Today we’re going to give a very high overview of SEO, give an SEO definition, and answer the basic question of, “What is SEO?”. And just in case you’re looking for the meaning of SEO, it’s short for Search Engine Optimization.
Search Engine Optimization Overview
I think a lot of companies have heard about SEO, and understand that they need to probably do SEO, but they may not really understand what SEO is, or what it does.
What is SEO? Well, SEO, or search engine optimization, is in its most basic sense, a process you take to help get your website found on the internet.
But for purposes of a small business, you want to leverage SEO to bring more customers to your website. SEO can help you do that.
Now at this point, I want to caution you just a little bit. I value integrity and honesty, and I’m sure you do too, so I’m going to shoot straight with you.
SEO is not a magic pill, or silver bullet. In all honesty, it is RARE, to start working with a client, and they start ranking on the first page of Google within 30 days. Now if you website has high domain authority and traffic, then yes, you can rank on Google’s first page quickly. But most small and even medium sized businesses are not in that position.
SEO Companies Can’t Guarantee Rank
I know, there are SEO companies that will guarantee you to rank on Google’s first page within, X amount of time. I’ve seen their ads. But if you actually go onto Google’s own website for webmasters, they tell you to steer clear of those companies, because nobody can guarantee those results.
There are ways to manipulate some results, but in the long run, those SEO tactics, will actually hurt you. So here’s the take-away… SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
Doing good SEO consistently, over time, will deliver consistent, sustainable organic traffic, that can be turned into customers. Because organic traffic is traffic that is searching for the keywords that exist on your site.
So organic traffic is what we’re ultimately after. That traffic is gold. Because then, again, you can optimize your site, to turn that traffic into paying customers.
So disclaimer over, let’s get back to the basics of SEO and answering the question, “What is SEO?”.
One of the first things that I would check on your site, is the permalink structure. Your permalink structure is essentially how your site presents your content to search engines, in its URL structure.
Why is your permalink structure important? Because a lot of SEO depends on keywords. And if your permalink structure isn’t set up properly, your keywords won’t show up on those URLs. Ranking is hard enough, don’t shoot yourself in the foot with a poor permalink structure.
How To Check Your Permalink Settings in WordPress
Now if you have a WordPress site, it’s really easy to check to see how your permalink structure is set up. In your WordPress admin area, just go to “Settings”, and then “Permalinks”.
Under the “Common Settings” section, there are a bunch of different ways that you can set up your permalink structure. Again, some of these are better for SEO than others.
My preference, and what I believe to be the best for SEO, is the “Post Name” setting. That basically means that whatever you title your new page or post as, that’s what will show up on the URL “slug”.
Word of Caution!
Now a word of caution! Don’t change your permalink structure settings, if you don’t know what you’re doing! Changing this setting does have consequences. Doing it incorrectly can wipe out your SEO rankings. No joke! So be very careful, and be 100% sure of what you’re doing before changing these settings.
If you are in the process of just building your website, then there’s not a lot of consequence to changing your permalink structure. You’ll want to change it to the “Post Name” setting if it’s not already the default. But again, know what you’re doing before changing the setting, and be 100% sure, because I’d hate for you to mess up your rankings.
If you’re not just building your site, and you already have months or years of content on your site, then there’s definitely a process that you’ll have to take to do this correctly and not mess up your existing rankings.
I did that process for a client of mine who is a national brand, who has hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of posts. I essentially had to go through each of those URLs to make sure that none of those links would be broken when we made the change. I had to set up a lot of redirects, and if you aren’t familiar with how to do that, then I would encourage you to hire a professional for that.
So setting up your permalink structure correctly from the beginning is so much better, and so much easier!
So that touches on your permalink structure. If it’s already correct, great! You don’t have to do anything with that. You’ll want to focus on what’s called the E-A-T score.
Now I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this, but you should be aware of it. E-A-T is an acronym:
E- stands for Expertise
A- stands for Authority
T- stands for Trust
I’ll talk more about the EAT score in a separate post, but what you should know from this is that the quality of your content matters. The heart of the EAT score really speaks to that. The quality of your content.
If you have great quality content, and consistently publish good quality content, then that will help your EAT score. Google doesn’t want to reward spammy, or poor content. They want to provide a good user experience for those using their platform.
So when you provide good quality content over time, Google recognizes that in the analytics, and will rank your content higher. That’s not the only ranking factor, but it is a part. Especially if you’re in the money or health sectors.
So you want to make sure that your permalink structure is correct, and other technical aspects of your site, which would be flagged in an SEO audit.
SEO Isn’t A Black Box Anymore
It used to be that SEO was sort of a black box. Businesses didn’t know quite what it was, but they knew that they could get more traffic by doing it. SEO companies could pretty much do whatever (or not do) they wanted, and people would still pay them. Now, there is still some of that, but it’s not nearly the “black box” that it used to be.
Basically, if your SEO company cannot tell you specific things that they are doing on a monthly basis, then I would look elsewhere.
What you don’t want, is to be just paying for an automated monthly keyword rank report, and the SEO company not doing any other work that will actually make a difference toward those rankings.
SEO + Content Marketing = Growth
Unfortunately, there are some SEO companies that charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month, for basically just giving a keyword rank report each month.
Sorry, but that’s not going to increase your rankings on Google or any other search engine. Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to doing technical SEO, and getting your site in proper form.
But once that’s done, which for most average sized sites, can be accomplished within 3 months. But once it’s done, you have to couple SEO with a solid content marketing strategy, to make real headway in your SEO rankings.
I realize that other SEO companies may not like me saying that, but that’s my professional opinion. If a business only wants me to do the technical side, I will, but I’ll always try to steer them toward a tandem SEO & content marketing strategy. I do that because it’s just better for the client in building organic traffic.
If you don’t start your content marketing strategy with SEO, then like a lot of people, you create a lot of great content that nobody sees. Because it’s not found. And if you only focus on technical SEO, then you have a great platform, but nothing to draw people to your site.
It’s only when you couple SEO with content marketing that you get the greatest bang for your buck, and you can really start to make an impact in the keyword rankings.