ORANGE, CA—Search engine optimization is an often confusing, constantly changing science but, at the same time, an absolutely essential part of marketing your business on the Internet. So what’s an overwhelmed newcomer to do?
“Without a strong SEO campaign, it is very difficult to compete in today’s market,” he said. “With the economy down, people spend their money wisely. Potential customers research anything and everything on the Internet before they contact any retailer or decide on services. If your site is not easily found, you are not able to compete effectively.”
I know what you’re thinking. “Okay, so it’s essential, but what is SEO, exactly?”
Husayni explained that SEO is “the art of changing sites and their popularity on the Internet so that search engines perceive them as highly valuable, thereby placing them at the top of their search results.”
What search engine should my SEO campaign focus on?
Now that we have established what SEO is and why it’s so important, it’s time to decide which search engine you should focus your campaign on. Husayni said that, while Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing do get some traffic, those search numbers are nothing compared to Google.
“Google receives more than 75 percent of the global search market and about 65 percent of the domestic market,” Husayni said. “Google is the giant of search engines. If you are visible on Google, you’ll be attracting customers.”
How do I go about initiating my SEO work?
This should all be becoming a bit clearer, but we still need a plan of action. Husayni advised that there are multiple ways to go about SEO, such as hiring a company to do the work for you, employing an in-house SEO professional or working with an experienced SEO consultant.
“The path you choose to take depends on your market, your budget and your level of Internet savvy,” Husayni said.
Small companies, he said, are better off hiring a professional SEO company who can place them at the top of search engines at an affordable price. On the other hand, a larger firm working with a bigger budget could benefit from having an in-house SEO team, supplemented with coaching help from a reputable SEO company to keep them in check. And, of course, the more ambitious business owner with minimal time constraints could learn SEO practices himself, though Husayni recommends receiving some guidance from a seasoned professional.
What do I need to know about SEO before I begin?
Even if you choose to hire a SEO company to do your optimization work, it’s still important to know the main elements that will help you increase your site’s ranking. Husayni said that the three most crucial aspects of any Internet marketing campaign are optimization, lots of fresh content and popularity, also referred to as link building.
“The optimization gives Google the information it needs to understand the theme of each site,” he said. “Content gives Google the impression that the site is being updated with valuable information on a regular basis, thus providing useful information for its visitors.”
But remember, “Google is a machine with limitations and language barriers,” Husayni warned.
“The only two ways for Google crawlers to determine if your site is valuable are by measuring how often you update your content and by gauging whether or not you’ve copied your content from elsewhere, or written it yourself.”
Google’s algorithm is always changing, too. For example, Husayni said that, with the development of Google+, the search engine has “added the +1 button to further determine your site’s usefulness.”
I’ve started my SEO campaign, but how long will it take until I see results?
After learning the basics of SEO and how to get started, you still have a long, albeit rewarding, journey ahead.
“While changes to optimization are viewed by Google almost immediately—provided you have quality back links—other SEO components are built over time,” Husayni said. “So, initially, when we optimize a site, there is a jump in its ranking on Google. Then, slowly thereafter, the site gets ranked better and better.”
And it’s a journey you have to stick to in order to see lasting results.
“Google revamps its algorithm every few months, making it important to stay on top of new techniques,” Husayni said. “And your competition is not sitting idle. They’re also doing SEO and, depending on how many resources they allocate, they could replace your number one listing in a matter of months. So, take a deep breath and get ready for a long SEO battle.”