Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website's ranking on Google and other search engines for specific search terms related to your business, products, industry, services and location. A common misconception is that by typing your company name or url into Google and seeing your site listed means you're "on Google" and your site has been indexed. That is true, but it is not how people use Google and only drives business by potential clients who know about you or your site. But, shouldn't your website generate new business, as well as provide useful information to existing clients? If you are interested in performing a simple SEO test on your site, contact Tom and he can walk you through getting an accurate representation on how your site performs. Note, using your existing web browser, with your search history and related cookies will not give an accurate representation.
For local businesses, you need to utilize Local Search Engine Optimization or Local SEO, because you are trying to target a specific region with specific services. Local SEO results can be less competitive especially in places where most competing sites are not utilizing or under-utilizing SEO. The Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket areas are well suited for Local SEO, because its use is a very underutilized practice in the region. This means that a website owner in this region has a very good chance of rising quickly and maintaining a dominating presence on Local Google search results. There are a whole host of metrics that Google uses to determine a site's ranking, and Tom is well versed in all of them. He can work with you to formulate a SEO plan specific to your industry and location.
SEO is a "hot" service and has received a lot of attention as of late, and there are some important factors to consider when selecting who is going to be handling your SEO services.
There are good (White Hat) and bad (Black Hat) SEO practices that a website owner needs to understand. Google has guidelines (terms of service) for what it considers allowable practices for improving your rankings (White Hat) and practices they disapprove of (Black Hat). Because ranking on page one for a desirable and competitive term is so valuable, many companies use Black Hat strategies, and there are many shady people doing things that can generate quick and fairly drastic improvements.
However, Google devotes a lot of resources to combatting them. About every six months or so, Google releases a new algorithm, that penalizes all the sites participating in these schemes, including participating in linking schemes (paying for links), blog commenting schemes, keyword stuffing and other tricks. You can see rapid improved rankings doing this in the short term, but eventually you will get caught, and then you'll be penalized by Google or even possibly de-indexed (banished) by Google. Tom only utilizes White Hat strategies that are within Google's Terms of Service.
SEO is a process, and the first place to start is doing a little research and analysis on the site of interest to see how it is performing for relevant Google query searches with a no history, clean cache, web browser window – similar to typing into a brand new computer or using a computer in a public library. For example, for a dentist on Martha's Vineyard the test would be to do a Google search on "dentist martha's vineyard". You want to see if the site is ranking on page one, because people rarely go to page two.
Regardless, you want to look at all the sites that are ranking on page one. Take quick look at the sites and see what type of SEO they appear to be utilizing. Also, you may want to reverse engineer some of the things that have made the higher ranking sites successful and incorporate them into your site, including how the text is written, are they using blogs, social media, images, videos, etc.
There are a few other important steps to make sure the site is being properly and regularly indexed by Google. You can create and submit separate sitemaps (for pages, images and video - if applicable) to Google. Google encourages this practice, and it provides the tools and rewards those who utilize it with higher rankings.
Tom also sets up Google Analytics accounts for all the sites for whom he provides search engine optimization services. This is a tool provided by Google that allows the site owner and Tom to track the success of the SEO strategies. It also provides a great deal of analytical data on your site. That data can be used to target new opportunities, fine tune approaches and generally keep tabs on how your site is performing.
Keyword Research is another vital aspect of SEO, and Google has a specific tool for this practice. The tool allows you to type in query terms related to your business. Then it will tell you how often that term is searched (typed into Google) locally (US) and globally, and how competitive the term is, meaning how many other people are trying to rank for the same term. In addition, it gives you a list of related search terms (keyword ideas) and how they perform. This is a good way to specifically target the terms best related with a reasonable chance to rank on Google Page One for your business. Sometimes, for example, targeting a misspelled word is effective, because it can be a commonly searched term.
Google AdWords is an advertising service that allows you to pay Google to advertise at the top or to the right for certain terms. The price is per click, and the price varies based on how competitive the terms are that you choose. In some cases, it may be well worth the investment, but, it is important you have someone who has a good understanding of Google Keywords and AdWords management. Otherwise, you could rack up quite a bill on terms that are not converting or are not a good fit for your business. Tom is skilled with Google AdWords strategies, management and maintenance.