I have a very vivid memory of sitting in the car with my family about a decade ago and hearing my brother say the word “Wi-Fi.” He talked about it like it was something we all should know and understand. I stared blankly and finally said, “what’s Wi-Fi?”
These days, I find myself on the other end of that example. I can easily launch into a lengthy rundown of SEO strategies I’ll be using for a client’s content. When I look up, their eyes are as empty as the toilet paper shelves during the coronavirus pandemic.
Most business owners don’t have a clue about SEO (except that it’s important), and that’s okay. I don’t know about accounting or insurance, which is why I have an accounting expert and insurance broker on my team.
SEO experts are here to help you help other people find your content online. But before you hire someone for SEO, a basic understanding will help you understand what you’re paying for, what to expect, and how to evaluate the success of the strategy.
The 30-Second Summary
SEO stands for search engine optimization. Search engines (like Google and Bing) have billions of pages of content to organize. Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms to organize them in a way that helps people find the specific information they need.
The order of results for a specific search is usually referred to as a “ranking.” The ultimate goal of SEO is to rank on the first page of results for multiple keywords so more people can find your website.
The algorithms rank content based on a multitude of factors, including:
The bounce rate on your website. In other words, the amount of time people spend on your website before navigating back to a search engine. Bounce rate is related to:
The quality, quantity, and location of keywords in your content
The frequency with which you post new or updated content
The number and quality of other websites that link back to your site (also known as backlinks)
The quality of the outbound links on your site (in other words, the quality of the websites you’ve linked to)
Reviews and ratings on search engine review sites (i.e. Google My Business)
The loading speed of your website
The function and organization of your website
The SEO Analogy
To drive the point home, let’s compare SEO to a more general look at business.
If you’re someone who’s in business just to win big and fast, make a ton of money, or be better than everyone else, there is a chance that you will grow and be successful. You could even be successful when you’re using shady business practices and not being fair to clients. However, you’re playing the lottery, in that you can win big (and fast) and lose big (and fast).
Meanwhile, if your goal is simply to improve the lives of others, offer value, and make a positive impact in your small but measured way, you’re almost guaranteed success (without the risk), albeit over a longer period of time.
SEO works in the same way. Be authentic and offer real value to people, and it will always come back to you threefold.
4 Things You Should Know About SEO
Now that you have an overview of SEO and how it works at a basic level, let’s dive a little deeper into some specifics. Here are seven basic things you should know about SEO before you hire an SEO content writer or SEO specialist in Edmonton.
1. Search Engine Algorithms Are Always Changing
Above, I wrote out a list of factors that impact your website’s SEO. Now, keep in mind that how these factors are weighted and judged is based on the complex algorithm of each search engine.
Two complicating factors make it hard to know what’s most important. First, search engines don’t release their algorithms. In other words, the math is there, but it’s a mystery. You can extrapolate information from the results, but you’ll never have the exact measurements.
Second, search engine algorithms are not static. They change every few months. Those changes typically aren’t significant, but even small shifts can impact SEO. This means that a company that’s made headway with a successful SEO strategy will have to readjust to maintain or increase its ranking.
2. There Are Many Ways to Achieve Optimization
I’ve worked with a lot of SEO specialists in Edmonton (and self-proclaimed specialists who aren’t even in the marketing industry). The one thing I’ve learned is that everyone has a very distinct idea of what contributes to SEO.
Most SEO specialists are going to tell you their “cure-all” solution, and some of them are going to sell it as “the only way to improve your SEO.” That is simply not true.
The algorithm changes often, and just because a certain strategy worked for one company, it doesn’t mean it will work for yours. Not to mention, different companies have different levels of resources to invest in content creation, backlinking, website design and development, and other important activities. It does not make sense for most small businesses to spend multiple hours each day (or thousands of dollars a month) on SEO.
In addition to this, search engines often don’t take well to a sudden wave of SEO activities on your website. Collecting 20 positive Google reviews in a week or nabbing a sudden flood of backlinks can actually hurt your activities because you may be penalized.
As mentioned above, small, measured steps toward building content often make the most sense. For small businesses, SEO also shouldn’t come at the expense of other forms of marketing and advertising. After all, SEO is not guaranteed. If you rely on it fully for bringing in new customers, changes to algorithms or the loss of your website due to a cyberattack could cut off your supply of new clients. Like most things in life and business, a plan of moderation and balance is best.
3. Content Quality Does Matter
For a while, copywriters in Edmonton were competing mostly with SEO companies that offered all the technical forms of SEO (backlinking, website optimization, etc.). They also offered blog writing as a service, but I use that term loosely because there wasn’t much of a writing aspect. The blogs were outsourced to India and were basically pages full of nothing but keywords. Then, the blogs were posted to the site but not made visible, meaning search engines could crawl the pages, but users could not see them.
More recently, search engines have caught on and changed the algorithm to prioritize websites that actually provide valuable, relatable content that’s visible to users. They’re looking more closely at factors that are influenced directly by the quality of your content, such as how long people are staying on your page to read your content.
4. Keywords are Essential, But Value is Everything
This goes right back to that all-important section up above; search engines just want to deliver a great experience. It’s something you can probably appreciate when you’re in a rush trying to find things like, “how to make slime” or “who is the prime minister of Canada?”
Great experiences on search engines are based (mainly) on great content. The three determiners of valuable content are quality, quantity, and relevance.
Quality: A confusing or boring paragraph about why slime is cool and how easy it is to make slime won’t be as good as an engaging, funny, and informative step-by-step process.
Quantity: A website that gives you multiple slime recipes based on your slime needs is better than a website with just one recipe.
Relevance: A website that promises “The Best Slime Recipes Ever” is a better title to click on than “Ways to Make Slippery Stuff.”
Keywords have an important role to play in relevance. They tell search engines what your content is about. But they’re only one part of the equation. After you get people to your page, you have to keep them on it. That’s where quality and quantity become important.
SEO Content Writing in Edmonton & Calgary
Content is an essential part of any SEO strategy. If you’ve been thinking about rewriting your website content or starting a corporate blog for your Alberta-based business, you can tune into our quarterly live webinar sessions. You’ll walk away with tips and tricks for creating a keyword strategy, finding tools to help you with your writing, and generating a content calendar to keep you on track.
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