In this article, I want to cover the basics of SEO for the majority of small businesses. There are 5 main questions I want to answer.
• What is SEO?
• Do I need SEO?
• Should I pay for SEO?
• How much will it cost me?
• How Do I Find an SEO Expert?
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it means exactly that. It is the practice of optimizing your website for better performance on the major search engines such as Google and Bing. This in turn, results in more referrals from searches pertaining to your business. It is not an exact science because search engines like Google do not release all aspects of the algorithms used to produce search results but thanks to lots of open data, historical practices, and testing performed by SEO companies, we do have some solid guidelines to follow in order to get the most out of our efforts. This brings us to our next question.....
Do I need SEO?
The simple and straight forward answer is YES, but there are some variables. Regardless of your level of SEO (if any), your website will make it on to Google search. The question is "where will it show up?". It could be on page 3 or page 112. In some instances within very niche areas or exact searches, you may even be the 1st result. There is no way of really knowing where it will show up unless your page has been optimized for particular keywords and phrases, and even then, even experts can only give you an average position. The key point is to take a look at your own behaviors while conducting searches. How many times do you look past the first page of Google search results? If your answer is "seldomly" or "none" then you need SEO to gain a first page position and maintain that position over time.
Should I Pay for SEO?
The answer to this question is dependent on you. If you own /operate/work at a generally small business, have the time to learn about SEO best practices and how to implement them, and possess the time available to do the work all while keeping up with the newest trends and Search Engine algorithm updates, then your answer is easily no. You do not need to pay for SEO services. If you do not meet the criteria i just listed, then you may want to consider contracting your SEO out to a third party or hiring someone to focus on this aspect of marketing for your business.
How Much Does SEO Cost?
Plain and simple; SEO can cost anywhere from $500 to more than $1500 per month and there is no standard cost. There is also no guarantees of where your website will come up in search results for particular keywords because of all the factors and variables involved in producing search results. Even your business location and number of quality reviews on your Google business listing can be factors. If you have a quality SEO manager though, he/she will be able to produce quality and trackable results over time.
I want to make sure that you have a solid understanding of the true costs here. An SEO expert can spend several hours a day focusing on SEO for your company. It is labor intensive and requires a large amount of research and planning. Doing some simple math, an expert spending 3 hours a day focused on your account and working at $25 and hour (industry low) is making $1500 a month before subtracting overhead costs and taxes.
How to find an SEO Expert
As I said, SEO is not an exact science. It takes experience and research to gain the knowledge necessary for quality search engine optimization and that is the key factor here. There are more so-called SEO experts out there than I care to count only because there is no defining credentials required to do the work (or claim to do the work). Also, it is extremely easy to drum up fake statistics showing that there is improvements to pull the whool over the eyes of those not with little understanding of SEO. Therein lies the dilema.
Before you hire someone to handle your SEO, make sure they are reputable. Due diligence is a big part of this. Look them up on Google. You may find that their address is in the middle of a boat yard (yes, this actually happened). Look for reviews on their google business listing. If there is no Google business listing, it's a red flag.
Find them on Facebook and take a look at conversations about them if there are any. Social media plays a large part in SEO. If they have no social media accounts, it's a red flag.
Ask for a list of clients and then follow up with those clients. Make a quick phone call to see how theu feel about their current level of service. If the SEO "expert" says something like "we don't give out client information, then more than likely, they have no satisfied clients. Another red flag.
In some cases, you will find that a company or person is new to the world of SEO and digital marketing. This can be a good thing for you if you are looking to save money and are not looking for great results within the first year. Pay this person accordingly though. A new company with little to no experience should not be receiving $1500 per month for services. You may even work out a deal and get a few months of free service to prove their value before paying. SEO is npt a one time thing and a relationship like this could be a valuable one in the future.
SEO takes time, knowledge, and the ability to adapt to constant changes in the online world. It shifts almost daily and while there are many scammers out there looking for an easy paycheck, some due diligence will help to ensure that your SEO expert is truly capable of handling your SEO needs.
Thanks for your time,
How To market Your Business Online
There are several questions that I am continually asked because of the website design, SEO, and digital marketing consulting I do. The majority of the questions come from a lack of understanding as to how marketing works in the internet age so I wanted to elaborate just a little on them here for all to see.
First, be online. Having a website is a great start but it isn't the only starting line and it isn't the last step in the process either. There are many businesses that operate solely on social media and do well. There are also businesses that base their marketing on the website and do well. The key factor is that they are consistently active and working to get noticed.
