In today’s Agent Solutions blog post, we’re going to be looking at why SEO is important and how it can help your business. We spoke with Cory Freitas from DigiWEI on best SEO practices:
Jennifer: Hi everyone! I hope everyone is healthy and well. Today I’m really excited because we’re going to talk to Cory Freitas from DigiWEI. So full disclosure, Cory and I actually work together. We’ve been working together for a number of years and if you engage in eJenn Solutions and an SEO package, you’ll be working with Cory. I wanted Cory to come on because what with the pandemic going on, a lot of business owners are thinking, “Oh my gosh, we have to be online!”
We’re blessed, or however you want to say it, that we’ve been able to help companies, but one of the things that I’m noticing is a lot of businesses will work on their websites, but it won’t have the SEO that’s needed. A lot of times it’s because the business doesn’t know that SEO should be included or that they should look at that. So I’m going to start with that.
What does SEO stand for?
Cory: SEO stands for search engine optimization. So that’s basically optimizing your website for search engines. Search engines are like Google, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo. So search engine optimization is just optimizing your websites, online presence, social media, or whatever presence you have for the search engines. We think of Google as the top dog because something like 80%-90% of people use Google as their search engine. So we use Google because they have all their crazy algorithms and if you’re ranking on Google, you’re most likely ranking on Yahoo, Bing, and the other search engines.
Jennifer: I know you’ve seen a lot of challenges and changes over the years, especially with SEO and how Google is changing their search criteria. In that sense, it’s just like social media. So let’s get down to the big question.
Why does SEO matter and why is it important?
Cory: SEO is important because it’s the way people or Google finds you in their searches. For example, if you have a website and you’re talking about basketballs, but you’re appearing in searches for soccer balls, you know something is wrong. So you want to be ranking for those keywords. The keywords are the words or phrases that your target market is searching you on. So you want to optimize your site and optimize your social media for your specific service or product that you’re promoting.
If you’re not doing that for your website or someone didn’t do it for you, then you’re leaving it up to Google to find out what your site is about and they can get it wrong. Not all the time, but sometimes they’ll get it wrong. If you want to be more specific, such as wanting to rank for red basketballs, then you’d have to tell Google or the search engines that this is your target. You want to target those specific keywords.
If someone searches red basketballs and your site comes up and you’re selling soccer balls or vice versa, then you just wasted their time. Even if it’s five seconds, you still wasted five seconds of their search time, which is a long time online. You don’t want to waste people’s time and you want to basically show up for your service or your business.
Jennifer: That brings a lot of clarity to me because I know you and I sometimes speak in terms that not everyone understands, but you broke that down for me more. It’s the business of making sure that Google, Bing, and Yahoo understand exactly what your business is because if you leave it to them, it’s just going to willy-nilly, pick up words that may not be right.
Cory: Google’s really good at picking it up, but it’s a computer. It doesn’t always get it right. So it’s just better for you to tell Google what you want. It’s like in real life when you’re talking to a person. If you don’t tell them, then they’re just going to get you something that may not be right.
Jennifer: So that brings me to my next question about website build or a redesign for a website. I want to give you an experience of mine back in the day when I was doing everything myself. I was building a website and used a WordPress theme and had no idea what tags were. So I noticed that I was getting picked up for words like “WordPress” because I never took the branding out, which is very basic.
So if you are buying a website or a website developer, and that’s not something that you are specifically asking if they take care of, it could be a big situation for you. Typically that’s another price point, correct?
Cory: Yes. The website developer’s only job is to develop the website. They could say they do some SEO, but technically you don’t know the scope of the SEOs they’ll do for you. If they say they do SEO, then maybe a question to ask them is “What type of SEO are you doing?” “What type of on-page SEO are you doing for my site?” Then maybe write it down.
Jennifer: This is probably a question most business owners don’t know to ask and don’t even think about. So if they don’t take out “WordPress”, then Google’s going to pick up “WordPress” and not “red basketballs.”
So can you talk about more examples of why that’s so important in a redesign and a build?
Cory: Yes. When you build your website or even redesign it, you want to make sure it’s optimized because WordPress has all these different templates that you can use and it’s basically their branding. So you need to go in there and update all that content for yourself and for your business. So when you have a new website, you need to make sure it’s optimized. We call it on-page SEO, which means your website is optimized for search engine.
