Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.
SEO includes a variety of factors that Google considers when ranking websites such as:
- Title Tags, H1 Tags
- Back linking
- Site speed
- Content relevance and freshness
- and many other factors!
Contrary to popular belief, SEO is NOT a quick and easy solution to getting a website ranking well in search. In fact it can take months and some cases even years to rank well for certain keywords. Factor in who your competitors are and possibly the fact that they might have a SEO experts as well and you’ll start to understand that this is a challenging marathon.
I’ve had clients ask me before if I could get them ranked for keywords like “fitness” or “gadgets”. These highly competitive keywords are probably next to impossible to rank for and if someone tells you that they can “get you #1 in Google” or guarantee ranking for such competitive keywords they’re most likely lying. If I had the ability to do this quickly and easily I would probably be sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere.
Finding an honest SEO expert is like finding a needle in a haystack and most are simply snake oil salesmen making false promises they cannot achieve. My advice is if you want to hire someone for SEO do not offshore this type of work. Companies in India are notorious for practicing black hat strategies or unethical SEO that can get your website penalized. If you hire someone local make sure they are reputable.
Similarly to looking at a graphic designers portfolio to the type of work you can expect you will want to ask the SEO expert you are interviewing for concrete examples of cases where they helped clients succeed in SEO. What keywords did they help their client rank high for ? If you really want to go the extra step you can use the Google keyword tool and check the competition for that keyword they stated. If they are ranking well for a keyword that is barely searched for then they really aren’t very effective.
I don’t specifically charge for SEO however I do include it as part of my WordPress development. One the site is live there is one SEO tactic that I always suggest to my clients – BLOGGING!
Google’s agenda is pretty simple. They want to provide quality search results to the end user. That being said, your focus should be to have a quality website that offers fresh and useful content. Blogging regularly lets your visitors know that you are the subject expert. If you’d like to show up in search for certain keywords they have to be on your website and by creating new blog posts you can target new keywords.
By creating quality content that is shared through social media and on other blogs is a great way to build natural backlinks which Google approves of. What you don’t want to pay for is someone building unnatural backlinks which in most cases end up harming your website and potentially result in getting de-indexed from search.
Blogging does take time just as I have taken the time to write this quick blog. Unlike paid advertising it costs nothing to write a new blog but you can benefit from the long term benefits as your begin to rank for new keywords found in your posts and your site becomes more authoritative.
My SEO background came from an obsession to figure out how I could rank higher in Google for targeted keywords and increase the overall traffic to my websites. I immersed myself in articles, participate in forums regularly (interacting with experts) and even convinced a local college to teach the class which I ended up taking. Afterall what good was teaching students to build websites if they weren’t going to found in search. When I finally took the class I realized that I had covered most of the material online.
10 years ago my full-time job relied on working with a custom PHP application so I had to combine my knowledge of PHP with SEO. This included adding custom code to generate title tags, meta tags, generating an XML sitemap etc. Nowadays you can get away with installing YOAST for SEO on WordPress which handles all this stuff for you which is a plugin that is a standard with all my WordPress websites.
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