Second, branch out. It is HARD to get in front of people today. No one like ads or commercials and to really get noticed, the client has to either be looking for your services or be interested in the VALUE that you are giving them. That's right. Give first. Branching out means producing content such as articles and videos that bring value to people. The object is to give them information that they want in a way that also brings recognition to your name.
Third, experiment with everything. All businesses large and small, have particular demographics that they strive to reach. While we all want the greatest reach across the board, you still have a base demographic that your services really apply to. With so many avenues of attention available, experiment with them all! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Blogs, Vlogs, and podcasts are just a small part of where your audience might be and the best way to find out is to try everything. Maybe Pintrest is where your audience is hiding but you will never know if you don't learn to use the app yourself.
Lastly, feel free to send me any questions you might have. I love to help any way I can.
Robert J Myrick
Torched Web Solutions, LLC
Marketing to consumers and businesses in today's economy
The world is full of commercials. TV, billboards, social media, and everything else in this world that gets attention has been saturated from marketers. As this kind of marketing continues to grow, consumers find newer ways to block it out.
Let's take a look at your own personal behavior;
Imagine yourself laying in bed watching your 100% favorite movie on cable television. Suddenly, the screen goes dark and a commercial begins to play.
A) watch the television intently and take in all the commercials
B) change the channel to another show that you like and wait for commercials to end
C) grab your phone from your lap and begin to cruise through your Facebook or Instagram feed?
In truth, this is an easy answer for every single one of you that is reading this right now. The problem is that even though we react to advertisements this way, we continue to pursue marketing leads as if we are the only ones! STOP IT!
Times have changed
The solution to our problem in THIS world revolves around doing more for our consumers to be noticed. We have to provide true, honest value up front and we have to do it with no expectations. That means your actions need to be genuine and meant to assist another instead of giving and expecting an instant return on your investment. Seriously take a moment to let that sink in.
Bottom line; You want success, you need to open your mind to the prospect of being a good person rather than another salesman. Set yourself apart from all the others doing the exact same thing you are just because it worked in the past.
Let's talk about Social Media
Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are the new television
So you have a social media account for your business. That's great! But do you manage it like a commercial? This is one area where people make THE BIGGEST mistakes. They get their social media accounts and instantly start posting advertisements. "Come see our low prices," they say. "Sale on this, price drop on that." Maybe throw in a nice picture to really set it off. Now, why doesn't that get any notice from people?
Be the Sitcom, not the Commercials
Go ahead and think about your own habits for a minute. If you're a regular user of social media, then this will really key you in. How many advertisements do you stop and examine while scrolling through Facebook or Instagram? How many do you skip over?
Maybe you aren't a social media person so let's look at it a little differently. In the evening, while you're watching TV, how excited are you to see the commercials in between the segments of your favorite show? Do you wait with serious anticipation to see the next ad for Walmart or a new prescription medicine to ask your doctor about?
The answer is that no one likes the commercials on any platform. If possible, we skip them and move right along. If this is how you are in your personal life, why would your customers and clients be the complete opposite? That is the defining factor here!!
Key takeaway points
Your audience is human, just like you. Also just like you, they have wants, needs, and preferences that play a major part in their daily decisions. Think about that next time you go to post on social media for your business as well as next time you come face to face with a customer. They'll appreciate it even if they don't buy, but even more important, they will remember you when they are ready or when their friends ask.
Google has dominated the search engine world for quite some time now. It started as a weird word that described a website and it didn't take long for it to grow into a noun and a verb. If you're anything like me, it is a word that gets used on a daily basis and what used to be the top dog of search engines have fallen to the wayside.
Here we are now, in 2018 and websites are built to not only meet the requirements of the client, but to also meet the specific needs of the Google search engine and web crawler. Let's face it. A website that doesn't produce results for the client will eventually find its way offline. It will become something that a business "tried one time but didn't see any benefit to outweigh the cost." So here is the latest and greatest when it comes to making your website stand out more in Google searches.
Recently, Google updated the algorithm used to rank search results. Now, websites that cater more to the mobile device (specifically those that use responsive technology to build), receive first looks. So, when it comes to choosing a web designer, make sure that he/she meets the mark with their build and focuses on responsive designs rather than the other forms.
This really is big news and not just for us website designers. It means that the current online user profile has finally reached the tipping point of mobile over desktop, which is exciting. We all knew it was coming and now the future is here. Speed has become everything. Streamlined websites bring about reduced loading times, especially for mobile users, and that is what Google is aiming for.
To keep from getting long winded, make sure your websites are build using responsive design in order to be seen higher on the list of Google search and ultimately reduce the friction to your perspective customers.
That is the true goal of it all.