Growth Driven Blog

SEO For The Business Owner

When it comes to growing your business, one of the first tactics that come to mind is SEO. You know it’s important, but what exactly is SEO? How does it work? How do you sort through all the companies, freelancers, and overseas spammers claiming they can improve your search rankings? With so many questions, business owners are understandably anxious when investing in SEO. While I can't answer all the questions surrounding the enigmatic topic of SEO, I can help you understand the fundamentals of SEO.

SEO: How to Guide


"This is a Football"

Lets start at the basics. "SEO" stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of optimizing your site to demonstrate relevancy and authority to the search engines (henceforth referred to as "Google" - because it's the only one that matters). The easiest way to explain SEO is to work backwards from Google's over, overarching objective: provide the most relevant and highest quality results for its users. The relevancy side is fairly straightforward—does your site provide the information for which the user is searching? This is where "keywords" come into play.
How Google determines the quality of the content is a bit more complicated. Google uses dozens of factors in determining which page is more authoritative than another page with the exact same keywords. How do they do this? That is a topic for another day, but what a business owner needs to know about this is there are no magic bullets. Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm to weed out practices that circumvent their objective of providing geniunely good results.

Understanding the SERP (the what?)

The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) displays the top ranking information for a given Google query. This includes paid ads, the local map pack (or first 3 local business listings), and finally the top organic listings. Paid ads obviously run on a bidding process, but also have a quality score that determines how much exposure your ad will receive. Organic and Local results are based on separate but overlapping algorithms that, as mentioned before, determine relevancy. Imagine you type 'hvac repair durham nc' into a google search engine. Your results will look something like this: 

Which SEO Strategy is Best?

Each segment of the SERP has its advantages and disadvantages. Deciding which segment, or combination of segments, to target depends on your unique market and online equity.


PPC - Is it feasible for you to "pay to play" in the paid ads segment? PPC is a quick way to appear on the SERP for specific terms, but it can be very expensive. In some competitive markets (like Real Estate) you may be bidding upwards of $10 per click to be competitive. Another major disadvantage is that, unlike organic and local, your position on the SERPs dissapear as soon as you stop paying. I'm painting a grim picture simply to counter the obvious attractions to PPC. It's quick, easy, and very targeted. 



Organic Search - Is your business ready for the marathon that organic search can be? If you're in a competitive market and currently on page 12, don't expect results over night. It can take a long time to reach the first page, and even longer to reach the top of the first page. There are no guarantees with organic search (seriously, no one can guarantee first page rankings). However, reaching the top of page 1, with properly chosen keywords, can be a constant fountain of traffic and leads unlike any other form of marketing. 


Local Search - If your business serves a specific geographic region, you can not afford to ignore Local SEO. Google did a study that showed 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day. One of the primary factors in Local SEO are online reviews. If you haven't encouraged your customers to write online reviews, this is the time to start. If Local Search isn't a compelling enough reason, then read BrightLocal's Consumer Review Study that shows that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.


Focus on What Matters Most

Ok, I know this is a lot to digest. You may not be ready for professional help, and you just need to know what you need to focus on until you are ready. Here is a quick run down on a few key areas to focus on for both search performance and conversion:

  • Website Content- become a trustworthy, reputable, wealth of information. It’s not enough to create a nice, shiny website, you must continuously create great content to prevent your website from going stale. Websites that fail to become thought leaders in their field end up at the bottom of the search results page.
  • Google Maps- where are you? If your business has a physical storefront people want to know. The local/map pack is made up of the top 3 local listings according to Google search rankings. Make sure your business’ name, address, and phone number are correct and on your website.
  • Local Reviews- what people say about your business is more valuable and important than what you say about your business.
  • Local Backlinks- links from other trustworthy, reputable sites to your website. Search engines try to interpret human behavior. As a result, external links tend to be more powerful than internal links. Think of links like votes, but not all votes are created equal. Despite what some people claim, you cannot pay for or request backlinks. You can only obtain backlinks through consistent high quality, trustworthy optimization across your entire website.

Additional SEO Resources

What to do some of your own research? Here are some of the SEO resources we trust and find helpful:

  1. Search Engine Land
  2. SEOmoz
  3. Search Engine Roundtable
  4. Search Engine Journal

Education is key. All of the above sources are wealths of information. The world of digital marketing is always changing—always! The best strategy is to do your research and do your best to stay ahead of the curve.

Keep Your Eye on the Goal

The goal of SEO is a higher SERP rating. Marketing is a long-term investment. There is no level at which you can sit back and relax. SEO is constant and ongoing. Your competitors want the top SERP spot as much as you do.
It’s hard for full-time marketing professionals to keep up with the changes in search engine marketing, so don’t be discouraged if you, as the business owner, find it overwhelming. The resouces listed in this article are a great place to get started. For a more indepth look at SEO download our free e-book below.
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