(SEO) Search Engine Optimization Basics

Search engine optimization or (SEO) as it’s normally referred to is the process of building your website’s authority over time so that it gains visibility on search engines. I’ve heard it called everything from “getting on the top page” to “being number 1”. Some businesses gauge it by a certain amount of traffic, others by being on top page for a certain keyword phrase. Regardless, its the process of gaining visibility (getting more people to see your business on the web).

The graphic below is a snapshot of Google’s Search Engine Results Page. The center graphic is a color coded representation and the one on the right is the normal view of a search engine page.


Understanding The SERP (Search Engine Results Page):

  • Search Bar – The search bar is where you type in a word or phrase. What you type is known as a keyword (one word) or keyword phrase (multiple words)
  • Different Search Methods – This is where you can perform a text, image-based, maps, video, etc searches. Its also known as a vertical search. Vertical just means an isolated means of searching. A vertical can be based on technology or content. For example, a site that has only videos is a vertical as is a site that features only dentists.
  • Paid Advertising – This is where your business can advertise and pay each time your ad is clicked. The highest bids on a per click basis get this highest positions.
  • Organic Placement (SEO) – Organic placement contains websites that a given search engine deems as having the content that merits top page placement. No one knows the criteria in the ranking process. Professionals usually have their own methodology for acheiving these coveted positions on the web.
  • Local Maps (Google Places) – It’s the place where relevant businesses are listed based on a local search. The map in the upper right shows pin placements cross-referenced to listings on the bottom left. This is important for businesses that want to advertise their location.

The only area of focus in this chapter are the areas signified as Organic Placement (SEO), The other areas are discussed in the Chapter Internet Marketing in a topical fashion.

Business owners, Organic Placement is one of the single most important places you could be on the web WHEN IT’S DONE RIGHT. Make sure to read through this chapter and especially focus on the FAQ Section at the end of this chapter.

SEO & Purple Rubber Ducks

After your website architecture is complete and primary pages are determined, keyword phrases are determined for each major page. Your SEO professional then begins to work on building your SEO strategy over time to help gain your website authority by properly representing your services. Overtime your website will begin to gain visibility.

Once a keyword phrase is chosen, and work begins, to alter the keyword focus for a given page requires additional work. This is why its critical to carefully select your keyword choices before your SEO campaign begins. Most business owners think and changing a page focus is pretty easy, but in reality its a complex process impeded by the crawl rate of search engines, the work already performed, and the natural rhythm of SEO.

Imagine the internet is a virtual business district containing every website. Each website is a virtual store and search engines like Google are a concierge service that drives customers to the stores most likely to have what they want.

The concierges are considered valuable by the shoppers because they help people avoid the stores that are least likely to have what they want. So, in order for the concierges to have a high quality service, they have a review department that visits every single store.

The review department has innumerable field representatives that work full time reviewing each business. Each time they visit a store, the field representative sends their updated reports to corporate headquarters. If it’s a new business, corporate headquarters adds their information in their database. If a store is updated frequently with new products, services, information, or is the “talk of the town”, the field representative reviews that particular store on a more frequent basis to make sure the concierge company has the most current information possible.

The concierge company is very thorough when making their choices, and it has to be. Why? Because, there are several concierge companies which customers can use, so the most popular concierge companies are the ones that take customers to the best stores first.

So the Concierge evaluates each store by the following:

  • How organized is their store?
  • Was their store constructed properly?
  • Is the store in a bad neighborhood?
  • What does their store specialize in offering?
  • Is the store trying to use tricks and gimmicks to try and achieve a more favorable review?
  • How popular is their store?

And each concierge company has a complex methodology of ranking each one of these major categories they keep secret. So after all the data is compared carefully, the concierge has an updated list and the results are interesting.

For example, if a customer goes to the Concierge Company and wants to buy a toy train, Toy Company A is rated the highest, while if the customer wants to buy a teddy bear, Company B is the top choice. The reason for these results is that Company A has more of an emphasis on trains and Company B has a deeper focus on stuffed animals. If Company A wants a more customers looking for teddy bears, then Company A will need to beef up its teddy bear department’s effort.

But Company B is also the recommended company when customers are looking for stuffed elephants. Company B doesn’t really focus on stuffed elephants, but they have a few well organized choices. The reason Company B is a preferred choice for stuffed elephants is because there isn’t a lot of competition for those particular products, so the standards to be a preferred choice for stuffed elephants is not very high.

