What is SEO?

If you are doing any kind of research on internet marketing and how it can help your business become visible online, you have probably stumbled across the acronym SEO, which is short for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, SEO is the method of increasing the chances that your website and its pages will be found on the first page of search engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, iTunes, etc) when someone does a search for your product and services.

Times have really changed when it comes to shopping for products and services in Canada. Millennials especially like to do some online research, read reviews, and visit your website before heading into your physical office or store to buy something.

Let’s take Edmonton restaurants as an example: there are roughly 4400 searches done monthly for the keyword Edmonton restaurants. That’s a heck of a lot of traffic that, unless you are on the first three pages of a search, are probably not coming to your door.

There is a major caveat when it comes to SEO – if you want to show up in a search for a 1 word or 2 word keyword like: Edmonton -or- restaurants Edmonton -or- contractor Edmonton, it will take much work and a sizeable budget (months to years and tens of thousands of dollars). The competition will be fierce and likely national or international company websites will already be on top for these coveted keywords.

The good news is that there are ways around getting to the first page of search results for local businesses. We can utilize long tail keywords (more specific keywords, typically 4 or more words) to ensure that you can show up on the first page locally (example: basement renovation company Edmonton).

These keywords are often much better at converting a visitor into a lead as their search intent is more specific and targeted to a service.

SEO is aimed at getting unpaid (or organic) search engine traffic to your website, unlike Pay-Per-Click (PPC) which directs paid traffic to your website.

Explainer video about SEO

Check out this informative explainer video from Search Engine Land explaining Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Why do you need SEO?

You need SEO for your business website because the phone book is no longer the go-to business directory that people turn to when they are looking for your product and services. People now turn to the Internet first, and generally, they visit a search engine like Google to search and find the answers to their queries.

Although directory books like the Yellow Pages were good in their day, imagine having to call 20 clinics to find the right doctor, whereas now you can go to 20 websites, read reviews, get your answers, and make a shortlist decision about which clinic you’d like to visit.

27.4 million Canadians are online and 93% of them look for a product or service online before buying. They perform a search using Google, Yahoo, or the Bing search engines in an effort to find what they are looking for.

Here are some examples of searches done throughout Canada every month:

  • Over 110,000+ searches are done every month for keywords related to chiropractor,
  • Over 94,000+ searches are done every month for keywords related to dentist
  • Over 74, 000+ searches are done every month for keywords related to plumber
  • Over 70,000+ searches are done every month for a roofer
  • Over 100,000+ searches are done every month for keywords related to home renovator

*Monthly number of searches found using Google keyword tool.

How do you do SEO?

At Nyche Marketing, we break SEO into 4 distinct parts: technical seo, on-page seo, off-page seo, and local seo.

Before we break those down, first things first. In real estate, they have a core saying that is: location, location, location. In SEO, the primary foundation is: keywords, keywords, keywords.

This means that you must have a list of keywords that you want to optimize your website for. This is not something you guess at or assume. There are specialized tools out there that will allow you to KNOW exactly what words and phrases real people are using every day to search for your product and services. Having this list will dictate how we would go about implementing the following SEO tactics.

Technical SEO

This is the optimization done via the software architecture of the website. From choosing the right website CMS software to go with, to the technical files of the site like the robots.txt and sitemap.xml files, to understanding how to mark a web page as the master version (canonical version), to adding metadata to page content, and finally, making sure the page URLs are search engine friendly. Page speed, broken links and 404 pages, 301 redirects and so much more – technical SEO is just as it sounds, highly technical, and is best left to programmers or site architects to design and implement.

For a better idea of how intensive it can be, check out this article and this one.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO refers to the optimization done to the content on the web page itself. This encompasses everything from using relevant keywords in the headings, page content, image tags, title and description tags, and hyperlinks.

Off-page SEO

This is where the rubber meets the road. Now that you have a firm technical website foundation and you have published some great optimized content, you need to let the search engines know you are a viable site. It needs to know that other websites think your content is credible. Getting backlinks and having your web pages shared on social media sites tells Google that real people vouch for your web page and it increases the authority of your web page. The more authority, the better chance you have of coming out on top in a search engine results page.

Local SEO

Local SEO is a mixture of on and off page that focuses primarily on getting your name out there to your local community sites. Building citations using your NAP (name, address & phone number) is key to ranking locally. This lets search engines like Google know you are local and relevant, and helps increase your chances for results in a regular search or a map search.

