How SEO helps your prospects find you, instead of you finding them.
SEO is an in-depth subject, and one that can be confusing as well. Many people ask what the difference is between SEO and SEM, and sometimes you hear these acronyms used interchangeably.
Here’s a relatively simple explanation:
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
SEO is the stuff that happens ON your website, and takes time to show results. But when it's done well, your website links show up as organic results, which is where 95% of people click.
Getting this type of “organic” ranking on Google certainly takes time. And effort. And if you’re not the one writing your own content, it also costs money. But when you show up on page one organically, your prospects will find you, instead of you finding them.
Keep in mind that writing for the web also takes a working knowledge of SEO and an understanding of how to use keywords. This is why writing your news articles and blogs is often best done by a professional blog writer.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
SEM is the stuff that happens OFF your website, such as social media and running Google AdWords.
SEM also includes creating backlinks to your website through press releases on news sites, .gov sites, .edu sites, and social media bookmarking. It also might include buying ads on search engines, and re-marketing (which is when ads follow you around the web).
SEM can show quick results when you run Google AdWords. However, only 5% of people searching Google click the ads. AdWords are the results you see when you do a search, such as for "home builders in Columbus” (see below) and you see the little “Ad” icon to the right of them. Running Google ads gives you immediate results, meaning you can show up on page one on day one.
SEM Part 2: The the costs of running Google ads
Running ads obviously cost money as well, which are:
1. The cost per click. To get your ad on top of the search results for Columbus home builders, it would be $3.33 per click.
2. The cost per day. If you know you’ll paying $3.33 every time someone clicks on your ad, you can put a daily cap on it, say $9.99. So when your ad is clicked 3 times, it goes away for that day.
3. The management time. Unless you’re an expert in Google AdWords, you’ll want someone to manage your AdWords. That depends on the number of ads you run, but could be in the $250 - $750 a month range.
SEO Part 2: Writing blogs is about sharing your knowledge
Obviously, you know a lot about your industry. You know your customers' hot buttons. You know what you do helps them solve their problems. The things you do every day for your customers can become subjects for your blogs.
By blogging, you can share your customer’s success stories, new products or services, and educate people about what you do behind-the-scenes. Things they might not know about that go into making your product or service better than your competitors. Talk about how you made someone’s life easier.
Educate your audience so you are seen as an expert your industry.
Can you run out of ideas of things to write about?
Not if you subscribe to blogs within your industry. Do that and you’ll have a constant flow of inspiration.
We’ve found there's people smarter than us in our industry, so when we read what people we admire are writing about, it gives us inspiration for our blogs.
But I’m not a writer, you say?
Well, you don't have to be the only one to write blogs. Certainly there are others in your company who can share in the writing. Even someone “behind-the-scenes" who might not come in contact with your customers. Certainly they have practical knowledge for what would be of interest to your customers.
You could also hire a professional writer to write blogs for you. They might sit in on staff meetings to learn what's happening inside your business. While they might not know your business as well as you, they can learn. A good writer learns quickly, and they have the SEO expertise down already.
Think about the day your website shows up well in Google.
Eventually, if you’re really adamant about SEO, your website can eventually rank better than your competitors'. When that day comes, your enthusiasm for writing blogs will really start to take off.
And when a new customer finds you online, instead of you finding them, it will all be worth it. And speaking from experience, we know it works.
Another benefit of showing up well in Google, is it could cut down on the time you need to spend networking. If people are finding you online, you can spend your evening at home with friends and family.
What determines how successful your SEO will be?
Writing content for your website is being read by two audiences: your prospects, and search engines. Google's algorithms are scanning everything you add to your website to determine how well it should rank for certain keywords.
This is why writing content for your website requires time and attention. We research and provide the keywords you need to use throughout you content.
As you might imagine, there’s a lot of moving parts that determine how well your SEO works. They are:
- How much SEO are your competitors are doing? We can tell by researching their websites.
- How deliberate and thoughtful you are with blogging. How often you post. How diligent you are with your keywords.
- Using keywords in headlines, in subheads, and in your body copy. This is how the internet starts to associate keywords with your website.
- Keyword competition: while you may never be able to show up on page one for certain keywords, finding the right niche keywords is what’s critical.
- The market you’re in. As you might imagine, the smaller the market the easier it is to rank well. Being found in your city is easier than being found in your state. Both of which is easier than being found regionally or nationally.
- Strategically using keywords to your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions. Here’s great video showing what Page Titles and Meta Descriptions are and how Google uses them to rank your website.
- Naming images in your website with keywords is important. You need to use keywords in image names to help Google’s algorithms associate those keywords with your website.
- Populating Alternative Text fields. This helps sight-impaired individuals understand images. And whether or not you have sight-impaired visitors coming to your website, doing that brings your website up to W3C standards. And when you play by their rules, search engines will help you rank better.