You’ve likely heard about search engine optimization (SEO), and you probably know it’s something you should be doing, but why? SEO involves making slight adjustments to your website to increase its traffic by ranking higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). By increasing your position on the results page, the chances of potential customers or clients finding you goes up significantly.
Is SEO worth the time and expense it takes? The algorithm that determines search results can seem so mysterious. I’ve met so many people who have poured thousands of dollars into SEO by hiring blog writers, paying specialists, buying expensive search and keyword tools, and none of it seems to make a substantial difference to their business. No matter how much they keyword their articles, they still don’t show up on the first page of Google results. Sometimes these people give up on SEO altogether because they’re not getting results that explode their revenue.
The challenge may be lack of understanding. Businesses know they need SEO, but they don’t understand it’s real value or how it works. If SEO hasn’t seemed to work for you in the past, or if you’ve spent more money on it than it’s brought back to you in business, let me tell you you’re not alone. The good news is that with a little education, you can get ahead of the curve. By learning the basics of SEO, you can make it work for you to make money rather than cost you money.
Done correctly, SEO will make a big difference in your business, and it doesn’t have to be expensive or confusing.
The truth of SEO is this: If your business is not showing up in the right places—at the top of the search results for your relevant customers—then potential customers can’t find you when they need you. That means that if you’re a health practitioner, you want your clinic to be among the first few results that show up when someone searches within your specialty, such as “chiropractors near here” or “physical therapist in (city name).”
Additionally, you will want your business to show up on the Google maps sidebar as well, which helps searchers know where you do business and your hours, and helps them find you with less effort.
SEO doesn’t stop there. Once your potential customer finds you, you must capture their interest and impress them quickly through good visuals, clear information, and professionalism on your website, as well as other places you and your business appear online.
Achieving that top spot on a results page can be difficult, especially if you don’t understand the principles of SEO. Understanding how to optimize for search engines yourself or how to hire for those skills can be less daunting if you simply learn a little upfront so you can recognize best practices and experience results. You will grow to realize SEO does take a little patience before you see the positive cash flow from new customer acquisition.
Taking the time to grasp how SEO works allows you to hire professionals who will understand your needs and develop strategies that will lead to success. Or, if you want to handle it yourself or engage an individual or marketing team to do it for you, you’ll need a solid understanding of the basics to create your strategy.
The same thing goes for SEO tools—you must understand the basics to reap their value. You can purchase software to help you optimize your content for search engines, but this can lead to a number of problems. Artificial intelligence is flawed. It cannot know your intention. It cannot engage with your content creatively. It can only do what it has been programmed to do. These tools can be helpful, but they don’t replace a human with expertise, insight, and in-depth knowledge of SEO, who can help you strategize to reach the right audience.
Another challenge I frequently see people run into is that there are so many myths surrounding SEO. This is largely because Google doesn’t explain how their algorithm works, so people are left to guess. And because the algorithm changes, information and strategies can quickly become out of date. If you research SEO, you’re likely to find quite a bit of conflicting information. That’s why it’s important to understand the basic principles behind SEO rather than relying on tricks.
When done correctly, SEO is incredibly valuable to your business. First of all, it is a vital part of your marketing strategy. Hitting on the right keywords helps you target your audience so the people who want or need your business can find it. Secondly, SEO has cumulative benefits: Because it takes time for SEO strategies to come into full effect, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the longer you continue to implement them, the better your results will be over time. Websites that have a history of publishing high-quality content will have an easier time ranking higher than newer websites. The better designed your website is across the board, the easier it will be to achieve good rankings on search results in the future.
An investment in SEO is also an investment in the quality of your branding and customer experience. It’s more than just the keywords—it’s the quality of your content and your website as a whole. When your website is clear and user-friendly, it will improve your SEO ranking, and at the same time, it will help you convert customers once they find your website.
Have you ever searched for a service, pulled up a website that looked ten years old or contained broken links, and decided to go with a different business because of it? I certainly have. If a prospective customer or client has any barrier that makes it difficult for them to find the information they’re looking for or to contact you, they’re likely to leave your site and look elsewhere. And why wouldn’t they? Remember that your website reflects on you—a poorly designed website makes the business owner look incompetent or less than professional. Anyone can build a sleek website from their laptop with all of the user-friendly tools now available; you don’t want to be the one with a clunky website that’s difficult to navigate or takes too long for a page to load, making it look like your business is also out of date.
I know it can be overwhelming, but I want to encourage you to take the first steps to learn about SEO so you can begin implementing it effectively on your website. The fact that so many people find SEO confusing or don’t think it’s worth the time and money is actually a bonus for you. By using it, you’re getting a boost over your competitors who may not be using it. By being present and easy to find online, potential customers will find you more easily than your competitors, which will lead to more business for you.
Currently, the businesses who are getting the most clients are the ones that are the best at marketing, not necessarily the ones that are best at business. If you’re showing up online in the right places, your potential customers will find you. You are in business to serve people, solve problems, and make a profit. Whatever your purpose is, you provide value that your customer needs. Don’t be intimidated. Jump right in and begin to see the exponential benefits of SEO.