SEO Basics for Business Owners

Here's the Top Things You Should Know about SEO

Believe us, you’re not going to learn internet marketing in an evening. There are so many areas to learn, from on site and technical aspects of structuring your website, to partnering with other sites and even social media. However (and thankfully), online marketing isn’t necessarily rocket science. It boils down to some common things that, as a business owner, you can definitely understand. After all, in order to be a business owner, you have to be somewhat sharp. So we’re confident that you can learn enough about how things work so that you can make informed decisions and in the very least be able to properly manage an outsourced firm from the start.

What is SEO and How Does it Differ From Pay Per Click?

First and foremost, SEO stands for “search engine marketing”. It is used to refer to the “organic” (non-paid) placement of your site on Google and other search engines. On the top and right hand side of each search engine result page, there are “Paid” listings, where anyone can advertise and simply pay a per click fee each time someone clicks on your ad. However, the other results on the page are the “organic” results, and come about as a result of the search engines finding you extremely “relevant” for the keyword search. Unlike paid results, you don’t incur a per click cost each time it is clicked, but it can also take a long time to gain a high organic ranking, if ever.

If I Get To the Top of the Rankings, Will My Business Explode?

This is one of the most important things for you to understand, because it lies at the heart of the promises of the mass of SEO firms out there. And the answer is “not necessarily.” Yes, it is possible that if you rank high for a particular word that has high traffic and that results in high conversions for your website, that you’ll start raking in the dough. However, it’s by no means a guarantee. For example, we ranked number 3 for the highest volume keyword in our industry (hundreds of thousands of keyword searches per month), were the first non-wikipedia/free dictionary result, and we still didn’t get much revenue from the ranking at all. It was a real eye opener, showing us that getting a top results doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll grow your business significantly or at all.

The True Myth of the Page One Ranking Guarantee

What you’ll hear a lot of in the industry is the guarantee that you’ll get page one rankings if you use their SEO services. This couldn’t be further from the truth. First, Google and other search engines don’t publish their algorithm and how they determine results, so no one can guarantee you anything. Second, and more logically important, is that there are only a handful of top results for each keyword. Think about it, if there are only 3 top results for each keyword, there are going to be a lot of disappointed people when it comes to rankings.

Who is Lucky Enough to Get a Top Ranking?

If most people won’t get to the top…just who is lucky enough to get a top ranking? We strongly believe that some companies can get to the top in the short term using bad practices. However, we just as strongly believe that the only way to gain long standing top results is to consistently do the right thing for an extended period of time. This means creating absolutely fantastic content that people naturally want to link to. Oh, and you have to have a good reason to be in the top positions. Are you the best in your industry? Is there something that sets you apart? If not, it might be difficult to gain a top spot. We don’t mean to give you bad news if you’re one of the many that aren’t the best in your industry, but we feel that the truth is more important than sugar coating things. And if you aren’t the top or don’t have a meaningful way to differentiate, perhaps it’s time to create some ways to distance yourself from the competition.

Google is the Only One That Knows the Algorithm

There is a chance that you’ll run into companies that tell you they know the  way that Google performs its algorithm, or the secret sauce. This couldn’t be further from the truth. So if you hear this, perhaps it’s worth running as far away as possible. The best any of us know is some sound principles for success. And remember, Google has and can change things at any time, so it’s important to realize this and factor it into your analysis.

SEO Should Provide Return

Most SEO companies that you speak with will tell you that you’d be a fool not to use SEO. However, we can tell you from first hand experience that using it’s not necessarily true that everyone can afford to use SEO. For example, we had a site that, at its height on the search engines, got us nearly $1,500 in revenue each month. We paid companies upwards of $5,000 per month in cost. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this math just doesn’t work. So, either we had to implement a lower cost methodology or not use SEO. Don’t believe the lies that you’ll make money no matter what, and make sure your provider helps you understand what your potential return on investment will be so that you can make a sound judgment.

SEO Should be a Transparent Process

Far too often, SEO companies go silent and simply provide a once a month report of keyword rankings. This just doesn’t cut it. In order to be successful, they must be providing feedback on a consistent basis. When done best, SEO is a very synergistic process, leveraging the knowledge base of your company. And they should be more than willing to share things with you so you understand the process. If they don’t (and if they try to hide their secrets), then you’ve probably got a bad SEO. Take a look at some of our resources for managing an SEO company so that you can get the most out of your partnership.