Search engine optimization or SEO, has become a necessity for practically all businesses in every type of industry. The purpose of optimization is to attain greater visibility–ideally to climb onto the first page of Google and Bing in their organic results.
Often times, new or prospective clients will have questions about search optimization practices and of course, the results which can be expected. The first thing to know about SEO is it’s as much art as it is science. While that doesn’t provide a completely emphatic picture, it does demonstrate some level of insight. Questions which are most common center around noticeable gains and time frames.
Because of the many misconceptions and misunderstandings about what site optimization is and is not, there will always be a measure of expectations which cannot be met–either because they just aren’t possible or because of algorithmic changes implemented by search engines.
Defining Search Engine Optimization
Businesses who seek to optimize their primary Internet property ought to be aware of what search engine optimization is comprised. There are two types of optimization: on-page and off-page.
On-page or on-site optimization techniques concern site architecture, cross-linking, page load time, content, images, video, xml files, coding and other technical aspects of the site’s inner workings. Off-page, or off-site optimization deals with utilizing what are known as “Web 2.0 properties”. In short, this is building “connections” to a target site using things like blogs, social networks, and other third party platforms.
Both on- and off-page SEO practices require much time and effort in order to produce any real, sustainable level of results. Businesses who want to have their site widen its reach must understand that one type of optimization cannot be done without the other–that is, on- and off-page SEO have to be done together or the entire enterprise will not work.
What to Expect from SEO
The main consideration of optimization is about long-term achievements, not short-term gains. To that end, many pieces need to be put in place. This takes time and a bit of trial and error for every new project. Moreover, there are other factors when optimizing a site like direct competition by other businesses and periodic changes by search engines in their ranking signals.
When a website undergoes SEO for the first time, there might be surprises. For instance, if the site was built by a graphic designer, it may lack key on-page optimization elements. Or, if the site was created from a template, it could well contain hidden code which specifically benefits the original creator.
What is for sure is site optimization takes time–no matter how well a website is designed. Here are more things businesses should and should not expect from SEO:
- Optimization takes time to yield results. The paradoxical nature of the Internet is that information can be retrieved on-demand. Simply type a few words into a search box and click. Within seconds, pages and pages of results are delivered. However, it takes many months for these sites to appear in those organic results.
- What’s true today may not be tomorrow. During the early years of the web, it was enough to load a site with keywords and build links from third parties. Today, that is no longer the case. Google and Bing have become much more sophisticated, as a result, SEO has changed. Know that a single update could have some impact on your site–the severity of which can be so slight as not to be noticeable or it could have significant impact.
- Set realistic objectives. There’s no reason to think mega corporations started as international behemoths. Every company has its starting point. Websites are no different. There are literally hundreds of millions of sites on the web. Chances are your particular industry has hundreds, if not thousands of others to compete with. Determine what goals you’d like to achieve and do so incrementally.
- Keep your SEO team in the loop. If your business is going to offer a new product or service or will run television, radio or print ads, then let your SEO know. Any change or addition needs to involve your SEO service. This is not only good for preparation purposes but to help generate traffic prior to launch.
- Be prepared for periodic changes. What works for one site might not work for another. There are many, many variables and changes in strategy will likely occur. Any reputable SEO team will make changes as necessary. What’s more, good SEO providers will test certain strategies to gauge possible gains.
To make the most of your relationship with your SEO, ask questions. Compile a list through the month and send them an email. Keep the lines of communication open and your business will get far more out of search engine optimization.