to get to the top.
Relevance vs Authority
It all comes down to relevance and authority. These 2 factors are the critical points of SEO and search engine results. Relevance is determined by the content on your website and what the search engine perceives as your area of expertise. To establish relevance, the search engines are looking to see that your websites content relates to the keyword phrases you are trying to rank for. Unique, well written content is crucial to establishing your relevance and the search engines put a lot of weight on this factor. The reason is simple, when you search for something, you expect the results to be related to what you were searching for. But there are millions of websites that are relevant for any given keyword phrase and only 10 will show up on the first page of search results and of those 10, only 1 will be first in the rankings.
This leads us to authority. How authoritative your website is compared to others you are competing with. Your authority is based on which other websites link to yours and how they link to your website. On this very page, we have linked our page to Google’s Webmaster Central page. By doing this, we are stating that Google’s Webmaster Central page is an authority on the topic we are discussing. One of our main goals in SEO is to establish your website as an authority on your topic, which means we need to make your website so compelling and relevant, that other website owners in your industry will want to link to yours. By doing so and increasing your quality link portfolio, we are establishing and enhancing your authority in the eyes of the search engines. The more authoritative you are, the better your rankings will be. You can easily prove this on your own. If you search in Google for “SEO”, the number one ranking will be Search engine optimization – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. In this case, wikipedia does not provide SEO services but they are seen, by Google, as the most relevant and most authoritative web page on the topic of SEO.
What Will an SEO Company Do?
SEO specialists keep themselves up-to-date with the latest guidelines in search engine optimization. They carefully test, track and optimize their changes to improve rankings over time. Optimizing a website will likely involve editing content and HTML coding to increase relevance for specific keywords and to ensure that your website meets with the minimum standards the search engines expect to find on any given website.
Additionally, an SEO specialist will take into consideration actual search terms people will type into a search engine as opposed to just a generalized term. For example, there is a big difference between “website design” and “website design boston ma”. In this example, someone that is looking for a local website designer is more likely to type in their city / location along with the keywords.
Furthermore, a search engine optimization specialist will also take your website layout into consideration. Getting traffic is one thing, converting that traffic into customers, sales or leads is another. User experience has become a big part of SEO. The search engines want to know that when they list your website in their results and send you a visitor that the visitor is finding whatever it is they are looking for. This, of course, makes sense. People will not use the search engine if the results do not match with what they are searching for. For example, if you search for “website design boston”, you expect the results to be for website designers in Boston and not for plumbers in Massachusetts. This goes even further to the point that if people are arriving to your website and are looking for your phone number but cannot easily find it, they will leave. This is a negative user experience and the search engines are paying attention. If you cannot give their users a quality experience, they will find another website which can.
How Do I Choose an SEO Company?
The simple answer is to educate yourself and then ask questions. A great resource for educating yourself is Google Webmaster Guidelines and Google Webmaster Central. Once you have some basic knowledge, you are ready to ask some important questions:
- Can you show me some other clients you have performed SEO services for and their results?
- Do you follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines?
- How do you measure your success for my website?
- What kind of results do you expect to achieve?
- Will I be locked in to any timeframe for your service?
- Will you provide me with reports?
- What happens if you cannot achieve the results?
We call these the “stammering” questions and we call them that because an SEO company that doesn’t know what they are doing will have a hard time answering these questions directly and in a way that makes sense. Never be afraid to ask questions. It is your website and you are hiring the SEO company, not the other way around.
Be very cautious with SEO companies that claim any of the following:
- They can guarantee rankings on Google or any other search engine.
- They are secretive or are unable / unwilling to explain how they plan on optimizing your website.
Google has made perfectly clear that they do not allow any “paid inclusion” to their natural search index nor do they allow for any priority submit to the Google index via a “special relationship” with Google. SEO companies that make these types of promises are deceptive and will likely do more harm than good. Read our article titled, “Warning Signs of an SEO Scam Company” to learn more.
Our SEO Process
Before starting any search engine optimization project, we feel it is important to understand your industry and business model. Likely, we already have experience working in your industry and are ready to dive a little deeper. If we do not, we will want to discuss your goals, markets, products and services.
Once this is done, we will perform an SEO analysis on your website. Specifically, we are looking at your website, the HTML coding, navigation structure, page structure and your link portfolio. We will also run tools on your website to determine if you have any broken links or site performance issues.
Next, we will perform an SEO market research and competitor analysis to determine any weak points we may take advantage of and how aggressive their SEO strategy is. SEO is a competition, the more aggressive your competitors SEO strategy, the more aggressive we will have to be in order to compete against them.
Once we have an analysis of your website and your competitors website, we can formulate an SEO strategy for your business. This will outline, in detail, all on-site factors that need to be created, adjusted and edited in order to bring your site up-to-date with todays SEO guidelines. We will also ensure that your HTML coding passes validation and make any necessary corrections. We will then execute the on-site SEO strategy and bring the website up-to-date. Once up-to-date, we will submit an updated sitemap to the search engines and wait for your website to be reindexed and monitor any changes to your rankings.
We are firm believers in the too much too soon, too little too late philosophy of SEO. What this basically means is that we believe that the search engines frown upon anything that appears unnatural such as acquiring 1000 links or creating 100 pages in 1 day. To this end, our next step is to slowly ramp up a linking campaign for your website and we will suggest and / or create new content for your website.
The rest is up to monitoring, tracking and optimizing your website based on the search engine results while we continue to build upon your link portfolio naturally over time to establish and increase your authority. We will also make further enhancements to various content pages based on the search engine results in an attempt to increase your relevance and rankings.
Contact Our SEO Team
If you would like to contact our SEO Team, please call us at 603-685-0111 or use our contact form. We will be happy to discuss our SEO methods with you and answer any questions you may have. We do not guarantee results. That is impossible. What we do guarantee is that we will create a plan for your website and we will compete at the level necessary to achieve our goals. If we do not believe we can benefit your organization via an SEO campaign, we will let you know and we won’t take you on as a client.