With so much chatter and information on the internet, it’s hard for business owners to cut through all the noise and get to the bottom of the most important questions when it comes to SEO. Below are some of the SEO questions we hear all the time or are most commonly asked when it comes to how effective is SEO and what exactly is done during a SEO campaign.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Many claim to have coined the phrase, but we do know that Leland Harden and Bob Heyman came up with the term way back in 1995. There is an interesting article about it here: https://searchengineland.com/who-coined-the-term-seo-14916
Search engine optimization is the term used to describe all of the tactics and effort that go into driving more traffic to your website, getting it to show up higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) and outranking your competitors.
In our opinion, all businesses can benefit from a well-executed SEO campaign. Does every business actually need SEO? Well, not really. If you do not need more business or additional leads, then there is no point in spending money on an SEO campaign. However, there aren’t usually too many who fall into that category. If you are trying to grow your business and gain more clients, then yes, you need it.
SEO works by increasing the visibility and metrics of your website for the search engines so that when people are looking for the things that you do, the stuff that you sell, and the area that you service you will show up more favorably than your competition.
We always love when people ask us, “How do you actually do SEO?” There are a lot of different factors, efforts and practices that go into “the doing” of any particular action of SEO. These have to do with changes to your website, building links from other websites in the world, how your social media is handled….and then there is all of a lot of technical work that is done behind the scenes on your website. All of this is considered “the doing” of SEO. In a nutshell, SEO involves trying to answer the questions people are asking on the internet better than your competitors.
I always love when people ask us, “Does SEO work?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” I always like to add that if you’re reading this article, then you found us (out of all the web pages on the internet). SEO, when done correctly absolutely works. Genuine results are not just a flash in the pan, but can be felt for the long haul. Result-driven SEO is the perfect foundation on which to build your digital presence and ensures that you have new business coming to your company at all times.
There are many aspects of SEO that are lengthy, and it does take time for the effort and tactics to start working. This is because Google doesn’t just look at your website when you make a change and then reshuffle the internet. Part of SEO is earning the trust of the search engines. When Google and Bing look at your website, you want them to see your website as the expert in your industry.
Sometimes, a new webpage can rank within a matter of hours based on other pages on your website and how you rank overall. There are also times when you don’t see any movement for these efforts for 30, 60 or 90 days and sometimes even more. The specific timeframe will depend mainly on your specific industry and geographic location and how “SEO intensive” your competitors are.
We strongly believe that with the right SEO you could rank for a word or phrase in as little as 30 days. It is not an exact science, but doing the right thing first makes a big difference in the long run.
For the most part, you will see results from SEO efforts within your first month. There are many metrics and ways for you to track results and figure out if SEO is working for you. We also want to continue to reevaluate and look at which parts are working, what has been improved, and what are the next areas to tackle.
We like to track our results with different keyword reports and traffic reports, but, at the end of the day, your Google analytics account (that we put on every single website for every client that we work with) is really what will show that “the proof is in the pudding.” We want you to be able to see that the effort put forth is paying off.
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page. There are many acronyms and technical terms in the SEO industry and it’s very easy to get overwhelmed and not know what anyone is talking about. A SERP is just a fancy way (and shorter way) of saying search results.
Some of the key ways that you’ll know that SEO is working is the amount of new traffic to your website, the amount of new contact forms that people fill out, and most of all, the amount of new leads and clients that you’re generating from your digital presence. We’ve mentioned before, we like to use Google analytics to help track website traffic. It’s something that you can see and we can see and it’s third-party generated information so there is no manipulation of the numbers.
More importantly, the easiest way to tell if your SEO campaign is working is by opening a private browsing window and searching for yourself or your keywords and phrases and see where you show up. Prior to starting doing SEO, you probably weren’t showing up on the first or second page. If you have moved up in the rankings, then that’s your answer that it’s working.
One of our strong points here at Coastal Marketing Strategies is that we’re not just a web design agency; we’re actually a search engine optimization company at heart, and we also build optimized websites from the ground up. The term “SEO friendly website” is thrown out there but I truly think that many website companies do not know how to actually build one.
An SEO friendly website is one that is built not just for the user, but also is constructed in accordance with how Google and the search engines want to see a website built (with respect to the hierarchy of content page data, image optimization, how fast the website loads, and all of the technical work that goes into delivering a good user experience).
We get this question a lot, and, really, it comes down to how well you know different platforms. Here at Coastal Marketing Strategies, we have worked on several different website platforms and we really like WordPress. In our opinion, WordPress is by far the best web platform if you want to compete when it comes to SEO. The real answer is, yes, you can perform SEO on Squarespace and Wix. However, because of the structure of the website (because it was built for ease-of-use for novices) your results will never be as good as if you had a straight, coded website using WordPress.
A lot of SEO professionals will say that you simply can’t do SEO on Squarespace. I believe that’s because it’s so difficult to work with that they don’t like doing. We no longer will do SEO on Squarespace because you cannot get the ranking results that you need. When people are relying on you to help them grow their business and make more money, why would you want to use something that is either less effective or simply doesn’t work? It’s the same analogy with an ax….why would you want to cut down a tree with a dull one? It’s either going to be much less effective, or it just won’t work. Use the best tool for the job.
A backlink is a vital part of all SEO and another term that is thrown around like it’s the end-all-be-all. A backlink, simply put, is when one website puts a link to another website in their page. This can be done on a Blog or a website page. When any type of website mentions somebody else (either a person, a place, an article, or a business) and links back to their website, the words have extra emphasis in the eyes of the search engines.
