SEO. Never have three letters been so overused and misunderstood. A quick Google search of SEO brings back almost 16,000,000 results. But how much does the average business owner know about SEO? It’s a safe bet that the neighborhood restaurant owner isn’t quite the expert she needs to be to use Google Webmaster Tools, analytics and select keywords to entice niche to visit them on the web. This lack of understanding online marketing is a huge disadvantage for most businesses. And since the mission of LFM is to keep businesses in business by helping them gain the skills they need I set out to explain SEO. That’s when it hit me; I’m really not an expert at using Google Webmaster Tools, analytics and using keywords to entice niche to visit me on the web. So decided to ask an expert.
Stuart Marler is an expert. Eight years ago he decided to learn the ins and out of SEO. Today Stuart is owner and CEO of the UK based company Retriever Web Solutions. He’s graciously agreed to answer some SEO questions for us so that we can really understand what all the fuss is about.
Me: “What exactly is SEO?”
Stuart: “We believe that SEO is a mixture of search engine optimization and Social Media.”
Me: “Is SEO necessary?”
Stuart: “100% YES. Without it your website will certainly, 100% not get found in search engines.”
Me: “Aren’t those separate things though?”
Stuart: “Yes, but one cannot be successful without the other. If you to attempt one without the other, the results will be less than 50% effective.“
Me: “What else can you tell us about SEO?”
Stuart: “Well, SEO is making your website easier to find more quickly than your competitors do. Its putting in the right words (Keywords) in the right places where search engines look. SEO is about designing a website along the guidelines of search engines; about making the content right; again along the guidelines of the way search engines work. Its making content which is original and engaging enough to be shared across social media. The social media and SEO mixture together should make your website appear high in search engine rankings.”
Me: “What should a small business owner look for in an SEO company?”
Stuart: “Trust. This is based on their previous work or portfolio. You should check their websites and testimonials. You should ask them about their process. Ask them what they do. Do they explain it in plain English or technical jargon that nobody else understands? Do they charge too much? Do they charge too little? It’s a professional service, so they should charge accordingly. For example, I feel that there should be about 15 hours of SEO with Social Media completed per month. Here in the UK prices should be about £50 (approx. $80) per hour, which equates to about £750 (about $1200) per month. If an agency charges a LOT less than that then you need to ask how many hours they going to spend and whether the amount of hours they’ll put in will be enough to make the campaign successful.”
Since $1200 a month may be a little steep for many small start-up companies here are some general SEO principles to get you do-it-yourselfers started: