Search engine optimization (SEO) is the technique of helping your website rank higher in the organic search results. If you paid for an ad, that’s called Pay Per Click, which we referred to in our last blog post. Any search result that isn’t a paid ad is an organic search result. Considering 88% of people don’t click on paid ads, a long-term, local SEO strategy and plan is the way to go.
How Search Engines Work
Search engines are major profit centers. If they don’t perform, they lose money. Their objective is to bring a consumer relevant and helpful websites that match their search query, or the consumer will find a different search engine that does. If there are no consumers searching, they lose ad revenue. The way they find those relevant and helpful websites is by crawling websites and reading their keywords, tags, meta description and so on, and then indexing your website pages for later reference.
In a nutshell, the search engines consider two main areas to determine rank: the content of your website and who’s linking to you. Within each of these buckets, there are complicated, proprietary algorithms for each search engine. Some factors that affect a consumer’s search results are:
- The geographic location of the consumer
- Personal search history of the consumer
- A consumer’s personal network’s social media history (Google +1, Facebook “likes” of friends)
- Historical performance of a listing (click through rate, bounces, etc)
- Link quality (reciprocal vs. one-way)
- Webpage content (keywords, tags, pictures)
- Back end code of a website
- Link type (social media sharing, link from a media outlet or blog, etc)
Check out this video from Matt Cutts, Google’s Head of Web Spam, as he gives a bird’s eye glimpse into how Google determines ranking.
Why Local Matters
Local SEO factors in the “where” component of a search. Consumers are searching on smart phones and tablets for immediate purchases, so search engines have shifted their focus to local. Consumers have always needed local products and services. What’s changed is how they find them. Search engines have become the new Yellow Pages. What levels the playing field for local businesses is their local address.
Local SEO is a budget-friendly way to gain exposure. Consumers are searching for you already, so the conversion rate and ROI is traditionally much higher than interruption marketing, such as billboards or commercials. It’s also much more targeted, so you’re spending your money on a smart, strategic plan rather than hoping people see your ad and call you.
When optimizing for local SEO strategy, you need to plan for onsite optimization and offsite optimization. Your onsite optimization should include the areas you serve in your title tags, photo tags, etc. Your content needs to be relevant and authoritative (no keyword stuffing!) and helpful for the end user. Remember, search engines want to get it right, or they lose money. Trying to trick them is not a good idea.
Offsite, you can build a campaign around directory listings, video SEO, photo SEO, etc. Whatever plan you decide must be consistent across all onsite and offsite channels in order to be effective. We believe in a total web presence, and a local SEO strategy is a big component to that presence. All of the factors that search engines consider is how we build our sites and our SEO strategies.