Backlinks are also one of the most abused aspects of the SEO industry and are bought and sold by many companies. That, however, can ultimately end up harming your website. You want to make sure that if you’re venturing into the territory of backlinks, that you’re building high-quality, relevant, honest links.
The big difference between organic SEO and pay per click, or PPC for short, is that organic SEO builds a long-term foundation for your website to rank for your specific words or phrases. We want the important terms that we’ve identified to show up over a very long period of time. The effort that you put in on month one can still be felt 12 to 15 to 18 months later. PPC is a once-and-done type of product. You pay for the click that very day or that particular instance and there is no long-term benefit. All you’re doing is attracting people to click on your website in a bidding process.
For example, if you would like to get found for the words concrete contractor, you could buy a Google ad and pay $13 per click for that word. Those words can appear in Google ads across the internet and a Google ad is a paid spot in search results (and you’ll see a little notation next to it). Because it’s notated, you might not get as many clicks as you’d think; most people today don’t actually want to click on an ad anymore.
This is an old technique where people would buy multiple domains; they would buy their name, and their phrase, and their city, and their company in their city, and what they do….in all different ways. This tactic may have worked five to ten years ago. But today, how people search for things on the internet has drastically changed. Long gone are the days when someone actually would type in a full domain name. Now, we just speak into a phone or we type a question (that perhaps has been auto-populated) in a search bar.
Having many different domains, in my opinion, is just an added expense that won’t make any difference in your results. I always make this analogy: you could have the domain IAmTheWorstRooferInTheWorld.com and still show up in Google search results on the first page as the best roofer….as long as your SEO is done well! Your domain name is only a tiny factor in the overall SEO effort of your website.
Yes, you absolutely can do SEO yourself! It’s not rocket science, or some type of magic, or a well-kept secret. However, like anything else, you have to put in the time and effort of learning the right way to do it and the correct steps to take. It also comes down to whether you’re interested in acquiring several new skill sets. As an analogy: you can cut your own grass or you could hire someone. Of course, having someone cut my grass is a luxury, but it also saves me time on the weekends. I also already know how to cut my grass. If I didn’t, would it be worth it for me to learn how to? And then to purchase a mower, edger, blower, etc.? SEO is similar. You can definitely do it on your own and watch hundreds of YouTube videos and figure out what works and what doesn’t and experiment on your own website.
I always tell my clients: if you need more business in a shorter period of time, or you want to make sure that you don’t make mistakes that would harm your website, it’s best to hire an experienced company. But like anything out there, you can totally learn how to do things on your own if you have the time to dedicate to it.
The cost of SEO varies greatly based on what your goals are, what industry you are in, what type of words that you’re targeting, and (the biggest one) what your competition is doing. You’ll see advertisements out there for $29 a month SEO, and I can tell you that they’re not doing anything good for your website. Real SEO packages start at $800 to $1,000 a month. These are the types of packages where you’ll see actual results. The SEO will be well done and well executed and will help you grow your digital presence.
I would say, today, in 2020, a good monthly SEO budget for a contractor-type business or a local service provider is $2,000. If you’re in the medical industry or an extremely highly competitive industry (such as a divorce attorney, a plastic surgeon, the dental industry) you will realistically need to up your budget to $3000-$4000 monthly, particularly if you’re looking to rank at the top of the first page.
Following up on how much SEO costs, most people would like to know what they get for their money. After all, that can be a big monthly budget item for lots of businesses. There are many different things that go into an SEO effort throughout the month. Most of the effort is focused around creating original content. The goal, as we said above, is to be an authority in your industry (or on your topic) in the eyes of the search engine. You want to be answering the questions that people have about your business or your industry….and you want to answer those questions better than the competition. Besides creating amazing content (using web pages articles and blogs), we also do a lot of image optimization tweaking on your website (so it loads faster).
We also work at getting other websites to notice you through backlinks, which we also mentioned above as important for ranking. Also, there’s the technical side of SEO, involving the actual code of your website, the size of the website, what software is being used….all the little nitty-gritty details that go into continuing to make your website rank high so that potential customers can find you.
A long-tail keyword is a group of words (usually 4, 5, 6 words or more) that creates a very specific search phrase. An example of this would be a keyword is: “fire ant,” but a long-tail keyword phrase is: “how to get rid of fire ants.” So if you’re trying to target people who want to eliminate fire ants in their yard in a region you focus on, then you want to use the long-tail keywords to more accurately target your potential clients
Yes, SEO is an ongoing process! You’ll never see long-term effects by just doing SEO for a month or two. Typically, when we take over a client’s website to begin SEO, there is a lot of foundational work that needs to go into repairing past mistakes and bringing the website up to certain SEO standards. We need to lay a good foundation of content because the search engines don’t just take notice of your website every time you make a little change. It takes 30 to 60 days for Google and the search engines to notice that you did something to your website. There are tricks and things you can do to make it go a little faster, but all-in-all, you need to begin with an SEO campaign that is done over a period of 8, 10 or 12 months. Then at that point, you can decide if it’s something you want to move forward with and continue to grow.
Like many things, there is a point of “King Returns.” The big wind that comes in with ongoing SEO is not how much more you can show up in search results. That does happen, but you actually are also stopping your competitors from taking all of your hard-earned search result spots. If you’re in a competitive industry, and other people are always doing SEO, and you stop, you’re not always going to be on the front page. In fact, just by getting to the front page of Google you become a target.
Remember this: you’re thinking about hiring an SEO company and your competitor is either doing the same thing or maybe even has already hired somebody. Your biggest competitors might already be doing all the things that we’re talking about to make sure that they show up in search results. They’re trying to make sure that their competitors (you, in this case) can’t catch them. If you begin to rank and then stop the process, it will be very easy for others to start to take the lead.