What You Need to Know About SEO
Although the marketing niche seems to evolve and change with every year that passes, one thing remains important – SEO. As a marketer or business, you’re advised to change your strategy to include video marketing, TikTok, and other techniques. Despite the many changes, the importance of SEO has never faded. If you don’t have a strong SEO strategy, you will never reach your potential. With this in mind, we’re going to provide an ultimate guide with everything you need to know about SEO today. If it hasn’t disappeared in 15 years, it’s unlikely to lose importance in 2022 and beyond!
Of What Value is SEO to Me?
We know what you’re thinking – does SEO really work? Does it generate a positive ROI? Do I need to pay attention when there are so many other more exciting marketing strategies? With this in mind, the first thing we want to say is that SEO really is worth the investment.
Let’s start with a quick test – open a new tab and type in some keywords important to your brand. Does your company show up? Can you find a link to your website? If you can’t, this means that your customers can’t either. If you can, this suggests that you already have a strong SEO strategy and the tips in this guide will help to solidify your position.
What are the repercussions of not showing up on search engine results pages? For one thing, your brand doesn’t get the exposure that it deserves. As a basic example, somebody needs a new pair of shoes, and you have the best shoes around. Yet, they don’t see your brand because you haven’t optimized for SEO. However, it’s a double effect because, simultaneously, your competitors are getting all the attention instead. Not only have you lost a sale, but you’ve sent leads into the arms of competitors.
If you want to know the value of search engine optimization (SEO), one of the biggest benefits is that you can finally encourage leads to your website and compete against other brands in the market. Whenever somebody types a relevant keyword into a search engine, they see your name alongside others. As well as increasing the likelihood of generating leads, this also boosts the brand’s credibility and authority. If you’re showing on the first pages of SERP (search engine results pages), people will immediately assume that you’re a reliable and credible brand.
In terms of calculating the value of SEO, the simple truth is that sending more people to your website will increase traffic, conversions, and revenue. As an example, let’s say that your website generates 500 daily visitors and a conversion rate of 3% (spending an average of $50). According to this example, 15 people convert per day (3% of 500) which generates revenue of $750. Multiply this by 30 and you’ll earn around $22,500 per month.
With the help of organic SEO, your link climbs the rankings, and you now get 750 daily visitors. Even if the conversion rate remains the same, you now convert 675 people rather than 450 per month. All in all, this leads to revenue of $33,750 per month. By utilizing an effective SEO strategy and encouraging more clicks, you’ve managed to increase your clicks and revenue by 50%.
Above all else, this is the value that SEO offers to you. Just imagine if you can also increase the conversion rate. Just in case you need them, here are some other reasons to focus on SEO in 2022:
- Most traffic still comes from organic search
- The user experience improves
- The return on investment is normally high
- It’s a long-term strategy compared to PPC (where you pay for every click)
- You can easily measure results
How Does SEO Work?
In truth, this is an extensive question and one that deserves an extensive answer. As we’ve seen, SEO is short for search engine optimization. If we were to break down this phrase, the idea is to optimize a website for search engine purposes. As we’ve alluded to so far, the goal is to boost the ranking of a website on search engines using specific keywords.
While this might sound simple enough, how does SEO actually work? Well, the algorithm on platforms like Google has been shrouded in much mystery since the early days of SEO. Every so often, results change and rumors swirl about potential algorithm changes. Despite the many changes, two components of SEO have always been the same:
On-Page SEO – As the name suggests, this covers all improvements that you can do on your website to improve your ranking. For example, this includes adding keywords to content, optimizing the number of images, improving page loading speed, adding titles and meta tags, and producing high-quality content.
Off-Page SEO – Alternatively, these are all the things that can be done away from your website to improve your ranking. For instance, this includes backlinks. In case you didn’t know, getting authority websites to link back to your content tells Google that your website is valuable for the audience. Consequently, it’s likely to help your ranking.