Here is our typical process for beginning an SEO strategy:

  1. Start with some seed keywords relevant to your business (we will typically ask you what you want to be found/rank for) and begin searching to see what comes up and where you rank. A good sign that you need help with SEO is if you do not show up on the first three pages of a search for keywords relevant to your business.
  2. Collect the top 3 website results for each keyword.
  3. Do proper keyword research to find out the exact keywords that people are actually searching for (there will be hundred if not thousands); and then determine their viability to be used on your website.
  4. Filter the results down to between 50 and 100 keywords that show buying intent. These will be the keywords and keyword themes we will focus on. The list will include phrases and long tail keywords.
  5. Incorporate keywords into strategic locations on your website like your URLs, titles, headings, image alt tags, and page content etc. This is the On-Page SEO and Technical SEO tactics.
  6. Next we would map out a strategy for executing monthly off-page seo and local seo.

While this list is short, it is only a brief overview of what it takes to apply just one SEO tactic. Nevertheless, the foundational key to SEO will always be: decide what keywords you want to target and be found for, and start integrating them into your strategy.

How does Search Work at Google?

Matt Cutts, the previous head of Google’s web spam team, describes how a search is done using the Google search engine. He also talks about how Google determines how to rank a website on a search engine results page, check it out below:

What if your website sent you pre-qualified leads every week?

Just like running television commercials, radio commercials, or billboards allowed you to get your name out there in the past, optimizing your website gives you just as much chance to get your name out there and comes with the added benefit of being able to actually do some of the selling for you, depending on how well your web page can convert a visitor to a lead or customer.

Imagine that you are a doctor running a medical clinic and you have some deep experience with a specific modality or two. How are people supposed to know you have such a skill set if your website doesn’t tell them? How can your site attract patients that are actively looking for a solution to their pain, disease, or injury? Optimizing your site and adding relevant content such as case studies, patient stories, published articles, patient testimonials, and general information can go a long way in improving your website’s capability to be found on the top page of a search engine.

With a good SEO strategy, it is possible to see leads contacting your business from your website every week.

Now imagine an Edmonton business getting 5000 visitors every month to their website from all over North America. We’ve done it with a client of ours who started out with a basic 5 page website, and eventually moved forward with incorporating an SEO strategy as well as a content marketing strategy, and now the business receives pre-qualified leads every week.

Do you want leads and customers from your website? Do you want more visibility online? SEO combined with a content marketing strategy is the way to go!

Some SEO Statistics

With the ever-changing landscape of the online world, it can be difficult to stand out. A good SEO strategy is a great way to capitalize on the many searches done every day for your product or service using keywords.

Here are some other interesting statistics about SEO:

  • 4.8 billion Canadian Google searches are performed each month
  • 16% of daily searches have never been searched before
  • 60% of all organic clicks go to the top 3 search results
  • 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, and only focus on the organic (SEO) results
  • Inbound SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate

Sources:
6smarketing.com/blog/infographic-canadian-internet-usage-statistics
ironpaper.com/webintel/articles/2015-critical-seo-statistics-and-trends/#.VoxoyRG3Pww

Have any questions about using SEO for your business website? We are happy to answer them – contact us here

SEO is Easy?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is what website builders, marketers, and businesses of all kind need to perform if they want their website’s pages to show up when people use a search engine.

If you’re not familiar with the basics of SEO, read What is SEO? and then come back to this article to learn a whole lot more.

A lot of my clients will tell me they want their website to appear on the front page of Google. They seem to be fixated on this one result, instead of looking at the bigger picture. The bigger picture involves looking at all the elements that contribute to a website’s success – that is a Living Website.

Having a well optimized website takes so much more than some quick SEO hacks or tricks that some website promoters have up their sleeves. There are no tricks. There aren’t ways to trick Google into putting your website above your competitors. Google employs thousands of PhDs whose job it is to make the search engine experience the highest quality ever. The only way to get your website and business in front of the people you want to reach is to use best practices for SEO.

Search Engine Optimization involves Technical SEO, On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Local SEO.

Doing SEO right means you need to have

  • Technical skills and knowledge
  • High-quality content
  • High-quality back links to and from your web pages
  • Citations – business name, location, phone info throughout your website, social properties, and other website properties
  •  and so. much. more!

Is this starting to sound a little more complicated than you thought? It should, because it is!

Yes, SEO is complicated but it isn’t rocket science. It can be easy to learn if you have the patience to study all of the 200 rankings factors in Google’s algorithm that they use to rank your webpages when someone performs a search.

That’s right! There are 200 factors that search engines use to determine if your website is relevant to searchers’ needs. Some of the factors are widely known, but most of them are shrouded in secrecy so that shady SEO companies can’t “cheat” and make a sub-par, irrelevant website show up in a search results page.

