What is SEO?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of entering information into each one of your web pages so that search engines such as Google or Bing can index it and refer it to users when they enter a search query. The ultimate goal of SEO is to rank #1 on Google – the king of all search engines.
Ranking is a rather simple activity. Here’s an example of how a search engine works: Someone searches for “lasagne recipe”. Google takes that query and searches their index for websites it deems to be the most relevant to that query. It then compiles a list in order of relevancy and serves it up to the user. So with “lasagne recipe”, Google will show a list of results, in this case a recipe for “World’s Best Lasagna” from AllRecipes.com shows up in the top spot.
There are many factors that go into rankings. In fact, there are people that spend their entire careers working on rankings and how to rank web pages at the top of the list. Where your website ranks can play a huge role in your success online, if you do not appear on page 1 of a search, the chances of success online are drastically reduced.
SEO can be a challenging area for a lot of businesses, and even more so for startups. One of the first challenges when starting a company is figuring out who their audience is. An experienced SEO company can take a lot of guesswork out of the equation by using a combination of tools that can help tremendously. Some features include the ability to find out what people are searching for (queries), competitor’s strength, volume of searches and many more metrics. Using these tools, a startup can get a head-start on success by learning more about potential customers, their buying habits and ways to make your web pages improve in the rankings and thus be suggested to potential customers more often.
The Importance of SEO Cannot Be Ignored
Appropriately executed SEO can drive a great deal of organic (not paid for) traffic to your website or web pages. Driving traffic to your site is the first step of the process but not the primary objective. Converting a visitor into a paid customer is more important but before that can happen, you have to be able to get people to go to your website.
Getting more people to visit your website, convert from visitors to leads and generating sales all falls under the umbrella of “SEO”. If you are doing business online in any capacity, you really cannot afford to neglect your SEO.
Without SEO, your website will be virtually invisible to search engines and since the majority of internet users use search engines to find you, your customer base will be seriously limited.
Knowledge And Awareness Wins Half of the Battle
93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. That’s incredible. So it’s easy to see how important your SEO is. If you fail to rank on Google, you are simply invisible online for all intents and purposes.
SEO is generally a very active and constantly evolving activity. Every so often Google will implement a few changes to their ranking system and we’re forced to adapt or face lower rankings.
Every web professional should understand basic SEO and as a startup, you should understand the basics so that you can make some decisions related to its overall management and implementation. I never recommend hiring an SEO company without at least a basic understanding of what to look for in an SEO company – it’s not all about ROI, there are many ways to improve your business.
A website improperly optimized will most likely result in a significant loss of traffic or very low traffic. To attract customers, you have to let search engines know what each and every page is about. The exact protocol is documented very well by Google. Although it takes understanding and patience, you can rank high in search results if you follow the guidelines and Google’s Best Practices which lay out the exact steps to follow and rules to adhere to.
There are some regular SEO mistakes that Startups make that are hard to stay away from. Testing the Optimization approaches are likewise troublesome on the grounds that businesses can’t check the techniques continuously since web crawlers’ standards are ending up hard to anticipate.
In addition, there are tools that can help you understand your ranking, monitor and evaluate your results.
So when searching for an SEO partner, make sure you understand your goals and clearly communicate them. Any SEO company worth their salt should be able to provide a list of companies who they have served and show you rankings that were improved as a direct result of their actions.
Now that we’ve covered some basics, let dive into some DONT’S. There are some things to avoid when it comes to SEO:
1. Keyword Stuffing
Adding keywords to your site is imperative in helping it to rank higher on Google. An important thing to be cautious about is Keyword Density. An excessive number of keywords may suggest that the page is “spam” and as a result may not appear in search results. Getting the keyword balance right just is important – not having enough of them can result in the search engine not understanding what the page is about and thus not serving it up as a result. The correct balance varies but as a general rule, you can assume that the use of the keyword 4-5 per page is ideal. Of course, you can go wild with keywords and use it 1,000 times or more on a single page. This is known as keyword stuffing and was very common up until about 7 years ago. There were all kinds of ways to have your keyword appear on a web page and many sites took advantage of it until, one day, Google shut it all down with a change to their algorithm. Almost overnight, thousands of websites dropped from the rankings like stones in water. Many of them were manually penalized as well and had to not only remove the keywords but had to then prove it to Google. It was a rough time for some websites. The moral of the story is don’t keyword stuff your web pages. Optimize them and Google will reward you by serving your pages to people in search of what you have to offer.
