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SEO is About More than Ranking High on Google

SEO stands for “Search Engine” Optimization. It’s Understandable People Get Confused.

Almost every day I delete an email from some “SEO” company, often written in broken English, telling me that they can guarantee a high ranking on Google. In the first place, such claims are always bogus (yes, I said “always” not “almost always”). In the second place, so what?

Ranking high is nice, it’s desirable, it stokes our egos, but ultimately, most business people realize that a high ranking, even a number ranking, can be completely meaningless. Of course once you think only in terms of “Search Engine” optimization, you might miss that the point of having a website probably is probably not achieved by a person searching on Google or Bing and finding your website.

picture of children having search engine success

Hurray! They found you! … Now what?

An SEO company owes it to their clients to focus, not on rankings, but on business success. Even Google drives this point, as mentioned by former Googler Maile Ohye

“A successful SEO also looks to improve the entire searcher experience, from search results to clicking on your website and potentially converting”

Not only does this make business sense, it’s absolutely critical from Google’s perspective. Think about it, Google is like a tour guide. If a tour guide keeps dropping the tourists off at destinations that bore them, that they can’t wait to leave, where they find nothing of interest that they’d like to take home, that tour guide will not get tips and eventually will lose customers.

Google has a vested interest in having people arrive at a website that they’ve “recommended” and say, “wow, this is just what I was searching for!”

When you become a client with Horizon Web Marketing, we view it an essential component of our program to analyze the type of website experience your customers will enjoy (or hate) when they land on your website. We’d like to offer some of the methods we use to understand and improve visitor experience on our clients’ websites.

3 Easy Ways to Understand Searcher Experience on Your Website

  • The best tool is still the easiest. Visit your own site and try to experience it through the eyes of someone who has never been there. This can be hard at first, but the longer and slower you browse, the more you can get a feel for that first-timer.
  • What good are friends if you don’t use them? Actually we’re talking about using them as unofficial testers. For example, if your site is an Ecommerce site, as a friend to buy one of your products (you might want to give them a substantial discount, say, 100%). Here’s the key, watch them do it. This is an occasionally painful, always useful experience.
  • Check your analytics. Google Analytics will show you on a page by page basis how long the average viewer will stay on a page (behavior > all pages > average time on page), how many of them leave without going deeper into your site ( > bounce rate).

Of course there are more sophisticated ways to measure searcher experience, but the priority remains the same, don’t get distracted chasing rankings or be satisfied when you’ve achieve them. As Maile Ohye said, “improve the entire searcher experience.”

How to Choose the Right SEO Firm or Consultant, According to Google

picture of Maile Ohye of Google discussing ways to make sure you hire a good seoGreat Advice on Vetting and Hiring an SEO Firm

If you hang around SEO, as we do, you’ve seen a recent video from Google Tech Lead Maile Ohye getting a lot of sharing love lately, especially from legitimate SEO companies, like, well…Horizon Web Marketing.

We like it so much we’re embedding it below.  But in case you don’t have 11 minutes handy to watch it, here’s the bullet pointed highlights (and if you know us you’ll know it’s what we’ve been preaching for years now):

  • Hiring a bad SEO isn’t just a waste of money, it can actually hurt your rankings
  • SEO is NOT black magic or some bag of “tricks”
  • Any SEO can only succeed if you invest in a good website and will make suggestions about your whole website experience for your visitors, and not just where you rank in search; they want to help your business, not just your rankings
  • SEO starts with making your site “search friendly” (we call it “search engine friendly” or SEF)
  • A legitimate Search Engine Optimization program will take 4-12 months to start bearing fruit
  • If an SEO recommends something, they need to be able to back it up and show you how their practices are based on Google documentation, they should be willing to educate you about what they do
  • The starting point in a relationship with an SEO firm will usually be an search engine optimization audit, and yes, it usually does cost money to perform one
  • Competitive analysis is important (what are your competitors doing that affects search and their website)
  • Technical issues are important (so any firm you hire has to be technically competent)
  • If you’re not ready to commit to improving your website and following the recommendations of your SEO professional, don’t bother

Here’s the thing that strikes me repeatedly in the points that Maile makes: an SEO has to be able to communicate well with you about your business.  Having a 2-way dialogue is critical.

These are just a few of the high points.  Make sure you watch the whole video.  We’re glad that what Google thinks is important is exactly how we would represent our business value to you.

https://youtu.be/dT038wiWHPY

 

Why Are You Invisible on Google? Our Free SEO Training Webinars Begin March 9th!

My poor, invisible chiropractor.  Does Google hate him?

