SEO 101 is for business owners and executives who want to understand search engine optimization at a high level. But for those who don’t want to dig deeply into the details of SEO. It’s like making pizza! Video below.

Time Stamps for SEO 101 for Business Owners and Executives

Don’t have time for the entire video? Jump to a section that interests you.

00:00 Intro and Agenda

01:52 Why talk about Google?

03:01 What are different ways “to get on Google?”

05:18 How does Google Search work?

07:01 What is an algorithm?

08:21 What matters to Google?

14:03 What is SEO?

15:44 Why does your website, social media, etc. need SEO?

22:57 How SEO strategists work (high level)?

31:26 What changes are taking place in SEO?

33:15 Wrap-up

Intro to SEO for Business Owners

Hi there! I’m Nancy Burgess of Nancy Burgess Strategic Marketing, Inc. Today, we’re talking about SEO 101 for Business Owners.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

What does that mean? You’ve heard that term SEO tossed around. What does that mean exactly?

I’m going to share my screen, and we’re going to talk about some of those things. There we go! So, let’s get started!

Agenda for SEO 101 for Business Owners and Executives

We’ll talk today about:

  • Why we want to talk about Google.
  • When I say SEO, why do I talk about Google?
  • Why am I always referring to Google and Google best practices?
  • What are different ways to get on Google– to get your business found?
  • How does the Google search algorithm work?
  • How does Google search work?
  • What matters to Google? What is important to Google and how we can work with that as business owners?
  • What is SEO? We’ll talk a little more about that.
  • Then why does your website, social media, etc. need SEO. Why is that?
  • How does an SEO strategist work? At a high level. This is not a detailed webinar for web developers who dig into the weeds and SEO people. This is a basic overview. Good for people who are some of the marketers, definitely business owners. We’re taking this at a high level.
  • Then, what changes are taking place in SEO?

So, let’s get started!

Why Talk About Google for SEO?

First of all, why do we want to talk about Google?

We want to talk about Google, because Google owns, different research says, 88-93% of all search.

In other words, whenever somebody “Googles” something, about 90% of the time roughly, they are on Google.

So, Google really matters!

Google itself gets about 2 trillion–TRILLION!–questions a year.

On product searches, Amazon shares the wealth at about 50% (45-55% depending on the source).

Some people ask about Duck Duck Go, and that only has about 1% of the market share.

But you can see between Google Images, YouTube, and Google Search–all those search engines–it is definitely very robust.

We look at Google, because as Google does, so follow a lot of other search engines.

What Are Different Ways to “Get on Google”

So, how do you get on Google?

PPC Advertisement (Paid)

One way is to buy an ad.

You buy an ad, and every time somebody clicks on it…

For example, I Googled “Realtors in Lake Zurich.” Every time somebody clicks on this ad that says, “Best agents in Lake Zurich. We’ve done the research,” Any time somebody clicks on that, it costs whoever paid for that ad, it costs them money. It’s called “pay per click.” Or PPC. So that is one way to get on Google. To pay for it.

Google My Business (Search)

Another way is to have a Google My Business page. This is so that you appear in Google maps. I “Googled” the term “marketing in Palatine.”

On the left, you can see a group of different Google My Business listings, and on the right, you see what you see if you clicked into one of those. I clicked into mine here. You can see what that looks like.

And you’ve seen this. It comes right up on the top of your phone when you “Google” something. It comes on the right-hand side on the desktop computer. So, you’ve definitely seen something that looks similar to this.

Company Website (Search)

Another way to “Google” is to “Google” the company name.

So, if I put in my company name, then my website comes up. Some social media comes up.

You can see here I’m taking up a little bit more real estate, because Google decided to break out my contact and about us pages. That has to do with some of the settings on my website that Google has chosen to show.

Another thing is if I “Google” the term “Nancy Burgess,” you can see that there is a whole page of “Nancy Burgesses.” In fact, I just got a Google Alert notice yesterday saying that my body was found. There are a LOT of obituaries for “Nancy Burgess.”

Directories, Social Media (Search)

You can also see that there are different directories, different social media of mine so that takes up some more real estate.

So that is another way to get on Google. These are all “search.”

This is what we’re talking about.

So, there are ads, and there is search.

