Whether you have no idea what it means when I say ‘optimization’, or whether you’re more aware of SEO, here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. If you want clarification, or have a question not listed here, feel free to contact me. You may become famous when your question is answered on this page in a future revision, or in its own blog post!
SEO is currently popular as a buzzword, something that other people say when they want to sound smart. And something you’re told that you need in order to make sales. But don’t be fooled. If you hear that you can be #1 in a Google search the next day after SEO, that’s kind of like having botox and looking 25 again, at least on your face.
You have questions, I have answers. And most of the time, they match.
What exactly is SEO?
Boiling it down to its essence, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of using important terms on each page of your website, to guide users who are searching for those terms. It means positioning your terms (we call them keywords, even though many times they’re phrases) in headings, content and image alternate text (also called alt text).
Here’s an excellent and very informative blog post from Yoast.com about search engine optimization and its importance. It’s much longer and in more detail than what we have room for here, which I thought you’d appreciate.
Why should you use SEO?
The fact that you have a website (or you’re planning one) means that you have something to say (blog, perhaps) or something to sell (online store). If you trust to luck that people will find your site among the other 1.5 billion (with a B) sites, think about this: The odds of being struck by lightning are approximately 1 million to 1, or over 1,000 times greater than getting your site noticed with no SEO. Seems like a no-brainer, right? Safety first – stay indoors in a thunderstorm, and have your website optimized for the search engines.
How do we start? Keyword research.
Before starting to write a page, blog post or product description, consider what it’s going to be about. Write that down on your list as most important. Then think about the words searchers would use to find that link, and write them down too.
For instance, if you raise alpacas in South Carolina, your home page keywords might start with alpacas in South Carolina. More keywords: friendly alpacas in SC, alpaca farms in the SC Foothills, alpaca petting farms in Greenville, alpaca shows in SC, and even alpaca sweaters in Spartanburg.
Writing with SEO in mind is a little tricky, to be sure, and there should be enough content to use as a framework for your keywords. In other words (yeah, I did mean to say that), if there are 11 keywords you want to rank for, you should have more than 2 paragraphs or the writing won’t flow. Nobody talks that way, making sure they talk about 3 keywords in the same sentence. Sometimes it happens, but not normally. You can hire me to make sure you’re content with your content (see what I did there?).
What can you expect from BW SEO?
When you have your website content written and placed, visit our Shop and decide which SEO product best fits your needs. If you have more content, or need more created, just drop me a line and we can work it out. New options are being developed and added to the listings regularly.
If you have product pages to be optimized, they’ll be considered as regular pages. Bear in mind that your products should have enough content in the descriptions that they can be found by searchers. For instance, hand spun alpaca yarn can be the starting point for 3 or 4 descriptive paragraphs of interesting information, all pointing to your link that will pop up in a search.
Once your order is processed, you’ll receive a questionnaire geared toward the package you choose. Fill it out and email it back to me, then I’ll contact you with any questions, and get to work for you.
How will you know what has been done to your website during optimization?
First off, BW SEO will never mess with your coding behind the scenes. No fooling around with CSS or HTML5, we promise. There may be situations where a large page needs to be divided into 2 smaller pages for loading speed purposes. But we’ll discuss that with you and make suggestions. Then you can decide if you want to do that, and make the changes, if you do. Fair enough?
Next, if we change your wording slightly for better optimization, we’ll always ask first. It may benefit your page to add a couple of relevant links, since Google likes them. Also, if you have a paragraph that’s made of a single sentence, we’ll get permission to break that up into 2 or 3 sentences. And, if you have long blocks of paragraphs, we will ask to insert subheadings for easier reading.
Finally, we’ll provide a final report to you with comments and suggestions for future SEO. If you’d like to take over with your optimization, great! But if you’d rather concentrate on running your business, we do offer ongoing SEO services.
How is content related to SEO?
They’re sisters! Haha! First off, to be able to optimize a website page, a blog post, an email, a case study, even a press release, whatever, one thing has to exist. And that’s content. After all, if there’s no text, there’s nothing to optimize (unless you have images, more about that later). But you need to have more than just any old content. It must contain the keywords you want to rank for, in a search for the subject of that page.
I’m experienced in creating content, specializing in business to business. Because of my time as a teacher (upper school sciences and maths), I can take complex procedures or discussions and break them down into sections of more understandable language. Translation: I make wording easier to grasp.
For a more thorough explanation of the importance of both content and SEO, check out my blog post, Content Plus SEO: Beans & Rice, Rice & Beans. If it further confuses the issue, please leave a comment and I’ll revise it.
Why is image alt text so important?
Image alternate text, aka ‘alt text’ for brevity’s sake, is the SEO of photos. It’s what appears on a page if for some reason the image won’t (or can’t) display. And if someone uses a screen reader, when the cursor hovers over a photo, they’ll hear a voice reading the alt text. Same for the image title, so it pays to make the title descriptive, rather than IMG_0041. Make sense?
If you come to the table with hundreds (even thousands!) of images with no alt text, I’ll add it to the photos on your main pages and posts as part of the SEO for those pages. And I’ll be happy to add alt text and titles to the rest of your images, but keep in mind that for that purpose, 10 images = 1 page.
When will you see results from SEO?
That all depends on you, actually. SEO isn’t a magic wand, nor is it a set-it-and-forget-it thing, regardless of what some hucksters tell you. If you’re assured that your website will hit page 1 in a week, they’re using questionable (‘black hat’) methods that won’t last. There are other things we can do, like set up local business listings for you, which will help immensely. And you can add new posts, photos (remember alt text!), and products. Almost anything that shows regular activity on your website will promote better search results.
What’s the catch?
SEO is a little like LEGOs. You have to have more all the time in order to make the really cool things, like a sculpture of the Eiffel Tower or the Millenium Falcon. So you’ll need to show regular activity in order to keep the attention of the crawl spiders. If you go dormant for several months, your ranking will plummet.
On the other hand, without optimization plus activity, nothing will happen. Your website will not be noticed, you’ll have little traffic, and your business will slowly disappear.
The thing is, we see new developments in SEO on a daily basis, and sometimes even hourly. Algorithms change at a dizzying rate, like a ride on The Flying Cobras at Carowinds. It’s almost a full-time job to keep up with everything. And that’s what we do here. We stay on top of things so you can be free to take care of your business.
Why should you pay me for something you could probably do yourself?
Frankly, if you have a business, you need to concentrate on what you do best – growing it. Content creation and SEO are important (I think they’re crucial, of course), and your business has to have both on an ongoing basis. But they aren’t the most important thing to you. By themselves, SEO and unique content won’t fulfill the basic purpose of your business – to make a profit.
Let’s partner up on this. You have a kickass business idea, now I’ll help your alpaca herd get noticed. You could even end up with an affiliate deal from Santa for a guest spot, pulling his sleigh over Upstate South Carolina. By the way, keep track of your website expenditures. There’s every chance you can count them as a business deduction.
SEO is a way of life!