Welcome to Part One of my SEO Basics series!

I thought this would be one post, but then it got very long — so I’ve broken it up into four parts

  1. How Hard will SEO be for your business?
  2. On-Page SEO Optimization tips
  3. How Content can drive SEO results [coming soon!]
  4. SEO Tools and How to use them [coming soon!]

I should start by saying that I do not consider myself an SEO expert. There are agencies and professionals that do SEO full-time.

However, I do consider myself SEO smart.

I focus on organic (aka FREE) search growth for my clients. I do this through on-page SEO optimization. I then equip my clients with advice and tools to continue their SEO growth.

One of the first conversations I have with my clients is how hard SEO is going to be for their business.

Some businesses can put in minimal effort and they will rank at the top of the first page in Google. Other businesses have to put in consistent, valuable effort to be able to rank as well.

What determines the haves and have nots? That’s what I’ll be breaking down today.

SEO will come easier for businesses that…

Have a local, physical location (with a Google Business profile)

  • If you are a local business with a physical location you will organically have an easier time getting to the first page of google search results. This is because you have a regional audience so you will show up for regional keyword searches.
  • For example, let’s say you are a Veterinarian with a vet clinic in Athens, Georgia. If someone searches “vet athens, ga” your only competition in the search results is other vet clinics in Athens, Georgia. Your competition is not every vet clinic in the USA.
  • If you do have a physical location, you should have a Google Business profile. This means your business will show up in Google maps and that Google can better index your website and location. If someone searches for you on Google, your profile is what will show up on the right-hand side.
  • If you want a funny read, my father, co-founder of Athentic Brewing Company, wrote a blog post about the baffling (to him) process of getting their location verified on Google.

    Do not have a lot of competition with similar businesses

  • Whenever someone searches on Google for your type of service or product, you are in competition with others that sell similar services or products.
  • For example, let’s say you’re still a veterinarian with a vet clinic in Athens, Ga. Your success in search results will depend on how many other vet clinics there are in Athens, Ga. If there are only ~5 vet clinics in Athens, GA then you will have a good chance of appearing high in the search results. However, if there’s ~50 vet clinics in Athens, GA then you will have a harder time getting to the top of search results because you’ll be competing with all 50 other vet clinics.

    Provide a service or sell a product that is universally known/understood

  • Having a universally known/understood product or service means that people know how to search for your product or service on Google.
  • Keeping with the vet example, anyone who is a pet owner knows what a veterinarian is and knows the basic services a veterinarian can provide. That means people know what to search for when they looking for a veterinarian.
  • However, if your business is a totally new concept that people need to learn about before understanding it, then google search will be more difficult. If someone doesn’t know it exists they won’t search for it!

    Have been in business and have had a website for their business for years.

  • If your business has been open for 10 years and you’ve had a website for your business for 10 years, Google will recognize that and give your business more validity than a new business.

SEO will be tougher for businesses that…

Have no local/physical location and sell/provide services nationwide

  • Having an online shop with no physical location or regional focus means you can sell your products nationwide but it also means that you are in competition with every other similar online shop nationwide.
  • Let’s say that you make beautiful pillows that you sell online. If someone searches “decorative pillows” on google search, your small, successful business may never get to the first page of google search results. That’s because the big companies like Target, Walmart, Amazon, Wayfair, etc. will always rank above you.
  • In these cases, I suggest that you focus on long tail keywords or niche keywords for better rankings. For example, your pillow website might have a better chance ranking for “indigo dyed pillows” or “organic linen pillows”
  • I also recommend that small online shops focus on social media to grow their brand and followers. You’re more likely to get someone to visit your pillow website from your instagram account than someone finding your pillow website on page 7 of google search results for “decorative pillows”.

    Have a lot of similar competition

  • The more saturated a market is, the more difficult it is to rank on google search results. Going back to my veterinarian example…if there are only 5 vet clinics in Athens, GA, your vet clinic is likely to rank well, but if there are 50 vet clinics in Athens, GA, you will have to put in more effort to rank high.

    Have services and/or products that are not universally known/understood

  • If you are a start-up with a revolutionary idea — that’s amazing! However, people won’t know to search for your product or service if they don’t know it exists. Therefore high google search rankings won’t come organically.
  • These types of businesses need to “disrupt” the market. They need to change the status quo of purchasing decisions through smart marketing campaigns. For example, before Blue Apron disrupted grocery shopping, no one was searching for “meal delivery subscriptions”.
  • These types of businesses need to focus on social media and advertising before they’ll see the SEO results they desire.

    are a NEW business

  • If you are opening a brand-spanking new business, congratulations! I love and support entrepreneurialism. However, be prepared to be patient for Google to show you the same kind of love in search rankings.
  • This is because, first off, it will take time for Google to fully index your website. In my experience, this usually take 2 weeks and sometimes up to a month.
  • Then, you need to wait for Google to recognize you as the best search result. It can be tough to beat out businesses that have been around longer than you. However, if you put in consistent, valuable effort you’ll see the benefits.

Now you likely have an idea of whether it’ll be hard or easy to have SEO success for your business.

For those that will have an easier time with SEO, good for you! To secure your high rankings, continue reading parts 2, 3 & 4 of my SEO Basics series.

For those that will have a harder time with SEO, let’s get to work! The first step will be to improve your organic search engine rankings. Continue with parts 2, 3 & 4 of my SEO Basics series.