What is SEO?

And what the heck does SEO have to do with a mountain?

At its most basic, SEO is easy to understand. Your clients want to find you. You go to Google and set up your website and bam, you can be found. With so many other voices trying to be heard, you want a way to be found first. Search Engine Optimization is the method by which you can be found easier, and optimally first.

Unfortunately, that’s where SEO stops being easy. There are elements that are simple enough to understand, but then much of it gets lost in gobbledygook; tags, links, backlinks, etc. etc.

When discussing a client’s position, businesses go through four stages of SEO.

Imagine a business is a person looking to climb a mountain.

The four Stages

  1. Nowhere

A new business that has no SEO and likely can’t be found on Google or Bing. These clients have no position to start with and often don’t understand SEO.

  1. Nowhere to somewhere

The business has been operating for awhile and has some SEO. You can find them by keyword search, but they aren’t likely on the first page. Their SEO may be done on purpose or it may be just a coincidence because of the things they’ve naturally done with their website. On the other hand, a business with good SEO may be found here during their climb.

  1. Somewhere to first page

The business that has been operating for awhile and can be found on the first page at the bottom. They have been using SEO to get to this point whether on their own or with an agency.

  1. King of the castle

A business that has made it to the top. Now try to stay there.

SEO and the mountain

Let’s go back to our mountain for a moment. Imagine the first client as one starting out in the rolling hills. It’s easy to move forward. In fact, they can walk up the hills without much trouble. There is very little climbing and the weather is fairly calm. Because there is so much space, even if they have someone walking nearby, there is enough room for everyone to move forward on their own path without much competition.

As you get further up the hill however, things get more difficult to traverse. Eventually you have to start using your hands to climb and the neighbours you saw in the distance seem to be getting closer, sometimes butting ahead or squeezing you into a small confines as you compete for space.

Eventually you will come to a point where you need to be an experienced climber to travel the last length of the trek. You need to have the proper gear and be ready to fight for your position with the other climbers and with the winds that are buffeting you around. Every once in awhile a rock may break loose and send you tumbling down the mountain until you can recover and start over again.

SEO is the mountain

As you get closer to the summit, it becomes more difficult to make those small advances. It’s not that you aren’t doing a good job with your SEO. In fact, if you get this far, you’re using every SEO tool in your toolshed just so you don’t tumble back down the rankings.

As a matter of course, Google, the owner of the mountain has a strange sense of humour. What may be legal today for SEO purposes, may not be usable tomorrow. That means there will be times that you will fall flat on your face and not know why. Your efforts will seem to be for nothing until you can reset and reengage. To be fair, it isn’t for the sake of change that Google does what they do. It’s goal is to give the client the best experience possible. Sometimes it requires small changes to their algorithm to give the best experience to the most people.

Once you gain the summit, there are others vying to be king of the castle. You have to continue to work just to stay relevant and on top. The work you do at that level is harder and more technical and all for little or no change in position.

What to do about it

The best way to achieve your SEO, especially in the beginning, is to do the right thing for the client.   Sure there are some technical things you can do to achieve that last few steps, but to get you there, the best thing is to be supportive to your audience. Not just supportive, but educational. Sometimes you can tell them a joke. And sometimes you have to pat their back and say it’s okay, or for that matter allow them to pat yours in the same manner.

What do I mean by all that sentimentality?

Social, social marketing, blogging, SEO, and even Google adwords.

The best strategy to increase your SEO is literally be engaged with a full onslaught of marketing channels. You need everything firing on all cylinders to ensure your position inches upwards on those rankings. The more people coming to your site, the happier Google is and you rank higher so more people searching find you.

Focusing on SEO alone is a dangerous gamble for most businesses. Sure, if you’re in a market that no one is doing SEO then you can get away with it. Unfortunately, times have changed and many businesses are seeing the benefit of a digital marketing presence. As more voices start to orate then the job of doing your SEO becomes that much harder. You are trying to hit a moving target while on horseback and being blindfolded.

By reaching out with multiple channels then invariably your SEO will naturally feel the boost. Blogging will increase your site size and relevance. That means your summit becomes bigger as you start to rank well with other keywords. Traffic from social platforms will affect your traffic. A well placed Google ad will help now and then as well.

Before you fire your SEO agency, remember there is a lot that goes into building your SEO. Remember to do your research from a non-tainted browser. (See here.)

With this in mind, if they aren’t producing then move on. Just be careful that you aren’t leaving for greener pastures only to find a snow filled mountain.