While you can do on-page SEO yourself, off-page SEO generally requires relationships with publishers and others in the industry. As you can imagine, this is the more difficult and intensive side.
Coming back to the Google algorithm, this is made up of various aspects that the search engine takes into consideration when ranking websites. If you were to type ‘swimming accessories’ into Google, it would use the algorithm to rank all websites according to their value and relevance. Although we keep referring to Google, the same is true for most search engines. Either way, this leads us to black hat and white hat strategies:
Black Hat Strategies – These are negative qualities for which search engines will punish your website (by moving it down the rankings). It includes duplicate content, redirecting users to other websites, links from websites that don’t have relevant content, keyword stuffing, and invisible text.
White Hat Strategies – These are the positive qualities for which search engines will reward your website (by pushing it up the rankings). This includes well-labeled images, fast page loading speeds, relevant content, relevant references and links, unique page titles, good spelling and grammar, and more.
If you want a positive return on investment with SEO, you’ll need to avoid the black hat strategies while leaning into the white hat strategies to stay on the right side of the search engine algorithms. Remember, Google and other search engines want to provide the most relevant content for the user. If users find answers within one click, the search engine has done its job. The best way to climb search engine results pages is to show the search engine that your content will provide a positive experience for the user.
How Long to Get Results from SEO?
When embarking upon an SEO journey, another common question regards the waiting time. How long do you have to wait before results come from SEO? Well, you can probably imagine that we can’t point you in the direction of a universal answer. However, what we can say is that it’s not immediate. Generally, experts suggest between three and six months before noticeable improvements.
Ultimately, the time you’ll wait depends on a couple of things. Firstly, the competitive nature of keywords and your market. If you’re fighting for incredibly competitive keywords, be aware that other companies may have been optimizing their SEO for many years. Sadly, this isn’t something that you can undo with just one afternoon of writing content and adding meta tags.
If your topics and keywords aren’t competitive, first make sure that they have enough traffic to make your investment worthwhile. It’s easy to get to the front page of a search that nobody wants, needs or makes. If you’ve found the balance between traffic and competition, those with less competition will see results quicker than those with more competition.
As well as competition, another determinant of success is the number of simple fixes that you can make before delving into the bigger strategies. When working with Atlantic Website Design, you can be sure that we review the following:
- Issues with page loading speeds
- 404 errors
- Broken links
- Pointless redirect chains
- Non-relevant pages
- Poor use of Schema markup
In many cases, fixing these small problems can lead to a quick improvement in organic SEO.
To complement these small fixes, we’ll also improve the content on your website, build relationships with publishers to encourage backlinks, and perform similar improvements. Over time, all these on-page SEO and off-page SEO techniques will work together to improve your chances of getting onto the first SERP.
How Long Do I Have to Do SEO?
With the previous two sections in mind, we can almost hear you asking the following: how long do I have to do search engine optimization? It’s all well and good calculating the value of SEO and ROI, but nothing we’ve mentioned yet goes beyond six months. So, how long do you have to keep working at SEO?
Well, it’s time to change your mindset because SEO isn’t something that ever ends. Don’t worry, one year from now it won’t be quite as intense as these early few months. When you first start paying attention to SEO, you’re probably updating your website, fixing lots of small errors, creating brilliant content, and doing lots of other time-consuming things. Once you get over this initial hump, you’ll find that SEO becomes less demanding.
Yet, the journey to get to the top of search engine results pages is replaced by the journey to stay there. You’ll need to keep creating content and adhering to the new SEO regulations to ensure that you maintain everything that you’ve worked so hard to build. If you don’t, you can be sure that a competitor will come along and take your position.
The deeper you investigate SEO, the more that you’ll see the true nature of it with dozens of ranking factors, dozens of signals, and the complex algorithm. Just when you think that you have a grip on everything, Google or another search engine makes a slight change, and you have to reposition once again.