2. Missing Metadata
First of all, what is meta data?
Meta data is information that is placed in a web page and read by search engines. This information is (along with other information) is then used to index the web page. When a web page is indexed, the search engine will then serve that page to its customers based on relevancy (and other factors).
Startups can make mistakes when it comes to meta data by leaving it out, having incorrect data or simply having meta data that will not result in any search traffic.
For example, let’s say that your own and operate a business that sells dog leashes. You decide to build your own website and optimize each page. So guessing what your customer’s want, you call optimize your shop page for “blue dog leashes”. Everything seems fine but no traffic ever makes it to your page. Why? Well simply put, you never want to assume what people are looking for online, you always want to make sure you analyze and find out what your public is looking for and then provide it to them – not the other way around. Had you done the research, you would have seen that only 300 people are searching for “dog leashes” every month while 3,000 are searching for “dog collars”.
The point is this: Do your research and optimize for the best available keywords. What are the best available? The ones that you have the best chance of ranking for. With that being said, you do want to factor in paid advertising on Google. There are many benefits to it but before you pay, we recommend optimizing your site so that you get the most out of your marketing dollars.
3. Forgetting about Analytics
The most ideal approach to know whether your SEO optimization and content endeavors are working well is by keeping track on their development. New companies tend to ignore the numbers, but this is a very common mistake that you should not make. It’s not hard to do if you understand what to do and what to look for. That can take a little training but the information is there to understand. It might take a few hours or a few days but Google has hundreds if not thousands of videos teaching every part of what they call their “best practices”.
Setting up and frequently exploring your Analytics is the key to getting the best results. If you can’t see and understand your results, make changes as needed and optimize, your chances of success online are greatly reduced.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are the two fundamental tools you can use to gather your metrics.
4. Forgetting About Local Searches
Numerous studies in recent years have shown that a considerable number of consumers perform a Local Search on their smartphones before visiting a brick-and-mortar store. Overlooking this revenue stream can cost you. Don’t let it.
As silly as it seems, startups often omit information or post false information online. The wrong phone number, address or contact information can cost you sales. Make sure you check your online profiles – from your computer and from mobile devices. Of course, if your contact information is wrong or hard to find, your local inquiries will suffer.
If you operate locally, you can reap the benefits of advertising locally.
5. Missing Quality Links
To get the most from SEO, startups should understand that the quality of external links included in their content is more important than the quantity of those links.
Websites link to one another. And your website should have links going to other websites and links from other websites to yours. This network of links helps establish your online relationship and is a big factor in the ranking of your website by a search engine. It’s estimated to comprise about 33% or more of your “score” in the eyes of Google. So if your website doesn’t have good quality links pointing to it, you need to do something to make that happen.
One of the easiest ways is to create accounts online at free websites like Medium, Blogger and WordPress. These websites allow you to create free profiles and blogs. Once you create an account, you can publish some content – talk about your services, products or anything you want. Include the name of your business or products in the content. Then, add a link to your website. That link will help your site and just like anything else, the more work you put in, the more you will get out. So be prolific, work at it and build good quality links. They will help your business.
Quick Guide on How to Avoid Common SEO Mistakes
This basic SEO guide is meant as a tool to help you understand and implement the basic SEO functions that you need when beginning a new business. As a startup, it can seem like a daunting task to venture out into the world and bring your products and services to the online world.
The truth is, you can do it. With the right tools in place and understanding, you can make it happen and if your goal is to build a successful online store, it is possible. If there was one piece of advise that was more important than the rest, it would be to STAY BUSY AND GET IT DONE. Hard work pays off and it’s not just a saying. It’s true.
Building a presence online requires a lot of work. There are thousands of businesses out there that service businesses by making these services more automated and there are many that can be very helpful. But it’s still very important to understand as much about SEO as you can so that you can make the right decisions about your website when it comes time to do so.
In case you don’t know where to begin or need help enhancing your current SEO technique, do not hesitate to get in touch with our professionals. We are here to help and provide the advice that your Startup needs in order to succeed. Contact our experts today.