I’ve been going to the same chiropractor in Grand Junction for 27 years, Thomas Foote (his practice is called Applied Chiropractic Health Center).  Tom is a good egg.  He prides himself on not being a (stereo)typical chiropractor.  In other words he doesn’t try to get you to come back to him every week until your money runs out, he doesn’t try to push unproven miracle cures on anyone (and I know there are many other chiropractors like Tom, and if you’re one of them, please don’t throw stones at me, but let’s face it, that’s the common view people have of the profession).  Tom knows his stuff.  He has a good manner.  He tries to educate his clients so they don’t HAVE to come back.

He has one problem however.  He’s practically invisible on Google.  His office is just down the street from me, and if I Google “chiropractor Grand Junction,” not only is he not on page one, he’s also not on the full view on Google maps (see the screen capture below).

screen capture of local seo case study applied chiropractic

A Heart to Heart SEO Conversation with Dr. Foote

Picture of Thomas Foote of Applied Chiropractic Health Center

Dr. Tom Foote is an expert in chiropractic, not SEO. How is he supposed to get Google to notice his practice?

I finally decided to have a heart to heart with Dr. Foote.   He asked me to take a look at his situation, so I did.  When I spoke to him again, and started to explain all of the factors that were dragging his business down, he looked confused, then overwhelmed, then incredulous.

I agreed to give him some guidance in turning this situation around and capturing a little of Google’s love and attention.  (Well, ok, just a little attention would be nice!)  As I left his office that day I thought about how many businesses in a similar situation don’t even know where to begin.

Is There Hope?

There are many factors that affect search.  So many in fact that a bit of research will leave a business person or a traditional marketer wanting to quit before they even get started. However it IS possible to identify those 20% of factors that give you 80% of the benefit of SEO.

So, at Horizon we are beefing up our SEO training program.  First we released our practical, common sense video course called Real World SEO Essentials.  Now we are planning on rolling out a regular series of free SEO training webinars.

Our First, Free SEO Training Webinar

Our first webinar will debut on Thursday, March 9th, 2017 at 11 a.m. Pacific Time (2 p.m. Eastern).

Number of Attendees is Limited – Click here to Save Your Seat

It’s free and I plan on identifying the same “invisibility” problem facing many business people just like Dr. Foote, plus, I’ll go beyond that, and in a special 2nd bonus session on March 16th, I’ll show you what you can realistically do to improve your situation in a simple, step by step process.

There will even be a Q&A session after I go through the materials I have to present to you.

This webinar will be held in business English, with no techno-babble permitted.  It’s not designed for SEO experts, it’s designed for you!  Join us now.  This link gives you more details about what will be covered.  And if think you might not be able to make that date or time, sign up anyway and you’ll be eligible to view the recording of the webinar.

Don’t settle for invisibility any longer!  Sign up right now before you forget.  The number of spots at this seminar is limited.

 

Looking for Some Real World SEO Training?

Kate: Can you imagine a life where everything was just easy?  You know, like where you ask for things, and then people just bring them to you?

Jack: It’s wonderful…

– “The Family Man” (2000)

Ah yes, wouldn’t it be nice if you could read some sage bit of Search Engine Optimization or Digital Marketing advice, call in one of your well trained staff members, ask them to implement and simply wait for them to bring you the results?

Welcome to the Real World

picture of man who's overwhelmed by the thought of SEO training

Is SEO training just one more thing on your plate? Then only worry about the essentials!

I don’t know about you, but that ain’t the business world I operate in.  I grew up in small business, literally, and I’ve spent the last 35+ years in a world where managing a business or a department tends to be like fighting 5 fires in a high wind with a garden hose and a shovel.

Taking time away from all the other concerns of a hectic day to become an expert in SEO simply isn’t an option for most small business managers.  If you’re like me, you long for information that is stripped down to the essentials.

It’s to fill that need in SEO that we created a new online training course called “Real World SEO: Essentials.”  This course is designed to cut through all the stuff that no one in the “real world” will ever do and focus on the meaningful concepts and the realistic actions most busy small businesses CAN take based on knowing those concepts.

The course is divided into 9 modules and is approximately 6 hours of video training.

Who is the Course For?

Business owners and managers

This course wasn’t just designed for business owners.  It is designed for ANYONE who has to get their website seen while managing other business operations.

Independent web developers

It’s also a perfect class for Web developers who need to perform SEO for their clients but need to focus ONLY on the essentials that will have the best shot at results.

Marketing professionals

Finally, if you’re a marketing professional who is expected to manage, or simply know about, Search Engine Optimization, this course is a compact way to bring you up to speed on those concepts that will benefit your clients and put you ahead of most other marketing agencies who are after their SEO business.