There’s search on Google My Business. Search for your website. And there is search with directories and social media, things like that. That’s ALL called search when people are looking for something, and they do not click on an ad.

How Does Google Search Work?

So how does Search work? It’s 3 steps.

  1. The first step is that the internet gets crawled.
  2. The second step is that the information gets indexed.
  3. And the third step is that it shows results.

Let’s dig into that a little bit, so that we have a clearer understanding.

Crawling

The first step is that robots, e.g., “Googlebot” in the case of Google, crawl the internet. I’m sure Googlebot is probably not as cute as this little toy robot, but it gives you the idea that a robot crawls the internet.

Sometimes you’ve heard that referred to as spiders or crawlers. And what they do is that they can crawl from link to link to link within a website and from one website to another to find content.

Indexing

Then what do they DO with that content when they find it?

It’s like having a whole bunch of different books. How do you find the book that you want?

Well, you catalog them. They put them together in like categories.

So, when Google understands that your page is about X, that your business is about X, and somebody Googles for X, they match that up. They say here’s a list of all these different things that have to do with X. Then there are reasons why they put certain things toward the top.

Returning a Search Page

So, once they have this catalog system, then they return a page. They show the results. That’s what we see when we Google something.

Summary of How Search Works

So, it’s three steps.

  1. The robot crawls the internet.
  2. Then the content gets indexed like a library system, matching up that this has this and this has that.
  3. Then it shows the results.

Well, how does it decide WHAT results to show?

Why does one company appear at the top of the page, and another company appears on page 100 of 10 search results per page?

What Is a Search Algorithm?

Well, how does Google decide WHAT results to show first?

There is a formula.

That formula is called an algorithm. The formula, or the algorithm, decides what to show in results.

Search Algorithm Is Like a Pizza Recipe!

I like to think of the algorithm as kind of like a recipe for something like pizza. There are all these different ingredients that go into it.

In fact, the Google algorithm has about 200 “ingredients” in its “recipe.”

Some of those ingredients are more important than other ingredients.

What’s more, Google changes the recipe at least 6 times or more a day, and that’s to deter spammers and other people. They don’t want junk coming in. They want people to get…when they “Google” X, they don’t want them to get Y or Z or porn or something else.

They want to make sure that when someone “Googles” X, they get X.

So, they change the recipe 6 times a day. A little more salt, a little less pepper. That kind of thing.

But it’s still pizza, right?

It still ends up being the same thing.

What Matters to Google on Search?

There are some “ingredients” that may be more important than other ingredients when it comes to search.

Links

Links are important, because as we said: robots crawl links. So, if you have robots crawling the links, then those are going to be more important.

Content

Another thing that is very important is content. Google can NOT read images. That’s why we put a special kind of text on an image (in the background) called alt text.  So, if the image can’t be read, it says “crown over cell phone” or something like that. That’s representing content. The reason I have a crown on that is that Bill Gates famously once said, “Content is king.” He said that back in the 90s.

And content is king, because having content tells Google what the page is about.

It tells it through words, and it tells it through code. So those are a couple of factors that are important there.

RankBrain

And then RankBrain.

RankBrain is very interesting. RankBrain is Google’s artificial intelligence (AI). So, with the links, we have the internal links between pages, we have the external links. Let’s say somebody links to your site, Googlebot may be crawling along and then a link goes to your site, so then they crawl that site.  So, they say, “Oh, this site must be important. A lot of people put links to this site.”

Content with E-A-T

The links have to be relevant. They have to have expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). So, a link from Facebook to your company, or from LinkedIn to your company page, that has more authority. Or let’s say a link from The New York Times has more authority than let’s say a link from something that’s irrelevant. So don’t get fooled by spammy link buying strategies.

That’s something that used to work back in the day. But Google is wise to that and those links will not help you. Not in the long run. You could get dinged, and your website might get removed from search altogether.

We talked about how the content needs to be relevant, e.g., X to X. It needs to be valuable and it needs to be high quality. Content needs to have Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).

If I sat down, and I wrote a medical article about how to treat a cold, that’s not going to have a lot of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.  Now, if I was an MD, and I was an infectious disease specialist who knew all about viruses and colds, that would have a lot of authority. A lot of trust. So, that is the type of content you want to have. YOUR expertise. If you’re an expert in X, then your website should talk about X.

