What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is the way you optimize your site so that it can rank better on the search engines.

Gone are the days of expensive ads in the yellow pages of the phone book. Now, most people are turning to the internet to find local services and also to do their research and shopping.

If your company does not appear on the first page (or maybe the second page) you will lose out on potential business. Think about it, when you get on the internet…how many pages into the search do you go before you start making phone calls or decisions on your service provider or make purchases?

To get onto Page 1 or Page 2, you can either buy an ad from the search engine, or you can get to the top organically by optimizing your website for the search engines. The paid way gives you instant results but requires you to continue buying ads every day and every month. The second way takes some time but then gets you on the top for a long time.

Let’s dive into this search engine optimization idea a little deeper. A search engine’s job is to get the user the best results. So, if a user wants to find a plumber in Chicago, the search engine wants to give that user websites about plumbers in Chicago – makes sense right? How does the Search Engine determine if the websites it’s showing the user are appropriate to the user’s search? It uses algorithms. These algorithms change all the time as the search engines themselves become more sophisticated.

As you can see, SEO is not a set it up once and forget it answer. Search Engine Optimization requires a one time set up and then continual optimization as the algorithms change or as your competitors also start optimizing their websites so that you can stay on top (or get on top).

Because most business owners don’t know how to optimize their websites and even the verbiage about it can be confusing or unknown, a lot turn to just using paid advertising. Let’s look at that:

Take our plumber in Chicago. To do an ad, you have to pick a keyword. A keyword is what would people type into the search box to find you. In our example, the person types “plumber chicago”. That keyword gets between 1000 and 10,000 searches a month. Google suggests paying $30.96 (as of today) for an ad. That means any time someone clicks on your ad, you are charged $30.96. That doesn’t mean they are going to pick up the phone and call you. It doesn’t mean you are going to get the job, it just means they decided to check out your website.

When you are researching, do you call the first website you view? Or do you, like me, check out several websites before you like one enough to call? How many paid ads are you paying for before you get a job? This is analysis you must do to see if your advertising is working for you. Are you doing that analysis?

While paid ads are easier for most people to set up, (the search engines make it easy because they want your money) in the long run they cost more. When setting up Search Engine Optimization, the initial cost may seem high but when you compare it to the paid ads- the cost becomes very low.

I’m sure your next question will be: How much will SEO cost my company? See my article “How much does SEO cost” for a full explanation about pricing for SEO.

If your business relies on getting traffic to your website, then your Company should find a great SEO Agency to work for. If you are in a very specialized niche with very little competition, you may be able to do it yourself by reading articles and watching videos. But if your company is in a competitive market, you should leave the SEO to a professional and use your time to focus on what you are good at – and that’s whatever your business does.

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