What Is SEO? Your Ultimate Guide

mobile phone showing google serps

If you’re new to internet marketing or you have been living under a rock for the last ten years, then you might not know about SEO, but I’m willing to bet that chances are you’ve probably at least heard of this term once or twice before. If you have or you haven’t really doesn’t matter because I am going to try to give you a thorough explanation of what SEO actually is and if it’s worth it for you to hire a search engine optimization professional for your business. Let’s begin, shall we?

SEO, or search engine optimization as most of us call it, is the process in which a website owner tries to positively impact his or her search rankings through a variety of different methods. Some of these methods may include, but aren’t limited to, page speed tweaks, revising keyword strategies, obtaining more backlinks,

website ranking number one on google search

What Can Impact Your SEO?

When it comes to search engine optimization at least for the Google Search Engine, many SEO professionals know that Google uses a very complex algorithm for ranking websites and there is at least to be 200 different ranking factors that can have an impact on your search engine rankings.

Website Performance

I won’t touch on this topic too much in this article since I have discussed this in previous topics; however, you should know that Google tends to rank faster websites better than slower websites.

Here are some factors that could be causing your website to load poorly…

  • Overall Page Size
  • Image Sizes & Poorly Compressed Images
  • Unused Javascript and CSS
  • Third Party Scripts
  • Unminified HTML, CSS, or Javascript
  • Non Essential Plugins
  • Slow WordPress Themes
  • Lack of Browser Caching
  • Asyncing or Defering Javascript
  • Minimizing Redirect Chains

If you’re interested in achieving better website performance scores, then be sure to check out this article.

Keywords – Making sure that you have compiled data on keywords that are actually getting search volume can help you to make sure you aren’t trying to rank for keywords with little to no search volume.

Mobile Responsiveness – The mobile friendliness of your website can also have major impacts on your overall performance in search engines and if you aren’t paying attention to how well your website is optimized for mobile, then you could be missing out on valuable opportunities to improve your website.

Your Domain Authority – Your website’s domain authority is thought to be a known ranking factor as well. In fact, it is also thought that Google places higher value on websites that have also acquired age (Learn more about this topic by checking out this article from backlinko). Furthermore, the amount of organic backlinks have also been thought to play a crucial role in increasing your website’s domain authority as well.

Type of Domain – Did you know that the type of domain you buy can also impact your search engine visibility? For example, if you buy a domain that is country specific such as .fr or .ch it does carry the probability that it will help you rank better for those geographic locations, but it may impact your visibility on a global scale.

Link Structure – Creating appropriate link silos and taking steps to ensure your permalinks have relevant keywords in them can go a long way for

AMP – Also known as accelerated mobile pages, configuring your website to be AMP friendly can help give your users an even better mobile browsing experience.

Backlink Profile – The amount of websites linking back to your website’s content also plays a role in determining your ranking factors on Google search; however, many experts at Google have hinted that they do not play as much of a major role as they used to. It is also important to know that the relevance of your backlinks is just

Internal Links – Your internal links matter, too. Remember, making additional content easier to find, and internally linking to other relevant topics makes an impact.

Good Content – You guys probably have heard the old saying that content is king, and creating good content that provides your users will useful information that is helpful can also help you boost your overall search engine rankings.

Light Content – If you tend to create light content that provides your users with minimal information, then it could negatively impact your keyword rankings.

Search Console Errors – Make sure you also stay vigilant about handling errors that come up in Google Search Console.

XML Sitemap Submission – Submitting your XML sitemaps to Google, Bing!, and other search engines can help search engines understand what your website is about.

SSL Certificate – Google has stated that one of the easiest things you can do to help your rankings on Google Search is to make sure your site has an SSL certificate.

Website Updates – For those of you who don’t know, Google and other search engines tend to look favorably at websites who update their content frequently. This applies to both creating new content and updating older content.


seo professional optimizing a website

Do You Need an SEO Expert?