More on RankBrain

The other thing that I mentioned just briefly is the artificial intelligence. This is really pretty cool. Google has learned over time, that for example, when someone searches “horse” then they are most likely looking for a thoroughbred or something like that. They are probably not looking for a construction horse. But if someone types in “construction horse,” they make get back saw horse content on that page. It’s also learned “apple.”  Search “apple” and you’re more likely to get content about a computer–not a red, green, or yellow piece of fruit.

It’s also getting better and better at understanding conversational language.

If you’ve ever used other search engines, you’ll find that Google really knows pretty well what people are looking for. The more people like what you post and go to your content, the more that Google will think, “Oh, this must be the good answer, because the person went there, and they stayed there.”

“They didn’t go there, and then leave, and try something else to keep trying to find the answer. This must be the answer when they “‘Google’ X.”  Something else may not be the answer and so that gets put further back on a different search return page while X gets on the first page.

Other Algorithm “Ingredients”

So, what are some other ingredients in our pizza recipe?

Mobile-Friendly

Well, your site should be mobile friendly. Most searches (about 57%) are done on a mobile device. Therefore, you want to have a site that is mobile friendly. And Google ranks those sites, actually solely now, for mobile friendliness. So, if you have content that is on your desktop site, but not your mobile site, it will still be on the internet, but it won’t appear in a search engine return page.

Site Speed

Another ingredient, and this is becoming more and more important, is that your site must be fast. It must load quickly. People are not patient, and Google want people to have a good experience. So that’s another ingredient.

Website Security

Another ingredient is that your site needs to be secure. That would be having an SSL certificate. You can see, I put the little lock that you see for my website over here. That’s the little lock that you see on search. If it’s not, it will say it’s not safe. It’s been saying that for a long time. So, one of the things Google is looking for is a secure site. That is an HTTPS site–not just an HTTP.

What Is SEO?

So, what exactly is search engine optimization (SEO)?

How do you get to be X? We know some of the ingredients in the recipe.

Goal of SEO

The goal of search engine optimization is to create unique, relevant, and valuable content that has expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness that is both easy for search engine robots to crawl and index, the spiders to be able to crawl and index, and for users to find, navigate and consume.

Matching the Pizza Recipe

We do that by applying certain best practices. You’re trying to match the recipe as closely as possible. And yes, the recipe changes a little bit each day. But if you have the major ingredients, it still turns into pizza. And you still are able to optimize.

So, there are best practices with the website development–how your site is designed. Some coding (or tags) that you put behind the scenes and on the page. The way links are on the page and things like that. Content creation. For example, how robust is the content? Does it say enough to tell the robots what the page is about? Do the robots understand what the page is about? And is the page something that people are looking for? If you’re writing about something that nobody cares about, you’re not going to get traffic.

Beyond SEO

After you launch your website, you need to integrate with other factors, not just search engine optimization. For example, you want to put your (website) link in your signature line to get more website traffic. Things like that.

Why Does Your Website, Social Media, Etc. Need to Be Optimized?

So, Why?

Why bother with all this? On a desktop, there’s a saying, “Where do you hide the dead body? You murder somebody, where do you hide the dead body?’

On page 2 of Google.

Of course, this may seem like, well that’s not the same anymore with scrolling on a phone. But it does still hold true.

Get Found and Get Website Traffic

If you’re on page 2, you’re going to get a lot less traffic. Here’s a graph that’s been around for a while. It shows the blue line here is desktop searches the red line is mobile and you see that 95 percent of people won’t click past the first page, and two-thirds won’t click past the first five search results. So, if you want to be relevant to Google, the higher up you are on that page, in general, the better it is.

Now here’s some more modern data. This was taken recently in 2021, and it hasn’t changed all that much. There’s a little bit of bump on position 11 so like you do a little bit better at the top of page two than you do at the bottom of page one. But basically, it’s about the same.

Just to say what we’re looking at here: On the horizontal axis, we’re showing the position on the page. So, this is the first thing that you see on basically, the search engine return page. This is the second thing. This is the third thing. And you can see that this is the percentage of people who click on it.

