There is a lot of talk about SEO in the business world, but what exactly is SEO?
SEO stands for ‘search engine optimization’, which is the art and science of building and ranking websites for a particular set of keywords.
So, if we were hired to do SEO for a plastic surgeon in Jacksonville, we would work to get our client’s website at the top of Google search results for terms like ‘rhinoplasty in Jacksonville’ and ‘Jacksonville plastic surgeon.’ The reason SEO is such a powerful marketing tool is because the vast majority of people search for businesses and services online first, and they will only click on sites that are on the first page.
A brief history of SEO strategy
In its infancy, SEO was little more than a race to see who could build the most anchor-rich backlinks in the least amount of time. For example, back to our plastic surgeon example, the objective would be to build thousands of links with the term ‘plastic surgeon’ that link back to the client’s site. However, search engines like Google grew wise to the fact that people were gaming their algorithm with meaningless content, and swiftly released one of many algorithm updates that penalized sites that had participated in aggressive link schemes.
Two approaches to SEO began to form around this time:
- Whitehat SEO is made up of people who strive to uphold and obey the terms of service as defined by search engines like Google. This approach focuses upon content creation to rank websites. The idea is that good content will get noticed, people will link to it naturally, and the site will generated traffic organically by offering solid content and a good user-experience. This is the approach of professional SEO agencies.
- Blackhat SEO is the philosophy that in addition to creating relevant content, the use of software to build links, disseminate articles and videos is essential to gaining top positions in search engine results. Advocates of this approach are often amateurs looking to rank quickly rather than building a brand and a community around their brand. Their success is usually short-lived and their sites often get penalized by search engines.
However, both parties agree that onpage factors, like the proper use of meta-tags, site speed, and lightweight code, are important ranking factors as well.
The general argument in favor of a whitehat approach is that practitioners will be far less likely to have their websites penalized, but others argue that the time it takes to build and rank a site by-the-book is far too long, and that black hat methods help to get one’s site noticed quicker, rather than hoping for a ‘big break’ someday.
The problem of defining SEO is even more complex than outlining the different approaches simply because there is a great deal of money involved. For instance, a lawyer or appliance business in Jacksonville hires an online marketing agency because their business depends upon getting new clients and customers, and not just any clients/customers, but ones who buy.
Not many business owners have the patience to wait for six months or more for their site to get onto the first page–they want whatever works because they have inventory and staff costs to pay every month. As a result, SEOs may feel pressured to be more aggressive than is wise, simply to retain their clients.
Our approach is to first talk with our clients about their risk tolerance, expectations, and past history with SEO agencies, before moving forward. We would stress erring on the side of caution, since the purpose of building a website is to maintain visibility and credibility in your industry for the long haul. Simply put, at Jacksonville SEO, we adhere to whitehat SEO strategies because we find this approach produces solid, long-term results.
How much does SEO cost?
This depends on your company’s goals and aspirations, but we can design campaigns to fit reasonable budgets. As well, we will not take clients on-board unless we are confident that the ROI justifies it. Given that 97%* of consumers perform an online search for local businesses before making a purchase, your website is more important than ever as a marketing tool. Moreover, 90%** of those searchers never search beyond the first page, so your online search position is one of the key factors that determines how much new business you receive.
Contact us today to discuss your online advertising needs.