Typically we would go in there, I would talk to the client and ask some questions, send them a questionnaire and they’ll fill it out. That’s when I find out more about their business, what they do, the keywords that they want to target, and maybe have a description of their business. I also go a little bit deeper and ask about their competition so I can see what the competition is doing and do it better. So it’s just going in there and making sure Google knows what has to look for in your new website.
Jennifer: Got it. So you need to make sure that you have the on-page SEO.
Cory: Yes. Especially if you’re a local business, you really want to be showing up for your city. So for me, I’m in Los Angeles and Los Angeles has many small cities like Torrence, Gardena, Compton, Inglewood. If I have a business in Inglewood, I want to be showing up for Inglewood. If someone types a business, even if they don’t type in “SEO in Inglewood,” I show up because of their location. Google goes off their personal IP and finds the location of the local SEO businesses in that area. I like to put those keywords of the city into my website though, just so I show up in different cities. Just because you’re not targeting the bigger, more expensive keywords, it’s important to target my locations of where I want to show up.
Jennifer: Yes. So that was going to be my next question. If I’m a jeweler that depends on walk-in traffic or maybe a plumber, then I’m not going to want to take calls or quotes from Denver, Colorado.
Why is SEO important for small businesses and, more importantly, local businesses?
Cory: Google offers tools like analytics and Google webmasters, which allows you to say things like, “I just want to show up for California or Florida,” or “I don’t want to show up outside the US.” So it’s good, especially if you’re running some kind of campaign where you don’t want to show up in China or Europe.
Jennifer: So I’m sincerely asking this: when you do SEO for clients or in general, should they be saying, “Look, I only want to show up in the US.” Is that something you ask or is that something we should be telling our SEO person?
Cory: I would tell them exactly who your target market is: where they’re located, who they are, how old they are, all the same things you do with social media. Just find out that customer profile. They could really build that campaign around that customer. Or even if it’s multiple customers, you can have each page optimized for certain things. Your whole website doesn’t need to be optimized for red basketballs. The homepage could be for red basketballs, while another page could be for black basketballs.
Jennifer: Awesome. And then again, location, if that’s what’s needed. I just wanted to mention something on pricing because I know everyone’s always curious about that. It’s important to identify that if you’re doing SEO for a local business versus a national business, which is a bigger project, right?
Cory: Yes. With local, we could target small cities, for example, Orlando, or other cities in Florida, but for national, we’re targeting all the US, so now we have to go for broader target keywords. So if you’re a gardener, but servicing the whole US, we have to target words like “lawnmowing service” instead of “lawnmowing service in Orlando.”
That makes a big difference because now we’re going after a keyword that is highly competitive and might take longer to rank on Google or even show up on Google, whereas if you’re searching for local, there’s less competition because it’s just that local area. Competitive means how many other similar businesses are maybe doing online marketing or SEO. It all depends on how long they’ve been doing SEO, how long they’ve been around, if they have a website, what they’re doing, and what their marketing campaign is. So it’s just how competitive the market that you’re currently in is.
Jennifer: Right. So, tell me if I’m wrong. Let’s say I’m a bug exterminator, but if I’m a local Orlando bug exterminator, I can do pretty well locally. My pricing will be focusing on local words, which is easier and cheaper than if I was a bug exterminator for the US because then I’m competing with Terminex, Orkin. I’m completely competing with those budgets, which my three-man crew will not have the revenue yet to compete national wide.
Cory: I just had a client that we did a site analysis for. Their website was optimized for the financial business and they were very local to New York and Brooklyn. But when I looked at their website, they were trying to target “life insurance” or “health insurance,” which are bigger keywords. So they weren’t getting any traffic to their site because they’re competing against thousands of other businesses.
My advice was for them to optimize, but to think locally, such as targeting the smaller communities instead of going for the big boys. All of this goes in our keyword research. Keyword research is when we look for keywords for you to find some of the best keywords that we think will help your business rank quickly, but also give you the right traffic. So keyword research helps us determine some opportunities that you have to rank higher.
Jennifer: That’s good that you can run those searches because it’s relevant and timely for that time.
