This Week's Question: Does SEO really work?
A question I got asked this past week was, "I think I need SEO marketing, but I don't really understand it or how it works. Does it really work? Or is this just a big scam?
If you're thinking this, you're not alone.
In the year 2000, there were over 17 million websites. Now that sounds like a lot of websites. But today, there are 1.6 billion websites. So it's no wonder that it's harder and harder to get on the first page of Google.
I'm Tom Malesic, founder and President, of EZMarketing, a website designer and SEO company in Lancaster, PA. And you're watching Ask EZ, this is where small business owners go to get real answers to their marketing questions.
If you want to know more about SEO marketing and what you should look for in an SEO company so you don't get scammed, or maybe what you should be doing. Or even just some great tips and best practices for SEO, watch on.
What is SEO Marketing?
What is SEO anyway? It's search engine optimization, some people would even call it organic listings or organic results. Now when you go to Google and you type something in the search bar, there are multiple parts that you can look for.
Generally, the first section that you're going to see on the page those are going to be the paid ads. And Google indicates those by having the little word, "ad" next to them.
Next frequently, if you do something that has a local nature to it. So if you typed in pizza shops or dentists, then you're going to get what's called the map pack. And you'll see a map, and then there are generally three or four listings there.
But that's still not organic SEO. Organic SEO is going to be what's right underneath the map pack. Now, this is what Google thinks best matches whatever you typed in.
There are so many websites, let me just give you an example. Yesterday, I did a search for dentists. If I just type in the word, "dentist" I get 531 million results.
Then I narrowed it down and I typed in "dentist Lancaster PA," and it reduced it to 11.7 million results. Now we all know there are not that many dentists in Lancaster County. But as far as getting on the first page of Google, that's how many websites you need to compete against to get there.
SEO scams and what to look for
Now you might be concerned about getting ripped off. Let's be honest, the SEO industry has a bad reputation for B.S. Unfortunately, there are too many people out there trying to take your money and not really delivering the results.
Here's what you should look for when you're talking to an SEO company so that you know you're not getting scammed.
- The first thing you should look for, and this is the biggest red flag, is listen I guarantee that I'm going to get you the first spot on Google. Listen, no one can guarantee results. I wish we could, but no one can.
- Next, they try to tell you that they know Google's secret formula. There is no secret formula. So anybody trying to tell you that is really just making stuff up. Google themselves says that there are over 200 ranking factors. And they're not about to tell you what the different mix is on those different ranking factors. So don't buy into that they know there's a secret formula because Google's not going to tell them that.
- Next, they're going to promise you that they are going to get you thousands and thousands of back links. If you've done some research, you realize that back links are important to your website because Google wants to see that other websites think that you're important enough to link to them.
But a couple years ago, Google came out with an algorithm change that said listen if you get thousands of them and they're all kind of non-reputable, just junk links, then that actually hurts you. So if you run into a company that's just slamming and jamming links to your website, run away!
- Another thing to look for is they won't really explain what it is that they are doing for you. Now they'll tell you things like, "Look it's really complicated, you wouldn't understand it anyway. Just trust me." If somebody pulls that line, that might be a sign as well that they are just kind of scamming you.
- One of the biggest red flags and I saved this for last, is they're going to practically charge you nothing to do all this work. Now you've been in business and you know that you don't get something for nothing. So if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Don't buy into the company that's going to do all this wonderful work for you for $99 a month.
IS SEO just guesswork?
But if no one can guarantee results, is it just guesswork? No.
Listen, there are good, solid best practices that every SEO company ought to be using to get you results. Let's think of it this way if you wanted to get in shape and you wanted to run a 5K. There's no guarantee that you're going to win the first 5K that you race in. But if you eat right, and you exercise, and you run on a regular basis there's probably a good chance that you're going to do really well in that race.
SEO marketing is really similar to that, you've got to do the fundamentals. You've got to measure and test and tweak things as you go and follow good standard best practices. That's how we're going to get you good results.
SEO marketing best practices to follow
Well, what are some of the best practices, and what should you be looking for? Your SEO company should be talking about four main points.
- First, they're going to look at keyword research. So the first thing we have to do is understand your business and what do you think somebody's going to go to Google and type in. We're going to take your list and then we're going to look through your site and say OK, so what other keywords besides the ones that you gave us can we find.
- The next thing they are going to do is they're going to talk about optimizing your website. So we need a really well-optimized website so that Google likes you. And what does this mean?
We're going to take that list of keywords that we've agreed on are good keywords for your business, and we're going to tweak some of the words that are behind the page and those are called meta tags or meta descriptions. And then sometimes we're going to tweak the content right on the page and maybe those are like the big words on the page and those are called H1 tags.
- The next thing we want to talk about is content. Ok, so content comes in two forms. One is volume. So if you have a five-page website, what are the chances we're really going to get you first-page placement on lots of keywords, probably pretty slim, right. Because Google only has five chances to find your business and here's the tricky part, if the keywords you are going after aren't in the content Google's not going to think your page is about that content. So it's really important that we have great content on the site.
- Lastly, your SEO company's probably going to talk about links. So that's another website linking to your website. Alright, back in the good old hay days we could get lots and lots of other websites to link to your website. And Google liked that because Google looked at it at that time like it was truly a popularity contest, right. The person with the most friends, wins.
Now Google's kind of treating it a little more like the real world. The person with the good friends, wins. You were probably the really popular kid in high school, right. If I hung out with you and I was kind of the kid who was maybe shy and awkward and wasn't on of the most popular kids, I would hurt your reputation if you hung out with me all the time. And that's how Google is looking at this. Google wants you to only hang out with the really cool kids.
So our job as an SEO company is to find what Google thinks are really valuable links and get those websites to link to your website.
Here's your homework:
Wouldn't you like to find out how your website's performing from an SEO marketing standpoint? What I want you to do is I want you to go to the link right below this video, give us the information and what we're going to do is we're going to run a full SEO audit against your website.
Then I'm going to personally call you and give you the results so that you completely understand what's going on and why you're not getting the results you're looking for.
Thanks for watching Ask EZ. If you liked this video please leave a comment below, like us, subscribe and share it with your friends. And if you're looking for some help, let us know. There are lots of SEO companies in nearby Lancaster you can work with. But our company is focused on helping small businesses succeed. Give our SEO agency give a call.