Search Engine Optimization has become a mysterious marketing buzz word that everyone needs but little understands. So how do you get the most out of your SEO? There are several things you can do yourself or will be helpful to know if you hire an outside provider. Let us be your guide to the wild world online and inbound marketing.

What is SEO?

Every business needs a website, but that’s just the start. It’s like opening your store front in a little alley of a busy city and hoping people will stumble through to find you. You’ll have to setup signs and give out directions for your customers to follow.
That is what Search Engine Optimization does for you. When someone types something into a search engine like Google or Bing, it will crawl the web looking for those keywords among the indexed sites.

Industry leader SEOMoz says that most marketers spend the bulk of their time on Search Engine Optimization. This isn’t just because of popularity for the service. SEO is time consuming and ongoing. Monitoring traffic patterns, modifying keywords as trends change, adding new inbound links from quality sources, researching competitor’s ranking, editing page titles, elements and description, and updating relevant content are all vital to attaining and holding onto page authority.

It all starts with content. Search engines have gotten very good at identifying quality original information. Websites with duplicate content or that over use keywords without providing any meat to them will be flagged and their page authority will suffer. Relevant articles, how-to’s, blog posts, photo galleries, and service information are good building blocks.

After content, you’ll want to either find a tutorial or hire a professional to make changes to the back end of your website if it was not optimized during the build of the site. You’ll hear terms like Meta description and h-tags. The long and short is that there are ways to tweak these to make them work for you, not against you.

Building quality links will be where most of your time is spent. If you don’t have access to analyzing tools, like ones available with a SEOMoz membership, you can still be moderately successful at this. Pull up the search engine you prefer. The top three are Google, Bing and Yahoo. Type in your preferred keyword and look through the results. Some of them will be directories you may be able to get listed with. Paid listings or blog sites are also good places to start.

Long term monitoring will need to be done to ensure you chose the best keywords and modify your SEO as market trends evolve. Using Google Analytics or similar service makes this a quick process. Pay attention to where your traffic is coming from, how long they are staying on your site and which pages they are visiting.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Most SEO can take three to six months to change your rank. This is because page seniority matters to search engines and many listing directories have put stringent review processes in place that can take between 24 hours and six weeks.

If hiring an outside company for your SEO, be sure you get quality service. There are black hat tactics that may work in the short term, but will ultimately get you penalized by search engines. Promises of hundreds of links quickly or first page rank in a month should be taken with a grain of salt and more than a little apprehension.

Search Engine Optimization is not a cookie cutter process. It will need to be tailored for your industry and service location. Local searches are usually easier to rank for than national or global due to the huge marketing budgets of big corporations. Small businesses are better served by identifying where their customers are geographically located and catering to those searches.
This is just the surface of your online marketing efforts. For more Internet marketing tools check out our other blog posts including Can Local Business Directories Help You Rank, 2 Free Ways to Increase Website Traffic, and Why Isn’t Your Website Making You More Money.

PC Co-Pilots is a comprehensive computer and web services company located in Jasper, Georgia founded in April 2008 by Justin Bowers. If you have any questions, comments or need any assistance with your computers or web presence, call (706) 253-6362 or email info@pccopilots.com. Ongoing tech tips and tidbits can be found on our Facebook page.

Jessica runs PC Co-Pilots with her husband, Justin, as an Office Manager and head of Marketing. She graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor’s in Sociology from Kennesaw State University and regularly participates in local business and non-profit events. To contact her directly, email Jessica@pccopilots.com.