DIY SEO: It Can’t be That Hard, Right?

SEO is not hard, but nobody said it was easy, either.

Doing great SEO means doing an orchestrated set of tasks, which are layered on top of each other to build a firm foundation and tiered endorsement of a web page.

Simply put, SEO takes layers of efforts to build solid results.

If done correctly, SEO can make your business a bunch of money for “free”, if done incorrectly it can mean failure and penalization of your online business.

Search engines will penalize a website for trying to trick them. One example of trying to trick a search engine is being spammy with keywords. Say a plumbing company wants their website to appear when people search “best plumbing Edmonton.” They go overboard by using the term  (or “keyword”) “plumbing Edmonton” throughout their website in a way that isn’t natural, here’s an example: “We are your premier source for everything plumbing Edmonton. Plumbing Edmonton is our main focus. Think of us when you need plumbing Edmonton.”
If it doesn’t look or sound natural to you, it won’t look right to search engines either. Search engines have software algorithms to detect spammy tactics like this. There’s no use in trying to use tricks with SEO. You have to focus on quality content, best practices, and technical knowledge.

Ready to start SEO?

If SEO seems like something you want to do yourself, then dive into the world of SEO! Below are dozens and dozens of resources that can help you.

If this sounds like something you’d rather leave to the experts, Nyche Marketing is here to do it for you. We have the knowledge, skills, and marketing professionals to boost your online presence and get your phone ringing!

Want to Learn SEO? Check out these Easy Guides!

I know, the heading above is a bit tongue and cheek, but it’s true. If you’re ready and willing to learn SEO and you have a knack for learning new things, these guides and videos are easy to read or watch… but comprehending them and putting them into practice is the hard part.

That said, these resources will teach you what you need to know to shore up your website and tune it as SEO is the foundation of a Living Website (a website engine that works for your company day and night).

Here is a comprehensive list of guides from gurus around the web broken up into the 7-steps that we follow here at Nyche Marketing:

On Page SEO – Optimizing your Website for Success

Off Page SEO – Getting other websites to vouch for yours

Local SEO – when you want to dominate the search engines in your city

Content Marketing is the new ongoing SEO

The Ever-Changing SEO Trade

SEO has been around for over 20 years according to SEO expert Bruce Clay. You can see the timeline of search engine history and SEO studies here.

Over the years, SEO has developed into a professional trade. According to job site Indeed, the average salary of an SEO and marketing role is more than $70K a year! People intern, study and test Search Engine Optimization best practices. Just like a plumber specializes in plumbing, SEO experts specialize in website optimization.

And just like plumbing or renovating or cabinetry or any other contracting role, SEO takes a lot of education, skill, and experience to master.

What sets the SEO trade apart from most other trades is that SEO is constantly changing. For example, a plumber can fix your toilet one day and it will probably be OK for the next week or month or year. With a website, it can be perfectly optimized one day, but then a week later, the algorithms for search engines change completely and your website will no longer be optimized for it.

Your toilet doesn’t do that. Once it’s fixed, it’s fixed. Search engines, on the other hand, are always changing. What worked yesterday may not work today.

What if you had someone on your side who was continuously learning, improving, and keeping up to date with the changes Google, Bing, and Yahoo make?

Do It Yourself or Ask the Experts?

Could you do SEO yourself?

Yes, you can learn to do SEO yourself. Once you dive into the articles above, subscribe to newsletters for new changes, dedicate time to testing and retesting your efforts, and gain an understanding for SEO, you could do it yourself.

But most business owners simply don’t have the time or drive to master the nuances of the SEO trade. It’s tempting to want to do it yourself, just like it can be tempting to fix your own toilet after watching some videos on YouTube, but is that the best use of your time? Will you do a great job without the years of experience a plumber has? Probably not.

If you’re ready to start doing SEO, the resources in this article are a great place to start. Gain an understanding, put expert methodology into practice and test, test, test. Good SEO takes time, keeping up-to-date, and lots of trial and error.

There’s no doubt that SEO is foundational in getting your website to show up in search results. Here are some statistics to back that up:

  • 160+ billion monthly Google searches
  • 51% of searches are longer than 4 words (i.e. long tail keywords)
  • 57% of B2B marketers say SEO has the biggest impact on lead generation.
  • 75% of marketers say SEO is content creation and the highest ranking content is about 1,200 words
  • Marketers see SEO as becoming more effective, with 82% reporting effectiveness is on the rise and 42% of this group stating effectiveness is increasing significantly.
  • Organic search (SEO) leads convert higher than social and outbound leads

Want to see more SEO statistics? Click here. and here and here

Are there SEO practices that have worked for you? Let us know in the comments below. Also, please share this article with anyone you know who may want to get a better understanding of the SEO trade and its practices!

