SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. If you have a website and rely on it for sales, SEO is a critical process. I will freely admit that until recently, I only had a vague understanding of the process. After sitting through endless meetings with my website designer, and then doing a great deal of reading, I’m still a little hazy on the details. That said, for most people, the basic goal of SEO is to convince the major search engines to list your website on the first page of a given set of search results. A listing on the first page will likely result in more clicks and traffic to your website. In other words, if you are a plumber in Phoenix and someone searches Google for Phoenix plumbers, you want your name to come up on the first page.
So, how do you get listed on that all important first page? SEO of course. That term, however, covers quite a bit of ground. For example, you’ve all seen in your top search results that little green box that says ‘Ad’. That means that the business is paying for Google to list their business at the top of the search results for particular search terms. Google gets paid every time someone clicks on that link. This is also known as PPC (pay per click). Those Google fees can add (no pun intended) up quickly so you better have strong sales results if people are clicking on your link frequently. SEO firms make money by charging you a percentage of ‘ad spend’ and is similar to how many advertising companies operate. The drawback for PPC is that savvy customers automatically skip the links with that green box and look elsewhere in the results for their vendors.
SEO includes any number of ‘artificial’ methods to convince the search engines to list you high in their results. A website that many other sites link to will receive a higher ranking. As a result, some SEO firms will set up several websites that link to your website. They will even provide content on that website to make it look legitimate. While I don’t particularly like this approach, it can be very effective and considering the volume of ‘noise’ on the internet, it’s not an unreasonable approach. That said, in my opinion, such an approach is inherently dishonest and is susceptible to refinements of the search engines’ algorithms.
Another approach involves ‘listing sites’. Listing sites are websites that provide an index of businesses. Sites such as www.yellowpages.com provide categorical listings of businesses. The more of these sites that include you in their listings, the higher your ranking. Some listing sites are more selective and, as a result, are more desirable and will result in higher search engine rankings. Your SEO firm will spend time (and money) trying to get you listed on the most influential sites.
A good SEO firm will also ensure that your website is SEO friendly. In common practice, this means that your website is designed to catch the attention of the search engines. They will ensure that each page on your site includes keywords that will be noted by the search engines and will ‘tag’ each page so that those words are easily identified. Finally, they will advise (and perhaps assist) in preparing content on your site that is useful to the general public. In this vein, make sure your site is updated regularly, you provide content that others will find useful, and also promotes your business. This blog, for example, hopefully accomplishes all three goals.
Social networking has become a significant component of SEO. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. can be major drivers of traffic to your website. That also boosts your ranking on the search engines. Your SEO firm should assist you with a strategy for social networking that maximizes traffic to your site. By way of example, if you have a large circle of contacts on Facebook, create a page for your business and then, when you post a blog on your site, note it on your businesses Facebook page and then share it to your contacts. In addition, ask your circle of friends to like your business’s page.
The bottom line is that SEO has become a necessary and expensive evil to drive traffic to your website. When speaking with your website designers or SEO firms, ask them about their methods and choose those that most closely align with your needs.
Allen Friedman is the owner and CEO of Techaerus LLC, an office efficiency consulting firm. He is also a licensed attorney. Allen founded and managed one of the largest consumer collections law firms in the country and managed over 50 attorneys as well as hundreds of non-attorney staff. Prior to founding that firm, he opened and managed the New York and Michigan operations for the largest consumer collections firm in the United States. Throughout his career, Allen has always placed great emphasis on ensuring that investments in office technology provide the greatest possible returns. In order to achieve these returns, he focuses on three pillars of office management; asset management, training, and automation. His expertise includes document/image management, software and hardware integration, training, and process management and automation. Allen lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife Amy, his children Cassidy and Gideon, and two adorable dogs named Roxie (a labradoodle) and Bentley (an Old English Sheepdog).