However the demand for rubber ducks is extremely high. Company A is the preferred choice when a customer wants a red rubber duck, Company B is the preferred choice for yellow rubber ducks, and Company C is the preferred choice for orange rubber ducks, however none of the companies are a preferred choice for purple rubber ducks. Company A has more rubber ducks than toy trains and Company B has more rubber ducks and teddy bears and Company C only sells rubber ducks. The reason for these results is because rubber ducks are in such a demand and have so many competitors that the review process is more in depth and more competitive for each variety of rubber ducks.

So while Company A is the preferred vendor for silver toy trains, old timely toy trains, and a thousand variations of toy trains, it’s struggling to be a preferred choice for purple rubber ducks and is barely hanging on to be a preferred choice for Red Rubber Ducks.

The preferred company for purple rubber ducks is purplerubberducks.com. They writes articles on how to maintain the shine on purple rubber ducks, a forum for purple rubber duck owners, purple rubber duck blog, and is featured on many rubber duck publications in the “purple” section. They have purple rubber duck key chains, posters, accessories, and of course, over two hundred varieties of actual purple rubber ducks. This company is dedicated to purple rubber ducks and the next 8 preferred choices for purple rubber ducks by the concierges also primarily carry purple ducks products. Most the preferred purple rubber duck companies don’t even carry yellow, red, or orange rubber ducks. The diversification and lack of a specific focus on purple rubber ducks by Company A and Company B is working against them. It will be possible for Company A, B, and C to become a preferred choice, but their efforts will be substantially more than what they their other efforts combined.

This is essentially how the web works. The web is more generous in less competitive areas and less generous in highly competitive areas. So choosing your keyword phrases is critical and changing your keyword focus is not pulling a switch. It’s a complete refocus. Imagine if purplerubberducks.com decided to change their focus to red rubber ducks. As they change their focus, their preferred status in purple rubber ducks would diminish and they would have to find a way to compete with established, trusted resources already selling red rubber ducks.

Let’s equate this to the real world. Let’s zoom in to an imaginary rental company in Atlanta. The owner decides to hire an SEO company. The owner looks at keywords and decides “Apartments For Rent Atlanta” is his main website focus. So the SEO service provider writes content, builds links, and does all the other steps to help build the sites authority for “Apartments For Rent Atlanta”. Like in our rubber ducks analogy, “Apartment Rentals in Atlanta” is pretty competitive, so its taking time to properly represent and build the credibility of this particular rental company.

Eventually, the website breaks the top page and its #9 in the overall search results for “Apartments For Rent Atlanta”. The campaign also places the site on the top page for an additional 20 keyword phrases. The additional phrases are due to the diligent and honest effort of the SEO professional and the search engine felt it deserved the additional preferred status of these other keyword phrases.

The work doesn’t stop because the other companies competing for “Apartments for Rent Atlanta” are working to build their reputation as well. So if one company stops and another continues, the site continually building its reputation will surpass the one whose effort has ceased. Yes, it’s a constant effort.

Let’s continue this example with a typical kink in SEO:

The owner of the Atlanta Apartment Rentals got impatient in month 4 of the plan, but he was assured his site is being worked on to gain traction for “Apartment For Rent Atlanta”. He isn’t confident. There isn’t anything tangible enough for from his perspective and he has no idea if any work is REALLY being done.

In passing with a friendly competitor, his competitor talks about how much progress is made on his effort to be on the top page for “Atlanta Downtown Apartment Rentals”. His competitor whips out his smart phone and even shows he’s on the top of page 2’s search results.

The business owner is painfully aware he isn’t anywhere to be found for “Atlanta Downtown Apartment Rentals” and this choice is actually a better selection in retrospect than “Apartments For Rent Atlanta”. He contacts his SEO service provider to complain. The provider explains he is now at the top of page 2 for this keyword phrase “Apartments for Rent Atlanta” and his competitor is no where to be found for that phrase. The owner doesn’t care because his competitor is beating him in another area and doesn’t understand the competitive nature of each varying keyword phrase for rentals in the Atlanta market.

At this point, the owner may get frustrated and could start looking for another provider, especially if other SEO companies are fueling this misunderstanding.

  • If he fires his SEO company and hires another, he is starting from square one for no reason. Like a adulterous affair, he will usually find the grass isn’t greener on the other side.
  • If he tells his firm to switch the keyword focus, then his campaign essentially can start over at day 1 for the new keyword. This of course, usually leads to more frustration and he feels his SEO firm is doing little to work for his company.
  • And of course, the third option is best. If the owner understands and makes a sound decision to either add the additional keyword focus and create a supplemental strategy or stay the coures with his original choice.

Even though the phrases look extremely close, due to the competitive nature of this market, its as different as apples and cough medicine. This is why I can’t emphasize enough choosing the right keywords from the outset is CRITICAL.