We find that an analogy always helps in a situation like this, so we want you to think about your home. You’ve bought the land and you own a house on the land, but this doesn’t mean that you can just forget about maintenance. Your house might have been perfect when you moved in, but you’ll need to clean up leaves from the yard, check the electrical circuits, wash your driveway and patio, and perform other maintenance tasks. In the same way, you’ll need to create new content, optimize your website, and more.
Every so often, you’ll also get an annoying storm clatter into your home in the shape of algorithm updates. From here, you’ll need to perform the necessary repairs to keep your search engine optimization strategy in good shape. So long as you do the necessary maintenance, there’s no reason why your website can’t leave a lasting impression on the first SERP for all the main keywords.
Once again, you’re welcome to outsource this task to Atlantic Website Design if you would rather spend your time on other tasks (like handling the higher number of sales!).
What Happens When I Stop SEO?
Does SEO really work? We’ve just discovered that the answer is yes…so long as you’re willing to continually optimize, make small adjustments, or work with a company that handles everything for you. More than anything, this begs the question of what happens if you were to stop SEO.
At first, everything will seem fine, and you’ll wonder why you even invested so much time in the practice. Then, surely as the sun goes down in the evening, your ranking will start to plummet. Why? Because other websites will provide a better experience for customers compared to you. While your website is stuck in the past, has no new content, and has a growing number of errors, other websites perform much better within the search engine algorithm.
As your website falls down the rankings for all the important keywords, fewer people come across your website and this adversely affects traffic, sales, and revenue. One of the biggest problems with stopping SEO is that nothing happens overnight. Therefore, most people think that they will get away with restricting investment. Just because nothing happens immediately doesn’t mean that the cogs aren’t turning under the surface. It took some weeks to climb up the rankings, and it will take a few weeks to fall down them again. However, the important detail is that you WILL fall down them again.
Let’s return to the world of analogies and imagine riding a bicycle; you’re cycling along in a race and gathering lots of momentum. Suddenly, you stop peddling. You might have stopped peddling, but your bike won’t stop instantly, and this is the same with SEO. The fact that you have stopped peddling, though, means that you’re constantly slowing down (and losing ground to others behind you). Eventually, you’ll come to a standstill and undo all the hard work you will have invested.
If you’re unlucky, you’ll hit a huge hill after you stop peddling and you’ll slow down even faster than normal; in case you haven’t guessed, this hill is an algorithm change. Whether a search engine update comes in the time after you stop or not, your website will lose momentum and others will take your position on search engine results pages.
Here are some of the reasons why you shouldn’t stop SEO:
- You will undo all the hard work that you invested in the early months to overhaul your website and create great content.
- The market is always shifting, and you need to continue optimizing to keep the best positions in the SERP.
- Google and other search engines can introduce a change to the algorithm that hinders your website.
- Google appreciates websites that are continually updated with fresh content.
- You’ll lose ground to competitors.
- It won’t be long before you notice a drop in traffic, leads, and sales.
How Long for Leads/Sales?
Of course, there’s a difference between generating more traffic because of a better ranking on search engines and generating more clicks and conversions. With this in mind, the next topic we want to discuss is the journey to leads and sales.
First and foremost, we recommend having a conversation with your SEO or marketing agency if you want an accurate answer to this question. Once again, we can only provide estimations whereas an agency (like Atlantic Website Design) can offer tailored advice based on the position of your website, the state of your content, the competitiveness of your market, and many other factors.
As you might expect, it may take a while to get to the first page of search results if you’ve never considered SEO and have never so much as thought about writing a blog post. On the other hand, those who have monitored SEO to some extent will start from a better position. Your SEO strategy will require fewer fixes and you’ll generate leads and sales much sooner.
To provide a clearer answer, let’s break down the process somewhat. As a loose guide, this will tell you what to expect since it’s an average experience with SEO.