So almost 40 percent click on that very first link. So that’s why it’s really important to be on the top.  One reason that you want to be getting Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is because you want to rank higher so that you get found.

Why did the SEO strategist cross the road?

To get hit by traffic. You want to get that website traffic and that’s what SEO strategists look at. So, getting more traffic is one reason to get SEO.

Be Competitive

Another reason is that the prospects will come to you. The competition is doing SEO. So, if you want to get that traffic too, you need to do SEO as well. Otherwise, you’re going to end up buried on page 200 or something.

Website Builds Often Aren’t Optimized

if you build a website, they won’t come. It has to be a search engine optimized website. Just having a website isn’t enough to generate much traffic.

Get a Return on Your Website Investment

Also, you want to get a return on your investment. You paid for a website. Depending on if you’re a small business, maybe you paid for a one-page website $3,000, $4000, or $5000 dollars for a small business up to $20,000 for a small business. Big businesses may pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a website. If you want to get a return on that investment, why build something that nobody’s going to go to? You want to make sure you get the return on that investment so you get the ROI on the website itself.

Potentially Decrease PPC (Ad) Costs

But you also get an ROI because you don’t have to pay as much for PPC. This is cost per click for different industries. You can see you can pay as much as $5.88 cents or more for one click on a legal search. For one click on employment services like a job listing $4.20. So, these are not cheap things to advertise.  So, you can offset some of those pay-per-click (PPC) costs by getting just that kind of free search engine optimization traffic. So, you spend less on ads, so you can decrease your PPC costs.

Cost of SEO Itself Has an Excellent Return on Investment

Another thing is that it there’s a good ROI on SEO. Different studies have shown different things–from $5 to $8 return on investment for each dollar spent. But you can see only email marketing beats SEO in terms of digital marketing tactics, and what you get for return on investment. Also, this is another ROI study. It showed that Google Ads in this case, they lost 95 cents per click, but the return for SEO was to $3.75 so the profit was $2.75 so you know subtracting that that $1 spent. Then it pays for itself and more, The ROI is excellent.

SEO Is a Long-term Investment That Pays Dividends

And it’s a long-term investment, so that’s another reason to do SEO. It’s not like a one-and-done. It’s not like you put up a billboard, you take it down and it’s over. It’s not like somebody clicks on that ad, and then it’s over. If you do the right optimization, it will continue to pay dividends. Because you’re matching up what people want and as long as you keep giving people what they want, then it will be the right things on the page. Then it pays dividends for years to come

SEO Creates a Good User Experience

The google algorithm, as I mentioned, favors mobile-friendly, responsive design, fast, secure, sites that clearly communicate to prospects and customers. These are all things that an SEO person does to try to make sure that things match up. So that’s making it user friendly.

SEO Warms Sales Leads and/or Drives Ecommerce Revenue

Another thing that we can do is to help sales. A lot of times people will “Google” before they go in a store and purchase. I mean, not for a stick of gum, but for a larger item that they want to purchase.  They’ll look online first. They’ll come in ready to buy. So having your products or services online to say what those are–even in a brick-and-mortar setting– is helpful. And it can definitely warm leads for your sales team. That’s how you get qualified leads.

SEO Helps People Find What They Want, When They Want It

One more thing I want to say is that you are hitting people right when they want to know something. Right when they want to get answers or right when they want to get information about your products or services.

It’s not a billboard or something else where you know or an advertisement on tv where maybe they’re not looking for a computer right then, but there’s a computer commercial.

These are people who are ready to purchase. They’re saying “what’s the best computer to buy,” that kind of thing.

Enables Your Business to Be Valuable and Relevant

So, what are some of the other things? We talked about the goal of SEO. Content is huge on that and creating relevant content.

How Do SEO Strategists Work?

What we do for an SEO audit is that we figure out what content is doing well and what content is doing poorly in terms of getting ranked and getting attention from consumers or the business if your business to business.

Then we look at what the code the metadata behind the scene says.

We look to see if you if you’re a local company, if you have local directory listings and consistency. Can Google tell that this is the same company, that you’re the same company every time you’re listed? Or is it confusing because there’s other companies with similar names? Or you have listed yourself in different ways in different places?

Then we can see what traffic is coming from organic as well as from social media and things like that and when we look at how each page is performing and those keywords that are performing well on search.

