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A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization Good SEO vs. Bad SEO Good SEO, which is also known as “White Hat SEO”, is the process of using proper SEO techniques increase your site’s rankings in search engines. Bad SEO, also known as “Black Hat SEO”, is the process of implementing improper SEO techniques to “trick” the search engine into increasing your sites’ ranking (ie. spam indexing, keyword stuffing). This can result in your site being blacklisted, which is worse than having poor rankings! Obey the SEO “rules” and increase your rankings…guaranteed! Content Creation Search engines love content. In fact, they can’t get enough! Adding more pages of relevant content about your business, your products or providing advice/information about your industry is key. Not only will adding content increase your rankings, it will also make you look like authority figure to your visitors. Pamper those search engine spiders! Add fresh monthly content and watch your rankings increase! Linking Most websites pages are assigned a value. By exchanging links with other (related) companies, you are, in essence, telling the search engines who you know and thereby increasing your rankings. Just as a spider’s web weaves together, so must a higher ranking website, and implementing a proper linking strategy is vital. It can also be very difficult to get links within your industry because non-SEO webmasters don’t want to promote their competitors. Also, researching relevant websites in which to link to can be time consuming and sometimes fruitless. However, most SEO companies have strategic plans that address linking and can satisfy search engines requirements. If search engines are the internet’s bouncers – a good linking strategy will make you skip the line! Proper Formatting & Necessary Website Components Just like your government’s tax return form is uniform to simplify data reading, search engines have specific formatting rules to help search engine spiders (the robots that visit your page and assign it a value) read information. Some vital points to remember are titling, coding efficiency, sitemap inclusion, text link anchor text, and aesthetic touches to the site tabling and link positioning. Make your site easier for spiders to ‘read’ and be astounded by exponential ranking jumps! Top 3 Concerns Businesses Have About SEO Does SEO Have To Be Continuous? Search engines prefer the fresh content that comes from updating your site regularly. A one-time cleanup and reformatting of your website will usually move up your rankings, but new content is absolutely necessary if you want to continue to rank higher. Ask yourself what part your website plays in your overall business model. Do you use it to generate leads, online purchasing or simply to provide information? If your website is important to the growth of your business, implementing an SEO strategy can significantly increase your leads. Remember that no two websites are the same, and a customized SEO plan will produce the best results. The internet is here to stay. A good SEO campaign is equivalent to advertising in several national magazines combined…on a monthly basis! Will SEO Increase Enough Sales To Make It Worth The Cost? Yes. SEO alone will generate more sales than you would otherwise have and a good SEO strategy will more than offset any costs you incur. It becomes important to find an SEO company who can lead your website to build relationships with clients so they keep coming back – without that, higher rankings are useless. What’s more, remember to give your SEO firm feedback on the increase in calls that have stemmed from your site, the leads you’ve received directly from your site, any increase in sales, etc. Good communication between you and your SEO company will help them to decide what strategies will best increase your web presence and ultimately improve sales. Communicating openly with your SEO provider will do wonders for you and your sales! The Bills: How SEO Firms Charge Professional SEO firms charge differently depending on the services you choose. These range from: writing search engine friendly content, providing a strategic linking campaign or cleaning up your site, to a month-to-month all inclusive package that will do it all-in-one. The best thing to do when choosing an SEO firm is to review the packages they offer and make sure that all tasks are well explained to you. This way you will be confident that you know what you’re getting into. Some firms charge more for the same services, so asking questions is important. It’s also a good idea to see proof of their other customers’ rankings. The proof is the truth – ask for proof of rankings as well as written explanations of what your SEO provider will do for you. Steps to Getting Started Where do I Start? Like any business decision, you want to consider what you’re getting from each provider and who you feel most comfortable doing business with. Look for indicators that will tell you if they’re customer friendly or not: are they flexible? Do they lock you into a contract? Are they accommodating to your 77% of Search Engine Users Choose Organic Over Paid Listings company’s particular needs or are they forcing your needs through their standard practices? If you’re hiring a full-time SEO specialist, do they have the necessary experience so that you can focus on your business rather than having to supervise all their work? Our suggestion is to pick one of your company’s current advertising costs and take that amount (an amount you feel comfortable paying) and see what an SEO provider can do for that amount. Ask if you can go month-to-month rather than sign a one year contract. This allows you to test- drive that provider and, as you feel more comfortable and see results, you can increase your monthly investment. How much will SEO Cost? Should I hire in-house or outsource to an SEO company? There are advantages and disadvantages to both and it depends on what you need – and what your budget is. By bringing it in-house you’re gaining control, however, the results tend to be lower and the cost higher; for most SEO strategies, you will need someone who understands the intricacies of SEO and has site management and creation capabilities. Realistically, an in-house SEO Specialist will end up overseeing a team of writers, programmers, and designers – making their salary higher and potentially meaning you will have to hire additional people to write and design the site(s). Alternatively, a professional SEO firm can cover all of these areas for a fraction of that cost; and being able to place the project in their capable hands allows you to focus on your business. This is all the more reason to hire an SEO company that you can trust to manage your website marketing campaign effectively, answer any questions you might have, and to keep you well informed of the progress as well as any setbacks. When taking the leap, have confidence by doing business with an expert! Important Information to Receive From Your SEO Provider There are 3 components that are critical to a successful SEO campaign: 1. Always ask for a mandatory monthly ranking report of your website rankings. Remember that you may not see immediate results. 2. Always ask for a monthly report that explains what work has been performed on your site. This is different from a ranking report because it shows you the effort put forth on your campaign. It will include feedback as to how the search engines are reacting to your site. And should include some forecasting for future months. 3. Finally, you should always feel comfortable, even encouraged, to pick up the phone and ask questions about how your campaign is progressing or for an explanation of a report. Communication is key to a good SEO campaign!
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