I am pretty sure that many of you reading today’s article are asking yourself this very question, so I thought I would expand on this topic a bit in hopes of helping you to decide if you need a professional SEO consultant or if it would make better sense for you to try some good home grown DIY SEO. So, to help you make a better informed decision, ask yourself the following questions and then decide if hiring an expert would be the right option for you.

  • Do you know how to perform keyword research?
  • Can you create content?
  • Are you familiar with Google’s Best Practices?
  • Do you know On Page SEO?
  • Do you know how to organically build links?
  • Can you perform your own SEO Audit?
  • Can you write meta descriptions?
  • Will you be able to troubleshoot performance issues?
  • Do you know what an HTML and XML sitemap is?
  • How much do you know about robots.txt?

Can I Do This Myself?

Absolutely. If you take the time to learn best practices and take a proactive approach to learning as much as you can, than most definitely. In fact, many people take this approach, but most of it boils down to time. If you don’t have the time or the patience to learn search engine optimization (and there is a lot to learn), then hiring a search engine optimization expert is probably a better option for you.

However, if you do take the time to learn search engine optimization techniques, you will not only be able to help yourself, but you’ll be able to help other people, too!

Is SEO Worth The Investment?

This is probably another question many of you (especially business owners) are asking yourselves, and it’s definitely a good question to ask. Unfortunately, this question is very one sided and the answer will almost always depend on several different factors. Keep reading to learn about these factors before taking on the commitment to hire a professional SEO or a digital marketing agency for your SEO needs.

Expectations SEO is not a quick fix or a get rich quick strategy. If you’re looking for short term monetary gains, then I suggest you learn about Google AdWords or other online advertising platforms. However, setting your website up early to be SEO optimized and ensuring that you or anyone on your team that manages your site knows and follows proper SEO techniques is worth its weight in gold later on.

Budget – If you have budget constraints, then sit down with your potential hire and get his or her opinion on what SEO related tasks should take priority and use your budget to make sure those items get handled regardless. Remember, higher budgets mean more work can get done and if you can’t afford a long term commitment with your SEO expert, then it’s best to make the best use of each other’s time while you can.

Goals – If you are looking to hire an SEO professional because you think he or she may be able to help you rank on page one on Google in a short period of time, then I encourage you to re-evaluate your options. As I stated before, search engine optimization is a long term play and should be treated as such. However, that isn’t to say that you won’t rank a brand new website extremely well, but you shouldn’t expect it in a relatively short period either.

Experience – Evaluating the experience of your preferred SEO contractor is probably one of the very first things you should do before making the commitment to work with someone and you should focus on developing a comprehensive plan tailored to your needs before taking the plunge.

I bring this up because some SEO professionals and or agencies may only specialize in a certain number of SEO related tasks such as meta descriptions, title tags, alt image text, or basic header tag fixes and may lack the professional experience to help you achieve improvement in other areas such that require more technical knowledge or development prowess.

seo friendly website

Technical SEO? What?

If you’re still sitting here and scratching your head, then you probably aren’t the only one. Search Engine Optimization is a fairly robust topic and as you probably know from reading most of this article, there is a lot more to SEO than writing meta descriptions or strategic keyword placement. If you thought that writing good content, getting relevant backlinks, and following Google’s Best Practices was enough, I am sorry to be the bear of bad news, but it’s not. Even if you do everything correctly I can almost guarantee that there will come a time when your website will need some good old fashioned TLC that will force you to get under the hood a bit.

Random Google algorithm updates are notorious for forcing website owners to adapt new ways of doing things in order to make sure they keep their website SEO friendly. For the purpose of this example let’s jump back in time and go back to July 1, 2019. This was when Google officially adopted Mobile First Indexing. This algorithm update explicitly states that Google will start predominantly using the mobile versions of websites for indexing and ranking.

So, let’s think about what this meant for users back then from a technical standpoint…

Basically, users knew that the mobile versions of their websites were going to start becoming more and more important as time went on and it started forcing everyone to make sure their websites were properly formatted for mobile phones and tablets. For some people this was an easy fix if there wasn’t much that needed done, but for people who had either neglected their website or for those who had little technical knowledge of how they could start making their website more mobile friendly, it probably became quite the headache.

