A Beginner's Guide to SEO

One of the biggest mistakes we see small business owners making is taking the "if I build it, they will come" approach to online presence. Having a solid website is one thing, but driving traffic to that site takes on a whole new battle with stiff search engine competition. The term "SEO" is being flung around in business forums everywhere, and today we're going to break down exactly what it stands for and why even a rudimentary understanding of its inner workings is crucial to increasing traffic to your website. 

Lauren Edvalson, Owner of Edvalson Marketing in Sacramento, Ca is here with us to give the low-down on how you can power up your website's SEO with directory listings. 

What exactly is SEO?

“SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It is the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines.” All of the major search engines (like Google, Yahoo, Bing) have primary search results, where websites and relative content like videos or local listings (even popular tweets) rank based on what the search engine believes to be the most relevant to users.

Run a quick test: Take a moment to try searching for your business name on a major search engine like Google. Do you make the first page? What if instead of your business name, you search for your service + geographical location, such as "branding savannah ga". How do you fare then?

Search engines are going to place you closer to the first listing the more relevant they think you are. How they define relevancy is based on an algorithm that changes multiple times a day, but there are a few components you can work on to help bump you up like link building and authority.

Insider tip: To see a full picture of everything that impacts your ranking, click here to download a free "Periodic Table of SEO Success" that helps break down all that's involved with getting found online.

What is link building?

Link building is more than just directory listings, but directories are often overlooked and can be a huge asset to your SEO efforts. It is more important than ever to have sites or directories with a strong domain authority linking into your website or blog. (None of those spammy, weird directories). We are talking about the good ones like, Superpages, Yelp, Foursquare. The truth is, there are over 400 directory sites that can be used for SEO. Search Engines rely on a number of data sources to provide local search results. But who has time to create and claim 50 let alone 400 directory listings? We sure don’t! Lauren gives us the scoop on how to build links efficiently and affordably using a directory listing service called MOZ Local.

MOZ has established partnerships with all of the major aggregators like Infogroup, Acxiom, Localeze, Factual, Foursquare, Superpages and Best of the Web. They use the data that has been verified through your Google Business Page or Facebook Page to match the data.

Insider tip: Before you sign up for any listing service, be sure all of your web platforms are accurate. Check descriptions, contact info, and location. 

For $84 per year you can create a single listing for your business that MOZ will feed out to all of their major partners as previously mentioned. They will also give you the opportunity to remove inaccurate or duplicate listings. If you have a home based business, be aware that you are required to submit a public address for your listing so you may want to explore the option of a virtual office like Regus.

What are other SEO strategies besides link building?

Let’s assume you have signed up for MOZ local and love it, the next step to SEO success is to start asking for reviews on member and non-member listings. The more five star reviews you have online, the better. Depending on the size of your business, you may want to commission a service like Review Buzz. If you are a Solopreneur you can use email marketing to quickly capture some great reviews to a few of the top sites.

Ready to dive deeper into the world of SEO? Search Engine Land offers a 9-chapter guide on the ins and outs of SEO that can be accessed here. As part of this guest post, Lauren with Evaldson Marketing will be keeping tabs on the comments section of this post for the next week or so; feel free to post any questions you may have involving SEO below.