What is the difference between SEO and SEM?
Cory: SEO is, like I said earlier, search engine optimization, while SEM is search engine marketing. Some people use it interchangeably because when they say “I need SEO,” they’re really saying, “I need to market more on Google.” SEO is really optimizing your business presence for the search engines, like if it’s optimizing your website, optimizing social media, and just the different outlets that you have on the search engines. Search engine marketing is how you’re going to sell the marketing part, like if you’re running Google ads, doing Facebook or social media on the marketing site. So it’s really trying to get out there. Instead of just optimizing, which is more on your backend, the marketing is where you’re being active, actively trying to get new business.
Jennifer: Right. So a lot of how you and I work together is that you do the keyword research and identify those keywords, then hand it off to our team, who crafts the verbiage within the social media posts, which hashtags to use, and even the images and memes and quotes. Now your website, your social media, everything is coming together, but it does take time. Another interesting thing is that engagement on social media can also go toward your ranking on Google as well. It’s looking at a very small piece, but it is a piece that Google looks at too. Also, all those backlinks that are out there help your work too.
Cory: Exactly. Google has all these algorithms that look at different things that could help your website. The backlink is one of them. Social media is one of them. Your website is one, although back in the day, it made a much bigger difference. It doesn’t so much now, but it still kind of does. But all these “very littles” help in the long run. Just getting all those little things and some big things and putting it all together should hopefully get you started on ranking higher.
Jennifer: So I guess that leads to my last question, which is how does SEO help digital marketing? Between your social media presence and your website, I feel that, branding wise, I want everything to look the same across all social media and the website. How do you feel about that?
How does SEO help with digital marketing?
Cory: That’s why you and I work so well together: SEO goes hand in hand with social media, and I think nowadays, Google has really made it important that those two are together now. So if you’re only one of them and there’s a disconnect on the social media side, it doesn’t look good in Google’s eyes, even for ranking your website.
So everything needs to have the same type of branding, the same type of message, the same type of wording, so there’s no disconnect from either end. That’s the hard part for some people, especially if they just built their own website. Now they think, “Oh, I have to go do social media. Then I’m going to have to post every day.” That’s when I see a lot of businesses and people getting overwhelmed.
Jennifer: Yes, it’s very easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why we both have packages that help small businesses who are starting out because it is a lot to take in. So, can you tell me a little bit about your services that you have and how can people connect with you?
Cory: Our main service is we do online marketing for small businesses and medium-small businesses, which includes search engine optimization, Google ads management, and websites. If you don’t have a website or your website is really bad, we will let you know. Sometimes we get clients that have a really old website that’s not even mobile-friendly and they say, “Oh, I want to do marketing right away.” But I know if I do marketing for them, it’s not going to give them what they want and they’ll just be wasting their money.
So with website packages, we’ll build the website and SEO-optimize it for you. With DigiWEI, our main focus is online marketing, so we know what we’re doing when we optimize your site. If you want to market your site, that’s when we’ll run Google ads or Jennifer, you would run the social media.
So if anyone has questions, feel free to use our discovery call session on our website and we’ll get your setup.
Jennifer: So that’s digiwei.com and then you just sign up for a discussion and an audit on their Discovery Call tab to get started. Is there anything else you want to leave with our followers?
Cory: You have to be online, especially right now. There are so many people stuck at home, not just locally, but around the world. They could be potential clients depending on what your business is. People have a lot more time to search and be online, so it’s better for you to be online rather than not.
Oh, and one quick tip. If you’re a local business, get on Google My Business, which is a Google product that puts you on Google maps and it’s good for SEO. It makes a huge, huge difference. Especially for SEO, Google My Business is very important. And it’s a free tool.
Jennifer: Yes, it is so important locally. In fact, we’re coming out with some really juicy tips on our blog.
Cory: You also want to make sure that Google maps is connected to your website because that link is very important. You don’t need to have a specific location, but just having that map on your website is good.
Jennifer: Thank you so much, Cory. I appreciate your time. This was all really valuable information and I appreciate you. For those of you listening, please subscribe to my YouTube channel or the podcast service of your choice and we’ll see you again soon. Bye!
Watch the episode here: