Tech insights

What is SEO? Your no-BS answers here

SEO defined

Earlier this week we realised we didn’t actually know SEO. We thought we did, but we didn’t. And we are in tech, so we should! We have written this article in the hope it helps you. Maybe you don’t-know-what-you-don’t-know. Or you simply want a refresher. Or you are frankly a bit baffled or intimidated by the jargon.

As with all things tech, it’s easy to get BS’d. Trust me, we have been on the receiving end of this. The objective of this 4 minute read: to help you a) test if you are being messed around, and / or b) ultimately get more web leads, more efficiently.

SEO 101

Getting good results on Google is influenced mainly by TWO things, in order:

  1. Building your site to be Google-friendly (SEO)
  2. Spending money with Google (SEM)

Spending money on Google, without first making your site Google-friendly, is “throwing good money after bad”.

In other words, if you are competing against businesses who have built their site to be Google-friendly, for every Dollar they spend, you need to spend five Dollars. Who is the loser here? Clue: not the companies who get your AdWords spend! Answer: the loser is the business whose SEO website is not Google-friendly.

How can I score my website and marketing efforts? And how do I win in the world’s most competitive race (i.e. Google Search)? And specifically, how do I win in commercial property marketing, where the stakes are high, the space is hyper-competitive, and every website is in a race against every other website.

1. Building your site to be Google-friendly (SEO)

Some context: Google is a search engine. To come up in search results, you want to optimise your website for this search engine. I.e. make it easy for the search engine to do its job. Thus “Google-friendly” = search engine optimised.

Google begs for websites to be built Google-friendly: (and even hands out the “how to” guide)

But for some reason (we don’t know why, we are not experts in building websites) Google’s guidance is ignored.

If you can help Google crawl and read your site in the “language Google understands”, then Google can help you with a great ranking. If you don’t, then you will be out-punched by those website who are Google friendly. It’s as simple as that.

So help Google to help you.

How can I check how Google-friendly my site is?

Google-friendly test 1

Here are two (free) online tools that you can use to test your own website. Simply copy paste your website’s address (URL) in. Warning: the results may astound you! (Wait right up until the analysis finishes running – it goes up and then down)

Another option… On a website in Google Chrome, click F12. On the screen that pops up on the RHS, look at the top menu bar (clue: it starts with Elements, Console etc.). On the right hand side of the menu bar select “Audit”. Click “Run audits”

Google-friendly test 2

While the above tools are most accurate, the below is an easy-to-see example of a website that is not Google-friendly:

(Note: a website can look good like below, but still not be search engine optimised for your business, so please don’t rely only on this “look test”)

CRE SEO - visual symptoms

What if you don’t score well compared to your competition? If you are not technical, you will need someone technical to make you Google-friendly. If your website is built correctly, it may not require a website rebuild or changes to how your website looks. However, it will, at minimum, require someone skilled to “get under the hood” of your website and reconfigure your website.

So assuming websites are built equally Google-friendly, is there now an equal playing field? Not so. Here is the next SEO lever…

Search keywords

Just as we search for info on the web by typing specific words Google, so do our customers. Therefore the next step is to make sure your website’s key words talk to the words your customers search on. You can have the most Google-friendly website selling safaris. However, if you have configured your website’s key words around tomatoes, you will only connect with customers searching for tomatoes.

Please see the example below: customers are searching for safaris, guess what comes up (clue: it’s not websites with tomatoes as a key word:))

SEO example CRE

(On above we count 4 websites with 24 key words among them hitting on the searched-for word safari)

Tip: organic search is when users search on a term, and click through to a website appearing in search result (where the website is not appearing as an ad). More on this below…

So what happens if 1) your site is now built Google-friendly, and 2) your keywords (on your Google-friendly site) are talking to what your specific customers are searching on. Do you now sit and wait?

Next up.

Linking

In simple terms, if other good websites link to you, then it means you score higher in Google’s eyes.

So reach out to your friends (friends with high-ranking websites are even better), and see if you can help each other.

The clicks flywheel

Thirdly, you want people actually clicking through to your site. Clicks are the oil that Google works on. It’s a bit unfair, because the higher up on search results you are, the more people will come to your site. In turn, the more people who click on your site, the higher up you get.

So the websites who are already ahead, get further ahead.

Using a combination of inbound marketing (emailers with links) and social media (like this) to get click throughs are powerful tools. But what is the most effective solution to break this self-reinforcing cycle? See below…

2. Spending money with Google (SEM)

SEM stands for search engine marketing. One part of SEM is SEO. But another part is paying for clicks. This is where Google makes most of their money (a staggering $90B-odd annually in fact).

Paying for clicks means you pay to “own” (for a defined period of time) certain searched for terms on the web, so when certain people search, your site comes up first. (This is called Google Adwords or Pay-per-click (PPC))

Paying for clicks is explained in the graphic below: (here someone is searching for cars)

SEO vs SEM

And hopefully here it is. Four simple things to remember about SEO, with some tools to self-investigate.

Hopefully now you now feel a lot more confident about SEO, and it all seems less daunting and intimidating

Forgive us if we have made this all overly simple and it’s not technical. But I have been explained this a couple times, and didn’t get it. Hopefully by making this less technical it “lands” for you. If you want more technical info, the web has a treasure trove of many more articles on this fascinating topic.

Image credit: Business photo created by rawpixel.com – www.freepik.com

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