Month One – During the early stages, you’ll need to review past performance and perform a site audit. Of course, the process will differ depending on whether you’re attempting to complete your SEO strategy alone or whether you’re outsourcing to an agency for help. If you don’t have much experience in the field, we highly recommend contacting Atlantic Website Design for professional assistance.
After an audit, you can then think about research, planning your keyword strategy, and making the simple fixes we mentioned earlier.
Month Two – Here, the technical SEO work begins, and this includes the early modifications to your website. While poor websites will need a complete overhaul, more advanced websites will get away with a few changes. Either way, it’s critical to always keep the audience in mind.
Month Three – With the technical aspects and simple fixes done, you can consider the long-term techniques. This includes FAQs pages, articles, blogs, whitepapers, and claiming your Google My Business profile (we’ll talk more about local SEO later in the guide!). If possible, start these long-term strategies earlier. However, we appreciate that your budget may call for you to complete one thing at a time.
Month Four – At this stage, the idea is to continue creating great content and build relationships with publishers. Depending on how the early months went, you could see an improvement in traffic.
Month Five – With social media now in the frame, traffic increases once again, and lead generation improves alongside it. When comparing traffic to leads and sales, it’s important to remember that sending traffic to a website doesn’t guarantee results. You’ll need high-quality content to win people over, and you often need to create this – this is one reason why lead generation and conversions take a little longer than traffic.
Month Six Onwards – Over time, it’s all about sending more and more people to your website because it’s now optimized in terms of content and landing pages. Where these have improved, people are more likely to convert (compared to your old, unoptimized content) and you’ll notice a difference in sales and revenue.
What is Local SEO?
To finish, another common SEO question comes in the shape of local SEO. What does it mean? How does it help? Essentially, the term describes techniques of optimizing a website for a specific community. With this in mind, it offers value to those who rely on local customers to survive. For example, we’re thinking about coffee shops, hair salons, restaurants, and similar businesses.
As you can see, these types of businesses don’t need a presence around the country because it would be worthless to them. If you’re a small coffee shop in Florida, what value would you get from a great presence in LA? Are they likely to jump on a plane and fly across the country just to enjoy a coffee? We’re going to guess that the answer is no to this question.
As a result, local SEO is designed to optimize a website for a specific location. Often, businesses assume that SEO isn’t important for them because they don’t want a presence around the world. When calculating the value of SEO, they assume that SEO is all or nothing – you need to spend lots and appeal to the whole world or do nothing. As you’ve learned with local SEO, this isn’t the case at all.
As well as optimizing your website, something else that you can do is claim your Google My Business profile. If you were to open a new tab and search for ‘hair salon’, you’ll see a handful of local businesses at the top of search results based on your location. As well as names, you’ll see reviews, an address, contact number, opening hours, the services it provides, its experience, and even links to the website or directions on Google Maps.
If you claim and optimize your Google My Business profile, there’s a chance that people nearby will see your business when searching for a service of your type. If you run a garage, your information will appear to all those who search for a garage within a certain radius.
The benefits of doing this are two-fold because people see your business when they need you most and they also choose you over competitors. If you haven’t claimed your Google My Business profile, you can be sure that people are seeing your competitors when searching Google; this could be why more people are going through their doors than your own.
In addition to optimizing your website and claiming your Google My Business profile, you should also spend time on social media since search engine results pages will show social media profiles. Also, encourage all your loyal customers to leave positive reviews on Google because this tells the search engine that your service is one of the best around. If you have poor reviews or even none, Google doesn’t know whether you offer a good service or not.
Every year, search engines understand the intent of searchers more effectively. These days, they know when people are looking for local services. Why not optimize your local SEO strategy so that people find your service?
You’ve taken in lots of information, so feel free to bookmark this guide so that you can return whenever you have any questions. Does SEO really work? Yes. The return on investment is always worthwhile with organic SEO. Why not contact Atlantic Website Design for help today and our friendly team will get you started?