Handy infographic outlining Google’s 200 search engine ranking factors!

You want to get more visibility for your website online, but how? This infographic lists the 200 ranking factors that the Google software uses in determining which web page to show on the first page of a search engine search. 200! Search Engine Optimization is more than just finding the right keywords and placing them in strategic places on your page, take a look at this handy infographic:

200 SEO Ranking Factors

From Visually.

Need some help getting more visibility for your website? Contact us today for a free consultation

Acquiring backlinks, which are hyperlinked text or images from other websites pointing back to one of your website pages, is still a crucial part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Links to your website are essentially a ‘thumbs up’ vote telling the search engines that people think your site is reputable and worth visiting.

The more ‘votes’ you have the better – and not just any vote – the more authoritative and quality the vote you get pointing to your website, the better!

After the Penguin update from Google, search engines are on the lookout more than ever for spammy link building and irrelevant links pointing to your site.

No longer can you hire a sleazy SEO company that will ‘build’ you 1000’s of links from irrelevant sites from Russia, China or India to give you a short term boost in the search engines. Be wary of being sold this tactic.

Below are 30 correct and innovative ways to build links, and thereby, get the votes of approval that Google and Bing are looking for.

These ideas and strategies are long term, and if you manage to implement all of them, your website will become the powerhouse marketing engine your business needs!

30 Innovative Ways to Get Backlinks and Therefore More Traffic to Your Website

Ok, lets get started:

