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What is SEO?

Search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is, in it’s simplest form, a method to help search engines rank your site appropriately in the search results for search terms based on a myriad of factors, both on-site and off-site.  Unfortunately, there are many SEO companies and “experts” who make bold promises and often fail to uphold them.  This has left many business owners wary of accepting SEO as a useful form of marketing.

When SEO is done properly, any business could see an impact.  This could result in more phone calls, new customers/clients, and even increased revenues.  However, when SEO is not done properly, these businesses hopefully won’t see a change, though at times, poor SEO could harm a website’s rankings overall.

There are no tricks to good SEO.  The search engines (most notably Google) have incredibly complex algorithms that they use to determine where a site should rank and for what terms.  There are many people out there that try to trick or game the system, but ultimately, they end up losing out.  If you’re going to look into SEO for your business, you want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and align yourself with a reputable company if you decide to hire an outside firm.

There are two ways to have your site appear at the top of the search results: paid advertising and organic.

Paid Advertising

Paid advertising is the quickest way to get your website to the top of the search results.  Of course, you will be paying for that space.

As you can see on the picture on the right, your paid advertisement will be displayed with a yellow box (on Google) that clearly states “Ad” to inform the user that you have paid for your site to be there.  You might think that’s not a bad thing; however, paid advertising doesn’t get the amount of attention or clicks that organic results get.  Whether it’s a psychological thing where people are aware and sick of being bombarded with advertisements where ever they go online, there aren’t enough searches for your product or service every month, or any number of other factors, having your site in a paid advertisement spot does not necessarily guarantee any results.

Most paid advertising is also synonymous with pay-per-click (PPC).  This can be a major benefit if you are trying to utilize paid advertising and you are mostly just interested in having your site recognized as a result for specific terms.  What PPC means is you only pay when ever someone clicks on your advertisement.

What you pay per click will depend on your business, the average search volume for your products and services, and the competition.  There are some terms that could end up costing you $50 or more every time someone clicks on your ad.  There are other terms that might cost you less than $0.25.  Prior to deciding on whether or not you want to have your site prominently displayed in paid advertising, you need to determine what your budget is and what your cost per click will be.


Organic SEO focuses on getting your site to rank high without appearing in the paid advertising area.  The higher your site ranks, typically, the more traffic it will see.

To understand why it’s important to rank in organic search results, you need to go read this article to get a full understanding.  The short version, however, is that the top organic result earns the most clicks per search at over 30% with a steep drop to 14% for the 2nd result.  Once you’re outside the top 5, your sharing less than 5% of all clicks.  The second page of results is about equal to being in spots 6-10 on page 1, and after page 2, you would be likely to get 1% of all clicks.  Top results are valuable for any company, and finding your business there can make a huge difference in the business that you do.

To understand how to get started with getting your business there, you should start by understanding what the organic results are.

The image on the left here depicts what is known as the organic search results.  These results are ordered based on many factors that all start with your site.

To begin with, the information that you see in the search results are: the page title in blue (at the top of each result), the url (page addres) in green, and the page description in standard text.  These three factors play the most important part in helping the search engines determine what your site is trying to rank for.

For instance, if you are trying to rank for buffalo dentist, you would want to ensure that Buffalo and dentist appear somewhere within at least one of those 3 areas.  You do have to be careful, though.  Google is very serious about cracking down on sites trying to manipulate the system.  As such, over-optimizing your title, url, and description by using the same terms over and over can cause your site to be hit with a penalty causing your site to lose rank.

There are several other on-site factors that can help your site rank for specific terms.  The actual layout of your site in utilizing heading tags can certainly help.  Any pictures you use should have “alt text” to help the search engines recognize what the picture is of.  Adding relevant videos can also help.  There is a lot that goes in to on-site optimization.

The off-site portion of SEO involves any number of proven strategies.  There have been books written and seminars held that go over single strategies.  The only strategy you should be willing to perform yourself is something you should already be doing: social media.

A good start to any off-site SEO is having active social media.  With millions upon millions of people utilizing social media on a daily basis, it’s one place you want to make sure your business is found.  Social media is a strong indicator of what’s hot in the world, and with the right social media presence and campaign, you could do yourself a huge favor in helping your site to rank.

If, however, social media does not appear to be moving your site along, you may need to invest in other forms of off-site SEO.  When it comes to this, it’s best to locate and hire an SEO company or expert that can best help your business.

SEO isn’t any form of trickery or magic.  It’s a set standard that abides by a set of rules governed by the search engines.  What you need to keep in mind is that what ranks today won’t necessarily rank tomorrow.

If you are planning on trying to help your business by investing in SEO, you should certainly consider hiring and SEO company.  There are many obstacles and pitfalls in the SEO world, and often, SEO is a full-time job.  Of course, do your research prior to hiring anyone, but also keep an open mind.  There are many great SEO companies and experts despite there being many that are not.

Regardless of where you are, the best place to start in looking for an SEO company is within the search engines.  All you need to do is head over to Google and type in seo expert san antonio or tacoma seo, obviously replacing the city with your city.  Those results that appear at the top of the results are obviously capable enough to get their own sites ranked, so they should be capable of helping get your site ranked.

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