If your Lancaster County business wants a successful online presence, SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is critical. Search Engine Optimization describes all of the strategies and tactics deployed to encourage search engines to rank your page highly against relevant search terms.

Many business people believe that if you’ve built a website, it’s already optimized for search engine rankings. However, few web programmers “automatically” include SEO in the project.

However, strong SEO tactics are an essential part of a successful website. SEO strategies increase your website’s visibility by helping your organization appear near the top of the search results.

How important is it to show up at the top of a search page? According to research from Backlinko;

  1. “The #1 result in Google’s organic search results has an average CTR (clickthrough rate) of 31.7%.
  2. The #1 organic result is 10x more likely to receive a click compared to a page in #10 spot.”

Not only will top-ranking businesses get more clicks, showing up at the top of a search page has many other advantages as well. Ranking at the top of an online search is a great way to increase brand awareness, build relationships with prospects, and position your organization as a leading expert and resource in your industry or community.

At first glance, showing up first seems almost impossible. After all, research reports that billions and billions of online searches are conducted every day. However, your company doesn’t need to show up in all of those searches. Instead, your organization must show up in the right searches. You want to get in front of people in your area who are looking for your services.

For example, if someone searches “Gas Grills for Sale near Quarryville,” they are looking for businesses that rank for those keywords. They don’t care about gas grills in London. Nor do they want to look at Automotive Grills in Quarryville. That’s why Google has spent so much time indexing location terms on websites (such as Quarryville, Lancaster County, or Pennsylvania) to make sure each person gets the results that match their needs and are located near them.

Once the search engine runs out of perfect options that match all the original keywords, it will start showing locations that are not so nearby (gas grills in Baltimore) or they’ll start showing you the next best options (charcoal grills in Quarryville.)

The only way Google and other search engines can achieve this type of decision-making is by gathering enormous amounts of data. Google continually evaluates billions of websites over and over, to develop algorithms that can select the most useful and relevant sites in each search.

Search Engines send code (called crawlers, spiders, or bots) to move through the internet to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate websites. And they start by analyzing the text on your site. Not only should your content match users’ search terms, but it must also be formatted in the correct ways. Your site must use keywords in the right places, formatted with the proper code, and mentioned at the optimal frequency. Too few keywords, and you won’t rank. Too many keywords, and you may get flagged for keyword stuffing.

Search engines want to make sure you’re hosting a credible, responsible site, with useful content. In addition to assessing text and images, they are also evaluating how your links work, if your site displays properly on desktop and mobile, how your site is designed and coded, the volume of your web traffic, where your web traffic comes from, the inclusion of images and videos, and much more.

Search engines intentionally use many different tactics to evaluate your site. They do this to make it very difficult to “trick” them into giving your site a higher ranking. In the SEO world, “white hat” SEO refers to people who are trying to get good rankings using honest, straightforward strategies. “Black hat” SEO refers to people who are trying to trick the system, bend the rules, or get people to their site using deceptive or unethical practices.

Filling your site with keywords in ways that interfere with readability, called keyword stuffing, is a black hat SEO technique. Showing one set of content to users, and another to search engines is another black hat SEO trick. Duplicate content, plagiarized content, or hidden content (cloaking) are all black hat techniques. Even poorly written or wildly outdated content can be bad for SEO (and they’re not great for your business, either).

To thwart black hat SEO practices, search engines change their methods of evaluation and their ranking algorithms regularly. Search engines can be secretive about the exact nature of these changes. SEO experts must keep up-to-date on ever-changing requirements to ensure that their clients’ sites meet search engines’ demanding and rather complicated requirements.

SEO Experts Use a Range of Techniques

Because SEO is complicated and every business is different, there’s no silver bullet that can magically change your search engine rankings. SEO is neither quick nor easy. Instead, it requires a slow and steady approach for long-term improvement.

Because no single process or tool can improve your search results rankings, digital marketers and SEO experts use a range of techniques. We explain some of them here.

SEO Starts With Keyword Research

Effective SEO starts with keyword research. In order to make sure your website shows up in the right searches, SEO experts start by examining the words people use when they do online searches for your products and services. The first step is identifying and researching a range of words, phrases, and search terms that people enter into search engines while looking for a similar subject. Sometimes this is one word, but more often it’s a set of phrases.

Using a variety of industry tools and techniques, SEO experts will determine which words and phrases are used most often by your customers, so these words and phrases can start being used in the right places on your website.

Mobile-Friendly Sites Boost SEO

More and more people are using smart phones as their primary internet tool. As a result, if your Lancaster County business has a website that was only designed to look good on desktop screens without paying attention to how it looks on mobile, then your site visibility is likely suffering.

If your site doesn’t adapt well to mobile, you may be losing a large number of potential customers. For this reason, search engines don’t want to promote sites that are incompatible with mobile. If you don’t make sure your site works on all platforms, you may be hurting your search engine rankings. Your site needs to look great on mobile, and be programmed in ways that benefit users and are search engine approved.

According to Google

“A non-mobile-friendly site requires users to pinch or zoom in order to read the content. Users find this a frustrating experience and are likely to abandon the site. Alternatively, the mobile-friendly version is readable and immediately usable.