Get the First 3 Modules for Free

Already know you want the full course?  Sign up here and take $50 off (this introductory offer is only good through January 31st, 2017)

 Try it Out for Free

We know how valuable your time is, otherwise you probably wouldn’t have been interested in the premise of this post.  So instead of forcing you to commit to a purchase of the full 9 modules, we’re giving away the first 3 absolutely free.  Once you sign up you’ll also get a downloadable free bonus: our SEO Workflow Journal, a template similar to what our agency uses for managing an SEO project.

The free sampler we’re giving away carries a double benefit: Not only will you have an idea of the value of the training before you purchase the full course, but regardless of whether you get the full course, you’ll get valuable and actionable insights.

What you’ll learn in Real World SEO: Essentials

Get the First 3 Modules for Free

Already know you want the full course?  Sign up here and take $50 off (this introductory offer is only good through January 31st, 2017)

Module 1 – Introduction (34 minutes)

  • The Starting Point: pragmatic SEO
  • Be ready to roll up your sleeves and do some work
  • Expectations for the course
  • What you will need
  • What the goals of the course are

Module 2 – Basic Understanding (22 minutes)

  • How search engines find web pages
  • How they organize and store web page content
  • The anatomy of a SERP
  • Why certain sites are ranked higher than others

Module 3 – Evaluating Your Website (36 minutes)

  • How to evaluate your current website
  • The importance of KPI’s
  • Getting started with Google Analytics and Google Search Console
  • Resources for evaluating your website such as Open Site Explorer

Module 4 – Make it Search Engine Friendly (SEF) (62 minutes)

  • What SEF means
  • How to check for health problems using Google Search Console (GSC)
  • How to create an XML sitemap and let Google know about it, also using GSC
  • What a robots.txt file is, and why you need to check yours

Module 5 – Keyword Research (58 minutes)

  • Why keyword research is foundational to SEO success
  • How to do keyword research using Google’s “keyword planner”
  • How to determine whether a keyword is really competitive
  • Why “themes” are more important than “keywords”
  • How to set priorities for your SEO using your keyword research

Module 6 – Relevancy (56 minutes)

  • The important principle of “relevancy”
  • Key parts of the page for SEO
  • How to optimize a page for relevancy
  • What Panda is, and how to check your content for Panda-proof quality
  • The importance of a content-creation strategy

Module 7 – Authority (43 minutes)

  • The second pill ar of SEO success: Authority
  • What PageRank is and how it changed the search engine game
  • The impact of Google’s Penguin updates
  • Link-building basics

Module 8 – Conversion Optimization (27 minutes)

  • Why visits are meaningless without conversion
  • What factors keep people from taking action on your website
  • What conversion boosters will help you to get the most out of your SERP rankings
  • How higher conversions can also help your organic SEO efforts

Module 9 – Managing Your SEO (21 minutes)

  • Learn the difference between urgent and important
  • How to avoid SEO paralysis
  • How to get the most out of the SEO Journal that we provide as a bonus
  • What options are available to you to take your study of SEO and Internet Marketing to the next level

Bonus Materials

  • Sample SEO Workflow Journal (a handy team document for tracking and managing your SEO)
  • Google Special Search Operators for Keyword Research
  • Match Type cheat sheet to help you get the most out of Google’s Keyword Plan

Get the First 3 Modules for Free

Already know you want the full course?  Sign up here and take $50 off (this introductory offer is only good through January 31st, 2017)

2-Minute SEO: A New Video Series from Horizon Web Marketing

picture of stop watch to illustrate 2-minute SEO video blogHey, got a minute?

Or maybe two?  One thing that’s in ever shorter supply is time.  We deal with dozens of business people.  Managers, owners, marketing execs, even office workers and customer service reps.  No one has extra time.

But here’s the challenge in digital marketing: it depends on knowledge.  Make a mistake and the market will punish you.  Make a different kind of mistake and your competitors will punish you.  Make an even different kind of mistake and Google will punish you.

At Horizon Web Marketing our practice is built on SEO and related forms of digital media.  We know firsthand how frustrating it is for business people to know even what “SEO” is (other than to search on the acronym and find out it means “Search Engine Optimization”), much less to make use of it to promote their websites.

And so, we decided to try for an achievable educational goal for our clients: a series of videos that we have dubbed “2-Minute SEO.”  The videos are stripped to the bone to help non-SEO-professionals to understand what they need to know about SEO.

Our first set of 10 videos examines 10 of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) that we get about SEO.  In future videos we will examine not only the “frequently” asked questions, but the “should” ask questions that will make you empowered in buying and managing your digital marketing efforts.

Sign up for our e newsletter to stay in touch with new releases.  Our goal is to release 1 new video every week.  Since we also do SEO training, our videos are designed to instruct, not to give you a sales pitch.  So sit back and enjoy that SEO ride.

To see our current selection of 2-minute SEO videos: click here.