Keyword Research

Then, we do keyword research. We want to understand the audience’s language, and I bolded the word “audience” there for a reason. Because a lot of times, businesses will use lingo that their customers won’t use at all. So, you want to use very natural language, too.

Remember that a lot of people are doing voice search, too. So, you want to use very natural language that people actually might say when they’re “Googling” something. They’re not going to say “Where can I find strategic marketing?” But they might say “Where can I find digital marketing?” So, you want to have the kind of language that people are using. Or “How can I get help with my Google?” Or “How do I rank on Google?” These are the kinds of things that people are actually asking. So, we would do that for each of your business.

How would people “Google” your business? We use some keyword tools to find more keywords that people are looking at. Then we query the words ourselves to see what’s coming up. Because perhaps what you think is… Let’s say you’re trying to sell red apples and every time… let’s say you’re an apple orchard, you want to make sure that you come up and not the apple computers when people are looking for you.

What Are Customers/Clients Asking You?

So, what are prospects and customers asking? These are good things to know. These are good things to have in your content. If customers are asking you the same questions over and over. Or prospects are asking you the same question over and over, then maybe that’s a good thing to put on your website and answer that question for them.

How We Use Keywords

So, we do the keyword research. It looks something like that and then we do use keywords appropriately when we’re naming URLs, and I caution you there, because if you start changing a whole lot of URLs (web addresses) that’s going to be a problem. You don’t want to change them. If you can be consistent with your URLs, and if they’re in the right place, and they’re named correctly, or not to change everything all at once. You’re going to really lose ranking. Title tags, meta descriptions, these are some of the coding underneath.

The title tag is not the title on the page. The h1 is the title on the page and other headings and then the special text I was talking about on images to say that this is what this image is about. Let’s say I’m selling toasters and this is an image of a toaster. I’m a sole business proprietor and I am John Smith–not the picture named “face.” The file name of the image and the alt text on the image should say for instance “John Smith CEO of John Smith Inc.” That kind of thing.

Here’s an example of one of the tools we can use. It’s called Yoast, and it shows for example, when you’re in the green that you are doing well there. I saw corn that means there’s a corny joke coming up.

So why was my new client turkey.com stuck on page 20 in the SERP in the search engine return pages? Well, why was that client on there?

Because they were keyword stuffing.

And that’s an expression keyword stuffing is when you use a whole bunch of different words to say the same thing and you keep repeating it over and over again or you just like have a list of words. Those are all spammy practices, and Google is WAY beyond that now. They will actually ding your site.

So, you think, “Oh if I just put all these words on there, then my content will really look like X!” No, because Google knows when you’re not talking naturally. So, you want words and titles and all these different things to read naturally, and be a natural style.

Creating Content

Then I have some other content here about not having now… you want to avoid duplicate content but Google understands that some things like your brand messages and stuff may be on more than one page, that’s not a big deal. I think especially the bottoms of the pages can be more duplicative like if you have a footer that’s across all your pages or things like that. That’s fine. But these are some things to avoid irrelevant naming, lengthy titles, keyword stuffing. As we mentioned, that’s stuffing a whole bunch of keywords on there.

SEO Details, Details, Details

And then there are best practices for this description. So, this is the description that gets returned. So, we want to have it read smoothly, and it really should be something that makes people really want to click on your description. Here’s one I found was on public speaking thing.  It said, “Learn the secrets to confident and effective public speaking. Download free guide. Improve your sales skills.” Oh, my goodness! There’s so many things, and it doesn’t have to be full sentences but these are the kinds of code and things that an SEO puts on. Then the meta descriptions, there’s some things that we avoid doing.

So, this is getting a little bit more in the weeds, but you do want compelling, unique, fresh content. These are all the different things that an SEO strategist works on.  A large volume of unformatted text or typos and grammatical errors, you want to avoid all these things. Rehashing the same content over and over again. You want to be as original as possible and also answering questions that people have.

There are studies that show that more content is better. But I put the little red man on there, because even though studies have shown this, Google over and over again says that it’s not the number of words on the page, it’s the context and the being able to answer the question.

Another piece of corn, so we’ve got a corny joke. An SEO writer walks into a bar,…a barroom, a tavern, a pub, a watering hole, an ale house.