The main point I am trying to make is that SEO is much more involved than most people think and if you find yourself not staying well informed about the latest updates regarding Google Search, then your overall presence on organic search could suffer rapidly. This is why it definitely pays to get at least a little acquainted with the technical side of SEO.

Other Examples of Technical SEO Fixes Include….

  • Fixing Flash Of Invisible Text (FOIT)
  • Using appropriate Canonical Tags
  • Using Nofollow links When Appropriate
  • Using Proper 301 Permanent Redirects
  • Utilizing Schema Markup
  • Minimizing Your Use of Javascript
  • Making Your Website Mobile Responsive On All Devices
  • Reduce or Eliminate Render Blocking Javascript
  • Serving Images in Next Gen Formats Such as WEBP, JPEG 2000, or JPEG XR

In case you’re wondering how you could improve on your technical SEO why not trying checking out Google PageSpeed Insights? This handy little tool will tell you if you need to fix most of the items I mentioned above (excluding Nofollow links, Schema Markup, Canonical Tags, or 301 redirects). To see if you should be using those or not, I suggest doing a quick Google Search and getting well acquainted with the terms and how they should be used on your website.

Blackhat SEO Explained

Some of you reading this might already be familiar with the term “Blackhat SEO”, but for those of you who aren’t, let me explain. Blackhat SEO refers to tactics or strategies that go against Google’s Best Practices and are used to exploit search algorithms in the hopes of ranking a website rather quickly. Regardless of how tempting that might sound, I can assure you that it is not worth it and here’s why.

First of all, practicing any form of Blackhat SEO could get your website deindexed from Google Search altogether and you may or may not ever be able to get the ban lifted. Secondly, even if you do experience a short term boost in your rankings, it will probably be very short lived and fail to provide you with any real positive impact.

A few examples of Blackhat SEO include….

  • Buying links from linkfarms.
  • Keyword stuffing your pages (this includes hiding invisible text)
  • Creating several similar websites in order to rank for the same terms or geographic location.
  • Cloaking – the process of showing search engines one piece of content, but showing the user something totally different.
  • Abusing schema markup and structured data snippets.
  • Link spamming other websites or blogs with a link back to your own website in the comments section.
  • Engaging with a PBN (aka Private Blogging Network). These networks are similar to link farms and are made for the sole purpose of building links.

The moral of the story is you should never knowingly, or unknowingly participate in any Blackhat SEO techniques that could run you the risk of getting your website possibly removed from Google Search. Unless you want to create a website that will forever remain a ghost town….

A Final Thought

Well, I hope this article has helped those of you reading this and I also hope that I might have taught the more experienced readers a few new tricks as well. It was definitely a lot of fun writing this article and remember, if you have any comments, questions, or things you would like see added into this post, please feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll reply to you as soon as possible.

Oh, and for those of you who own a local business and want to improve your SEO even further, be sure to check out our post on How to Use Google My Business.


10 SEO Tips Every Business Owner Should Know

business owner searching for seo tips online

If you’re looking for some solid seo tips to help grow your business, then you’re in the right place. Learning the basic best practices of Search Engine Optimization can help you expand your online presence and help you increase your overall customer base. So, let’s jump right in and start learning some of the internet’s best kept secrets so that you can hit the ground running.


Subscribe to Relevant Business Directories

You have probably heard about business directories and many of you have probably created an account on one or two, but aren’t understanding why you aren’t seeing an increase in traffic or an increase in your website leads.

That being said, have you ever asked yourself if you are subscribing to the right business directories? Many business owners try a one size fits all approach when it comes to getting listed on web directories and I can tell you from experience in most cases that is the wrong approach.

For example, if you’re in the business of building houses, then try to find websites and directories that cater to your specific niche.


Update Your Website Often

This is another SEO tip that most business owners undervalue, but I can assure you that updating your website regularly is important. Search engines like Google take notice when websites are creating and updating their content and it’s very important to try and stay ahead of the curve.

