SEO and SEM

SEO is the acronym for "Search Engine Optimization" and SEM stands for "Search Engine Marketing."  SEO is required to facilitate SEM. In other words you have to optimize your web pages and other web content so that when people search for terms to find your business, products and services, they can find you above your competitors in the search engine results pages. 

Getting free traffic from the search engines is an art every small business needs to master. If you can get on the first page of Google for the exact phrases people use to find your business, your products and your services, then you have it made in the shade. You can grow your business entirely from search engine traffic if you can consistently stay on the first page of Google -- especially in the top 3 positions. That's the gold street area in terms of free traffic. Nearly 60% of search engine traffic comes from being in those top 3 positions. Getting there and staying there, however, requires some regular, consistent work.


See SEO Trends for 2012 here!

SEO, Search Engine Optimization

That's what SEO is all about. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It involves optimizing your online content so that the search engines, especially Google, rate your content high enough to serve it up when people ask for what you have to offer. SEO is one of the main components for landing on Google's first page but you also have to have social validation. Let me explain. 

See What Makes a Quality Site here!

Google is constantly working at refining and perfecting their search engine algorithms. These algorithms weigh literally hundreds of factors about web content in their evaluation to determine which content to show for a given search term. Every so often, and fairly often at that, Google rolls out another search engine algorithm change that affects how web sites and other virtual properties rank when people type in phrases related to that content. These updates can instantly cause a site that's in the top positions to drop several pages in the rankings.

Panda Updates 2011-2012

Equally true is the fact that the opposite can happen. A site that was obscure and not-to-be-found in a Google search can instantly change position and be found in the top three spots of the first page.

Let's discuss the SEO aspect here. SEO includes optimization in two areas: On Page and Off Page Optimization. I will discuss both here so you gain a good understanding of what's involved and what you need to get the most favor from the search engines.

On Page Optimization

People search for specific content by typing phrases into the search engine they are using. Those phrases in marketing terms are called "keywords." The basic practice of on page SEO is that you research the phrases people use the most to find the type of business you are in and the types and names of the products and services you offer. 

Keyword Research

Keyword research helps to identify the phrases that will bring the best, highly targeted traffic to your web site or offer. There is quite an art to keyword research. The goal of keyword research is to find the phrases people use to find what you have to offer that have the least competition but that also have sufficient enough volume of searches so that they drive sufficient traffic to your site for you to profit from.
Keywords are the Key to SEO

Here's the formula to use for your keyword research:

Low Competition + Decent Search Volume X Many Phrases = Colossal Traffic 

High competition words should always be used in your content but not counted on for traffic. For example, the term Auto Insurance is so highly competitive that it would take years of arduous work for you to get anywhere near the top 3 positions in Google. You need to find phrases that people use that are much less competitive but that still have a high enough volume of searches to drive traffic to your site. This is the challenge with keyword research.

The term "long-tail keywords" refers to the longer phrases people use to find what they are searching for. Long-tail keywords are good because they are more specific, less competitive and easier to rank for. An example of a long-tail keyword following our auto insurance example could be, "cheap auto insurance Houston Texas" or "multiple car insurance 77068" where the location is specified either by name or by zip or postal code. Now Houston is a huge city, so that term will also be highly competitive so you have to get a bit more creative. That's where professional help can improve your results.

Once you have the set of keywords you want to optimize your site for, you need to develop content that uses those keywords. This is an art as well. You can't spam your article with your keywords and the content has to be unique. You need to include related keywords, called "LSI keywords." LSI stands for "Latent Semantic Indexing" which is a scientific research term.

All it means is that certain words are expected to be found if content is about a specific subject. For example, if my article is about auto insurance, and my main keyword phrase is "auto insurance for the elderly in Houston" then the search engines would expect to find words in my content related to the main keyword. In this case, it would expect to find words and phrases such as, "budget," "insurance broker," "insurance company," "accident," "damage" and the like. These are related terms that would naturally appear in an article on auto insurance.