That would be keyword stuffing by using all those different words that mean the same thing, but you know you want to pick some of the ones that are naturally that people are “Googling.” For example, are people in the US really “googling,” “Where’s my ale house?”  They are going to say, “Where’s the nearest bar?” or “Where’s the nearest tavern?” And things like that.

So, we can do our keyword research and know which words actually people are searching the most.

Then you want it to be readable. Most Americans don’t read, a lot of them don’t read past the fifth-grade level. Usually, we try to stick below an eighth-grade level to hit the majority of people. If you’re a medical research site or something like that, obviously the sophistication is going to be a little higher on that.

Shorter paragraphs, shorter sentences, bullets, things like that, avoiding passive voice is just good writing practice.

That’s why, as you know, for me, having experience as a professional writer has been really helpful in doing SEO, because I can do those things. The images dos and don’ts. You don’t want to use your images as links. You want to try to have the file name and the alt attribute–that special coding on the image– all match up. Read more about our SEO process.

What Changes Are Taking Place in SEO?

I just want to talk a little bit about algorithm changes because we mentioned that it changes six times a day. But there are bigger algorithm changes all the time, and one is coming very soon.

It’s called the “page experience update.”

The page experience update was supposed to roll out this month which is part of the reason I was focusing on SEO this month. But google has delayed it. They’re going to start rolling it out next month, and it requires that a site be secure and it has https, that it’s mobile friendly, that it loads quickly. That there aren’t any annoying pop-ups. There’s going to be an “intrusive interstitial” penalty which means that you’re going to be penalized if you have annoying pop-ups that interfere with the original content.

If you’re going to have to put a pop-up on there, let’s say for legalese, you want that to be more towards the bottom of the page and not interfere.

Then if you have consistent infractions where your browsing isn’t safe, then you will be penalized for that.

And then core web vitals, which are what they call is loading performance so how fast does it load so that’s called the largest contentful paint and there are numbers that go with this. There are ways that SEOs and web developers can see this data. How quickly you can interact with the content, and does it bounce around when you load it? Those are the three things that make up Core Web Vitals. They have fancy names like first input delay and cumulative layout shift, but there’s a green, a yellow, and a red area. Of course, you want to try to be in the green on all of those things.

Summary

We answered the questions:

  • Why talk about Google? Google controls 93 of search.
  • What are different ways to get on search? There’s the pay-per-click ads and search. Search includes Google My business pages, it includes your social media and directory listings, and it includes your website.
  • How does Google search work? The robots crawl, Google indexes the content to organize it, and then it returns a page based on its formula or algorithm.
  • An algorithm is like a pizza recipe. Google’s algorithm has 200 plus “ingredients” that determine rank and what the search engine return page looks like.
  • What matters most to Google?  Content, links, RankBrain, speed, mobile friendliness, some metadata, not all the coding data underneath, but some of it. and user-friendliness.
  • What is SEO?  It’s some best practices that allow robots to crawl relevant, valuable, unique, and user-friendly content and to easily access it. It’s making sure that there is content that demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trust.
  • Why does your website or social media need SEO?
    If you rank higher, you’re more likely to get traffic and to demonstrate expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
    Your competitors are doing it.
    You can cut PPC costs.
    You can gain ROI.
    You give people what they’re looking for, at the time they’re looking for it.
    You help qualify leads to make sure that they’re good leads before you send them to the sales force.
    There’s security, and it’s a secure site.
    And it’s a user-friendly site.
    There are a lot of great reasons to do SEO on a website.
  • How does the SEO strategist work? We start with the keyword research, and we write content to align with what bots need and users want to know, and also put the proper coding on there.
  • What changes are taking place? The page performance update is coming.

Wrap Up

I’m happy to answer any questions. There is a guide with some other SEO links. There’s a great video, if you’re interested in this topic. it’s called Trillions of Questions. The link is on this resource. My resource is free. You can go to my website and download it, and get the link. It’s called Trillions of Questions, and I think it’s on YouTube. You can watch that and find out a whole lot more.

Reach out to me, if you want. I’m offering a special on SEO Services until June 30.
Reach out to me, and I’d be happy to talk about your needs and help you with anything. Thanks.

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