As soon as you venture into the digital marketing world, lots of people will tell you that "you need good SEO" - including that random person sending you emails about how they can help you with it. But most people have only a vague idea of what SEO is and how much they need it. You might be asking yourself questions like: How important is it? How does it work? How will it help me?
Our goal here is to clear the air for you. We want you to have total clarity about the topic and, hopefully, we can help relieve you from the stress of figuring out what to do about your website's SEO status.
What Is SEO?
In brief, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It can help your site appear high on the list of results returned by the search engine, thereby maximizing the number of visitors to your site. That's the bare basics of SEO, but in order for you to understand how it can work effectively for you and your business website, there's a few more things you need to know.
FOMO And Worries Sold By Marketers
In order for you to make an informed decision, you need to be armed with knowledge. There are a lot of smart marketers out there who know they can make money by telling you that your SEO is not done properly. They make you believe that SEO is the #1 thing you should be worried about when it comes to your online presence. Although SEO is undoubtedly important, the subject is more nuanced than some marketers might want you to believe.
The Two Types of SEO
There are two types of SEO - On-page SEO and Off-page SEO. We'll begin with a brief overview of each type before diving into each one in more detail.
What Is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO (also known as On-Site SEO) makes sure that a site is built according to the search engine requirements. It specifically deals with the user experience (the page loading time, code optimization, good design for desktop or mobile, etc.) and how clearly your website is the answer to the question someone asked the search engine. On-Page SEO also is about optimizing your web pages with specific keywords that will help your site appear high on the list provided by the search engine. Are all the images properly described with alt-tags so that people who are visually impaired can get an idea of what the images are about? Is the hierarchy of headings (h1,h2,h3) clear and related to your market needs? Are there enough words on the page for the search engine to understand what your website is about?
When web designers and developers talk about SEO, 99% of the time, they're referring to "On-Page SEO."
What Good On-Page SEO Looks Like
Permit us to use an analogy: think of On-Page SEO like a well-formatted book. Good books have a clear title and description on the covers. They are organized clearly with chapters, page numbers, and headings correctly labeled so it's easy to understand and to navigate. How thick are the pages? They can't be too thin so that they tear when you're trying to flip to another page.
In the same way, a website needs to be clear and easy to navigate on both mobile and desktop devices. A website needs to be quick to load, even on a bad internet connection. If your website is slow, not only does it have a bad SEO rating, it's broken. Period.
You can see how well someone's on-page SEO is by making a test on gtmetrix.com or Google Lighthouse. At Supersonic, we take pride in launching websites that are as high as humanly possible on the On-page SEO scale. (See image below)
What Counts in On-Page SEO
How accessible is the site? Can people with disabilities like colour blindness or poor eyesight still read and navigate around the site?
How is the site visually displayed? Is there enough contrast between the background and the letters so it's readable? Is the font size big enough to be easily legible?
What is the layout like? If the buttons and links are too close to one another, it can be easy to click on the wrong link. That's just plain frustrating to a visitor.
On-Page SEO Is Not An Option, It's A Necessity
A good website strives to achieve an excellent visual and easy to navigate layout. When it achieves that goal, it accomplishes a good execution of On-Page SEO that rates well from Google and your users' perspective when they visit your website.
In our opinion, SEO is just good design and practice...not an extra. It's like paying more for a brake installation on your brand new car. It shouldn't be an option. Walk away from anyone who wants to charge you extra for doing their job right.
What Is Off-Page SEO?
Off-Page SEO (also known as Off-Site SEO) applies to the building referral links to your website. In other words, it deals with actions taken outside of your website that affect your ranking within search engine results pages. Examples of outside actions are other Internet pages, sites, or people, etc. linking or promoting your website. This outside attention affirms the quality of your content, thereby improving both the search engine and overall user perception of your site.
What Good Off-Page SEO Looks Like
Now permit us to use an analogy for Off-Page SEO: imagine your website is an island. You don't want to be an isolated island; you want to be connected to the other adjacent islands. So you need to build bridges, boat routes, and flight paths between your island and the other islands. In the same way, Off-Page SEO is about connecting your website to other reliable websites. When your site is linked to other sites, this will notify the search engine that your website is a trusted source. Ways to connect to other Internet sources include:
- Industry publication
- Press releases
- Business listings (Google My Business, Tripadvisor, Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc.)
- Other people mentioning their products or services on their website
The Internet is an interlaced community. When your website is joined to that community, you're naturally going to see more traffic on your site.
The Good And The Bad Of Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO is tricky. Ensuring your website is linked to other sites and sources is extremely costly, both in time and money. It is not a short time strategy. It takes time to establish your reputation and the results are not guaranteed.
When you invest in Off-Page SEO, don't expect to see results for months. It is not a quick and easy game. Investing in Off-Page SEO will include set backs because of the change in search engine algorithms. What worked in 2018 might not work for your website today. Again, it costs time and money to update your Off-Page SEO to comply with whatever rule is in effect at the time.
Of course, once you have a solid Off-Page SEO built, you will get residual results for months, or years. It is very powerful.
Why We Suggest Google Ads First
There is an alternative to Off-Page SEO when you just launch your website. Money is scarce and even though it is good to invest in off-page SEO, consider starting with Ads first.
Google Ads are an amazing (and cost effective) way to achieve good SEO ranking by paying for the top position.
Our favourite things about Google Ads are:
- They produce very quick results
- The ads are on autopilot
- You can easily track the ROI
- If you notice that certain keywords are making you money, you can invest long term off-page SEO in ranking for those keywords.
Google Ads are a great place to start when you have a new website. You can experiment and find out what is working for you before investing the big bucks in expensive Off-Page SEO.
Speaking with over 10 years of experience in SEO and website development, our final advice to you is:
- Before spending thousands in off-page SEO, invest in Google Ads and get that working for you first.
- Again, try Google Ads first. Google Ads data can help you get better results in SEO
- Interested in trying Google Ads? Supersonic offers affordable Google Ads management services, with Supersonic Ads® offered exclusively to our Supersonic Sites® clients.
We hope this article has helped answer some of your questions about SEO, how it works, and what options are out there for you and your website going forward.