“In the USA, 94% of people with smartphones search for local information on their phones. Interestingly, 77% of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present.

“Mobile is critical to your business – whether you’re blogging about your favorite sports team, working on the website for your community theater, or selling products to potential clients. Make sure that visitors can have a good experience on your site when they’re visiting from their mobile devices.”

If you’re not sure if your website is mobile-friendly, visit this Google site to get an instant (and completely free) evaluation.

SEO Doesn’t Work Without Website Optimization

Search engines send out crawlers to evaluate websites. If these crawlers can’t read parts of your site, they won’t index them correctly. That may mean your site ranks lower in searches. When digital experts work on website optimization, they make it easier for crawlers to find your website and index every part of it, so you can get the best search ranking possible.

SEO experts may recommend tactics such as improving page speed. Search engines have reported repeatedly that site speed is a critical factor when ranking websites. Large images, complicated graphics, or even programming can slow your site’s download time.

If you’re not sure how quickly your site is loading, visit this Google test site to get an instant, free evaluation.

Another way digital marketers can improve your search engine results is by making sure web crawlers can fully access and comprehend your website. Once your site has been analyzed and issues have been identified, digital experts then follow best practices in coding, structure, and content, to make it easy for crawlers to review and index your website.

Interlinking and Inbound Links Improve SEO

Crawlers will move through your site in unpredictable ways. They may come to the end of a page and stop, not find a link to another page, and leave. When this happens, only one or two pages of a website are indexed. However, digital experts can add links that lead to other parts of your site to make it easier for crawlers to evaluate ALL of your content. They can also create and manage off-domain links to improve your website’s authority and visibility with search engines, resulting in higher rankings.

Create or Optimize Meta Tags to Increase Visibility

Meta tags are the source code that describe pages. Sometimes they are visible, but often they exist primarily in coding. If your web development team didn’t specify meta-tags, they may have been automatically generated, often using a random combination of words and numbers, or even left blank. One of the ways SEO experts optimize meta tags is to work on title tags, the text you’ll see at the top of your browser. Search engines view this text as the “title” of your page, so it’s important to ensure that your meta tags contain relevant keywords and are unique to that page.

Get Found More Often with Local or Near Me Optimization

Many people search for nearby or “near me” businesses. According to research conducted by Google, 46% of searches have a ‘local intent’. This means that people are searching for stores, restaurants, banks, or entertainment close by. In fact, search engines often show local resources first, even if it’s not specified. For example, if someone in Lititz searches for a plumber, they are more likely to be shown plumbers in the surrounding areas, but plumbers from Philadelphia or even Boston may appear. However, if they search for plumbers “near me” the results will be limited to plumbers within a close radius.

An SEO expert can optimize your site’s code, structure, and content in ways that help you appear higher up in local-intent searches. One tactic is to help create or claim your business’s Google listing. This can help you gain the search engines’ trust with local information consistency and location optimized content. Another tactic is to expand your online business listings and create content that helps search engines identify you as a local business in the areas you serve.

SEO Provides More Benefits Than Higher Rankings

The wonderful thing about SEO, when done properly, is that there’s added benefits beyond simply increasing your visibility in search results. All the work done to add content throughout the website and to optimize your pages for relevant search terms also provides value to your customers. SEO can help your website guide visitors to take action, turning them into leads and customers at a higher rate. This also improves the result of all your other marketing efforts, providing you with more for your money.

SEO Success via Trust, Transparency, and Patience

In order for you to achieve improvement and lasting growth through SEO, you need to cultivate three elements in the relationship with your digital specialists, whether they are a hired agency or your internal marketing partners. Those key elements are Trust, Transparency, and Patience. SEO is a confusing process for many businesses with all the terminology, behind-the-scenes-coding, and the time it takes for results to be evident. Full trust and collaboration will lead to better content and the ability to adjust over time.

If you’re in need of such a relationship, then look no further than LNP Media Group. Our digital experts will not keep you in the dark. Instead, you’ll be involved in the SEO process every step of the way. You’ll know what we’re doing, when, and why. This includes monthly reporting and ongoing communication.

Not Sure if You Need SEO?

Many organizations believe that if you’ve built a website, it’s already optimized for search engine rankings. However, this is seldom true. If you’re not sure if your website needs SEO, we can provide a free evaluation. We’ll let you know what aspects of SEO are in place, and which areas need work.

Whether your new or you’re trying to earn and maintain the top spot on Google, every business can benefit from SEO. The results are in constant flux from search engine ranking algorithm changes and shifts in search patterns to the SEO efforts made by your competition, there’s always the need to improve your online presence. Let us help.

Don’t Have The Patience For SEO?

While we believe SEO is a critical part to online success, we also understand that you need customers in order to fuel your marketing budget. We offer other services that can provide immediate leads, such as Paid Search (also known as PPC).

And, in fact, leveraging both PPC and SEO is the path that our most successful clients have taken in achieving their long-term growth. Let’s talk about a marketing plan that best suits your goals and your budget