We’ve noticed a common theme when we talk to clients about search engine optimization (SEO). The truth is that even though SEO has been around for awhile, and has evolved into an incontrovertible marketing tool, many business owners and managers have the same questions about SEO. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we hear about SEO—and the answers we have for business owners who need to decide if SEO is right for their business.
What is SEO? What is website optimization?
If you look in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of optimization is “an act, process, or methodology of making something as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible.” When applying this to getting your business found online, search engine optimization is the processes and content involved in creating an ideal website for search engines and users. In the past, SEO was focused solely on search engines. Over the years SEO has evolved into a user-focused marketing tool.
Today’s search engines want to deliver quality information for online users, so modern SEO has evolved into a process of optimizing for two target audiences: search engines and your users (know who they are). Website optimization is an important part of any marketing plan, along with content marketing (which improves your website’s SEO value), social media, and email marketing.
Why should I consider SEO? Is it black hat marketing?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most misunderstood elements of a solid digital marketing plan. Between the myths and the shady SEO vendors of the past (and present), SEO has earned a bad reputation that it really doesn’t deserve.
That being said, some of the SEO tactics used today (and in the past) are considered black hat, which are tactics that are used to manipulate organic results. Be wary of SEO firms that mention buying links, directing users to non-relevant links, and writing content full of a keyword that doesn’t make sense (completely different than optimized writing). Using black hat tactics to market your website can result in brutal search engine penalties that can take years to resolve.
The proof that SEO works (without black hat tactics) is in the data. One of our clients, a local print company, was positioned at the top of search engines just a week after utilizing our SEO technology. Their results were localized, with their company showing up in cities and towns search results within 30 miles of their location, including a major metropolitan area. They also invested in content marketing to keep their site content updated and give their customers value, yielding long-term results; their printing firm has remained at the top of the major search engines since launch. Better search engine results have meant more digital exposure for their business, higher website traffic, and stronger opportunity for online conversions.
Is SEO dead?
SEO has changed, but it is not dead. This is a misperception based on the fact that old search engine optimization tactics (keyword stuffing, spammy links, etc.) don’t work in the evolving world of online marketing. That doesn’t mean SEO is dead—far from it—it means that optimization has evolved into optimized writing and technology that delivers exactly what the search engines want: relevant, valuable content (both text and visual on your website, blog via content marketing, social media, etc.).
To get the results that modern SEO can deliver, business owners and managers can either learn the new and continually evolving art of optimizing a website, blog, and social media with well-researched keywords and topics specifically targeted at your customers or hire the professionals who can (and can keep up with it). If you are a business with a local audience, you can take that a step farther by utilizing specific local SEO technology that targets customers in communities around each business location.
Is SEO going to get me in trouble with Google?
Black hat SEO (i.e. keyword stuffing, cloaking, etc.) can get your business penalized, but modern SEO tactics do not. Writing optimized content your users want to read for your website and blog, adding pages to your website that deliver value to your customers, building a solid website with optimal structure—all these tactics gain you favor with Google.
What does SEO do for my website? Why should I care about SEO?
Believe it or not, a beautiful, mobile, and user-friendly website is not enough. “There,” you think, “I’ve invested in this website. Customers come and find me!” Unfortunately that’s not how it works—though there are ways to drive traffic to and optimize your website naturally. Customers have a ton of online options, and studies have shown that they make more than 60% of their purchasing decision online. That’s where local SEO comes in. Local SEO can get you at the top of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20, or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization is a smart marketing strategy because online is where people today are looking for products, services and information (and don’t get us started on the effect of mobile devices on search traffic). Statistics back this trend up:
- 54% of Americans have substituted the Internet and local search for phone books (comScore)
- 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011).
- 32% of consumers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a website (BrightLocal Local business websites survey, January 2014)
- 95% of smartphone users have looked for local information (Source: The Mobile Movement Study, Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT , Apr 2011)
- 50% of mobile users are most likely to visit a business after conducting a local search, while 34% of consumers on tablets or computers will go to a store.
- 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing on the organic results.
- 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
More and more, American consumers are looking to the internet to find local solutions and information. If you’re not online, you’re not on their radar. With more than 90% of users turning to search engines for information, local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s (shameless self promotion here)—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using keywords your audience searches for.
How does SEO help a company with multiple locations?
Local SEO can get you at the top of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, integrating search engine optimization is a smart marketing strategy because online is where people today are looking for products, services and information (and don’t even get us started on the effect of mobile devices).
Want proof that local SEO works? One of our clients, a flooring company with multiple locations, saw their website traffic double in just four months because of search engine optimization. In 30 days, their unique visits increased 122% and hit an impressive increase of 200%. Website traffic is just a number unless you can convert those visits to customer interest. The flooring company receives form submissions every week from potential customers, with 60% of those visits stemming from their search engine optimization package. If you want to tap into that same local search engine technology to get results for your company, read our blog post about SEO terminology or see it in action.
When should I worry about my website’s optimization?
Ideally, you should optimize your website before a redesign (along with these other elements of your website) or when launching a new website. However, it’s never too late to use SEO tactics to improve traffic to your website and online conversions.
What should I look for in a SEO company?
We’re not going to lie to you: there are a lot of SEO providers who make promises they can’t back up. A quality SEO provider has:
Years of experience in technology
A good SEO company has years of experience in technology and keeps up-to-date with information about search engine ranking signals, such as page loading speed, links, etc. SEO is always evolving, and a quality company isn’t stuck in yesterday’s technology.
Doesn’t use black hat SEO
If you hear words during the sales pitch—or in subsequent conversations—like, “cloaking” or “keyword stuffing,”—or they talk in generic topics about buying links or using content from other sites—alarm bells should go off in your head. Black hat SEO tactics can get your website penalized so stay away from any company that even suggests it.
Provides data to prove their work
Because search engines are always striving to personalize search results, you can’t just go to your computer and see the results of your SEO efforts. Ask for data that backs up their assurances of a quality job, and shy away from companies that decline to show you proof. Choose a company that can give you reports detailing your local SEO results.
Can make recommendations about your online presence
A good SEO company can make online marketing recommendations beyond optimizing your website, such as content marketing, email marketing, and social media marketing.