What is SEO? (and why you should NOT pay for it!)

According to Wikipedia: SEO, or search engine optimization, “…is the process of affecting the visibility of a website…in a search engine’s ‘natural’ or ‘un-paid’ search results.” (Remember, for this article, we’re talking about “un-paid” search results. In our next e-newsletter, we’ll discuss paid results with services such as Google Adwords or the Yahoo/Bing Network.)

If Internet users are able to find your website easily when they use common search terms on Google, this means that your website has good SEO. If your site doesn’t appear toward the top of searches, then you may need help with your SEO. But that doesn’t mean that you should hire that SEO company that has been soliciting your business with non-stop emails and automated phone calls.

A large number of businesses in the SEO Industry are not well respected, and are known for using scare tactics, forceful sales techniques, and in the end, aren’t 100% sure about what they’re doing. Google and other search engines do not disclose how their algorithms and search results work, therefore an external company can never (honestly) guarantee results.

Many SEO companies talk about keywords, meta-data, and reciprocal links and will often use complicated language to confuse potential clients, as they make promises that they know they can’t keep. Many of these companies, without your knowledge, will use tactics that are all but banned by the major search engines, and will include link buying, cloaking, keyword stuffing, hidden text, and seeding your site for spammers.

Search Engine Optimization is easy when you understand the basics and know what you’re doing. In a recent Forbes article posted online, Ken Krogue wrote: “The bottom line is that all external SEO efforts are counterfeit other than one: Writing, designing, recording, or videoing real and relevant content that benefits those who search.”

What this means is that, rather than paying a company to improve your search results, your first step should be examining your website content. Google and other search engines “read” your website, and then deliver your site to users who are searching for content that matches the content on your site. If you offer a Montessori program for children aged 2-5 in Springfield, the first paragraph on your homepage should spell this out. Rather, many schools write something like this instead:

“Welcome! Our wonderful school has a unique pre-primary program that is the perfect choice for families and children in our community.”

This is a nice sentence, but Google won’t be able to decipher what it is that you offer, and therefore your search results will suffer. Rather than the above sentence, it should be re-written to read something like this:

ABC Montessori School is a private school located in Springfield, OH offering a unique and diverse Montessori preschool program for children 2 through 5 years old.”

Within this one sentence, you’ve mentioned the school name, the word “Montessori”, the city and state, and the words “private school”, “preschool”, “academic” as well as the ages of children. This sentence is SEO gold.

The other half of this equation is the coding (programming) of your website. Your code should be clean, modern and semantic, while avoiding the use of tables and antiquated HTML. This may not mean anything to you, as it’s on the technical side, but you should ask your website developer about this area.

Finally, many website development companies charge additional fees to perform SEO on your website. But we think this is akin to selling you a car without a steering wheel! At Go Montessori, we work on your SEO while we’re building your website and you never pay an extra penny for it. If we manage your website once it’s built, we also monitor search results through website traffic reports and continually work to improve those results.

As always, give us a call for a free, no-hassle, no-obligation consultation regarding your SEO and how it can be improved.