The best way to explain SEO is to use an analogy because, quite frankly, it’s half science and half art, and mostly complicated.
If building your website is like building a car, then SEO is like souping up the car’s engine and modifying the car to increase it’s speed and gas mileage. It takes additional time and effort outside of initially designing manufacturing the car.
The first step in good SEO practice is identifying your target audience.
Who is your target audience?
Let’s examine a fictional business to walk through some of this. Take a look at Uncle Bob’s Tree Service.
Uncle Bob’s Tree Service currently offers services in three small towns in Northern Michigan. However, Bob now wants to expand his territory to the rest of the state of Michigan.
At this point Bob isn’t sure what he needs to do with his website to get search engines to rank him for these new areas:
-Does Bob currently rank for any of the new areas?
— No. He hasn’t created any pages or had any SEO work done for the new areas yet.
-Can he update his website to get those new pages up, and get them to rank?
– Maybe. There are about 200 ranking factors that search engines use to rank pages on a website, and it’s usually preferable to hire a company proficient at getting websites to rank. This saves the owner time, and offers much better results.
How Competitive is the Market?
In order to determine how much SEO you need, you need to understand your competition.
Using Bob’s example, we’ll estimate that there are six other tree service companies in his area. Of the six, four have websites that include pages that are ranking on terms Bob would like to rank on.
When a visitor types ‘northern michigan tree service’ into Google, Bob’s company is the third result on the organic list.
The first company on the list is a nation-wide tree service operating in almost every state, including Michigan.
The second company operates out of a warehouse on the other side of town.
The first, nation-wide company may be outside of Bob’s competition range. It depends on how many pages their website has on the subject, and how many links are pointing back to their website as an authority on that subject or phrase.
Let’s try to figure out what is giving this other company the advantage.
– What search phrases does Bob want to rank on that his competitors already rank on?
– What search phrases do they not already rank on?
– What is the competition of each of those phrases?
Tip: You can use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool to analyze keyword phrases and their competition for rank on Google.
Strategic and relevant content with optimal keyword and key phrase placement will solve a lot of the issues that are putting your company lower than your competitor.
If the competitor has been around for a long time, it is likely that they have developed a reputation on the web, acquiring backlinks, reviews, and testimonials, which are extremely beneficial to a site’s rank.
Typically, these things are obtained over time. However, there are a few things you can do in your business to speed up the process, like asking customers to review your company on review sites after a service or sale.
There are many different approaches you can take in order to improve your site’s SEO. Start with a plan on where you want your business to go and give your site enough gas to get you there (or even a little further).