If you struggle with creating blog posts or updating your service pages, or just don’t know what kind of content to create for your business, then why not take a step back and look at your website as if you were a customer?

Think about what kinds of questions you would have for your business and talk about them in an informative blog post!

You could even go through each one of your service pages and add a frequently asked questions section and add additional information about each specific service.


Don’t Forget About Your Meta Descriptions

This seo tip is definitely a no brainer, but one that is often overlooked. You should always remember to write unique meta descriptions for each and every page or post on your website.

It is also considered best practice to include the focus keyword of that specific page in your meta description so your users can better understand what the page is about before they click on the link.


Get Listed On Google My Business

Remember those relevant business directories we just discussed? Google My Business is definitely a directory most local businesses will want to get listed on. Not only will it help your physical location to be displayed on Google Maps, but it is literally a free lead generation tool.

If you’re a business owner and you’re not utilizing this free service, then please, do yourself a favor and create a profile.

Google My Business will let your customers give you reviews and if you’re doing good work, other people will take notice when searching for businesses like yours in your service area.


Make Sure Your Website Is Fast

This is probably another no brainer SEO tip, but a good one nonetheless. Research suggests that improving page speed can help you decrease your bounce rate and improve overall website conversions, but you’re probably asking yourself how do I do that?

Well, if you have a WordPress website, then I suggest you check out our article on page speed optimization to learn more.

But, if you don’t feel like reading that article right now, then here’s some quick and dirty advice to get you started.

  • Utilize Browser Caching
  • Optimize Your Images
  • Don’t overuse Javascript
  • Compress your CSS
  • Eliminate Render Blocking JS
  • Use a CDN if your website has tons of content.


Make Sure Your Website Is User Friendly

If you are going to take anything away from this article, then please make sure you pay close attention to the next few sentences, because this is probably one of the most important SEO tips in this entire post.

Google has stated several times in the past that making sure your website is mobile responsive and user friendly is definitely something that can help you improve your overall search performance so here are a few things to consider when trying to determine if your website is user friendly or not.

  • Does your website load properly on all mobile devices?
  • Does each page load quickly?
  • Is your website easy to navigate?


Get An SSL Certificate

Think SSL certificates are only for website owners that have an e-commerce store? Think again! Google has also came out and said that putting an SSL certificate on your website is one of the easiest things you can do to boost your search engine rankings.

If you don’t know what an SSL certificate is, then I suggest reading about it by clicking here.


Update Your Images ALT Text

Did you know updating your images alternative text will help your images rank on Google images? It’s true and that’s because alternative text helps search engines understand what your image is actually about.

However, remember to be mindful of Google’s best practices when writing your alt image text by honestly describing your images. That means you


Check Your Page Titles

This next search engine optimization tip will definitely give you a laugh, but I am being very serious when I say this….Check your page titles! If you create a new web page and you have a title like laundry service near me, then you’re doing it wrong.

A page title such as laundry service in Sacramento, California would be more appropriate. If you are trying to gain local in bound traffic, then make sure to include the city and state you serve in the page title if you think it’s appropriate.

Another good rule of thumb regarding your page titles is to also try and be as descriptive as possible. However, please also remember to try and keep your page titles under 60 characters. You can learn why character limit on your page titles is important by checking out this article from MOZ.


Don’t Forget About Header Tags

So, this is my final SEO tip for this article and I saved the most basic for last. When it comes to helping search engines understand what a specific page is about it’s also important for you to optimize your header tags.

Your <h1> tag is considered the most important header tag on any page or post and should always contain your focus keyword.

Furthermore, your <h2> through <h6> tags should include different variations of that same keyword when possible and wherever appropriate.


Bonus SEO Tip: Create Better Permalinks

Before we finish up this article I also think it is a good idea to talk to you about writing better permalinks. When you’re about to publish a page or post remember to always double check and see if your permalinks contain your focus keyword and avoid using permalinks such as /123445 etc.

I hope this article will help many of you business owners in the future and I also hope you will come back and check out our blog frequently for more awesome advice on search engine optimization.

Until next time, farewell and remember to contact us if you need any help regarding web design or development!