What Is Search Engine Optimization?

search engine rankingTo be successful promoting your business online, it all starts with an appealing, effective and “search engine friendly” website.  Without these three elements, it will be extremely difficult for people to find you and your business online.

Of all three elements though, the most vital for you to grow your business online is to make your website “search engine friendly” – and that all starts with search engine optimization or “SEO” for short.

Not familiar with SEO?  In fact, most people have no idea how search engines like Google figure out which websites rank at the top and which are completely ignored. So if you’re not familiar with how it all works, you are not alone!

In short, search engine optimization or SEO is the art and science of making your website as easy to find by the search engines as possible. And when you make it easy for the search engines to find you…then your potential customers find you as well.

SEO is arguably THE most important factor when it comes to creating a profitable and successful online presence because without it, no matter how cool your website or how earth-shatteringly amazing your product or service is, if no one can find you in Google, then its all for nothing.

So How Does SEO Actually Work?

Well lets say you are a dentist in San Mateo, California and you want to grow your business. As a dentist, potential people searching for your services may type in such words as “san francisco dentist” or other such terms into search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

In an ideal world, your website would appear on the first place ranking in Google for both of those “keywords” that your potential customer has typed in. If your website pops up on the first page of the Google search engine, then your potential customers will be more likely to find you and learn about your dental services:

 

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However if your business website is not appearing on the first page of search results, then potential customers are going elsewhere for their dental services. As a result, they are going to have a very hard time finding your site and learning about what you do.  the truth of the matter is, the last time YOU did a search on Google for anything, when did you ever go to the second page of search results? If you’re like most people, probably very infrequently, if at all.

The Goal of Great Search Engine Optimization

The goal then, is to get your website onto the first page of Google.  That’s where all the traffic and money is because so few people search deeper than page one.

Also the higher your business website appears on page one the better it is for you because:

  • The #1 spot in the search engine rankings get 42% of the clicks
  • The #2 spot in the search engine rankings get 12% of the clicks
  • The #3 spot in the search engine rankings get 8% of all the clicks
  • Lower than #3 rankings, get all the rest, which is in the single digits…

Additionally, it has been shown that for people that are searching for local business services online, 61% of them make a buying decision on that search!

Now more than ever before is it vitally important for businesses to have excellent exposure on the search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.

So How Do You Improve Your Search Engine Rankings?

To improve your search engine rankings, think of SEO as split into two parts:

  1. Relevance
  2. Authority

The search engines, including Google look at both factors to determine what website they will “serve up” when someone enters a keyword like “san francisco dentist”, “toothache”, “beanie baby” or “how to lose weight”. Every time a person enters any of these keywords into the search box, the search engine (and Google is the best at this right now) combs the Internet in a millionth of a second to serve up the web page or website they deem is most relevant and authoritative for your search.

Relevance

To gain relevance for your website, the content on your website needs to be related to the search terms or keywords your potential customers are entering into the search box. In so doing, creating a website that uses certain tools like sitemaps and tags, as well as multiple other ways in which to facilitate the Google “bots and spiders” to easily find and then categorize all the information contained on your website. The content on your website must be easily found, but it must be relevant to the search engine queries your customers enter.

This is what is referred to as “on-page SEO” and in our experience, this kind of SEO effectively impacts about 10-20% of your search engine rankings.

Authority

The most important part of SEO is what is referred to as “off page SEO” which relates to the authority part of the equation. This is the art and science of creating “votes” of confidence from other authoritative and relevant websites. A “vote” of authority comes from other websites that link to your website. If the search engines find lots of relevant, authoritative links coming from other websites to your website, then it considers those links “votes” that your website is an authority on that subject.

High quality links incoming to your website tells the search engines that your website is an authority in the chosen niche.  And when search engines think your website is an authority on “san francisco dentist”, they will respond by bumping you up the rankings. the more authority, the more they bump you up, until you reach the top.

This authority is what is referred to as “off-page SEO” and in our experience, this kind of search engine optimization effectively impacts about 80-90% of your search engine rankings, so to speak.

The Key to Top Search Engine Rankings

When you combine “relevance” with “authority”, you have a magical formula for success with getting your website and your individual webpages to the first page of Google and the other search engines.

Climbing the rankings and reaching the first page of Google, Yahoo and Bing does not, however, happen overnight.  Like anything else in business improving your rankings requires effort and persistence.  The good news is that depending on your business niche, it is possible to realize dramatic improvements in rankings within 2-6 months, sometimes in even less time.