What does SEO stand for? (or SEO for Dummies)

SEO stands for “search engine optimization”

This is technical speak for… having your website appear at the top of Google’s search results.

SEO also happens to be 100% the best-ROI investment practically every B2C business can make today.

Why should I care about where I am in search engines?

Simply put, because that’s where immense flows of customers are. Historically, search engines were used for mostly informational purposes. But today, with the prevalence of search engines and the advent of user reviews that build trust in businesses, search engines have become a massive tool for all types of businesses to capture more customers.

In a city as small as 100k population, thousands of people are looking for every manner of local service – lawyers, dentists, plumbers, you name it, they are looking for it online.

So where am I in search engine results right now?

Chances are, if you are asking this question, the answer is “nowhere”.

And yes, that’s true even if you just paid $5-10k for a brand-new site.

An important caveat. Many business owners will google their service in their home town, and see their business at the top. This is a mistake. Google deeply personalizes all search results — in other words, it knows you’re you, and gives you the result you’re looking for, i.e. your website. However, another person looking for such services will not be given the same treatment. The way to get a true picture is to use Google’s “incognito mode” — this clears any and all personal factors and shows you where you really are in the search results.

Another caveat. Many business owners ask the customers that call them “how did you find us”? This is not a precise enough way of asking. Customers will say “Google” whether they found the business through a Google Ad, through the business’ website, through a Google Maps listing, or through some 3rd directory such as Yelp that they came to AFTER searching on Google.

So how do search engines work?

Modern search engines take into account a variety of factors in how they rank different sites against one another, but ultimately they boil down to four:

  • Is the firm basically “legitimate” at first glance?
    • Does the firm have a proper, modern website with content related to plumbing?
    • Is the firm listed in directories such as Yelp, and ideally ones related to its niche?
    • How old is the firm? (Google automatically gives preference to more mature & established companies)
  • Are sources of authority noticing the firm? Is anyone “vouching” for the firm?
    • Is the firm “referenced” in major trade journals related to plumbing?
    • Are authoritative bloggers or other influencers (not necessarily plumbing-related) talking about the firm?
  • Do users have a positive view of the firm?
    • Does the firm have user reviews? Are the reviews good? (ironically, this factor carries only 3% or so weight in Google’s eyes)
    • Is the firm being noticed by users by social media in the form of “likes” etc.?
    • Based on user browser patterns, are users finding what they need on the firms’ site? For instance, if users go to the firm’s site, then return to Google (which Google can track) and continue to search for the same thing, to Google that indicates the firm was not able to meet the user’s need – for whatever reason – and is somewhat ‘penalized’ for this.
  • Is the firm’s office physically nearby?
    o Google treats “local” searches such as “plumber near me” or “plumber Miami” distinctly, and offers up companies located physically near the user’s exact GPS location, on the assumption that this will result in faster service.

You can see how factoring all of this in, Google is generally able to suggest better companies to the user than a mere old school, physical Yellow Pages book search, which operated without reviews, without any authoritative references, and the like.

However, Google’s isn’t some all-seeing eye, and needs your help in identifying the best businesses

Google was designed for informational searches first and foremost, and has been generally “retro-fitted” to suit users’ demands to find local businesses.
This leads to glitches, most obvious in cases like the following:

  • Poorly-reviewed businesses (3-3.5 out of 5 stars) being suggested at #1 positions just because of “tenure”, while solid (but newer) 5-star companies with dozens of reviews languish in bottom positions.
  • Businesses investing thousands in modern websites thinking it will give them a leg up only to find out they are still nowhere to be found. In fact, a modern website will do practically nothing unless it is combined with other tools.

Therefore, Google needs your help to discover the best businesses
Being the #1-3 result on Google immediately delivers an enormous influx of customer calls, enough to become the #1 business in a specific niche in a given area. Enough to pay off mortgages, put kids through college, and become the business owners dreamed of when they set out.
But to be front and center, good businesses must “give off the right signals”. Think of it as finding your ideal mate. Do we generally expect Mrs. Right to instantly love us as we are, in a dingy t-shirt, with a 3-day beard and unkept hair? Or do we generally understand that it makes sense to sharpen ourselves up, put on a nice shirt, and maybe try to tone up that jelly belly? Well, Google is that Mrs. Right, and it has very clear “guidelines” for how to gain favor. The few businesses that actually follow these perfectly reasonable guidelines will be rewarded beyond what they thought was possible.

Giving off these “right signals” (through SEO) is the best investment most businesses can make.

Everyone is chasing all types of direct advertising, where you “pay per eyeball”. So that route, while it certainly works, is quite competitive. SEO, on the other hand, is cheap, for those businesses that understand its value and can make the investment (AND find a reputable firm)

We could go on an on, but this post is quite long enough already — we will do a subsequent post on the value of SEO, or SEO ROI, later on.

Suffice to say, SEO delivers ROI on the order of 50-400x (!), whereas most forms of advertising (Google, Facebook, retargeting) or lead generation generate returns of 5-20x.

Let’s have a conversation where we show you — using real data — what kind of ROI SEO will deliver for you.

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