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What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the process of making gradual changes to your website to see how search engines such as Google and others respond to it. When the right kinds of changes are made to your site, it attracts the right kinds of customers and ignores the bad ones. You also get more sales and leads than ever before!

As a simple aside, I once worked on a website providing legal advice on ICBC insurance claims. The site’s owner claimed that this his website received thousands of visits each month and no sales. Digging into his web analytics, we observed that the traffic originated from a domain at a law school in eastern Canada. The real problem was the client was in Vancouver, BC and law students in eastern Canada were visiting his website likely interested in research into legal issues. He really was not talking to an audience of interested buyers, though addressing key legal issues. Building a website that attracts the right kinds of customers is key!

In this website, we will use words such as “position” – where you are now – and “placement” – where you want to be – to help you understand what is SEO and if you need it. Often, I think you do, and you might not even know it. (Later on, I also want you to think deeply about the following: Who you are, and what is your brand or mantra that compels you forward? This is important because all your efforts at being like everyone, copying their words and design, make you appear like one of those people you see in the background on a news report in Yemen on CBC. You don’t know who they are because they won’t stand out unless it is your uncle named Jim. To everyone else in the world, he does not exist. He’s just man dressed in traditional clothing standing on hot dirt in sandals.

Importantly, much of SEO has and is about making the mighty Google overseer happy. So, we need to deal with it. But, Bing and Yahoo also exist and can provide you with quality traffic to from paying customers, believe it or not.

Why Google (and what is it)?

Google matters because it influences about 90 percent of searches occurring online. It’s just a computer like the one that you are sitting in front of right now, whether you are reading this on a smartphone or tablet. The main difference between Google and your device is that Google has access to all the files available online that exist on fibre optic strands (like spider webs) and Google is a crawler or spider that finds them by listening to the signals it receives each time you conduct a search.

Google’s claim to fame is that it found a way to locate the best websites that people seem to be happy with. I like to think that Google simply got good at finding authentic “brands” or personalities online. The questions you have to ask are — “Is my website authentic” and “What is it’s personality” — before you start thinking about being number 1 on Google. If you don’t think that way you become Uncle Jim on CBC in Yemen. No one knows who you are. But, if Uncle Jim makes the best apple pie in Yemen, he becomes famous.

How can you be number 1 in Google?

You really can’t make Google, which is just a fast calculator, think you’re the best website online if you are not. I’ve been experimenting with how to best describe the problem so I said to my wife, who loves potato chips, the problem that Google has is that it has a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips, all websites, and its supposed to decide which chip is better than the others and sort them from 1 to infinity.

To my chagrin, my clever analogy was quickly dismantled when she said, “that’s easy! The curly ones are the best!” She claims to be a potato chip connoisseur if even such a thing existed.

But, she’s right! Google has to find those unique features or qualities that differentiate your website from the next. SEO identifies those features and adjusts your website so it more closely matches the top-performing websites.

When should you begin SEO?

In a perfect world, you would call me before you do anything. You would say, “This is what I’m thinking. What do you think?” Ninety-nine per cent of people do the opposite.

Instead, they build the website that their developer who seems to speaks a foreign language and often looks displeased when spoken to, built for them. It’s a beautiful looking website that meets all the compromises the designers and developers would agree to.

The problem is you have no customers. Copying your competitor’s website has also no helped. Their website is blue and your website is green. You say that “Well, we never really needed a website. We built our business on good customer services and honesty one customer at a time.” I hope your site is really about that and not simply codified under headings that state: “About Us,” “Services” or “Solutions.”

So, what is SEO (now)?

.SEO is really a client interview that finds out who you are and what the problem is. Initially, the client meeting is about the position you are in now and where you want to be placed. The real issue often lies with authenticity. How do we express the unique qualities of your business in such a way that people are drawn to you and they trust you to do the job properly? How do we use the tools available to SEO professionals to ensure that you are happy with your website and that your customers will “love it” too!

The remainder of this website will talk about “What is SEO” and what goes into it so you can decide for yourself if you need it. Often, we start with keywords.