  1. Start guest blogging – This is perhaps the most effective of the tips in this article. Start by publishing quality content onto other popular websites whose audience is relevant to your business or industry.
  2. Promote contests – Begin promoting contests where participants are encouraged to post their entry onto their own website (e.g. design or writing contests) and provide a link back to your site. Also, incorporate a rating/voting system so that the entrants can send their family, friends, and supporters back to your website!
  3. Utilize social media – Broadcast your content and contest on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest and be sure to link back to your contest web page.
  4. Advertise on the radio, TV, or in local papers – Usually, these channels have a complimentary website allowing you to place a banner image, or at the very minimum, a text link back to your website. Some examples are: The Coffee News, The Sherwood Park Independent, Metro Edmonton, Shine FM
  5. Write a magazine article – Most printed magazines also have a website component where they replicate the article and provide links back to the author’s website. A good example is the Alberta Construction Magazine.
  6. Accept guest written articles – Just as you can guest blog for another website, you can also accept guest writers onto your website and ask them to promote their article via their website, emails, and social media that link back to your website. Make it easy for them by giving them the embed code they need to just copy and paste to their website or social media!
  7. Start socializing online – Start leaving relevant and educational comments on online articles or blog posts. Although this is not a surefire way to get link juice from Google, leaving a useful and engaging comment on an online magazine article, newspaper article, or blog post along with your name and website link can amount to significant traffic from that venue. An associate who left a comment on an article on Alberta Venture Magazine’s website saw that the comment sent a significant amount of referral traffic back to his site!
  8. Build citations – A citation is a mention from another website which includes your Name, Address and Phone number, also referred to as NAP. This is not necessarily a valuable link (in terms of SEO), although you are often able to provide one, it is still a critical aspect to Local SEO for small businesses. Learn more about citation building from this excellent resource by a Whitespark.
  9. Join online industry directories – For example, if you provide products and services to the Oil and Gas Industry, there are many directories you will want to get a link from, such as Rigzone.
  10. Join a networking group – Many networking associations like BNI or the Chamber of Commerce have business directories on their websites where they will list your company and provide a link back! Examples are: Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, BNI Alberta North.
  11. Sponsor a not-for-profit – They generally have a website that thanks sponsors, and on top of providing a backlink, they usually include a paragraph describing what you have donated to them. You can see examples here: Embrace Children’s CharityBreastfriends Dragon Boat.
  12. Create great shareable content – An obvious one for sure, but not enough business owners do it! I suggested that my photography client, Ellen V Photography, add a page on her site listing some of the great venues around town where she enjoys and recommends taking photos. This one web page has received quite a few unsolicited backlinks from other bloggers. Ellen’s evergreen article can be referenced for years to come and is an example of great shareable content!
  13. Join forums, Q&A sites, and LinkedIn discussion groups – Become a member of online groups where your target market hangs out and start contributing to the conversations. Do this by answering questions and providing value to the discussion. Most of these sources have a spot to leave a signature where you can include your website. Be sure to use a URL that points to a relevant web page!
  14. Add a business directory to your site – Then you can ask the associates listed there to link back to your page from their website or email signature!
  15. Add a job  board – Provide a widget or shareable code so that those posting the job can add the posting to their website. (Please note: this tip may not be practical for every business industry.)
  16. Create and share infographics – This is a hot and trendy, highly visual way of sharing valuable information. Collect some pertinent business statistics that are related to your industry and have your graphic designer create a visual representation of the data! Check out some examples on my pinterest board.
  17. Have a separate web page for each client project – Document each client project or case study, including a Before and After write-up for each of your clients. You can then ask your customers to link to that page from their website!
  18. Provide testimonials to vendors and suppliers that you admire – Give the testimonials in .html format so they can easily copy and paste it onto their website, including a link back to your website!
  19. Build calculators and other cool tools/widgets – Tools like a mortgage rate widget, mortgage calculator, price of gold or silver, a top 10 list for your industry – basically anything of value will work! Just make these tools shareable widgets by providing easy to implement code elements for other webmaster. Other examples include: ROI calculators, energy efficient calculators, weight loss tools, and productivity calculators!
  20. Create PDF guides – Come up with an education guide, related to your industry, that will help your target market learn or answer questions they may have. These guides do not have to be directly tailored to your service offerings, but could speak to the market you are after. An example may be a wedding photographer writing a guide about good proposals for men. You can even co-write this guide with strategic alliances and then both of you can promote the guide as well as present it to other webmasters who may be willing to share it with their relevant audience.
  21. Win awards – There are many business awards given away each year and the groups presenting the awards will have a website where you and your business will be featured, including a link back to your website.
  22. Get interviewed – Whether it is for an online profile, a podcast, or a local magazine, you are providing content to the publisher and they will reward you with a link back to your site!
  23. Join local shopping directory sites / shopping centre websites – There are hundreds, if not thousands of ‘spammy’, low quality business directory sites out there so I am not talking about those. However, there are quality, local sites talking about businesses in their area, which are great for back links and exposure. If your business resides there, make sure they have your correct web link and business profile! Some examples are: Shop Currents of Windemere Edmonton or 124 Street Shoppes in Downtown Edmonton.
  24. Ask for a product review – If you sell products, like a book or a foodie item, or even if you own a restaurant, ask bloggers or magazines if they would be open to reviewing your product. Send it to them for free, and if they favour it, they will write up a post on their website with a link back to your website. An example would be to host a VIP party and invite all of the food bloggers and others in the media to come out to your restaurant. Wine and dine them and ask for feedback. Follow up by saying you can be available for an interview or to provide quotes if they need it!
  25. Ask for beta testers – If you are a software company, ask your target market to use and review your application in beta mode and provide feedback. They may share their results on social media or onto their own website!
  26. Post onto classified ads sitesKijiji or Craigslist, HomeStars or Angie’s List are great sites that people often go to and search for products or services. Make sure you have an ad there and a link back to your website.
  27. Ask your customers for it – Just like you would ask your customers for a referral, simply ask them to place a link to your website from their website if they are happy with your service! If you have a referral program, you will want to give them a link tagged with an ID with which to track visitors from their sites.
  28. Ask a competitor / strategic alliance to link to you – This one sounds a little crazy, but here’s the logic: you probably respect some of your competitors who offer different services than you. If you get them as a strategic alliance, you can both offer clients a wider array of service. Here is an example, many people look for boudoir photographers every month, if your photography firm provides this service, approach your respected competitors (who do not provide this service) and ask for a link, and thus referral, from their site.
  29. Link to other blogs – This is the Giver’s Gain philosophy. By linking to other complimentary sites and articles, you could get the attention of the owner and compel them to add a link back to your website!
  30. Publish press releases – Underused, but a fantastic way to get your event or other newsworthy business out to the media and to the many websites that syndicate press releases!

What about you – do you have any strategies for getting quality backlinks to you website?

Then please leave a comment below!

Various Backlink Resources

Here are some incredible posts with more great backlinking strategies and ideas:

http://moz.com/blog/how-to-get-links-in-tough-industries

http://moz.com/blog/link-building-for-small-ecommerce-sites

http://backlinko.com/17-untapped-backlink-sources

http://www.buzzblogger.com/500-places-to-syndicate-your-content/

http://moz.com/ugc/7-content-archetypes-that-generate-natural-links