SEO involves finding the best keywords to target for your business and offers, and then acquiring content that uses those keywords and their related LSI keywords in an original way. This is the hardest part for most small businesses because of the expertise and time involved in optimizing a site in this way. Golko Consulting can help by doing all this work for you on a regular basis so you can spend your time running your business rather than trying to figure out

Off Page Optimization

The popularity of your site is at question here. The more popular your site is, the more favor the search engines give it when deciding which content to serve up for a given search phrase. Popularity is measured by social interaction. One aspect of social interaction measures how many authority sites and related-content sites are linked to that content. An "authority site" is a site that Google has already ranked very highly because of its popularity.

Google's most recent algorithm changes look at social signals in addition to SEO factors to determine where to place a given piece of content in the results pages for a given search term. Social indicators are the number of comments on a post, the number of Facebook Likes given to a particular piece of content or a web site, the number of tweets stimulated by that content and other social interactions including Google Plus activity around that content.

Social Signals...

  • Generate higher search engine rankings (due to increased levels of social signals)
  • Generate higher visibility achieved by hundreds of individual social references
  • Generate higher exposure in the social networks through social buzz
  • Initiates the viral spread of your content
  • Increases the Traffic and Eyeballs on your content
  • Creates a Longer "shelf life" for your release
  • Increases the “stickiness” of your release through “Social Proof”. Acrowd draws a crowd.
  • Increases the Length of Visit which is a positive search engineranking factor.

What do Social Signals Look Like?

What Social Signals Look Like 
Check our Social Marketing section for information on maximizing your social indicators because it now goes hand-in-hand with Search Engine Optimization. You need both to get decent results, you can no longer rely solely on SEO. There are exceptions to this rule if you have some very low competition long-tail keywords that you are using (which I will explain in a bit), but in most cases you need both SEO and social indicators. 

Facebook Likes

Google ranks sites from page rank 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Only a few sites have the number 10 ranking including Google itself, Facebook, and a few others. If you get links from the high authority sites to your content, it can be golden. I say 'can be' because you need other social signals as well.

Many Internet marketers started to spam the search engine results by overly optimizing their web sites and blogs with specific keywords. They mastered the art of keyword research and applied it, but with bad content and worthless money-grabbing sites. Google saw this and added social signals to their algorithms.

Now not only does your content have to be relevant and original, but it has to also be popular among the social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Linked=In or discussed in other web properties such as citation sites. The SEO part of Off Page Optimization involves a steady recurring linking pattern. Getting a slow but steady stream of links from the authority sites is a must. You can do this in a number of ways.

First, find some .edu sites that have blogs and commenting enabled. Education sites with the .edu domain extension are some of the highest authority sites on the Internet. Leave some genuine, good comments with a link back to your web content. Every link you leave that sticks is a high-authority link back to your site, called a "backlink" in marketing terms. You want many back links but not all at once. Links that happen naturally are not usually added all at once unless something viral is going on which Google would know about anyway.

Government sites are also very high authority and have an .gov domain extension. Finally, sites in your specific niche and sub-niche can have a tremendous influence on your site's search engine results. One way to get this going is to post guest blogs on related sites with a link in the blog, by way of a credit, back to your site.

Guest blogging is an excellent way to drive traffic to your site, not only because of the value of the backlink, but because of the article you are posting itself to a captive related audience, the blog you are posting to.

Conclusion

Search Engine Marketing relies on Search Engine Optimization which involves On Page Optimization and Off Page Optimization. On Page Optimization requires keyword research, keyword-rich domain names, and suitable original content. Off Page Optimization involves social validation and backlinks form high authority sites and from related content sites in your niche and sub-niche. The foundation for any successful marketing effort involves SEO. This is one of the hardest areas to master for small businesses, and most time consuming.

Golko Consulting can relieve you of these daily tasks and free you to pursue your own business tasks. Give us a call today at 832 629-1044 for a free no- obligation analysis of your SEO needs.

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